I hear it all the time.
During the election, when I expressed my angst or my disgust about the actions of my former political party, the GOP (technically, due to laziness, I haven’t taken the time to officially change my registration), I would immediately and consistently be met with a chorus of, “but what about Hillary?” responses. I was asked why I didn’t confront her and condemn her more regularly. That has continued in several different forms but has come to a head recently in the Alt-right, KKK, White supremacist issues that have arisen in our land, especially the one that happened in Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally a couple of weeks ago.
I have been challenged repeatedly for refusing to accept the moral equivalence of the Antifa or BLM with the Nazi/KKK/White supremacist groups that instigated the showdown.
- Why can’t we just condemn ALL racism? Why just focus on one side, one group?
- It has been asserted by more than one commenter here (sometimes in comments that have not seen the light of day) that the reason for this must be my sympathy with or support of BLM or Antifa. I’ve been called the “second most liberal man in the SBC.” Not sure who #1 was.
- I have been accused of not really being against racism, of having a warped value system, and several other warm, fuzzy things.
I am not writing this to fight back, to answer those people, or to settle scores. I’ve been doing this for a decade now and have reached the point where things like that kind of roll off my back (depending on the source, I suppose). But I do think it is wise for me to explain why it is that I do what I do.
1. I admit to the fact that I tend to “call out” conservative, right-wing, GOP, and even white groups more than I do Democrats, leftists, or groups rooted in other races. I don’t much enjoy “call ’em out” posts anyway, but if I do write one, it will be about Baptists, conservatives, the GOP, or what is wrong in right-wing politics – with only a few exceptions.
2. This is not because I despise these groups or disdain them, but because I am PART of them. I be conservative. My personal politics are pretty far to the right on most issues. Theologically, I am an inerrantist, complementarian, YEC, dispensational-leaning, antinomist (middle-ground on Calvinism), who voted Republican in every presidential race since 1976 until this year, when I voted for a 3rd party candidate. I call out my own.
I am much more likely to call out Southern Baptists than the CBF, conservatives than liberals, the GOP than the Dems, racial issues from MY side than those from other races. There are reasons for that which I will try to briefly explain. I realize my reasons will not satisfy the critics or convince everyone else that I am right, but this is my moral choice, based on my convictions.
So, here it is.
1. I only disciplined my kids.
Every once in a while, when we are out for a meal, I will tell my wife that I am going to go over to a family that is letting a child run roughshod in the restaurant and offer my services as a disciplinarian. Of course, that is nothing more than a joke. There are 4 people in the world against whom I have not “spared the rod” to spoil the child. Four. Only four. No more. They have my DNA in common. I only disciplined my own kids. I didn’t go around with a wooden spoon dealing with other family’s miscreants.
If I am going to call anyone out, it is likely to be “us” not “them.” I could stand up on Sunday at my church and preach against a host of sins, get applauded, and likely be called “courageous” for standing against evil. But in my church, it takes no courage to preach against homosexuality or adultery or spitting in the sink or any of those heinous evils in the world. As long as I focus on “other people’s sins” I am golden. When I turn my focus to the heart issues that may be affecting people in our fellowship, well sometimes that is less well received. “Us People’s Sins” are far less popular!
I believe that we ought to hold our own accountable. That’s why I dealt with the failings of the GOP far more than I ever have or ever will that of the Democratic Party. I don’t expect anything from the Democrats – their platform is pro-death, pro-perversion, pretty much pro-everything I’m against and anti-everything I’m for. But I once expected more from the GOP and therefore am more likely to call out their failures.
- It offends me more when my side messes up.
- I have more invested in my side getting it right.
- I think I have a moral obligation to “remove the log from my own eye before I start removing the speck from others.”
I am more likely to call out white racism for reasons that are obvious if you look at a picture of me. I am white. Is it okay for me to opine about Black issues? Sure, I have a Bible and it speaks to all things. But in my blogging, my focus is going to be on me and mine more than them and theirs.
2. I do not accept the equivalence of evil.
I am no fan of Antifa, BLM, or other left wing groups. The political ones seem to be made up of people who draw dangerously silly conclusions from misread evidence. And there are parts of these groups that use and promote violence. They should be prosecuted vigorously. I do not advocate for leniency for BLM or Antifa groups that break the law. If they do, they should be arrested and the full weight of justice brought to bear on them.
But I do not accept the argument that they are “just as bad.”
These are Nazis, KKK, white supremacists. Measuring evil is a difficult thing to do, I know, and so this is an argument I won’t win with anyone not inclined to agree with me already, but the evil of the protagonists here (the white supremacists) seem to far outweigh the evil of the reactionaries (Antifa, etc).
No one’s evil should be excused, but neither should it all be equated.
3. There is a danger is the equivalence of evil.
It is a phenomenon I have seen since my first foray into a blogpost comment section. It bothered me then and continues to bother me today. When someone brings up a problem in something Rev X has said or done, those on “his side” retort, “but what about what Rev Y did?” If you chastise X for his unkind words, you are reminded that Y said some first. If you call out the tactics of X, well, Y did the same – and worse.
It is certainly not the intent of every person who highlights the misdeeds of BLM or Antifa, but the danger is there that by doing that we can be either tacitly or intentionally giving cover to the “Unite the Right” evil-doers. Again, I am not accusing everyone of intending that, but it is a danger. Better to just condemn the instigators of the evil and deal with the reactionaries another time.
4. There’s history there.
Imagine, for the sake of illustration, that two men are fighting. One is beating the other senseless, for hours – a cruel, violent act. Towards the end, the second man rallies his strength and fights back, landing two or three blows. The police come along and arrest both men, saying, “We cannot excuse either of you for committing assault. To hit another person is wrong. Just wrong. You both were guilty of assault and you both have to pay.” Justice cries out for the man who gave the beating for hours to pay a higher price than the one who fought back for a minute or so.
For more than 400 years, white America has treated minorities horribly. Whites enslaved Blacks, brutalized them, subjugated them, tore down their family structures, discriminated against them and denied their basic civil rights. Our nation’s treatment of the Native peoples is a shameful story as well. The internment of Japanese was not a proud moment. There is much that is good about America and its history, but the besetting sin has been the fact that White America has treated this land as our land and people of color as guests on it. I love my nation, but I am not proud of our history of treatment of minorities.
Now, in recent years, as they have gained civil rights, some Black groups have gone too far. They have. There is no justification for acts of violence or other things that have been done. I have no sympathy for them. But history makes me wonder if we really want to be equating the suffering and abuse of minorities in America and the sufferings inflicted by BLM. This is not to excuse what they have done, but they have a long way to go to come close to matching the centuries of mistreatment that has happened – as is still happening today is some circles.
5. Clean your optics.
My camera was taking bad pictures and I wondered if something had gone wrong with it. Then I noticed what the problem was – the lens was smudged. It was gunky and so the pictures were smeared.
Sometimes our hearts can be good but our optics can be bad. I think there are a lot of good-intentioned, well-meaning Christians who really truly think they are defending “truth, justice, and the American Way” when they say things like “I am against ALL forms of racism.” Of course, you are. We all are – hopefully. But when read the great article that Kyle Howard wrote. The optics on that are not good. It looks to many of our Black brothers and sisters like we are wafflings, making excuses, and defending the indefensible when we do that.
We need to keep our optics clean – because of history and our commitment to gospel purposes!
Again, I don’t expect that any of this will convince those disposed to disagree. But it is not that I think that everything one side does is right and everything another does is wrong. That kind of thinking is foolish. But I believe my job is to clean MY house. I think we, White Christians, should be leading out in dealing with racism – exposing it, fighting it, and doing whatever we can to eliminate every trace of it from the church. Obviously, that will never happen till Christ returns, but it is a noble goal. We ought to stop doing anything that could even look like we are standing on the wrong side.
Christ is on the side of gospel unity, of races coming together as one. He is working to make “One New Man” by breaking down the walls that divide and establish a people from every tribe and language on earth. That is our destiny – we might as well get busy on that now.