Go to any traditional Daniel and Revelation seminar, and you will hear about our Protestant departure from Babylon, (generally referring to the Roman Catholic Church). We make a significant effort to make sure attendees recognize how complete and distinct our ecclesiastical break was. The RCC’s theology caused Martin Luther’s departure, but we made ours even more complete by rejecting Catholic practices like infant baptism and, of course, the ever large, looming, adoption of Sunday as Sabbath.
Threadbare, worn, and obviously too small, I still have the t-shirt I was given as a toddler. Though the words are faded now, childhood pictures testify that it said “Anything boys can do, girls can do better!” It's a cute shirt that was gifted to me with intentionality. I am the youngest and only sister to three brothers. It was a jovial but pointed way to ensure that I grew up understanding my value. I never felt intimidated by boys. I spoke up in classes. My brothers always included me in play. They made sure that I knew I was smart, capable, and worthy of respect.
Our church has had some major disagreements. We've disagreed on the bounds of academic freedom, had vigorous debates on the role of women, had protracted discourses about race relations, and fervent volleys regarding homosexuality. There have been heated and passionate pleas among all those involved in these conversations. People quote texts and cite personal experience. People get upset, some cry, or even leave. Some become persuaded, some have changes of heart, some become champions for positions they previously disdained.
To be clear, this is not an endorsement of one position over another. This isn't even a statement of what I might have voted. There are many things, such as location of my hypothetical residence and my perception of how I'd be affected, that I would have to consider. As it is, in reality, I don't live in the UK and I am not a UK citizen. Be that as it may, I can sympathize with those who voted in favor of Brexit.
Last month I spoke on a panel of psychotherapists at a workshop about mental health, hosted by one of the nearby Adventist churches. It was a worthy topic that was perfect for Mental Health Awareness Month. As the program drew near the close, someone asked "how do you find a good psychotherapist?" The psychiatrist, the clinical counselor, and I, all offered suggestions. Then a sister from the audience came to the microphone.
I couldn’t be the only one investing in the relationship. But I did try hard. I called and she would cut the conversation short. I’d ask her to hang out and she was always too busy. I would offer to come over and it was always “a bad time”. Fine. I could take a hint. That was the end of our friendship. After I moved away, I found other friends. Over time she had truly faded from my regular thoughts. But one day I got a call from a vaguely familiar number. “Can we talk?” To say I was surprised would be an understatement! But I obliged her.
The supposed existence of reverse racism aside (a concept whose legitimacy I don't want to spend time debating in this article), it is undeniable that as a systematic concept, racism flows primarily in one direction. So preaching to a predominantly minority congregation about what they can do to facilitate improved race relations can be a tightrope. It can easily veer off into directions that may be ill-received: akin to lecturing women on what they ought to do to prevent misogyny or assault.