Over the past few years, new terminology has emerged into the cultural mainstream. In particular, Critical Race Theory is at the forefront of a variety of discussions involving education, worldview, and even parenting.
Ideologies such as Critical Race Theory, or CRT, can often present difficulties within conversation between strangers, friends, or even family. For Christians, the emergence of difficult issues such as CRT can provide an opportunity to demonstrate a Christian worldview. But it requires understanding and work.
So, it’s worth asking: What is Critical Race Theory? And what should parents think about it?
And more importantly, how might parents best approach sensitive cultural issues such as Critical Race Theory with their children?
Understanding Critical Race Theory
To understand Critical Race Theory better, let’s break down the term into its three specific parts.
- Theory: Like all theories, Critical Race Theory intends to explain certain facts or events. In this case, the theory explains the narratives surrounding race and its many effects.
- Race: Critical Race Theory concerns the topic of race. More specifically, the focus is on the effects of perceived bias against one or more groups of people.
- Critical: In this case, critical does not necessarily mean critique. Rather, it simply refers to a different approach. Within this context, Critical Race Theory seeks to approach the topic of race through a very specific lens.
One of Critical Race Theory’s primary points argues that policies and laws propagate systemic racism against certain groups of people. Beyond this, the theory creates two primary groups within culture: The oppressed and the oppressors. The potential danger is compounded by the fact that Critical Race Theory functions as a worldview.
Critical Race Theory and the Christian Worldview
As parents, it’s worth examining the foundation of our worldview to see which lenses we use to view various situations. Critical Race Theory uses power dynamics and racial oppression as its primary lenses to view the world.
In short, these lenses directly contradict a Christian worldview. Within Critical Race Theory, one’s relationship to others determines their identity. Whereas a Christian worldview explains each person’s core identity is found in the face that we are each made in the image of God. And, for believers, we are His adopted sons and daughters.
Under Critical Race Theory, humanity’s fundamental problem is the oppression of one group of people at the hands of another group. With this, one group of people is guilty while the other is not. In contrast, a Christian worldview identifies humanity’s fundamental problem as sin. And in this case, our sinful condition unites us in our equally condemned state before the Lord.
The Potential Effects of Critical Race Theory
Nearly 50 years ago, China experienced a period of time known as “The Cultural Revolution” which contained aspects that resemble Critical Race Theory.
In an interview with Focus staff, one person named Boaz recounted some similarities between “The Cultural Revolution” and Critical Race Theory’s emergence. Boaz spent a significant amount of time in China during the Cultural Revolution. In his experience, Boaz discovered a few effects this mindset had upon his family and friends.
Drawing from their experience, Boaz says, “The worst result of critical theory is that it tells us to be self-righteous and [have] a hatred of the so-called exploitative class.”
Boaz goes on to say, “[this] can only satisfy your desires for a short time.” Speaking of hatred, Boaz says, “hate will become a serious part of your life…even the norm…resulting in chaos and contradictions of society as a whole.”
In other words, when self-righteousness and hatred became the norm, Boaz observed that the result is chaos within society. Boaz watched the culture shift because of a fundamental change in worldview. But Boaz isn’t the only one who noticed a culture shift involving hatred.
Jesus warned His followers of self-righteousness and its pitfalls in instructing them to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). The Apostle Paul continues Jesus’ teaching in writing, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in [our] righteousness, but according to his own mercy…” (Titus 3:5).
Understanding Critical Race Theory’s subtle emphasis upon self-righteousness is a helpful tool on an individual and internal level. But what do we do when someone asks us what we think about CRT or when our child comes home from school after a history lesson about CRT?
Engaging Critical Race Theory with a Christian Worldview
Whether it is on social media or within school systems, your children may interact with Critical Race Theory in many forms. As parents, we cannot be everywhere all at once, so it is important for our children to develop a strong foundation and Christian worldview. Here are a few suggestions to help your kids engage with topics like this in a healthy way.
Be Careful and Caring with Our Language
With potentially sensitive issues, it is important to thoughtfully respond and interact with care. Teach your children to respond with love, kindness, and grace.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to act wisely in saying, “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into…Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15). In Colossians 4:6, Paul writes, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.”
Here are a few guiding principles for dialogue you might encourage your children to use:
- Avoid name-calling or using hurtful labels.
- Ask thoughtful questions.
- Maintain a calm demeanor and low volume when engaging in conversation.
Even though disagreements might arise, we have an opportunity to display grace and kindness through our words and actions.
Seek to Understand and Listen Before Speaking
James 1:19 says “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” As a parent, you have a unique influence over your children’s speech. When difficult conversations occur, you can help create a thoughtful and kind environment.
Conversations about polarizing topics like Critical Race Theory might occur in situations where you are not always present. So, teach your children to listen before speaking. Encourage them to seek understanding by asking clarifying questions. Help them demonstrate respect by avoiding interrupting someone who is speaking and by maintaining eye contact within the conversation.
The Bible is the Source of Truth
Unfortunately, conversations involving difficult topics can sometimes blur the lines between what is true and false. Establishing truth and cultivating discernment are key steps for you and your family as you navigate troubling situations.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” While this is not a license to correct every fallacy and blasphemous thought of someone, it is a helpful reminder of the truth’s source.
Remind your children that God provides wisdom through Scripture. Developing a strong Christian worldview begins with reading the Bible to understand the Lord’s design for His people. Commit to studying Scripture together as a family. Create discussion questions about topics such as identity, sin, and forgiveness. Redirect your children to the Bible and its teaching so that they may rely on truth when faced with difficult conversations.
Remember to continue to seek God as you develop your worldview. Instill the hope and promise of the Gospel within your children that they might show love and joy to others!