Two weeks after Charlottesville, I was sitting in a church when the pastor, while referencing the current and very scary state of America, simply said, “Hate groups are on the rise.”
Of all the things he could have mentioned—the racism in our country today, the blatant immorality of our leadership, the sexual assault and rape culture—he chose to highlight the “hate groups.”
The church is far too silent about these issues. If you need evidence you only need to look to what happened a few weeks ago when a pastor admitted to sexually assaulting a minor while he was the youth pastor, and instead of losing his job, received a standing ovation for his bravery in confessing the sin.
Now, are hate groups on the rise? Most definitely. They have names and evil motives. Both need to be clearly denounced. Is sexual assault a sin? You bet. It’s also a crime. It needs to be treated as such.
For the church to highlight one and ignore the other is an injustice. Forgive me for getting political, but
It’s time for us to get political.
I am not talking about liberal versus conservative. I am not talking red versus blue, tax cuts versus welfare programs, or Trump versus Hillary.
I’m talking about the politics of white supremacy versus radical inclusion. I am talking about the bigotry of the Neo-Nazi movement versus the universal love we are called to. I am talking about the fear tactics patriarchy uses to govern versus the spirit of power Christ has given to us all.
We often think politics is just about electing government officials. It’s the power dynamics of people groups, it’s the debate of who (or what) should lead us, it’s the activities that mark a citizenry and a nation. All these topics are things the church should be concerned about.
Politics is what makes an act by the hands of a Muslim automatically deemed terrorism, but the same act by a white man from Ohio is simply a violent car crash. Politics is what deems one man’s actions worthy of losing his job and reputation, but the same act by another man an “incident” “many years ago” that warrants forgiveness. Politics is what allows us to condemn one’s free speech of kneeling during the national anthem but support others’ free speech of marching in the streets. Politics is what allows certain people to stay in power and certain people to stay oppressed. Politics is what Christians should be intimately concerned with.
We don’t get to hide behind a Bible verse and we don’t get to change the subject to something easier to digest. The story of redemption involves you and me taking an active role in the hard work. There is no middle ground here. If you find yourself wanting to straddle the line on race issues in America, ask yourself why. If you find yourself wanting to excuse away claims of sexual assault, ask yourself what gospel you are living by.
Hate groups are on the rise. Specifically, white supremacists. Neo-Nazis. Domestic terrorists. Nationalists. Our current president responded to the events in Charlottesville by saying there were “many sides.”
There are not many sides. As Christians, we should make clear which side we are standing on—which side Jesus would be standing on.
Sexual assault is not on the rise, but—thankfully—victims coming forward are on the rise. Women who have been assaulted both yesterday and years ago. Men who have been abused and ridiculed for it. People who have been raped by family and friends alike. These are not mere incidents. These are not to be dealt with internally or simply prayed over. These are matters of justice and are matters that deserve real consequences. We serve a God of justice and a God who serves victims. Let us be a church who does the same.
Cover image by Brian Wertheim.