I expect to see materialists cave to the ambitions of their hearts and those of others. Specifically, I expect to see them leading or joining in the chorus of societal ungodliness. I’m not even surprised when I see Christians doing the same, because I know nominal faith is a thing. What I don’t expect to see are Reformed men and women – who love sound exegesis, Word-saturated homes, the vitality of local churches, the absolute sovereignty of the Triune God – giving themselves quickly and absolutely to such movements.
“Quickly” may not even be the right word. I need a term that conveys immediacy… rapture. The Reformed Rapture (c.2018-19) came like a thief in the night. Theologians of all millennial opinions suddenly experienced this Dispensational phenomenon. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we were changed. The trumpet rang out from seminary boards and inconsolable millenials, and the dead in Marx rose from cultural obscurity. The perishable body of sound exegesis put on the imperishable form of empathy… but some of us were left behind. All that’s left for us is a tribulation, that by some means of grace we might repent of our white privilege. The Reformed Rapture neutered our preachers, soured our conventions, rewound our reformations, and took away our Fresca. Somebody give the man his Fresca.
So this will be a short memoir of the tribulation. I want to directly address the mantra that not a few Reformed people have bought into. This won’t happen in one article, but I have to start somewhere. Here is a brief restatement of the idea:
White people are racists. This doesn’t necessarily speak to the conscience of “white people,” it concerns the undertones of the culture they have created. Since the 1600’s, light skin has been the upper caste of the New World. “One drop” of “black blood” distorts the racial purity of whiteness, so segregation was inevitable. This artificial hierarchy justified slavery, fueled the KKK, and prompted Jim Crow laws. Today, white privilege still reigns from sea to shining sea, albeit under the skin. Racism is systematic to American society. The church, out of a love of neighbor and desire for truth, must seek justice by bringing-down the racist empire of white privilege.
First, let’s think about “white privilege.” The reality of white privilege was first explained to me by means of bandaids. Walk into Walgreens and go look for some bandaids. If there is only one color offered, 9 times out of 10 it will be for light skin. Bandaids don’t keep the man down, of course – but this supposedly illustrates the reality of white privilege. And yes, the fact that most bandaids sold in the United States are/have been for light skin is an example of white privilege.
However, what seems to be the problem? At this moment, lighter-skins are still a majority in the United States. We should expect there to be more light-skinned bandaids – actually, there should be more light-skinned bandaids. The response goes something like, “There is a disproportionate number of light-skinned bandaids, and either way it makes minorities feel uncomfortable and ‘othered.'” The first response is mute because if someone wants to start manufacturing more dark-skinned bandaids, they can do it because #capitalism.
The second response is fallacious in its assumption of injustice. First, one person is not responsible for how another person emotionally responds to any degree of variables. I understand that this is antithetical to many principles in our culture today (even in our courts), but I stand by the position. Second, emotive elements aside, is it unjust for majorities to receive certain privileges by default for being a majority? It depends on what kinds of “privileges” we’re talking about, but a good, general answer is, “No.”
“Privilege” is not a naughty word. People use the term to incite guilt, but there is nothing inherently guilty about privilege. In fact, many privileges are blessings from God – Abraham certainly was privileged. I praise God for privilege. Next time someone calls you privileged, say “Amen!” or “Thanks be to God!” and see what happens.
The question is not whether privilege exists, the question is whether an existing privilege is justified. Do I have a right to possess this authority, object, relationship, etc.? I had written a lengthy evaluation of natural and volitional privileges, but I scrapped that draft in favor to this simpler, more fundamental inquiry. Let’s run through some scenarios.
- A Medieval Duke may sleep with a bride on her wedding night.
- People of Arabian ancestry living in Saudi Arabia are less likely to be looked at sideways.
- Your neighbor hasn’t been to a hospital since he was circumcised, but you go once a month for chemotherapy.
Scenario 1 is adultery, which no one has a right to engage in. Therefore, it is an example of unjust privilege. Scenario 2 is a natural consequence of being a majority, and is not wicked. People you are unfamiliar with do not deserve to be treated like people you are familiar with. Scenario 3 is also not wickedness. Your neighbor has no reason to apologize to you for being healthy while you have cancer. Inevitably, discerning whether or not something should be a privilege requires that we know and obey God’s law… and that’s where the problems come from.
It isn’t as simple as identifying privilege. We have to know what justice is (i.e. God’s law), and then compare specific situations and events to that standard. No one wants to treat situations individually, however. If we did that, then the narrative would collapse. We don’t want to reserve judgment until after trial; we want to burn down Kenosha now. Why? Whatever the reason (pure rage, insecurity, envy, Marxist revolution, etc.), it isn’t justice. Justice presumes innocence unless corroborating testimonies intersect in a formal trial (Deuteronomy 19).
The concept of “white guilt,” that there is something intrinsically evil behind “white privilege,” is false. Pointing to privileges does not prove the theory of “white privilege” and it certainly should not incite “white guilt.”
Another example: we are told that if there are a higher percentage of “white” children than “black” children in private schools, then “black’s” are oppressed, “white’s” are privileged, and this privilege should be repented of. Is it wrong for a child to receive a good education, and should that child feel ashamed of this education? No and no. The answer is not found in taking away the privileges of some children to attend private schools; the answer is to expand that privilege to more and more children. Make privilege great again.
“But the ‘black’ community is intentionally kept from private schools.” Hardly, but even so, the answer to segregation is excellence and eschatological hope. If pricks will not let you into their cool kids club, go start your own club and outperform them. Anyone who runs a “racist” school is on the wrong side of history, is not filled with the Spirit, and will inevitably educate their posterity poorly. In the eschatological marathon, God’s law wins. Therefore, instead of throwing a fit about certain “white” people not wanting to touch dark-skin, go start your own school, your own business, your own institution, and outperform them.
“Typical answer – you are ignorant of the actual problems! ‘Black’ communities do not have the means of accomplishing this, because of ‘white’ oppression (e.g. redlining).” First, in the United States, there is no substantive obstacle between a hard-working man and a reasonable goal. This is a remarkable land of opportunity. Here I stand. Come at me bro.
Second, yea, what about redlining? It definitely appears dubious, and I suspect certain men with wicked motives led a charge to “keep the man down” in various “black” communities. I have no problem acknowledging that. That is an example of injustice.
However, again, the answer is not to bring one man down, it is to raise the other man up. God wants us to make the earth fruitful (Genesis 1:28), for Abraham to bless the nations (12:1-3). God wants the nations, the families, the cultures, the governments, to flourish and be discipled (Psalm 2; Matthew 28:18-20). If one man is rich because he is robbing another man, then that thief should be judged. But if one man is rich because God gave him the privilege of riches, and another man is poor, then let each obey God in their respective allotments, and let the poor man pursue riches honorably in the joy of the Lord if he desires.
I’m sure my racism and entitlement betrays my whiteness and maleness. Gee whiz, you guessed it. These are issues I’m not afforded moral capital to discuss…
excuse me, I fell asleep. What were we talking about? Ah yes, the Reformed Rapture. I’ve been Left Behind, and maybe next week I’ll add to the Great Tribulation Memoirs.