Dear Christian Counselor:
What do you do if your family is racist but you’re not, and they won’t allow you to talk to non-whites?
—Dreaming in Color
You don’t say how old you are, and that affects my answer. If you are a child at home, then you are limited in your ability to stretch beyond your family culture. You have the difficult duty of obeying both God and your parents when God tells you to love everyone, and your parents tell you to love only certain people. Your struggle must be to love everyone without being deliberately disrespectful to your parents. I would encourage you to ask good questions rather than projecting a rebellious attitude which might put them on the defensive. For example, “Doesn’t God want us to love everybody?” Or, “If President Obama stopped by our house, would you talk to him?” Perhaps you could explain how confused or conflicted you feel sometimes. Check out this free resource with other tips for difficult conversations. If there is a particular situation you need help with, I’d suggest you enlist the aid of a pastor, youth leader or teacher that your parents respect. You can also pray for your parents – perhaps God will bring them a friend from another ethnic background.
However, if you are an adult, then you are responsible before God for your own choices and actions, no matter what your parents believe, and you may have to tell them so in no uncertain terms. (See, for example, Acts 5:29.) If you approach them with sadness for all they are missing and with compassion for the way they were misguided themselves, it might help your discussion. Jesus came to earth to bring peace and unity to those who lived in fear and hatred. Our job is to continue that mission wherever we can, in our own hearts first of all.
John Piper has some new resources on the topic of racism. Click below to watch an 18-minute video about the transformation in his own attitude.