From the South Holland, Illinois Ladies’ Society, through their secretary, Mrs. Connie Busker, I received the following:
“In our Ladies’ Society we recently discussed the question, ‘Is there any scriptural basis for believing in “integration” or “segregation”?’
“We would appreciate it very much if you would discuss and comment on this question in the Standard Bearer.”
It appears as though the South Holland ladies dare to tackle some rather weighty questions. The question presented above is also a rather touchy one in the minds of some; and I would imagine that in the town of South Holland, with its conflict about the integration of the public school district, this has been a particularly touchy subject. This subject is also a wide-ranging one, with many facets. I have no way of knowing the trend of the discussion which took place in the South Holland Ladies’ Society. And although I may have benefited from knowing some of the specifics of that discussion, nevertheless I think the question as presented above is correctly stated. And I will try to present not a detailed treatment of the segregation-integration question in general, but some guidelines from a Scriptural, Christian point of view. The latter I consider important from a practical viewpoint because of the fact that both segregation and integration forces,—especially the latter,—have made many claims to being Christian and have enlisted the help and support of churches and church members, and have even succeeded to no little extent in giving to their movements the coloration of a religious, gospel crusade. The question, therefore, is a real one: what should be our attitude as Protestant Reformed Christians and in the light of Scripture?
As I understand the question, it does not refer to segregation and integration in the abstract, but to the two systems of thought and social, economic, political movements in our country which strive either to achieve and maintain racial integration or to achieve and maintain racial segregation. I consider it important to see this. The alternatives involved are not something which we as Christians create or control, but they are options with which we are confronted by the world. The actually existing integration movement and the concretely existing segregation movement are both movements created, controlled, and directed by the world of ungodly, unregenerate men. They will go on existing whether we support them or not; neither will our support change them. But the question is: what should be our attitude toward them?
In the first place, I would like to point out (contrary to a great deal of social gospel philosophy) that the Bible is singularly unconcerned about what kind of political or social system exists in the nations of the world. It is not concerned, for example, whether we have democracy or dictatorship, whether we have absolute monarchy or limited monarchy, as our form of government. In Romans 13, for example, the apostle does not urge that Christians should strive to get rid of the then-existent imperial system of government represented in a man like Nero. No, he admonishes the saints to be in subjection to the powers that be, for God’s sake, regardless of what the system of government may be. Nor do you find in Scripture any injunction to get strive to do away with the slave-system, for example. No, the Bible admonishes the Christian slave to be in submission to his master; and it admonishes the Christian master to be a Christian also in his conduct as lord. Nor do you find in Scripture a calling to strive for equal rights for all citizens in the Roman Empire and to do away, for example, with the distinction between those who held Roman citizenship (like Paul) and those who did not hold such citizenship. On the contrary, Roman citizens and noncitizens, if they were believers, were to remember above all that they were citizens of the kingdom of heaven and were to conduct themselves as such in every sphere of life. I am well aware that this almost sounds like heresy in our day. It is almost taken for granted that today’s stresses on democracy, equal rights, equal opportunity, social improvement, integration of races, equality of sexes, etc. are per se Christian and in harmony with the Word of God. This largely successful deception is the result of the big-lie-technique: repeat the lie loudly enough and often enough, and almost everyone will believe it, especially if that lie is given a cloak of religion.
In the second place, I see the modern-day integration movement (with all its nuances and all its associated movements throughout the whole civilized world) as standing in the sign of Antichrist. It is a thoroughly humanistic movement. At Babel, remember, the antichristian beast received a deadly wound in one of its seven heads. The world’s integration movement is but one phase of the age-long attempt to overcome the effect of that wound. To establish a unified, peaceful, prosperous world-kingdom (and indeed, a pseudo-Christian kingdom) which is not only without God and His Christ, but which is anti-God and anti-Christ,—that is the great striving of fallen mankind and of the powers of darkness. In this effort the false church joins, but in the name of the gospel and in the name of Christianity, of course. This accounts for the fact that a social movement like the integration movement enjoys the support of many churches and church men and employs the terminology of the Bible and of the church, speaking of brotherhood, of love, of reconciliation, of renewal, etc., etc. Eventually this antichristian striving will also achieve a measure of outward and temporary success, world-wide success, according to Revelation 13. The deadly wound will be healed. The world-empire of Antichrist will be achieved. Apparently the cause of the beast and the false prophet will triumph over the cause of Christ. And for a little while it will seem as though all the social, economic, political, and international problems of the world have finally been solved by the Man of Sin. But Scripture warns us to understand that the number of the beast is the number of man, the number of vanity, six hundred sixty-six.
If we see today’s integration movement in this light,—and I can see it in no other light,—then it is obvious that integration is not an option for the Christian for reasons of principle, the principle of the antithesis. It is not an option, mind you, not because the Christian is a “racist,” but because he is a Christian.
In the third place, I hasten to point out that this does not at all mean that the Christian is a segregationist in the current sense of that term. The segregation movement (as a concretely existing movement in our country) is also nothing but a sinful, humanistic attempt to solve the problems of this world without Christ, without the cross, and without grace.
My answer to the question, therefore, is: neither integration nor segregation is an option for the Christian. I am aware that there are many practical questions which may arise in connection with these matters. Perhaps, too, my answer has occasioned further questions on the part of some. The Question Box welcomes further questions; and it always will try to furnish answers based on Scriptural principles.