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James 2-3: Partiality, Racism and the Presidential Election

NN_27obama2There are a ton of things that catch my attention in today’s reading. But one overshadowed them all. James 2:1 says, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” (ESV). It then goes on to describe  a form of partiality and expresses that to be partial is to “become judges with evil thoughts” (James 2:4, ESV).

This struck me because of Barak Obama and the recent election. Let’s face it, whether we like Obama’s politics and philosophies or not (and I assure you I do not), we have to be able to see the momentous occasion his election represents. Since November 4, however, I have been seeing a disturbing trend even among Christians. For some reason many are just honing in on race. Some white people are quick to rebuke black people for being excited about finally having a black president. If a black person says anything about how glad they are that it has finally occurred, some white person somewhere is going to accuse them of being racist. Well, it is always easier to take someone else’s inventory than our own. It makes us feel better about that little bit of prejudice that still remains if we can point out how “they” are just like us or possibly even worse.

The fact is, I’m not all that smart and I have a hard time trying to be philosophical. I cannot possibly articulate what the right amount of happiness is for black folks this week. But here is what I say to all the white folks who are desperately trying to pin partiality on black people, we should be just as excited that we have reached a point where a black man can become president. This doesn’t mean racism has ended. In a practical sense, it doesn’t even really mean that any issues black people have faced in their every day lives will change. But it least it says something about our country in general. Let’s face it. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1700s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1800s. There really was a reason why a black man was not elected president in the 1900s. 

Frankly, based on politics, I can find so little to rejoice about regarding this election, I say we as white people should rejoice with our black friends and brethren who see this as a momentous, earth-shattering moment that is worthy of rejoicing no matter your political persuasion. I say we work to try to understand all that it means for our fellow men and women whose skin is darker than ours. The fact is, we white people cannot possibly understand what it has been like growing up black in America. Instead of tossing the joy of our fellow man in their faces and trying to act like they are sinning for being excited about the success of someone in their race, let’s work on being impartial. The fact is, if Obama had been a man from a particular college and everyone from that college was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be blasting them. If he was simply a man from a particular town that had not ever had anyone as president before and everyone in that town was rejoicing, we wouldn’t be pitching a fit. 

Frankly, I tend to think if Obama were a conservative Republican and had won the presidency, that few of the white people who keep blasting away at our black friends for their joy would be saying anything about it. So, let’s get over ourselves. Let’s be impartial. Let’s let folks rejoice at the great meaning behind having our first black president whether those rejoicing are black, white or some other race. Let’s quit trying to put everyone in their place and show them how wrong they are for some issue of race in this election.

Instead, let’s act like Christians and simply love our brethren, love our enemies, honor and submit to the governing authorities and let’s be impartial about it.

Keep the faith and keep reading,


PS: If you would like to listen to the sermon I presented about James 3:13-18 just this past Sunday, go here.


November 11, 2008 Posted by | James, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment