Rosa Parks

55 years ago today a 42 year old African American woman was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama when she refused to obey a bus driver's order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. It is an event that I can hardly get my head around. It is an event that makes me sad. According to the wiki:
Parks' act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.
I thank God for the courage of this amazing woman and honor her today as I remember these things that she once said.. some of which are difficult to read.

Each person must live their life as a model for others.

The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.

All I was doing was trying to get home from work.

It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand. I was quite tired after spending a full day working.

He pointed at me and said, 'that one won't stand up.' The two policemen came near me and only one spoke to me. He asked me if the driver had asked me to stand up? I said, 'yes.' He asked me why I didn't stand up, ... I told him I didn't think I should have to stand up. So I asked him: 'Why do you push us around?' And he told me, 'I don't know, but the law is the law and you are under arrest.

At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.

I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free.


  1. Our country and society in general owes a great debt to Rosa Parks and others who stand against prejudice laws without being violent.


  2. I join with you in celebrating Rosa Parks.

    I think her statement "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." is such a true and powerful word.

  3. What do you do with Romans 13:1-5? She resisted government and broke the law, didn't she?

    Civil rights legislation came about with great price, loss of life and property when it was forced by legislation. What about Christianity's approach? Read Philemon very carefully.

    It was a crime to do to Rosa Parks and other God created human beings but she broke the law. Do we really owe a great debt to one who resisted government and broke the law?

    Just asking.

  4. @Gregg - I guess I am with Peter and the apostles on this one when they said:

    "We must obey God rather than human beings!"

    I hope that if a similar time comes I will stand strong and resist immoral laws such as the one that Rosa broke. The sad part of her story was how the southern church supported segregation laws and stood against her and reformers like Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. But the Apostles had been forbidden to do what God has commanded them to do. They were apostles in a unique way and time resisting an order to not witness Christ's resurrection.

    Surely one wouldn't think God told Rosa Parks to break the law? This is not the same thing and one can't claim that verse.

    Doesn't this become subjective then? We choose what we want to obey and not obey? Just asking

    By the way, I honestly am not that familiar with that period of time and the churches of that period. Those churches that were God's hopefully have been dealt with as God chose to deal with them for their despicable behavior. They too should have read Philemon.

  6. Thanks for the dialog Gregg. Maybe I can answer with a few questions:

    Q: Must an abused wife stay in a marital relationship simply because she believes that the bible says that she must obey her husband?

    Q: Must underground churches in China meet even though it is against their law?

    Q: Is a person that leaves a local church always in rebellion to God's authority in their lives?

    I think that you get the idea. Sometime's man makes laws that are unrighteous in nature and in total opposition to the moral law of God. And sometimes people misinterpret the scriptures and act in ways that are contrary to the larger message of it.

    To me, when a law is in clear opposition to God's laws then we have a mandate to break those laws.

    And I believe that, in his writing of Philemon, Paul was dealing within the cultural bounds of his day. I do not think that Paul was advocating slavery or the denial of civil rights such as riding on a bus. But I may be misunderstanding what you are saying about Philemon?

    I think that the folks in the southern church hid behind the bible, rather than standing on it, when they supported the denial of civil rights to African Americans.

  7. You are welcome. I appreciate the fact that we can use the gray matter God gave us and talk about these things.

    First - no abused wife has to stay under the same roof with an abusive husband. She doesn't have the right to divorce him if there has been no adultery, but she can remain single until there is a reconciliation or his death. I have counseled a number of women to leave a dangerous abusive situation but not to divorce, there is a difference.

    Second - again, the churches in China or other places that are forced to meet underground are being obedient to God's revealed will - believers are to gather, and not to forsake gathering. But there is no command or revealed will to remain seated or to refuse to remain seated on a bus. This situation is not the same nor does it apply.

    Third - if a person leaves a local church on good terms, (not under discipline or in sin) for good reasons and joins themself to another church then no sin is committed nor are they violating God's authority. Again there is no command to join one church forever. So this doesn't apply either.

    The necessity to " break" a law or resist government is when it the law or government is a direct violation of a command of God or a violation of His revealed moral will.

    There is no provision to pick and choose which law we want to break because it may be unrighteous in nature.

    I agree with you,"when a law is in clear opposition to God's laws then we have a mandate to break those laws." But, in this case, just as a means of conversation, there was no law given by God that applies in Rosa Parks situation.

    As far as Philemon, Paul did not demand that Philemon release Onesimus from slavery. Paul could not do that. Paul pleaded with Philemon to accept Onesimus as more than, in addition to being a slave, as a brother in Christ, equal to Philemon. Philemon was asked to treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ. The Christian relationship made a change, not legislation nor civil disobedience.

    Cultural bounds is an avenue utilized when there is no substance to an argument - Christianity brings slavery to an end due to the change in relationship of believers in the body. Don't forget, slaves served as Elders and pastors of churches. Slaves served as pastors of their masters becasue they had been gifted by the Holy Spirit as pastor/teachers. That was remarkable. (By the way, I don't advocate slavery or racial discrimination)

    Paul did not demand, nor did the apostles, nor did Christ demand that slavery come to an end and slaves be freed. Paul did not advocate civil disobedience.

    Paul advocated change by grace. Treat brothers and sisters in Christ as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    You are probably right, the southern church probably hid behind the bible, again I can't speak to that due to ignorance.

    My "argument" or proposition is this, we need to be very careful when we choose to 1) disobey or resist God appointed government. When we do, we are saying God, I have no confidence you will take care of this situation and set it straight in your way and timing, so I am going to do it my way. 2) we need to be very careful praising or honoring someone who disobeys or resists government, others are watching and listening who may have less maturity. 3) Subjectivity, choosing or determing what we think applies can get us into trouble, case in point none of your three scenario were the same nor did they apply.

    Just food for thought.

  8. @Gregg - I think that I see where you are coming from. If I am hearing you correctly you believe that governments are entitled to make laws that discriminate against people and those who are discriminated against are under obligation to God to obey such laws. Is that what you are saying?

    If so then what of the plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany. The initial laws simply discriminated against them and singled them out. No one ever imagined where it would lead. Thankfully, saints like the ten Booms disobeyed the laws and hid Jews at their house. I call them courageous but maybe you would call them disobedient?

    In my view the founders were wise when they said that God has granted human beings inalienable rights. Laws that are against those rights should not be obeyed but stood against. In my thinking the idea of civil rights is an expression of loving others as we love ourselves.

    In closing, I fear that my thinking will come up short for you because of one passage (Romans 13:1-5) of scripture. So here is one last question concerning a part of that passage:

    "But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil." -4b

    The word evil in that passage has a connotation of injury, harm, wickedness and depravity. In that sense, do you believe that Rosa Parks did evil in God's sight by simply refusing to give a white person her seat? If you do then I think that we will simply have to agree to disagree as I see no evil in what she did.

  9. No, first of all I am just throwing out food for thought. I do not think that governments have the right from God or from their structure to make laws that discriminate. God did not give them that right. God gave government the power to enforce His moral will, governments being made up of imperfect human beings went beyond that and abused it.

    I think we take many things in to our own hands too soon rather than desiring God to rectify situations.

    Discrimination is wrong, it is immoral. It violates the principal that men are made in the image of God.

    You give me something to chew on with the Nazi, Carrie Ten Boom scenarios, so I will reserve comment and chew on that for awhile. Having said that, I don't think for a minute the Nazi's had the right to murder the Jews.

    I am not sure I would (at this point, simply because I felt like causing and participating in a discussion) equate civil rights as inalienable. However, I agree we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, yellow, black, red, or white, etc.

    These decisions are tough decisions. Your scenarios are excellent. For the record I am not advocating murder, violence, discrimination of any kind. All violate God's moral will.

    I am on your side and with you. I simply felt like throwing some thoughts out tonight and see where they led.

    I just was thinking out loud because my devotions were in Philemon the last three days and I saw Paul's appeal to Philemon to change his thinking about Onesimus because of their relationship in Christ rather than by force or legislation.

    I was moved by the change that Christ makes in our lives, particularly how we feel about and treat other people. I tried to imagine what Philemon must have thought and felt and what he had to work through to comply with Paul's passionate plea.

    To answer your question, I think government needs to heed that part of the passage. Their judgment will be severe for they were to protect the innocent and punish the wicked. They were to bring God's "wrath" or just punishment on those who broke God's moral law and abused the vulnerable. I think our nation will suffer when it is judged by God for its discriminatory policies and practices. God will severely judge the instrument that was to judge right and wrong for Him.

    Was she wrong? If the law said she had to do so then yes, she would have been wrong. However, there was no law, it was the bus companies policy, therefore she was not wrong. She had the right to remain seated as a woman, and as a human being created in the image of God.

    In the end, with a wonderful discussion and exchange of ideas, we don't have to disagree to disagree.

    But, one thought about the Nazis, human life cannot be forfeited for immoral laws, I applaud and concurr with Corrie Ten Boom and others and would I hope I would have hid Jews also.

    Now, here is a thought for some other discussion: was the US right to bring about the Revolutionary War in regards to Romans 13?

    Good night brother, and thanks for the opportunity to use my brain tonight.

  10. Enjoyed the conversation Gregg. Thanks for making it interesting!

    And about the Revolutionary War - I imagine we would all be Anglicans if the King had his way back then. Albeit Anglican, instead of Roman Catholic, because a former king wanted a divorce that the pope would not grant.

    It does cause one to pause though.. perhaps Martin Luther violated those verses in Romans 13.. yet I think that maybe you I would agree that we are glad that he was a bit of a rebel and took a stand against authority. :)


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