I do not write for the Gospel Coalition website even though they accept bloggers and writers from many various backgrounds. Over-all they do a great job. However, a blogger recently got something published by TGC that has sent the media and many on the internet into a rage. Was it justified? I think the reaction might be a bit over-done but once you read the article it’s pretty obvious why people are upset. Some have called it tone-deaf. I would call it sincere ignorance.
News articles covering the topic.
Original article by Gaye Clark
“When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband”
For years I prayed for a young man I had yet to meet: my daughter’s husband. I asked the Lord to make him godly, kind, a great dad, and a good provider. I was proud of a wish list void of unrealistic expectations. After all, I knew not to ask for a college football quarterback who loved puppies, majored in nuclear rocket science, and wanted to take his expertise to the mission field. I was an open-minded mom.
But God called my bluff.
This white, 53-year-old mother hadn’t counted on God sending an African American with dreads named Glenn.
Glenn came to Christ in college and served him passionately. He worked while attending classes and volunteered at church in an after-school program for urban kids. He graduated and found a job as an application developer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I noticed he opened doors for my daughter, Anna, even at the grocery store.
Godly. Kind. Well on his way to being a great dad and a good provider. I could only smile at God’s plan and asked his forgiveness for my presumptions. Still, my impressive wish list for Anna’s husband paled in comparison to her own: “He loves Jesus, Mom. That’s it. That’s my wish list. Jesus lover.” Then a grin came across her face. “It’s really awesome he’s also cute, right?” Anna took a deep breath and with a sparkle in her eyes asked: “So, Mom, what do you think?”
It wasn’t long ago that interracial marriage—particularly a black man like Glenn marrying a white girl like Anna—was considered the ultimate taboo in American white society. (In fact, it was illegal in 16 states until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that race-based restrictions violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Hence the film releasing this fall, Loving.) Though I never shared this prejudice, I never expected the issue to enter my life.
To the parent like me who never envisioned her daughter in an interracial marriage, here are eight things to remember when your white daughter brings a black man home for dinner.
1. Remember your theology.
All ethnicities are made in the image of God, have one ancestor, and can trace their roots to the same parents, Adam and Eve.
As you pray for your daughter to choose well, pray for your eyes to see clearly, too. Glenn moved from being a black man to beloved son when I saw his true identity as an image bearer of God, a brother in Christ, and a fellow heir to God’s promises.
2. Remember to rejoice in all things.
If your daughter has chosen a man who’s in Christ, and assuming there are no serious objections to their union, loving her well means not only permitting an interracial marriage but also celebrating it. My daughter’s question, “What do you think?” needed more than a tolerant shoulder shrug. She needed to know I loved Glenn too. I’m deeply grateful my daughter chose this particular man, and I try to tell him often.
3. Remember no Christian marriage is promised a trial-free life.
One woman in church looked over at Anna and Glenn and gingerly asked, “Are they . . . dating?”
“Engaged!” I grinned and winked at them.
She gave a pained smile, and then sighed and shook her head. “It’s just . . . their future children. They have no idea what’s ahead of them!”
I nodded. “When Jim and I were married, we had no idea what was ahead of us either. I stopped believing the lie we could control our trials years ago.”
John Piper said it well:
Christ does not call us to a prudent life, but to a God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-advancing, counter-cultural, risk-taking life of love and courage. Will it be harder to be married to another race, and will it be harder for the kids? Maybe. Maybe not. But since when is that the way a Christian thinks? Life is hard. And the more you love, the harder it gets.
4. Remember to be patient with family members.
Calling Uncle Fred a bigot because he doesn’t want your daughter in an interracial marriage dehumanizes him and doesn’t help your daughter either. Lovingly bear with others’ fears, concerns, and objections while firmly supporting your daughter and son-in-law. Don’t cut naysayers off if they aren’t undermining the marriage. Pray for them.
5. Remember your daughter’s ultimate loyalty is not to you or your family, but to the Lord.
Several people asked Anna and Glenn, “Which world will you live in—black or white?” But it’s not his world, her world, or even our world.
Interracial marriage in Christ is not about the joining of two races and cultures into one. It’s not about a new ethnic heritage. It’s about unwavering allegiance to the one true God and all he may require of the couple as soldiers of Jesus. After all, Christians are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
6. Remember the groom’s family.
Before the wedding I reached out to Glenn’s mom, Felicia. As we sat and talked about our children, we realized we have similar hopes and dreams for them. As we share a common bond, I’m hopeful Felicia can become a friend.
How might Christ be honored if such relationships were being built alongside every interracial marriage?
7. Remember heaven’s demographics.
As Anna and Glenn stood before our pastor and joined their two lives into one, I realized their union was a foretaste of a glory yet to come: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes” (Rev. 7:9).
8. Remember to die to your expectations.
As a nervous young man sat in my living room, I handed him the ring my deceased husband gave me the day he asked me to marry him. With a lump in my throat, I swallowed hard and said, “Glenn, have a jeweler put it in a new setting and make it your own. It’s precious to me, but you and Anna are of far greater value than that.”
Far greater value indeed.
Parents, teach your daughters early to choose well. Pray hard and often. Then trust her judgment to the sovereignty of God, and rejoice with her in the goodness of God.
I actually don’t believe this mother did a terrible thing. Like many things in life presentation makes the difference. Let’s just take a second to think about what this mother did. She overcame an irrational and racist fear of hers. She did the right thing. Of course we all agree that the article might be a slight insensitive but the point of the article is that racism has no place in Christianity. This is a good thing. I think it’s also possible that some mothers could learn from Mrs. Clark.
I want to also give her credit for realizing that the article was problematic and hurtful and asking for it to be taken down. I highly doubt that the Gospel Coalition will since they are uber reformed and can do no wrong (I say that obviously tongue-in-cheek). I would actually support the decision to leave it up. It’s a teachable moment.
I think the real issue is that the article comes off as implying that she loves her new son-in-law…. EVEN THOUGH he is black. That even though he is inferior she chose to accept him anyways. In a way, she becomes the hero of the story. That is a bit of a problem. As a black man he should not have to prove that he is worthy of marrying a white women and a white women should never be viewed as superior to a black man. One writer and pastor (Bryan Loritts) summed up how it is read through the eyes of a black man. Below are three snippets from his post which can be read here –> (The “Dreaded Glenn”: A Response to Ms. Gaye Clark)
Since Ms. Clarke takes us back parenthetically to 1967, maybe I should begin there. This was the year the landmark film, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” came out. As you know this was to many a scandalous work, diving headlong into the subject of interracial marriage, as Spencer Tracey (It would be his last film) and Katherine Hepburn’s San Francisco based characters are thrust into the subject, when their daughter comes home with a black man (played by Sidney Poitier). After initial shock and hesitancy (especially on the part of the dad), they come around and finally embrace him, and you’re left in awe of this “courageous and progressive” white couple who would stand so big while stooping so low as to accept a black man. Think about it- in 1967 a mark of being what we would now call progressive, is accepting a black person. So once the final credits roll what are we left thinking? Oh those great and wonderful white people. Boy isn’t that big of them to accept us. They’re the real protagonist’s, the real heroes, of this story.
And that’s exactly how I felt reading Ms. Gaye Clark’s article. Now whether or not she meant to do that is not the point. I fully believe this was not her intention. But I can’t help it, there is just an air of arrogance and paternalism here. One can easily leave thinking, “Well isn’t that just kind and big of her. This white woman accepting this black man, dreads and all?” It’s this subtlety that actually undermines Ms. Clark’s purpose. Instead of trying to fight against inequality, she actually entrenches it by unintentionally posturing herself as the Katherine Hepburn of this modern day, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.
And, given the reformed undertones of her article, which I love by the way, shouldn’t Ms. Clark’s “Big God Theology,” lead to a robust anthropology. She writes of accepting Glenn as if it was a part of God’s permissive will and not his perfect will. I mean she actually talks about the need to rejoice in the trial. Is that what we are now? A trial? Seen in this light, her eight pieces of advice seem more like strategies in how to cope with some incurable forms of arthritis- you know something you can’t get rid of, but you can take something to make you more comfortable with this less than ideal situation. Oh how my heart breaks.
If you sense some passion in me it’s because like the “Dreaded Glenn,” my mother-in-law is white. But unlike Ms. Clark, my white, Irish mother-in-law is at best a very private person of faith who occasionally (as far as we know) goes to church. Sure we got off to a bumpy start but that was never about race. She just profoundly loved me, loves our ti-racial children, and has never used me as a teachable moment for some blog she’d write on how to help her white siblings to cope with a trial like me. And for that matter, my black parents never asked me to be a show and tell item to the evangelical world to announce how progressive they were in accepting my beloved Korie and her Irish and Mexican sides of the family. Oh yes, white folk aren’t the only one’s who can struggle with accepting what MLK called the beloved other.
I think Pastor Bryan sums up the sentiment that most have about the article.
[Featured image from http://www.desumama.com/our-wedding-story-the-ceremony/]