We say the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We use its 783,000 words to justify and bless court procedures, weddings, funerals and baptisms and blessing our babies. I would remind you that “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.” [II Tim 3:16 MSG.] We have affirmed and lived as if this was true for large portions of our lives.
So when Romans 4:4 appeared in this week’s Sunday School lesson, it was like a floodlight beacon hitting me. And yes, I do attend Sunday School as often as my schedule allows. This word provides confirmation to those of us who literally believe that every single word from the Bible is true.
Many have opined for a long while that the economy of the United States benefitted significantly from coerced labor performed by slaves taken from the African Continent. Furthermore, a debt is owed to Africa-descended people for their many years of labor that established the economy of this country.
Many books have been written pro or con this issue, on the side against reparations, critics have argued that none of the benefactors from slavery are still alive, including the original victims. This argument on its face is absurd. How could the original victims expect or even hope for compensation? Could it have happened during Reconstruction from the “War for Slave Labor” known commonly as the Civil War? Nope! And because over time many other barriers were erected to deny and diminish Black economic progress, the debt has and more importantly, the frustration with the obstruction has become immense.
Kamathi Muirairi of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, History Department, said it better: “From 1619 to 1863, this nation stole 244 years of unpaid and dehumanizing labor from African-Americans. From 1863 to today, this nation has imposed 156 years of largely intentional repression on African-Americans trying to rebuild their communities and prosper. For that, the U.S. not only owes financial reparations, but also a renewed and sincere commitment to extending a fair chance in life to all people. Restitution requires it and the validity of this nation’s founding principle, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, depends on it. Without this reckoning, the American covenant is a farce.”
So when Romans 4:4 says: “If a man works, his pay is not a gift. It is something he has earned”, how can we deny payments to the descendants of slaves who worked to the point of death, danger and dismemberment on these shores working without pay?
This is not to say that citizens should be compelled to reach into their pockets. This does mandate that the very rich government of the United States should find a way to fulfill this obligation in a way that will begin to level the playing field for the years of oppression already suffered. Those who declare this is not a racist nation, but one built on Christian principles need to see to it.
I would also add this monumental article for you to contemplate: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631
More on this important topic to come!!