I don’t think that religion and politics should mix; however, our religion can and should guide us as to how we make decisions as to what is going on in politics. This seems to be especially true when it comes to the subject of giving financial reparations to the relatives of slaves in the United States. This is a serious and touchy subject in many ways but the conversation is growing as the 2020 election date draws nearer.
Some people say “it will never happen” so don’t worry about it. I am sure some people said the same thing about the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, transgender, and gay pastors. Now, those ways of life are accepted as normal by many and there are laws protecting them.
Another reason I think this subject should be discussed by Christians is that some people, politicians, and pastors are saying the Bible tells us that reparations are a Christian’s duty. As a taxpayer and a Christian, I think we need to take this discussion seriously before we wake up one day and find out that it is happening because we did not believe it would or get involved in the discussion.
With that said, I am giving my two cents worth in this article.
To start off with I will list some of the people/organizations endorsing reparations: Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), The Association of Black Seminarians, Marianne Williamson, a self-help guru and spiritual adviser, National African American Reparations Commission and the NAACP. And this is just a short list of some of the major players in this movement; however, there is many more both prominent and everyday type of people that are on the bandwagon for reparations. A most outspoken proponent of reparation is Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). On 4/8/19 he stated “”Do I support legislation that is race-conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it,” Booker said.”
For more information check out these sites; https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/reparations-bill-wins-new-momentum-in-house/ar-BBVBMTm
What about our religious leaders? One of the most outspoken proponents of reparations is a council member for The Gospel Coalition, Thabiti Anyabwile. Thabiti is now calling not just for monetary reparations, but reparations as atonement for generational sins. Anyabwile is a regular speaker at The Gospel Coalition conferences, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and various other Evangelical and Southern Baptist events. Conservative churches promote his books and he is a former associate of Mark Dever. (https://reformationcharlotte.org/2019/03/16/thabiti-anyabwile-says-opposing-reparations-for-blacks-comes-from-the-devil/)
He also states scripture approves of financial reparations and the notion that we are guilty of the sins of our fathers.
Other leading voices in the reparations camp include Jemar Tisby, a Christian, historian, writer, and speaker, who also teaches the efficacy of reparations as self-atonement. The United Methodists Church made an apology and supports the giving of reparations. (http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/support-reparations-for-african-americans). And Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who has taken up the cause of social justice and advocates for redistribution of wealth.
As a citizen, taxpayer, and Christian I condemn all types of slavery and I am extremely saddened by what people under those circumstances suffered. There is nothing that can be said that justifies the existence of slavery.
With that said I will state that I am against reparations both as a taxpayer and as a Christian (my comments about what scripture tells us will be added later in the article). As a citizen and taxpayer, I think it is wrong for a variety of reasons. Some of my reasons include; If relatives of one group of people are singled out to pay for reparations then all involved should also pay, such as relatives of; the owners and captains of the ships that brought the slaves to America, the companies that purchased the slaves before they were put on the ships, the black African Kings (leaders) that captured their own race and sold them into slavery. The governments of the Caribbean Islands where the slave trading ships docked for food, supplies and to sell slaves to work on the plantations. The British Government and all the governments in Africa that allowed slavery to be transacted in their country. And the list could go on and on.
I am listing an excerpt from a great article that describes why reparations should not be paid for you to read and consider;
Editorial; “Why the Descendants of Slaves Should not Receive Reparations” https://ashbrook.org/publications/oped-tucker-00-slaves/.
“Something to think about: Remember that there are many Americans who have thought of themselves as “White” for generations, who have African slaves among their ancestors (they would also be due reparations). And there are a good number of “Black” Americans who have no ancestors who were slaves within the territory of the United States
(They would not qualify). Let’s not forget that, if we go back far enough, almost everyone has at least one enslaved ancestor somewhere. Slavery was a worldwide institution and not usually race-based.” End of article
I would like to add the most important one, who is going to pay for reparations. First they would have to have a committee or some type of department to handle the situation. That would mean hiring who knows how many workers. Then there is the building/office to meet in, and who knows how much the overhead cost would be (salaries, utilities, insurance and on and on). Also, how can you figure out what families participated and benefitted from slavery? The only fair way would be to give every person in the US a DNA test (can you imagine the cost) then separate the people that were not here during the slavery times so they would not have to pay the taxes that would go to reparations. Or I guess you could just make everyone pay regardless if they had anything to do with slaver or not. Oh, I forgot about the people from the north, do they have to pay reparations even though they fought to stop it?
The questions concerning reparations are endless and, in no way, can be financially and morally capable of being answered. All that will happen is that the questions of reparations will be argued about and not answered to anyone’s satisfaction, it will continue to grow the rift between whites and blacks, and it will create animosity between blacks and immigrants that were not involved or here during slavery and other races that were here but had no part in slavery. The questions and comments could go on and on.
Now I will turn to the Biblical side of the question. What does scripture say about reparations and sins of our fathers?
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY ABOUT REPARATION AND THE SINS OF OUR FATHERS?
When we look at scripture it seems to give a clear picture of how we are to handle this situation (unless we add our own personal feelings and thoughts into scripture to prove our point).
Scripture provides these comments;
(Excerpts are taken from; https://pulpitandpen.org/2019/01/06/evangelicalisms-ungodly-pursuit-of-slave-reparations/)
Read Exodus 21:33-22:15 it goes into great detail regarding property rights and restitution. In scripture, reparation commands involve individuals directly involved in the transaction in the context of an ancient theocracy around 3500 years ago.
In Numbers 5:5-10 we clearly see that restitution shall be paid to the offended or to that party’s relative if he has any. If he does not have a relative to which restitution can be made, it will go to the Lord by way of the priest. End of article.
In ancient Israel, the only person who is due reparations is the one who was actually defrauded or that person’s living relative at the time. The only person who is obligated to pay reparations or restore is the person guilty of the transgression. There seems to be no precedent in Scripture for that person’s heirs to repair unless they were a participant in the fraud.
The Bible does teach that we should make restitution to people that we have wronged in some way. But the Bible does not teach that generational descendants are responsible for making restitution to other generational descendants of the person wronged.
Consider the following scriptures;
Exodus tells us; Exodus 20:5 “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Exodus 34:6-7 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God
merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
When I read on in scripture I found that Exodus 20:5 and 34:6-7 means is that the sins the fathers commit will affect their children to three and four generations. The children will not be punished for the sins of their fathers but may suffer the consequences for their father’s sins either directly or indirectly. If the children follow the sins of the fathers they will suffer directly. But even if they don’t they can still suffer because of the effects it has on others that in turn affect them (negatively).
Example; Jeremiah 16:10-13 states; “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ Then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken Me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and have not kept My law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me. Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’” They will be punished because they did worse than their fathers.
But as I study on I learned that God puts to rest the notion that the father’s sins are passed on when He (strongly) states; (Ezekiel 18 makes it clear that God holds each individual responsible for his or her own sin) Ezekiel 18, 1 through 4 say, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent, as well as the child—both alike, belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.” Others are not responsible for the sins of others!
Also; Deuteronomy 24:16 says “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” and that “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself”
And; Ezekiel 18:20; “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.” Others are not responsible!
We have enough sins of our own; God does not expect us to carry the sins of our fathers also.
We can not and should not try to fix the past, it is the past. However, we can, and must, change and not repeat our failures (sins) in the future.
Matthew 6:34“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” As scripture tells us we would be better off if not worry about the past and work toward doing better in the future….