As of August 12, three people have died because of hatred and violence in Charlottesville, VA. A group of people gathered in Charlottesville to protest. Among them were neo-Nazis, White supremacists, and members of the KKK. As the violence and wickedness spread through the streets, I was left to watch through social media and the news, heartbroken.
I am a white Christian man from the South, and these people claimed to represent me. They claim they want to protect my heritage. They claim to defend something my forefathers fought for, some fading memory of antebellum glory, or some sort of vague and abstract “Cause.” Swept up by their wicked and vile rhetoric, a young man drove his vehicle into a crowd and shed innocent blood.
My family tree has been firmly rooted in Mississippi soil for generations. More than one of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy, and there were others in my family tree who committed wicked acts towards people whose skin was different than theirs. These are the things they point to, insisting they march for me, insisting that I am their brother, claiming to identify with me. They could not be more mistaken. I have a new identity that has nothing to do with race or bigotry.
One Man marched for me through the crowded streets of Jerusalem with a beam of wood on His shoulder, doomed to die. One Man is my brother, having stooped down from His glory and taking on flesh and bone, giving me a new family whose members are made of every ethnicity and nation. One Man has given me a new identity: I am His, and He is mine.
I’m still white. I’m not going to stop being white, but I can live as a white person in a way that honors God. I’m still southern. I’m not going to stop being southern, but I can do all that I can to bring healing to the South and fight against ideologies that open old wounds and encourage hatred. I still share a family tree with individuals who led sinful lives, but I can be honest about my heritage and not feel the need to defend it or make excuses for it. As I watch this horrific display of sin unfold, I am free to stand by the truth because I have a new identity in Jesus.
In light of this, how should Christians respond?
The Christian is free, amidst the wickedness and destruction of sin in this kind of situation, to help the broken, defend the innocent, stand for what is true, and pray for the souls of the hateful and deceived. The Christian is free from any sort of misled loyalty to a bloodline, a history, a heritage, or anything apart from what was accomplished on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
When we Christians see symbols of our faith lifted high for a cause as wicked and demonic as racism, we should be the first and loudest voices crying out in protest. These things belong to us and to our holy God, and we should never stand by, quietly watching, while sinful men soil them in their wickedness. Men and women hold in their hands verses from the Bible and images of the cross while dragging God’s character through the mud. What a time for the gospel to be unleashed! Let the idols of heritage and hatred fall to the ground as Jesus Christ marches triumphantly through the streets of Charlottesville.
Our parent organization, the American Family Association, has released a public statement on the event of Charlottesville, VA. We agree with this statement and unite in prayer for the families who have been forever changed by this hateful violence.