Most of you are probably aware of the horrible recent events in Charlottesville, VA. Thirty-seven people were violently injured and one young woman lost her life. It all started with a group protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. There are obviously many racist hate groups who want to see monuments like these protected. But there are also a lot of well-meaning Christians who stand up for symbols of the Confederacy as well. I want to appeal to my brothers and sisters in Christ to love your neighbors more than you love monuments and flags.
There has been a lot of talk about trying to erase history by removing these statues and monuments. But if you’re going to stand up for history, you should probably be aware of the historical facts. Here are a few historical facts for you:
- The Confederacy was fighting to protect the institution of slavery. Period. Anyone who says different is revising history (source).
- Most Confederate monuments and symbols were erected either with the rise of Jim Crow laws in the 1920s or during the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s (source). These monuments were erected to disenfranchise not memorialize.
- Interestingly enough, Robert E. Lee opposed Confederate monuments. He said they would do nothing but, “keep open the sores of war” (source).
I’m not in favor of “erasing history.” There is much we can learn from history. But there is some history we should lament, not celebrate. We should lament the Civil War; the slavery that caused it, the lives that were lost because of it, and the decades of segregation and oppression that followed it. We need memorials to remind us not to repeat the sins of our past. We do not need memorials to celebrate those sins.
Love Your Neighbor
This blog post isn’t a rally cry to tear down monuments. It is a rally cry to love people. Love is intentional. Love is sacrificial. Love puts people above policies, above pride, above monuments, above flags, and even above nation.
I know you’re not trying to come across like a racist. I know you just love the South. I know you love the heritage and the history. But I challenge you to love your neighbor more.
- Loving your neighbor means trying to do what is honorable in their sight (Romans 12:17).
- Loving your neighbor means doing your very best to live “in harmony” (Romans 12:16) and “peaceably” with everyone (Romans 12:18).
- Loving your neighbor means doing “no wrong” to him or her (Romans 13:10).
- Loving your neighbor means not rejoicing at our nation’s past wrong-doing (1 Corinthians 13:6).
As the apostle Paul said, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).
I’m not saying we all need to go tear down a monument. Please don’t think that’s what I am saying. All I am saying is that we need to love people more than monuments. We need to pour contempt on all our pride. We need to have the mind of Christ, humble ourselves, and consider others more significant than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).
You can say Confederate monuments and the Rebel Flag are not racists symbols in your mind, but that’s not the question. The question is, “When I care more about the preservation of these symbols than I do loving my neighbor, what message am I sending?” That’s the question we ought to be asking.
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace…” (Romans 14:19).
I love you and God loves you,