White Privilege and the Gospel’s Response

"...those two things are not mutually exclusive. Fighting for equality and trusting solely in Christ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, those two things go hand in hand." - A Day in His Court

1009 reads

There are 8 Comments

Joel Shaffer's picture

Spot on!  

mmartin's picture

I honestly don't know what to think of "White Privilege."  That term, like "abuse" has been used so often and in so many different situations it has lost much of its meaning.  I've seen videos passed around on FB that are intended to simulate "privilege," but come off as contrived, silly, and useless.  I've seen it used in the context that seems to me as a denial of personal responsibility & accountability.  And yet, I recognize that there are many people, of all races & economic strata, that have various types of "privilege" which many other people do not.  Some people deny it, some people say it exists, but as as white male I'm blind to it.  OK, and what does that mean?

So, what am I supposed to think or do about it?  It is just an awareness thing so I can empathize with those without "privilege?"  Am I supposed to contribute one's month's wages to slavery reparations?  Do I live in perpetual self-loathing and shame that I am a white male?  Do I travel to Ghana and adopt some children as penance for my whiteness?  

I'm inclined to live out that I should love and respect all, that I am just as sinful as anyone else and that we all need a savior, and that I should take a stand against injustice and inequality (no matter the type) where I can.  I will teach my kids the same.

Beyond that . . . . not sure what to think.

G. N. Barkman's picture

The truth is, everybody has some advantages, and everybody has some disadvantages when compared to others.  We are all born into differing circumstances, and all experience different situations throughout life.  So?  Christians understand that these differences are by God's design.  They also understand that God, not themselves, are responsible for their comparative advantages, and likewise God takes responsibility for their disadvantages, except those which are self imposed.  (And ultimately, God is even responsible for these, but that takes us far afield.)

What unbelievers constantly rail against is the injustices in this world that disadvantage some compared to others.  When you ignore God and His Word, there really is no logical reason why these things exist, and the assumption is that they can be "fixed" if we would only wake up and acknowledge they exist.  Wrong.  Sin is the root cause, and only Christ can deal with sin.  Until then, we must accept God's sovereign purposes for the world as it presently exists under the curse.  We should be kind, compassionate, and helpful to those who suffer.  We should not rail against any and all whom we perceive to enjoy advantages.  Such apparent injustices must be left with God.  We must accept His wisdom and right to rule His universe as He chooses.

G. N. Barkman

Joel Shaffer's picture

I honestly don't know what to think of "White Privilege."  That term, like "abuse" has been used so often and in so many different situations it has lost much of its meaning.  I've seen videos passed around on FB that are intended to simulate "privilege," but come off as contrived, silly, and useless.  I've seen it used in the context that seems to me as a denial of personal responsibility & accountability.  And yet, I recognize that there are many people, of all races & economic strata, that have various types of "privilege" which many other people do not.  Some people deny it, some people say it exists, but as as white male I'm blind to it.  OK, and what does that mean?

So, what am I supposed to think or do about it?  It is just an awareness thing so I can empathize with those without "privilege?"  Am I supposed to contribute one's month's wages to slavery reparations?  Do I live in perpetual self-loathing and shame that I am a white male?  Do I travel to Ghana and adopt some children as penance for my whiteness?  

I'm inclined to live out that I should love and respect all, that I am just as sinful as anyone else and that we all need a savior, and that I should take a stand against injustice and inequality (no matter the type) where I can.  I will teach my kids the same.

Beyond that . . . . not sure what to think.

When it comes any of these sociological terms that are used in the public square I believe we need to carefully examine how they are defining them.  What do people mean when they use the term, "Social Justice?" How are people defining "White-Privilege?"  How are they using the term, "Intersectionality?"   By actively listening to what is and isn't being said, we can determine if what they are saying lines up with Scripture.    In many of the conversations here on Sharper Iron, why does our response to white privilege end inevitably end up with thinking we need to live "in perpetual self-loathing and shame as a White Male" and or we would have to embrace "doctrine of perpetual white guilt" in order to believe that there is such a thing as  "White Privilege?"  For all of the almost 30 years that I've been part of doing urban ministry among primarily black folks, I've never felt that I had to embrace some perpetual white guilt or shame.  I haven't apologized ever for my "whiteness."  From my standpoint,  the vast majority of black Christians whom I know that use the term "White Privilege" desire empathy from their white brothers and sisters in Christ because there is still subtle systemic racism that they face on a fairly regular basis, which white people don't have to deal with.   And they desire that their white Christian brothers and sisters to (as MMartin has eloquently stated)  "take a stand against injustice and inequality (no matter what type) where I can.  And teach my kids to do the same."          

mmartin's picture

Joel,  you said, "In many of the conversations here on Sharper Iron, why does our response to white privilege end inevitably end up with thinking we need to live "in perpetual self-loathing and shame as a White Male" and or we would have to embrace "doctrine of perpetual white guilt" in order to believe that there is such a thing as  "White Privilege?" "

I feel the answer is because that is the message that many woke white folks seem to perpetuate about themselves and how the rest of us should think.  Many whites take the race issue farther, much farther than many are asking for in the race those whites are supposedly advocating for.

As for the blacks who honestly feel the way you describe, as much as I can as a white man, I do empathize and recognize that reality.

To me, "White Privilege" is that approximately 76% of the US are white and around 16% are black (2014 statistics).  Guess which culture will likely be dominate and which culture will have certain advantages??

That said, that definition (albeit broadly defined) is a far cry from what is often too touted as "Privilege" by the leftist media and woke SJW's.  I think those folks do as much actual harm as they do any perceived good.

I can empathize with the former.  I despise the latter.

G. N. Barkman's picture

There are a lot of categories that enjoy some level of privilege over others.  What about blonde privilege, blue-eyed privilege, tall privilege, thin privilege?  (I could go on and on.)  I'm not blonde nor blue eyed, so I suffer some disadvantages over others.  I am of medium height, so I am disadvantaged to those who are taller, but advantaged over those who are shorter.  Heavy people perpetually suffer prejudice.  Thin is in.  I have a nice head of hair at age 71, and I accept the advantage that gives me over those who are bald.  We could probably identify another hundred factors which advantage some over others.  We all experience these differences, learn to live with them, adjust to them, and pursue the life we have been given by God.  Granted, none of these items normally rise to the level of skin color, but the smaller factor does not erase the reality that we all face a number of disadvantages in life.  When I minister in Zimbabwe, Africa, I am targeted for extra police scrutiny because I am white!  That's simply a fact of life, and I learn to deal with it.  The problem is sin, not skin.

There's no use obsessing over the obvious imperfections of a sin cursed world.  This world is not perfect and never will be until Christ returns to make all things new.  The plethora of maddening imperfections should remind us of  the destructive power of sin and the need for redemption in Christ.  Even so come, Lord Jesus!  

 

G. N. Barkman

Mike Harding's picture

Amen brother Barkman.  I grew up on the south side of Chicago (24th and California), otherwise known as "Junk Yard Dog Territory" in a racially mixed neighborhood.  My Dad only had a 4th grade education, was an alcoholic, and drove a city truck for Roadway express.   He was not a Christian.  My Mom married my Dad when she was 17, didn't finish high school, and had to work hard all her life in menial jobs just to put some food on the table.  We were anything but privileged.  However, when the gospel came to my house through a man who picked us up for Sunday School on a church bus, our lives began to change.  It was the gospel that changed our lives and a great church (Marquette Manor Baptist in Chicago proper) that helped us spiritually grow.  I am now in my fortieth year of pastoring (35 years at FBC Troy),and my brother is the CEO of Henry Schein One, one of the world's largest medical supply companies.  What changed the life and direction of our family was God, the Bible, the gospel, and a great church.  Our family never received welfare of any kind or scholarships to any school.  Nevertheless, the character development through God's Word made an enormous difference in our lives.  We need to quit obsessing about race and center our attention on God's word, the NT church, godly character development, and thank God that we all live in the Greatest Country on God's Green Earth, despite its faults and checkered history.  That will make the greatest difference regardless of skin color. 

Pastor Mike Harding

ScottS's picture

Mike said "we need to quit obsessing about race" and I agree (full disclosure, I am a white male). This is my biggest issue with the use of the phrase "White Privilege" (or "Black Power"/"Black Pride" or "White Power"/"White Pride", et al.) it puts (and keeps) the focus on race and on what separates people because of race. If we want to move past racism, race has to be eliminated as a factor in categorizing others by all sides. Blacks don't want race to be a factor in how they are treated (and rightly so), yet they work against that by making it a factor in how they categorize and treat whites and how they categorize themselves.

But sin is, as noted by brother Barkman, the real issue in this division of humanity as well. Indeed, the unfortunate truth is that race relations are going to deteriorate more before the coming of Christ (ethnos will rise against ethnos—ethnic group against ethnic group—Mt 24:7-8). We as Christians do not need to be a part of that, and we can work to educate others to not view people by the color of their skin, but we are not going to ultimately turn society from that course any more than we will be able to turn people from sin apart from the gospel (and even those of us who believe the gospel still sin and live in a world of sin, so we slip, we err; so even Christians will not walk perfect in this area either—but we can strive to). We need to view people as people (human beings), regardless of skin color, and work with each other as individuals, addressing behavior as individuals.

Scott Smith, Ph.D.

The goal now, the destiny to come, holiness like God—
Gen 1:27, Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:15-16