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“What are you” is a question that those of us with a multi-ethnic, biracial, or transracial heritage have heard at some point and time in our lives. We often hear this question because we appear to some to be ethnically or racially ambiguous. On other occasions, however, the question is asked because others want to racialize ethnically and racially ambiguous groups by forcing them to fit into the racial constructs that they’ve created for these groups.

Multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial people experience their share of challenges in a racist and mono-ethnic, prioritizing society, which is still very much divided along the lines of ethnicity and race. Yet, there are spiritual benefits and cultural advantages that multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial Christian families experience in both church and society. These benefits and advantages can help advance the gospel and help build a Christian community of faith, filled with healthy kingdom diversity, in increasingly ethnically and racially diverse communities. Before I discuss one of those benefits and cultural advantages, I will first sketch the ethnic and racial heritages of my family.

The Ethnic and Racial Beauty and Complexity of My Family

I have a very ethnically and racially diverse family. On my mother’s side, I have African-American, Native-American, and white ancestry. My mother’s father was African-American with a Native-American heritage. Her mother was black with a white heritage. Perhaps it’s better to say she was biracial. And my father was African-American.

My wife is also from a multi-ethnic family. Her mother resides in Costa Rica, but a native of Nicaragua. As a Nicaraguan, she is a black Latina. My wife’s father is a native of Costa Rica. Our son, therefore, has an African-American, Costa Rican (Latino), Native-American, Nicaraguan (black Latino), and white heritage.

Certainly this kind of ethnic and racial diversity has at times presented us with different challenges since our families are different and we don’t neatly fit into one ethnic or racial box. And there have been racist assaults against us from different ethnic majority and minority groups because of how they racialize us based on the color of our skin (my son and I) or based on a so-called accent (my wife).

Nevertheless, in my view, the spiritual and cultural advantages of our ethnic and racial diversity can greatly benefit the church and the kingdom. Below I discuss one of the benefits and cultural advantages of being a multi-ethnic, biracial, or transracial Christian family and how this benefit can help mono-ethnic churches become healthy, gospel-centered, theologically robust, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and transracial gospel communities.

Multi-Ethnic, Biracial, and Transracial Identity is Normal

For multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial people, diversity is normal. Our families are used to being around ethnically and racially diverse people in our homes. And we know what it’s like never to fit perfectly into one particular ethnic or racial group. We are accustomed to seeing parents with black skin, brown skin, light skin, dark skin, or white skin. And those of us with international ethnic diversity and geographic diversity in our families are accustomed to hearing our family members speak with peculiar dialects or different accents.

Some mono-ethnic people and churches are shocked when they see ethnic or racial diversity in the church or in their communities. And some mono-ethnic Christians and churches neither know how to interact with those outside of their ethnic or racial posture nor how to react when they see ethnic or racial diversity.

However, those of us from ethnically and racially diverse families and with an ethnically and racially diverse heritage generally have a different perspective of mono-ethnicity. We often are discouraged and disheartened when we don’t see ethnically or racially diverse Christian communities caring for one another and doing life with one another in the context of the local church—especially when it is possible for mono-ethnic churches to be an ethnically and racially diverse body of believers living in pursuit of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as gospel communities.

I’m highly skeptical that mono-ethnic churches will be serious about gospel reconciliation, even if they talk about taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, when in fact certain mono-ethnic churches are unwilling to welcome and embrace multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial families and Christians into their churches or homes. Much worse, it’s also hypocritical for these mono-ethnic churches to take the gospel to diverse groups in different countries, on the one hand, but refuse to take it to ethnically and racially diverse people in their own communities and cities, on the other hand.

Those for whom ethnic and racial diversity is normal have their own set of challenges and sins to overcome with respect to race and reconciliation. But those families with diverse ethnic and racial postures have built into their spiritual DNA the importance of both pursuing and seeking to unify all ethnic and racial groups in Christ through the gospel. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy for multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial Christians and families to pursue gospel community with a diverse body of believers. But it does mean that we believe healthy, multi-ethnic, biracial, or transracial Christian communities should be the norm for Christians and churches in ethnically and racially diverse communities and cities.

Mono-ethnic churches are mono-ethnic for historical, cultural, economic, and theological reasons. If these churches intend to reach the increasing multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial communities and cultures in the communities in which their churches reside and in which their people live, then they desperately need the spiritual and cultural advantages that multi-ethnic, biracial, and transracial Christians bring to the body of Christ.

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