Wait! Hold on! What’s happening here? Until a week ago, the most frequently quoted Bible verse in these United States was “Judge not that you be not judged.” It was the logical destination of every conversation about bad behavior and moral living.
Suddenly everybody’s racing to judge the racists who carried Tiki torches through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. The President of the United States quickly condemned the evil and bigotry that unraveled into fighting and thuggery, but he was universally assailed for not specifically denouncing the white supremacists, neo-Nazi’s, and the Alt-Right. The hue and cry became such an avalanche that even Wal-Mart issued a statement demanding more passionate condemnation. Bloggers and columnists and celebrities are stumbling over one another to judge bigots and Klansmen in the most absolute terms possible! We keep hearing the same talking points: there must be no place in America for people like this!
Whatever happened to tolerance?
A poll conducted by the Barna Organization last year found 74% of Millennials agree with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” Overall, 57% of American adults agree that determining right and wrong is a matter of personal experience.” The bottom line is that there are no moral absolutes: what’s right is what’s right for you.
This prevailing ethos practiced by most Americans leaves no room for being honestly intolerant of racists, much less judging them in public. You don’t know their experiences. You have no idea what kind of bigotry they’ve suffered. You don’t even know if they’re secretly overcompensating for secret shame over gender issues or sexual addiction. Maybe their hatred for racial minorities because of self-loathing that’s been building up for years. What if all they need is understanding? Haven’t we told that love is the answer for Jihadi’s who stock up bombs and weapons to kill civilians? Surely there’s enough love to go around for a few neo-Nazi’s, too.
The universal spiritual mantra of 2017 America demands tolerance. Judge not that you be not judged.
If there is no universal evil that’s always wrong, are we denouncing racism because it’s unfashionable? And if we do agree that racism is an absolute, moral evil, that raises a logical question. What else? Once you acknowledge one sin that is always worthy of condemnation, might there be others? And what if you never act out your racism, but only harbor that resentment in your heart? Isn’t it still a sin? God says it is.
In case you’re wondering, I denounce racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism in the strongest terms possible, and call upon hateful people to repent of their evil. That’s a consistent position for me because Christ has taught me there are moral absolutes. Like others who follow Him, I recognize that racism, hatred, greed, and lust are all tragic symptoms of a more fundamental problem: sin. Sin destroys lives; not only the lives of those who practice iniquity but innocent bystanders around them as well. We have been taught to hate the sin, but love the sinner. We believe that the grace of God can transform the most twisted and evil life. We encourage all sinners to confess their sins and turn to the One and Only Son of God.
I am proud to stand in unity with my black fellow Americans when they suffer bigotry or fear for the safety of their sons and daughters. I have marched in Martin Luther King Day parades, and have demonstrated against the KKK in their hometown, Pulaski, Tennessee. I have ministered in Soweto, South Africa when it was an unelectrified ghetto crammed with disenfranchised black South Africans. My church partners with a school in one of the toughest districts in Washington, DC. Sometimes speaking up is not enough. You have to show up.
But I am not willing to stand with all the trendy, hypocrites posturing to look relevant, gain social currency, or make a profit by jumping on the Outrage Train that’s racing around the cultural universe today. When condemnation feels this good, it’s usually a bad thing. Are we doing this because it makes us feel superior? If we don’t believe there are moral absolutes, it’s sheer hypocrisy to condemn the behavior of others we don’t understand. And if I’m convinced there are God-given standards of right and wrong, why do I only speak out when the popular media grant me permission? The voices against injustice that count most are those that dare to cry out in the wilderness when others cower in silence.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for the family of Heather Heyer, the young woman who was tragically run down near the rally in Virginia. Please also pray for the families of two Virginia state police officers who died in a helicopter crash monitoring the violence that followed. Today’s news is all outrage, all the time! There’s seldom been a world more desperate for Good News? For such a time as this, you and I were brought into the Kingdom.
Lift up the Cross!