Notable Speech – Benjamin Watson

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, July 30th. 

Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. 

Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham.

Coming next on The World and Everything in It: another in our occasional series: Notable Speeches Past and Present. Today an excerpt of a recent message from former N-F-L football player Benjamin Watson.

BROWN: Watson was a well-known tight end with several teams, including the New Orleans Saints. In 20-14, he wrote a very personal social media post expressing his concerns over the unrest in Fergusson, Missouri. It went viral. As an African American Christian, Watson ended his comments by saying that: “ultimately the problem is not a skin problem, it is a sin problem.” He added that it’s only through the gospel that we have hope.

BASHAM: Last month, he addressed a gathering of Capitol Hill staffers during a Faith and Law Friday Forum lunch over Zoom. His message was titled: “Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race.” Here are excerpts of that talk.

BENJAMIN WATSON: When we talk about the concept of race, I always hesitate to even say that word because scripture talks a lot about there being one race. Talks about the book of Acts that for one race He made God made all nations, all those all peoples, and even by using the term race. I feel that we sometimes reinforce that ideology, and the idea of racism in the idea of a hierarchy of specific races. 

The sad thing though is that that’s sometimes the only word and vocabulary I have to use to describe what we’re going to talk about. So on a larger scale I am going to use the word race, when I, when I talk to you all about this topic but, I think as we step back it’s vitally important that we all think about the terms that we even use to describe other people. 

Think about if those terms are Biblical terms, or are they simply cultural terms that allow us to communicate, but within those cultural terms, we reinforce bad, non-Biblical ideology that reinforces what we’re actually trying to confront.

This issue of racism is insidious, and it touches so much of our lives in ways that we don’t know. It touches it obviously in ways that we can point out, but there are many other ways that go unseen, that are unheard, that that seem to just bubble up to the surface, and for many of us sometimes we seem surprised when they happen but they are, they are all along. 

When we look at these, this specific issue of racism or policing, or whatever it is that you’re that you see as the clarion call at this moment. God has a heart for justice. He also has a heart for kindness, how we speak to one another, how we treat one another. The empathy that we show to one another is vitally important. 

We’re in a very very polarizing time. All you have to do is turn on the television set, and you can see how polarizing things are right now. And there is nothing in the middle—you have to stick to your tribe, you have to stick to the mantra of your tribe, hell or high water. There’s no empathy, there’s no kindness. God is a God of kindness. He’s also a God of righteousness. He’s a God of a supreme moral standard that He calls all men and women to in the Bible. 

We obviously do that as believers through the blood of Jesus. We cannot do it on your own. But there is a specific moral standard that God has called all of us to, and that He expects us to live by. And that goes with every issue that we’re involved with. So when it comes to the issue of dealing with racism, there’s a moral standard. 

He expects us to lead. He expects us to live our lives in accordance to not just our culture, not just our experience, nor even other people who aren’t like us, not just our family’s experience or ancestors are even really what’s true in a culture today. He expects us to live with each other, especially believers, with a standard of righteousness that He calls us on all to. And that comes directly from his word. 

The tough thing that we deal with is walking the fine line between progress, and the projection of what we want to happen. To the progresses, yeah, you know, we vote. We’re allowed to go to school and ride on the bus, you know we’re allowed to engage in ways that my parents weren’t able to. You look across when it comes to racial issues, there seems to be, you know, progression when it comes to blacks in certain positions. Hey, there was a Black president. Now does that mean everything’s okay? No, it doesn’t, by far, but the fact that it even happened is progress. 

So we must acknowledge the progress, but at the same time, we have to be real about the gap in wealth and income, we have to be real about disparities in education we have to be real in maternal mortality rates, we have to be real with all those things as well, so I wrote that I was hopeless but I’m also hopeful, and then finally I wrote that I was encouraged because, in light of everything that happens, the gospel gives us hope. And the gospel gives us hope because we are already reconciled, through Christ. We just have to live it. 

And that’s where we get messed up with our culture. Our culture, black, white, in between, whatever, it becomes a stumbling block, because that prevents us as believers to walk in what has already happened. And so that is the challenge that we pray that the Lord deliver us from our culture sometimes and the expectations, and really the limitations that it creates when it comes to this issue specifically. 

In John 17, Jesus is praying, and my grandma always said that, you know, that’s the real Lord’s Prayer. We say the Lord’s Prayer is, you know, “Our Father in heaven…” She says no, the real Lord’s Prayer is John 17, because that’s when Jesus was actually praying to the Father. So that’s the Lord’s Prayer. 

And that prayer is very lengthy and he prays, he prays about, you know, first he He talks to God about what he was about to go through, but he also prays for his disciples and He prays for us, who would hear about him through the work of his disciples. But He said that our unity is imperative because it is a witness to God for proof that God sent Christ. 

So our unity, especially as believers. It’s not just about us. It’s about pointing people to the unity of the Father, and the Son, and Holy Spirit, but also pointing people to the fact to be proof, as Christ said, that God sent Him.

New England Patriots ‘ Benjamin Watson speaks during the NFL Players Association annual state of the union news conference on Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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