My initial reaction to the opinion piece in the September issue of The Banner (“Is Separation Always a Sin?”) was that it was a typical white person’s view of ethnic separation.
However, as I began to analyze what this brother was saying, it became clear to me that the message of the biblical value of kingdom diversity needs to be proclaimed more than ever today. We live in a country of all nations, and we live and worship in communities that are increasingly becoming all nations.
Thus, while separation may not always be sin, there has to be awareness and sensitivity to the community where God has called a church to be salt and light. If that community’s makeup is mono-ethnic, then the makeup of that church will reflect that. But if the community is multiethnic/multicultural, the church must reflect that diversity in its makeup in order to be true to God’s mission in that community.
My point is that when a church has ethnic diversity in its makeup, the church will reflect its embrace of God’s value for diversity in his kingdom. As a denomination, we should be careful not to plant churches based on ethnicity because doing so can be dangerous as it can potentially perpetuate ethnocentrism.
I received an email from a pastor who also reacted to the opinion piece, and with his permission, I’d like to share it:
“I think that The Banner erred in publishing this article on the following grounds:
- Any article that directly or indirectly affirms division in the church is working in opposition to the Lord’s Prayer in John 17 and violates the spirit of the kingdom of God as demonstrated in Acts 2 and expressed in Galatians 3:28. This article affirms division in the church.
- The article is capable of presenting the denomination as a racist organization, since even in the eyes of many non-Christians separation is synonymous with racism or tribalism—which all Christians (and even many non-Christians) agree is sinful.
- With the message of hate and racial bigotry that is being carried [out] in political circles, a church publication needs to exercise caution in publishing materials that will align it to an ungodly disposition.”
I would encourage the author of “Is Separation Always a Sin?” to reconsider his view after he takes it through the grid of God’s Word and God’s value for diversity.