“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image…” -Genesis 1:26

Supreme Court

In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, we learn that our Creator has made us in our Creator’s own image. The fact that humanity reflects the image of God is one of the first things one might see if they were to pick up the Scriptures. The thing that has been most difficult for me as I am learning about the ways faith and public policy intersect is how often we have chosen to deny that in regards to our brothers and sisters who look or act differently. As far back as the 15th century, my predecessors determined that people that have a different complexion or who believed differently are only fit to be slaves, which led to much of the darkest parts of history of the country in which I live. This idea has been echoed throughout the generations as we have continued to pass legislation and other legal documents that have continued to undermine the beauty of equality found in the Scriptures. Today I grieve for the ways in which the majority has denied the humanity of my brothers and sisters time and time again.

At the same time, I recognize the ways in which I have been complicit in this process. I recognize that throughout my life, I have enjoyed preferential treatment for my race, my gender, and, at times, my assumed sexuality, like the time that a teacher chose to allow me to have the hall pass but not the out gay person because he might be too disruptive when in actuality I was the one to make the choice to skip class. Not only have I chosen to sit idly by while teachers have chosen to disregard my behavior while punishing similar, behaviors in my brothers and sisters, I have been pulled over by a police officer for having a taillight out and made the choice to yell at him, while my black brothers and sisters have to fear for their lives with each interaction with law enforcement. I recognize the ways in which my voice has been used to silence others and, at times, even denigrate them, like when I voiced concern regarding female pastors, simply because of the gender that was given them by God. I recognize that there have been times in my life that the Divine wasn’t as easy to see in my life and actions as it was in the lives of those that I tore down, either by choice or ignorance. I repent. Lord, have mercy.

This experience thus far has been far more humbling than I could have ever anticipated. 2 Corinthians 4:6 states, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” May we continue to find God’s glory in the beautiful faces of all our brothers and sisters and continue to be outspoken in the dark places that continue to need the Light. Amen.

Jonathon Atchinson