Thursday, February 12, 2015

Playing Favorites With the Gospel

There is a particular group of people very much ostracized by the Christian community today. They are a group that has been largely despised by most Americans. The Christian community does not tolerate them. We do not accept them. We kick them out of our churches when their attitudes and behaviors are made known. Why do we treat this group of people so much differently than other groups of sinners? There's even some uncertainty as to whether they are born this way or if they've come into this lifestyle from a lifelong series of choices. Why do we treat racists the way we do?

Woah woah. Did I just say racists? Wasn't I supposed to say homosexuals? I'm confused.

Imagine how bizarre it would be if we gave a racist a platform to spew his hate and his anti-God lifestyle? Wouldn't that just be dumb on our part? And wrong?

Is there any sin we're more willing to "have a conversation with" than homosexuality (probably anxiety. Christians think anxiety is a sign of humility and not a sin, but I digress)? Why don't we have conversations with racists? I'm confused. Why are we so eager to reconcile with homosexuals but not with racists? Don't racists need to hear the good news too? Are they beyond the scope of God's redeeming love?

A few months ago when racism was all the rage there was a panel discussion (A Time to Speak) with some prominent Christian leaders. There were a couple white pastors and Christian leaders and the rest were black pastors and leaders. All of them, except for 1, spoke as conservative liberals. I call them that because I think they preach Christ from the pulpit but sound, at least on Twitter, like a typical brainwashed liberal. The term white privilege was thrown around and the one guy kept saying Anglo over and over and over. They incessantly stated there was systemic racism in the criminal justice system. All the same politically correct mumbo jumbo you'd hear on MSNBC was being said by conservative Christian leaders.

Not to my surprise or the surprise of anyone familiar with his ministry, Voddie Baucham manned up and dropped truth bomb after truth bomb on the rest of the placating panel. The salient point of his time was when he asked why Christians were so eager to have conversation with homosexuals but not racists. He wasn't actually asking for conversation with racists but simply pointing out the insanity of giving the platform to people in willing rebellion of God.

There were two separate discussions but the first one was so unacceptably unbalanced (1 dissenting view and 0 law enforcement officers) that I couldn't handled another ill-conceived lecture.

Racism is not a sin tolerated by the church. Racism should not be tolerated by the church. The Bible doesn't even address race. It addresses ethnicity and cultures, but not race. That's all I need to know. Racism is wrong because race is a man-made concept and it's wrong because all people were created by God and in His image. Pretty simple. The Gospel is for the Jew and for the Gentile. Who is the Gentile? Anyone who is not a Jew. So the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone.

Who is everyone? Is it everyone but racists? Or are racists still human beings? So why do we play favorites with the Gospel? Why do we rationalize so many sins on behalf of people?

Why aren't we eager to twist the Bible to tolerate racism when we're eager to do so to tolerate homosexuality?

Do you know why racism isn't talked about a whole lot from the white pulpit? Because no one tolerates it. TV shows don't glorify racists. Colleges don't teach people to accept racists. Our kids aren't watching movies where 2 racists get married and have a lovely family. We're not watching car commercials where 2 racists are kissing. We're not seeing people getting sued for not baking  cake for racists. We're not seeing our government overstep its bounds to implement illogical laws in favor of racists.

But didn't James write to his people, the Jews? Yes! Wasn't he addressing his ethnic group? Yes! I don't think that's wrong. I think it only makes sense for a pastor to pastor people he connects with. A local church is going to be comprised of a group of people representing that community. But what about diversity? Well is diversity mandated in the Bible? Is every local church to be made up of X% whites and Y% blacks and so on? Or should a local church represent the community in which it's located? Which seems more practical and reasonable to you?

This does NOT mean an inner-city church shoos away a rich Latino man or a midde-class Asian man. This does NOT mean a suburban church doesn't welcome a black family from downtown. The church doesn't have a say over who comes in the doors in terms of ethnicity, class and other superficial stuff. I'm just saying a local church is going to reflect the community in which it's located and that's not a bad thing. We can't get all worried about not having enough black people. That's no way to look at church. Would I love if more black people attended my church? Of course! I think that'd be great! When I look at my church I think it reflects fairly accurately its surrounding environment. It's in a predominantly white middle-class area and that's who most of the members are.
Look at how diverse this group is! Is this even remotely realistic?

Back to James. Was he a racist for writing to Jews and not to others? No! He was a Jew writing to Jews. Why is that wrong? Why is it wrong for a black pastor to write to a black congregation about black issues? Why is it wrong for a pastor in the suburbs to write to suburbanites about issues in the suburbs? None of those things are wrong if what they are teaching is consistent with the Bible!

What would be wrong is if James wrote to the Jews and just bashed the church in Ephesus for not being Jews. Or if a black pastor preached a sermon on white privilege or if a suburban pastor preached a sermon telling people that black people are inferior. It'd even be wrong for a white pastor to try to make white people feel guilty for being white and bash police officers as a collective group in the process. That would be wrong and irresponsible. Thank goodness that isn't exactly what happened on the A Time to Speak panel.

I couldn't keep myself from rambling and rabbit trailing. My apologies.

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