Detroit (Directed by Kathryn Bigelow) is a film about the riots that struck the American city 50 years ago. They were fuelled by racial tension and the film focuses particularly on the way a mainly white police force exploited and abused the African American civilians. The film builds up to a police raid at the Algiers Motel that resulted in the deaths of three young black men and the beatings of nine others.
It is a harrowing film that can be difficult to watch at times. It sadly doesn’t provide any real answers to how situations like this could be prevented but it does bring a deeply troubling and awful moment in history to the attention of a 21st century audience in a prescient time amidst the racial tension that still festers in both America and even here in Britain.
I wanted to point out what we can take away from a film like Detroit as Christians.
- The Bible gives no excuses for racism
The film is dealing with issues of race and it helpfully begins with an animated historical context for us. Industrial cities like Detroit were mainly populated by black people after they tried to find work following the abolition of slavery. These cities were virtually segregated as the more affluent white families moved to the suburbs. This created a sense of hatred from both sides but mainly from White looking down at the black people. The Bible tells us explicitly that we should never allow someone’s colour of skin or their nationality. Anyone who claims to follow the Word of God and shows animosity towards someone of a different race needs to return to scripture.
And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. Acts 10:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
The attitude these police officers had was clearly contrary to what Christ and Paul taught.
- God will one day restore justice.
As I walked out of the cinema yesterday, I was burning with anger at what had happened. How could people get away with committing such atrocious acts? That desire comes directly from the God who designed and created us. But I found comfort in the fact that although the people affected by the incidents of Detroit had been failed by the unjust legal system, God wold not do the same. In the same way we crave justice. God craves justice. What kind of God would turn a blind eye to these things? I certainly wouldn’t want to build my life upon a God who at the end of time said to those that committed racially motivated murder “Nevermind. Don’t do it again.” God will punish those that deserve to be punished. That is a comfort to us.
- There will be a day where there will be no more suffering.
Lastly, another comfort we can find after watching such a difficult series of events from history is the fact that there is a day coming where this will all come to an end. At the end of the Bible there is a sentence which makes me very excited. It talks about what heaven will be like ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4.
This is the happy ending we all desire. That is the happy ending for all of those who put there hope in Jesus Christ. It will be a New Earth where we will remember none of the things that made us sad. Everything will be perfected. No more racial tension, no more murder, no more abuse of power, no more injustice. Just perfect community with God.