I may have been born way up north, but I was raised a southern country boy through and through. I have a very distinct southwest Virginia accent. I was raised on sweet tea, cornbread and onions, cathead biscuits, brown beans, fried chicken (really fried everything), and lard and butter were the shortenings of choice.
Likewise I was raised to be southern proud…but never racist. In fact, to me being southern was never about racism but rather a more laid back culture than those faster talking northern city folk.
Many years ago I was preaching a message on the kingdom being ‘colorless’. At the time I was preaching to an almost totally lily-white congregation in an effort to make the church more multiracial. In the message I made the statement, “The south was wrong on the issues of slavery and racism.” Afterward, a very influential member of the church and community pulled me to the side and said, “You may be right but you probably shouldn’t be so vocal about it around here.”
I didn’t remain silent after that discussion and I will not remain silent now. The Southern Confederacy was dead wrong and unchristian in its stand on slavery and racism. Period. Biblical passages were twisted to prove invalid points. It still happens today as anyone can pull a passage of scripture out of its context and supposedly ‘prove’ just about any point of view you want to take.
The present battle over the battle flag of the Confederacy is another issue we must now deal with and the implications of it are far greater than simply southern culture. For many years of my life I viewed the southern battle flag through lily-white southern eyes and considered it nothing more than a remaining cultural symbol of the south, without reference to her sins against others of color.
I was wrong.
The flag needs to come down from government public buildings.
I am in no way saying the flag should be banned altogether. This is a free country with free speech and I for one would not have it any other way. If individuals want to fly it, wear it, or tattoo it, have at it. However every Christian needs to weigh the implications of this flag in light of other Christians and what they have experienced under it’s banner, not just 150 years ago, but today.
My desire is that another banner be raised over all others…
Psalm 60:4 (NASB95) 4 You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.
A genuine Kingdom of God minded people must allow nothing fleshly to divide us. Our first allegiance is to God and other believers no matter race or culture. Just as Jesus is LORD over everything that can be named, the banner of the LORD must fly high above cultural heritage as well.
I’m still a southern country boy at heart in the sense of all the good things it means to me. That will never change. However, my mindset about other things that hurt people and causes harm to come to them has changed
Take down the flag, but be sure to raise the Banner of the Lord in its place.