By Matthew Castro
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest has taken center stage among public debate. He is refusing to stand to honor the American flag before 49er football games. He is instead choosing to kneel in protest. His actions are a new chapter in the ongoing racial tension between law enforcement and the black community.
Colin Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the preseason game in San Francisco against the Green Bay Packers on August 28th, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Other athletes have followed his example by kneeling or standing with raised fists during the anthem in protest against injustices they perceived are permitted by the American government.
Lawful civil disobedience is a core value in America. You have the right to burn an American flag in protest if you desire. Americans should respect Colin Kaepernick and others, who have chosen to protest against recent social issues. Therefore, I support his ability to protest.
However, the current issue gives Christians the opportunity to demonstrate the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus presents the proper model for protest. He says in Matthew 6:43-44, “You have heard that it was said. ‘You shall love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jesus provides the essential means for fighting evil. He says love those who hate you. You hardly ever hear the teaching among the constant commentary of the Kaepernick episode. The church ought to view the issue as an opportunity to proclaim the gospel perspective. All are poor and needy, and the message of grace gives hope to the despair.
Christian protest is more than kneeling or standing defiantly against observable injustices. Christ commissioned His followers to do much more. Protest with love and compassion for your enemies is the only strategy for Christians. May the world observe the stance of love, and glorify our King.