This Act of Terrorism And Its Roots in White Supremacy Are Morally Wrong
Some things are just wrong and we have to say so with consistent moral conviction. In light of the terrorist act in Charlottesville on Aug 12th, we must speak with moral clarity and reclaim tolerance. In doing so we can respond powerfully to the growing divisiveness and madness in our country.
Everywhere we turn people express that they have the right to their opinions and to state them how they want. They say freedom of speech is their right and I agree. In fact, I served in the military defending that right. I’m also an immigrant from a country where people are killed for being on the “wrong” side of an issue. Some of my family members were victims of state violence so I really get it.
Tolerance has been perverted
Here’s the challenge. Tolerance has been perverted and it needs to be corrected. Decades of progressive dogma has redefined tolerance. Tolerance is simply defined as “sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.” This seems reasonable enough and it’s the love we are called to as Christians.
In recent history, two problems have arisen. The first came when people didn’t like the conflicting ideas or beliefs and were offended by their existence. Then some unknown mysterious source deemed certain beliefs acceptable and you had to tolerate them and reject the unacceptable ones. It became tolerant to support same sex marriage and intolerant and bigoted to think that marriage is correctly defined as between a man and a woman. No matter your position on this issue, please understand the principle that disagreement with the “right” ideas transformed into intolerance.
Then it went further to the point that tolerating the “right” point of view wasn’t enough. You also had to endorse it, no matter your personal beliefs. Discussion of differences was replaced by violent clashes of worldviews with one party shouting the other down. You agree with me or you’re an intolerant person with a view that deserves no respect and active disrespect or even derision. In this environment, discussion along with understanding and empathy died.
Finally, a dramatic leap was made that tolerance also meant that all ideas had equal moral authority. You believe what you believe, I believe what I believe so we just have different opinions. But in the marketplace of ideas, some positions don’t have a moral leg to stand on.
Racism is wrong
Thinking other races are categorically inferior is a morally wrong and bankrupt point of view that deserves to be exposed as such. It must be, since we were all created in the image of God. This is particularly true with those who name the name of Christ.
Is the call to love weak?
We face a serious challenge. We are taught that people will know we are Christians by our love. When the nine Black members of a church Bible study were killed by a white supremacist in South Carolina, the members of the church and family members of the victims spoke out immediately granting forgiveness to the killer.
For some, that response is weak, but for reasons I won’t go into, I don’t think it is at all. But more importantly for this discussion, this doesn’t have to be our only response. There is Grace for much more direct and forceful responses.
You can protest the wrong that is being done publicly, lobby your local, state and federal officials for stronger legal response, and personally provide better security and defense where needed. Don’t start or incite the fight, but defend yourself if needed. Do all you do as unto the Lord.
Win the argument and win the other person over
I say this with the love and patience it deserves. We must be sure our methods of response are consistent with the Godly character we expect from others. We have to call out evil with clarity and force without letting that evil invade our hearts and actions. We are not called to start fights or shouting matches with people we disagree with. We have to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19–20).
Full throated righteous anger and pain and lament over wrongdoing deserves complete expression. The response deserves to be measured and seasoned by the Grace and Wisdom of God.
Using a perverted form of tolerance, which is really just intolerance, we risk pushing people into an ideological corner. For every terrorist who would crash his car into a crowd of people there are 10s or 100s of people who have real fears about a changing world. While the US is a place whose population is around 77% white, by 2020, the census predicts that fewer than 50% of children born in the US will be white.
Combine this with the change that globalization and technological advancement are having on the workplace and you have a large proportion of people feeling very insecure and looking for someone to blame. While we stand against those trying to use that fear to create division, we can also listen to and empathize with those concerns instead of dismissing them as racists when they share those fears. Otherwise, we risk pushing them into the comforting arms of those who will hear them and twist their fear into hatred.
Take a powerful and Christlike stand against evil
The philosophies that gather people to white nationalist rallies are straight from the pits of hell and yet God has given us the tools to combat them. His love wasn’t unrighteously angry and it wasn’t weak. It didn’t argue, but it didn’t ignore evil. With patience He listened to the hurting and with wisdom, He called out sin..
We must have courage in this environment to stand for what is right especially if you are in any position of leadership or authority. We need moral clarity and the willingness to state the truth clearly and with force. At the same time, we fight hard to follow this call. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”
Two significant things can both be true. Having a Black president meant our country has made a lot of progress and there are still significant problems that need to be addressed as demonstrated by this murderous terrorist act.
As Christians we have a unique opportunity to both call out the evil with forceful moral clarity and serve as a bridge to build understanding between groups who others would drive apart. By the Grace of God we could ride that bridge to the heal the spreading societal and personal brokenness. And we can stand against those who would otherwise divide and destroy us.