“White supremacy is wrong. It is anti-gospel and ought to be opposed with every fiber of our being. You cannot love Christ and claim racial superiority.”
“Yes, but what about Black Lives Matter (BLM)? Or antifa?”
This conversation, or some variation of it has played out repeatedly across the country over the last few days. What should we do with it? Is it a valid question? Is there moral equivalency between the two arguments?
As we begin, let’s state upfront that, generally speaking, any group who employs violence and/or anarchist behavior in resistance to the rule of law should be considered to be on the wrong side of the Bible. This is true of white supremacists. This is true of the Alt-Right. This is true of BLM. This is true of antifa. This is true of those employing said behavior disconnected from any group. This is true of any yet to be named group. With rare exception, followers of Christ abhor disobedience to the rule of law, and particularly reject violence to accomplish those means.
With that said, it’s important to clarify that the questions about the sides in this debate do not revolve around morally equivalent arguments. It’s important to say that violence is wrong regardless who does it, but these two sides are not on equal moral footing.
There are obviously two sides in this disagreement. The two sides, however, are not the alt-right against BLM or antifa, as often supposed. On one side there is the alt-right, or white supremacists. On the other side there are those who believe that every life is equal and should both matter equally, and enjoy equal rights and freedoms. Attaching themselves to this second group are occasionally some who would employ immoral means to accomplish this ideal. One on side of the equation you have those who would support the idea that every person is equal, regardless of race. Those on this side of the equation – even when they do not know Christ – are advocating for a gospel shaped position. They are siding with God and his word which supports the truth that all men and women are created equal, and in the image of God. They are agreeing with Genesis, Romans, Galatians and Revelation, along with so many other portions of scripture that highlight racial equality and connect that equality with the gospel. On the edges of this movement are some who are employing sinful means to accomplish their goals. Some in BLM and antifa would fit that description. When they employ unbiblical means, they ought to be condemned. They are not, however, the core of the racial equality movement. God, his word, and every bible-believing Christian stand at the center of that argument, even if some try to co-opt the argument with immoral means. Violent means are clearly sinful, even if the goal of racial equality is biblically faithful.
Those on the other side, however, are anything but morally equivalent with the racial equality movement. The alt-right, or white supremacists, are committed to both a violent, ungodly message and violent, ungodly methods, or means. There is no moral justification on their side, whatsoever. There is no scriptural support to justify their position, and any efforts on their part to couch their movement in Christian terminology ought to be rejected as doing violence to the biblical text. Their message (that some races are inferior and that they either want to eliminate those inferior races, or they want a culture void of those inferior races) is inherently a morally violent ideal. What’s more, their methods of accomplishing that, whether intentionally violent or not, are also immoral and violent. Therefore there is no moral value on their side of the equation whatsoever.
I have attempted to draw a picture of the argument to illustrate my point.
So, yes, let’s call out violence on any side and call it what it is; immoral. But let’s also be careful to recognize that these aren’t morally equivalent arguments. Let’s say with certainty that one side is wholly and completely immoral, and the other side is inherently on the side of God and his word, even if some who affiliate with that side attempt to hijack a good and godly message with ungodly and immoral measures.
*For the purpose of clarity, and because some have contacted me about what they believe appears to be, on my part, some level of naiveté regarding groups like antifa, etc. it is important to say that the purpose of writing this is not to give any group a pass. There is no intent to cover over, for instance, the violence perpetrated by antifa or others. While acknowledging that some groups are engaging in horrific behavior, the point of this article is to help us understand that, as offensive as some are, they do not, and we should not allow them to, represent the racial equality movement and, when we constantly turn the conversation to them, we risk obfuscating the importance of the racial equality movement. Let’s call out sin when we see it, regardless of group, and let’s continue to maintain the integrity of the racial reconciliation movement.*