Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Monday, Jan. 21:
Jan. 1, 2013, marked the 150-year anniversary of President Lincoln’s signing the Emancipation Proclamation, which ushered in the beginning of the end of two and a half centuries of American chattel slavery. Seeing the movie, “Lincoln,” helped me realize what a hard-fought legislative battle was involved in getting that proclamation passed. It paved the way for the 13th Amendment 2½ years later making slavery unconstitutional and illegal. It unfortunately took another 100 years for that freedom to gain any durable and consistent meaning with the 1963 March on Washington, followed by the Voting Rights Act and The Civil Rights Act.
Even so, I have my own sad first-hand accounts of the pain and grief from the past 50 years caused by racism, racial prejudice and discrimination. I’m saddened every time I hear a racial slur, still. What saddens me more is the indefensible use of the Bible by so many to make black, and brown citizens too, carry Canaan’s burden. At the heart of Genesis 9:18 to 27 are the words, “Let Canaan be a slave to others.” This passage must be understood as the Israelites for whom they were written understood them — as the green light to root out the Canaanites from the Promised Land during the conquest of Canaan. It is completely out of order to interpret them as a forecast of human history for all time as Halley’s Handbook of the Bible does, for example.
More important — One man has carried Canaan’s burden completely. Christ Jesus took the form of a servant and became a slave to the Jew and the Greek so that all people evermore might be servants of God and of one another, rather than one group of people being made slaves to other groups simply because of their race. As followers of Jesus, light of the world, we must not allow a false doctrine to provide justification for the racism that still creeps around our society.
The REV. DICK SANSGAARD
(Editor’s note: The Rev. Dick Sansgaard is the minister at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Twin Falls.)