Servants of God,
“And he (God) made from one man every nation of mankind…”
Senator Elizabeth Warren has caused quite a stir with her recently released DNA test. Warren has posed as a “person of color” for years. Her well-documented verbal exchanges with President Trump are classic. It would appear that her attempt to claim victimhood by proxy is in jeopardy. Sadly, the political left is obsessed with the whole idea of virtue by way of being a victim. There is little doubt that American Indians have and still do, suffer from the consequences of bigotry and racism, but should being part of a group of victims become an identity?
You have probably never heard of Oliver and Margaret Stark, but they are important in my lineage. He was rightly titled the Reverend Oliver Porter Stark and Margaret was his wife. Oliver, like Cyrus Kingsbury and others, was a Christian missionary to the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi and later in the Indian Territory (now the state of Oklahoma). About 1850 the Starks, acting as missionaries to the recently relocated Choctaws, began to teach four Choctaw boys to read and write in their log cabin in Indian Territory. It was a location south and west of what is now Hugo, Oklahoma. The only textbook the Starks had was the Bible. In four years, the school grew to 42 pupils and moved to the church building on a spot known as “Good Land.” Today the longest continually operated private school in Oklahoma is still there. A young woman named Leona Ruth Everidge graduated from Goodland Academy in 1941. She learned about Jesus there. She was my mother.
By 1830 the Choctaws had intermarried with whites creating thousands of “mixed blood” people. My Great-Great-Great grandfather, Thomas Everidge was a white man who married a Choctaw woman from a prominent family. As the head of a mixed blood household, he was a signatory to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek—the instrument that removed the Choctaws from Mississippi. Each male head of household was granted 640 acres of land in what would become Oklahoma. Thomas and his wife Eva buried a baby son on the Trail of Tears. One of the two surviving children, their son Joel Everidge was my Great-Great grandfather. He became a lawyer and Supreme Court Judge in the Choctaw nation. He would not allow his children to speak the Choctaw language because, he said, they must learn English to survive and thrive in a “White man’s world.”
Most of us cannot trace our family history back more than a few generations. If we could, we would all eventually get back to Adam and Eve. Sure, there are ethnic differences like skin color and hair texture, but humans are all far more alike than we are different. The important thing about each of us is that we are not animals, but human beings created in the image of God.
We should not deny that groups of humans have mistreated other groups and still do. But it is not helpful to try to claim we are due some sort of virtue or reward because our ancestors were mistreated or discriminated against. God calls us to treat every person with dignity and the respect due to a human created in God’s image. He also insists that we are all personally responsible for our lives.
We are each responsible to God for what we do with our lives. In the United States, there is more opportunity for education, accomplishment and contribution to the welfare of others than any place on earth. Our nation is not perfect, but it is still a place where the gospel is proclaimed and where virtually any person can escape poverty and family-driven disadvantage. There is not a guarantee of outcome but there is clearly opportunity for each citizen who will risk and work hard.
Christians are called to give aid and encouragement to those who come from backgrounds of disadvantage. Rather than feeling sorry for victims, we are called to acknowledge that a fallen world means some will need more assistance and help than others. Christians are called to respect all our human neighbors and to work to build a world where opportunity is available to all.
Christians must not fall for the empty claim that a political candidate is worthy of support because he or she comes from a particular ethnic group. Don’t fall for the left’s phony line that privilege is reserved for only one group of people. In our nation there are three keys to staying out of poverty: Graduate high school, get a job and get married before you have children. All three of these keys are rooted in Christian ideals of education, profitable labor and honoring marriage and family. No matter what your ethnic background, if you live in accord with God’s guidance, you will be blessed. You won’t need to claim victimhood, you will rightly claim the grace of God.