Today we celebrate—well, many do—the birth of our great country. Independence Day. This year more than others I feel compelled to say something about that.
I spent 21 years in the United States Air Force. I served with the greatest men and woman, Black, White, Brown and everything in between. There were so many places, so many faces, so many things seen: joy and sorrow. Side-splitting laughs and heartbreaking tears. Rejoicing and mourning. Dorm rooms and tents. Foxholes and bunkers. Deployments and leave time. Chem suits, parkas and bunny boots. Cammies and service dress. Combat boots and corfam/high gloss shoes. Standing at attention (and you better not move—just ignore that giant mosquito that’s about to take a chunk of flesh out of your face!), Parade Rest, and At Ease (whew! Praise the Lord!). Ribbons, medals, and reprimands (what the _____ were you thinking!). Rifles and guns. Bullets and bombs. C-130’s, bombers, and fighter jets. We were and always will be brothers and sisters in arms, from every walk of life, knit together by a common creed and a common cause: to defend the greatest, most exceptional nation, the United States of America, from all enemies foreign and domestic.
No, our country is not perfect. Far from it. Yet, despite our many grievous past and even present sins, we continue to strive to make this a more perfect union. That in part is what makes us a great nation. Maybe you object to all of this. You’re free to do so. Maybe you refuse to call our country great. You’re free to do so. Maybe even deep inside you hate our country. You’re free to do so—and you’re more than free and welcome to leave it. Maybe like me you grieve over the various ways that we still betray our true American values. We are free to tell the world about it, and we’re free to peacefully march and protest to call our nation to live up to its true values.
In America, you and I can do all of those of things. Do you know why? Because this is the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE, and it was the brave men and women down through the years, Black, White, Red, Brown, and Yellow that believed in our true American values so much that they gave their lives to secure them for us. Independence–the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy–are ALL BLOOD BOUGHT, paid in full by our fellow American brothers and sisters. Don’t ever forget that. When you see that flag, don’t ever forget that. When you protest, don’t ever forget that. Whether you celebrate, or not, don’t forget the treasure in blood that gave you and me the rights and privileges and opportunities to pursue our dreams that we enjoy as Americans.
We are a proud people—a proud American family that is made up of every conceivable ethnicity and race, united by the eternal principle that we are all created equal with unalienable rights under God (NOT the government), such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe on this one day we will decide not to focus on past or present sins, and how we fail to sometimes live up to our values. Instead, maybe we will take time to just be thankful for living in America–in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Maybe we will take the time to be thankful for being an American, and give thanks for the sacrifices that were made so that we and future generations could have the rights and privileges we enjoy. For me today, I am more thankful to God than ever to live in the greatest country on earth, and to simply be an American.
Is it true that “all that we are asked to bear we can bear?” (Another way that folks put this is to say that “God won’t put more on us than we can bear?)
The person who sent me this quote about bearing all we can bear summed up its meaning when she said that all you need to do is “put on your big girl pants and suck it up, you can do it.”
The quote might sound like a profound spiritual principle, but it is really based more on worldly wisdom than divine truth, and as noted in my prior post, can result in pride on the one hand, and guilt and anxiety on the other.
In terms of pride, it focuses our attention away from God, and upon me and my self-sufficiency. If I’m resourceful enough and don’t fear, and put my big boy pants on, I can conquer any challenge. When I endure whatever difficulty, I can give thanks not to God, but to me for bearing what I was asked to bear. I was able to pull myself up by the bootstraps, not give into fear, and when I look back at the so-called “footprints in the sand,” the footprints are mine alone.
Lest you think people would never think that way, think again. Just the fact that we don’t think we’re susceptible to pride is an indication that we are already infected with it. One clear indicator of the pride that is in our hearts is the words “I would never…” That is just a form of self-exaltation that glories in our mistaken notion of our own inherent goodness and power.
I’m reminded of a humorous example from the sports world of this mindset of pride and self-sufficiency. In 2005, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings in a playoff game, where wide receiver Freddy Mitchell had a team high 5 catches. After the game, Mitchell surprised everyone when he said, “I just want to thank…my hands for being so great!” Instead of thanking the One who gave him the hands to make the catch, he thanks the hands themselves. In our case, instead of thanking the One who enables us to bear whatever comes into our lives, we thank ourselves for having the moxie and intestinal fortitude to “bear what we are asked to bear.”
Another of version of bearing what I’m asked to bear is the popular saying “God helps those who help themselves.” This at least brings God into the equation, but, it only gives the appearance of doing so. It’s really just another empty spiritual law based on worldly wisdom that is focused on man and his resourcefulness and self-sufficiency. While it invokes God, the emphasis is again upon me: help yourself!
And notice, if I do help myself, what help is then needed from God? None. God is rendered totally irrelevant, and I again can boast in the almighty power of me and the deep wells of wisdom and resourcefulness that evidently flow from within me. I did so good I might actually write my own “self-help” book to share my nuggets of wisdom on how you too can help yourself—who needs God when we are evidently all-powerful and all-wise in our own right?
So, what happens when you can’t bear what you are asked to bear? That’s where guilt and anxiety come in. We feel like we don’t measure up, and since the only resource that I have to bear what I’m asked to bear is me, all I’m left with is anxiety and no way to deal with the anxiety. This can spiral us into a pit of anger, bitterness, despair, depression, and hopelessness. We just give up and resign ourselves to misery.
So, what does Scripture say? Is it true that we must bear what we are asked to bear, or, that God won’t put more on us than we can bear, or that God helps those who help themselves?
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 provides a clear answer. The apostle Paul says, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
Contrary to God not putting more on us than we can bear, we discover that God certainly will do just that as Paul speaks of how they were burdened beyond their strength. They could not bear all that they had to bear, and it wasn’t because of fear, but because they had been stretched beyond the breaking point by the affliction that they were subjected to.
And contrary to the idea that God helps those who help themselves, the things they endured were designed by the Lord to teach them (us) to rely on God and not ourselves. So, the reality is that God helps those who realize that they can’t help themselves. Or, to put it negatively, God doesn’t help those who walk in their own pride.
We notice another important truth: all that they endured came to them by the providential hand of a holy, loving, and sovereign God who “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Eph 1:11). Many people wonder why God allows such things as suffering in our lives. Why are there such things as Coronaviruses? Many answers can be offered, but the bottom line is that God does have a good purpose for everything that He in His sovereignty ordains to come into our lives, and at the heart of that good purpose is our conformity to Jesus. (Rom 8:28-29)
It is in the cauldron of suffering, adversity, and affliction that we learn to live our lives by faith. It is through the fires of adversity that the Lord forges our faith. What comes forth is the gold of deeper communion with God as we renounce our idol of self-sufficiency, and rely on the Lord who, Paul says, raises the dead. God demonstrated His power and His love in the cross of Christ and raised Him from the grave, and those who by God’s grace alone trust in Christ alone for their salvation must cease clinging to their self-reliance and resourcefulness, and cling tightly to Christ alone. It is then that we can endure any trial, because it is the resurrected and living Christ who is now at work to enable us by His Spirit to endure to the end.
So, how do we rely on God and not ourselves? We looked in the previous post at the means of grace that God has given us: His Word, prayer, and the church. When we turn to God’s Word, we discover that God is God, and we are not, and this Word is at work to lay bare and heal us of the sinful pride of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12-13; Romans 12:1-2). In prayer, we confess and repent of our sin of self-reliance, and then cast our burdens upon the Lord and ask Him to help us. And with the church, we discover the rich reservoir of a loving community of brothers and sisters in the Lord who are commanded to “bear one another’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2)
Related to that point, so many people struggle and suffer in silence, refusing to tell anyone about what’s going on in their lives. This could be due to shame, embarrassment, or not wanting to impose on others. The root of it though is pride. We simply refuse to humble ourselves and say, “I can’t do this…I need help!” We need Christ, and He is found in His Word, prayer, and His Church. And He gives us trials in part as a means for His Spirit to reorient our thinking from self-reliance to Christ-reliance.
So, as we bring this to a close, the so-called spiritual law that says you can bear all that you are asked to bear (and the only hindrance to that is fear), is false. Our hope is not found in ourselves, but in the One who raised Christ to deliver us from the penalty and power of sin, and who one day will return and deliver us from this body of death. And God is at work in us now, as a loving Father, to wean us off of ourselves, to teach us to cast our burdens upon Him, and to rely upon Him alone to bring us through the fiery trials that He works together for the good of our conformity to Christ.
Someone forwarded me a quote from the novelist Elizabeth Goudge, where she said “All we are asked to bear we can bear. That is a law of the spiritual life. The only hindrance to the working of this law, as of all benign laws, is fear.”
While the quote sounds profound, it really conveys a faulty view of what the spiritual life is, and could actually produce within us a great deal of negative things such as pride on the one hand, and guilt and anxiety on the other.
To unpack that, I want to look at three questions: First, is there a law of spiritual life, and what is it? Second, is it true that we can bear all we are asked to? Third, is fear the only hindrance to bearing what we’re asked to?
This post will deal with the first question: Is there a law of spiritual life? (The next post will deal with the second and third questions listed above).
From a Christian perspective, we believe that God is the objective source that moves us beyond mere opinion and tells us what the spiritual life is and what governs it. There are three ways that God has revealed Himself that have a bearing on discovering and knowing what the spiritual life is:
1. God has revealed Himself in creation. Romans 1:20 says that God’s eternal power and nature are clearly seen by what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Whether we look at the stars, planets, sun and moon; or the oceans, rivers, mountains, and fertile fields; or the rich diversity of life forms on earth, from microscopic organisms, to birds, lions, and gazelles, to whales, fish and tadpoles, and to human beings; and then consider the fine tuning of the universe that ensures that life on this little blue speck of dust called earth could thrive, it all with one resounding symphonic voice declares that God is. No one will be able to say, “I didn’t have enough evidence.” It is literally all around us, and even within us since we are created in His image.
2. God has revealed Himself within our conscience because we are created in God’s image (Rom 2:14-15). This means, among other things, that we have an innate sense of God, we know right from wrong, and we have a longing to discover ultimate reality, and meaning and purpose in our lives. The image of God sets human beings apart as unique among all the creatures on earth.
These two things alone show that it is impossible for God not to exist. Because God exists, everything exists. If God didn’t exist, nothing would exist. This applies to the physical realities that we see, and things such as love, reason, thought, wisdom, laws of logic and nature, etc. The absolute proof that God exists is that anything at all exists—we can’t account for one thing apart from the existence of the Triune God.
God’s existence is self-evident, and every person knows it. The problem, according to Romans 1:18, is that we suppress—we willfully hold down and ignore—the self-evident truth that is revealed in creation and our own conscience about who God is because we want to think and live the way we want to. We want to be in control; to be our own god.
We do this in many ways, from making up false gods and religions, to rejecting all forms of religion and just living a secular life. The reality, though, is that we are all worshiping something. We are all committed to something that is the supreme affection of our hearts and that we are building our lives around. Whatever occupies the most cherished place in my heart is the object(s) of my worship—it is my functional god(s).
How does this relate to the spiritual life? Because we are created in God’s image, we are created body and soul (spirit) to glorify and enjoy Him forever. Thus, the essence of the spiritual life is to be united to the Triune God in a relationship of love. It isn’t a question of ifwe will worship, rather, it’s a question of what we will worship: what will we glorify and enjoy and delight in more than anything else and order our lives around? Worship is such of the essence of who we are as human beings that we might revise Descartes “I think, therefore I am” to say, “I am, therefore I worship.”
For those who claim to not believe in God, the truth is that they know that God exists, and they too worship something: the functional god(s) could be one’s intellect, material possessions, power, family, etc.
Many others affirm that there is a spiritual component to man that we must tap into. But, they stop there and create their own ideas and rules about the spiritual life. This takes many forms, from false religions where we make a god(s) that makes sense to us, to new age spiritualism where man is in some sense divine and all paths lead to God (or some impersonal spirit), to people just saying they are spiritual but not religious, i.e., they do their own thing.
Though they are all very different, the common theme for all of them is human pride: “I’ll think and live the way I want to, and make up my own rules, my own religion, and my own definition of the spiritual life.”
3. This takes us to the third way that God has revealed Himself, namely, His Word. To discover the truth about spiritual life, we must discover and submit our thinking to God’s Word, which Christians believe is found only in the collection of 66 books known as the bible, which is the very word of God that He breathed out through human authors (2 Tim 3:16).
While the revelation of God that we find in nature and our conscience enables us to form general observations about Him, Scripture is God’s special and unique revelation that gives the essential details about who God is, who we are, and what He requires of us to be in a relationship with Him. At the heart of that revelation is Jesus, who is the fullest manifestation of who God is. So, to understand what spiritual life is, we must accept and submit to God’s Word, for it alone is the ultimate authority in our lives.
With regard to the spiritual life, God’s Word tells us that because of sin, we are spiritually dead (Eph 2:1). This means that we are cut off from relationship with Him with no way in and of ourselves to restore that relationship. Jesus, who is God in the flesh, came to live the perfect life we never could, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead. The true spiritual life begins the moment that we, by God’s grace alone, trust in Jesus alone for our right standing before God.
When that happens, we are adopted as His sons and daughters and we receive the gift of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who works within us to make us lifelong disciples (learners and followers) of Jesus. The true spiritual life, then, is centered on discovering more of who Jesus is, falling more in love with Him, and living our lives for Him and through Him by His Spirit, who works in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13)
In sum, the spiritual life is about being conformed to the image of Jesus by doing what pleases God in our thoughts, words, and actions. It is endeavoring by God’s Spirit and grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to love God with our whole being, and to love others as we love ourselves.
The primary tool that the Holy Spirit uses to enable us to live the spiritual life is what is referred to as the means of grace (spiritual empowerment): God’s Word, prayer, and the church:
* God’s Word: God uses His Word to renew our minds so that our way of thinking (and living) becomes conformed to what pleases God.
* Prayer: In prayer we enter into a personal communion with God where we praise Him for who He is and what He has done for us, confess our sins, give thanks, and ask Him for things on behalf of others and ourselves.
* Church: Here we are connected in intimate community with other believers, where together we pray, sing praises to God, hear God’s Word preached and taught, partake in the sacraments, engage in fellowship as we encourage and edify each other in the faith, and serve one another in love.
All of this prepares and propels us outward to sacrificially love other people in our words and deeds. At the heart of this love is a desire to see others be reconciled to God through faith in Christ. Hence, Christians are called ambassadors of Christ, and ministers of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18-21)
So, the essence of the spiritual life is being united to the Triune God in an intimate relationship of love. This union, and thus spiritual life, is brought about, sustained, and will brought to completion in our lives by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in and by Christ alone, all to God’s glory alone.
The law that governs the spiritual life is found in Scripture alone, which is the sole infallible rule and guide for all of life. Any view of the spiritual life that is not centered upon and contradicts this final form of God’s revelation to us is false.
Our task, then, is to submit our thinking and live in conformity to Scripture, resting and relying upon Christ for the ability to do so. This has direct bearing to the next questions we will answer in our next post: is it true that all that we are asked to bear we can bear? And, is fear the only hindrance to bearing what we are asked to be?
I, along with my wife Ursula, who is also an African American, write to share with you some things of great concern to us as we have listened to you. We write as bible-believing Christians. In the interest of full disclosure, politically and as simply as we can put it, we identify as center-right Independents who are conservative on social issues. However, while we don’t agree with their big government solutions, we nevertheless also appreciate some of the concerns raised by our fellow Americans on the Left as it relates to the poor, weak, and vulnerable.
We begin by saying that we appreciate how you push back against the racist narrative that African Americans are supposed to think and vote a certain way, and if not, then “you ain’t Black” as one woke politician running for President paternalistically scolded a Black man recently. We stand amazed at how the racially insensitive comments that have been uttered down through the years by that particular woke politician—who evidently was stunned out how a Black man could be “articulate, bright, and clean”—and racially insensitive comments from other notables on the Left are given a pass.
You and other Black “heterodox” thinkers, as John McWhorter puts it, pay a huge social cost for pushing back against the narrative that Progressive elitists ( composed of big tech oligarchs and intellectual Marxists that rule academia and the media) have created for what Black people are supposed to think and believe. If submission is not rendered, they intimidate the heterodox through the threat of perverse demonization, where the “contrarians” are branded as race traitors, and called the most appalling and racist of names.
Sadly, we never hear White folks on the Left who pride themselves in their “anti-racism” rise in protest at the racism that is leveled at you and others (to be fair, little is said in protest by those on the Right either)! Instead, they ironically lecture Black people and question your Blackness for having the audacity to even just consider different policy conclusions. They demand the unquestioned submission of Black people to their values and policies that are often at odds with the Christian and/or conservative values of many Black people, and that have arguably done more unintentional harm than good in the Black urban community. In that regard, we are still dealing with the fallout of racist policies such as redlining that both political parties are responsible for (see also this enlightening video that outlines the historic nature of the systemic issues).
You and other Black “heretics” have risen to point out the Progressive policies (see here, here, and here) that have unintentionally exacerbated those problems which include:
-Their devaluing of the traditional nuclear (biblical) family model, resulting in more Black children being raised in fatherless homes. Maybe more than any other factor, what you and others refer to as “father absence” has contributed to higher crime rates in Black communities (and really, all communities). You and other conservatives wrongly call this “Black on Black” crime, as if Black people target other Black people because they are Black. It’s about proximity, not race, thus we should just say “increased crime rate.” Father absence has resulted in what some call mass incarceration, and the death of young Black men.
-A nanny-state welfare system that keeps people trapped and dependent upon the government and creates a legacy of economic futility and poverty that is passed down generationally, which disproportionately affects the Black urban community. Related to the previous point, the nanny-state financially penalizes marriage, thus perpetuating the sociological problem. That said, we disagree somewhat with the bootstrap philosophy of some conservatives. Government (i.e., we the people) does have an important role and even responsibility to help the weak and vulnerable. But, government solutions should be focused in larger measure on incentivizing the private sector to reach into marginalized communities.
-Their unjust immigration policy, fueled by corporations who want cheap labor and kept going by political elitists in both Parties. The policy encourages good, hard-working people South of the border (most of whom are not rapists and murderers) to come here illegally which adversely affects them in many ways, strains our social systems, and adversely affects lower income American citizens the most. We believe in border security for many reasons, but push back on views of reform that favor only legal immigrants with professional degrees that benefit large corporations and big tech, at the expense of poorer immigrants. Immigration reform must also make it easier for poorer people with no hope in their home country to come here legally. As the great-grandson of poor Sicilian immigrants, I am grateful for such a policy in the past that did just that. I wouldn’t be writing this if that wasn’t the case.
-Education policy that undermines the ability of children in lower-economic urban communities to get a good education, seen in their opposition to Charter schools, and in their opposition to school choice programs that would permit children trapped in bad schools to attend good schools This isn’t code for “White” schools, but any school that offers a better learning environment whether private or public, Black or White. Many charter schools in fact are staffed largely by Black and Brown people.
-Their anti-capitalist fiscal policy with excessive taxation and excessive regulation that, at the very least, repels entrepreneurs. We are also opposed to the abuses of capitalism, such as crony capitalism, which is an unholy alliance between the wealthy and those in positions of power where both are enriched at the expense and on the backs of the poor and middle class, and for which again both political Parties are culpable.
-Their policy of genocide of unborn children that has resulted in the horrific slaughter of upwards of 60 million human beings, the disproportionate amount of which are Black. This is such a plague in the Black community that more Black children were killed in abortion than were born in New York City.
I imagine every racist in America is quite pleased with all of these results above, and would like nothing more than to see them continued.
Progressives are not alone in culpability. Republicans and conservatives claim to have the policy solutions to all of these ills, yet, have willfully ignored the African American community for at least the past 60 years or so. They can’t object to the charge of being racists, but then withhold the policy solutions from the people that they claim could benefit from them.
Their silence in the Black community is reprehensible. By inaction they have ensured the continuance of policies that they claim decimate the Black community. They’ve been content to fiddle while the fires of sociological destruction have ravaged the Black urban community, and they respond to cries for help with cowardly excuses. They can appeal to history all they want about how racist the Democratic Party was, but such appeal is a double-edged sword because their own history is not as tidy as they claim, and it doesn’t excuse their abandonment of the Black community for the past half-century. As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has said, “…no one is going to give up the comfort of the leftist status quo as long as they view conservatives as antagonistic to their interest, and conservatives do little or nothing to dispel the perception.”
All that said, and as conservatives claim to know, government is not the Savior. Policy alone does not and will not solve all of the issues facing any community. As Christians, we believe that the spiritual component is foundational for moral transformation and formation since we are made in God’s image. This impacts even those who are not “religious” as they too are influenced by that morality. In terms of public policy, we obviously believe that the best policy is that which arises from a Judeo-Christian worldview, where even those who are not “religious” borrow from the capital of the Christian worldview and implement policy consistent with it.
In the absence of that, even in the light of bad policy, a materially depressed or oppressed community with this spiritual foundation can thrive emotionally, spiritually, and communally. That is the story of much of the Christian church down through the centuries, and it was that robust faith that sustained the Black community for so many years, oppressed as they were by Christians (!) whose racism and racist policies betrayed true Christianity and the principles the country was founded upon. They teach us that the greatest key to living a truly blessed life, as counterintuitive as it may sound to modern ears, is to delight in the Lord and to live in conformity to His Word. (Psalm 1, Eph 2:8-10) There must, then, be a spiritual reawakening in all communities, as all of society’s ills are traced directly to that, and we Christians must be more proactive in engaging our communities. We would be remiss here if we did not mention the Progressive antagonism toward and devaluing of religion and people of faith in general and Christians in particular, which is a necessary component of the Marxist philosophy that undergirds much of their thinking. Such opposition is only increasing and will make the task of the church that much more difficult.
So, Candace, we appreciate how you and others are trying to correct the egregious neglect of the Republican Party, and to engage the African American community. While we may not agree with every policy proposal you and other Republicans suggest, we appreciate your stated desire to reach the Black community with an alternative viewpoint and policy prescriptions that can at least be debated where there hasn’t really been a debate for half a century.
Now for our concerns. First, there is the manner in which you address race and racism. We agree that there are a host of issues within the Black urban community that are having a more direct impact than racism, and preventing so many from achieving a semblance of the so-called American dream. We, along with you and others, abhor the false and divisive narrative on race that is promulgated by modern Marxists on the far Left in the form of Critical Race Theory, and race hustlers who make a living on it. However, while racism may not be what it once was, it still very much is. Racists have merely learned how to conceal themselves, and some even deceptively present themselves as angels of light in the form of politicians of every race who pander to African Americans to just get their vote. Once they do, they go back to business as usual, enjoying the perks, privileges, and power of office, without ever effecting any change.
You yourself know all of this very well. Despite being the victim of overt racism when you were a teenager for which you received a financial settlement for the damages, you now go out of your way to play down if not deny the realities of racism and soft bigotry that still is a problem in our country. Not only this, but as noted above, you still experience it from those on the Left who call you and other Black conservatives all manor of racist names. We find this very confusing, to say the least.
As we listened more to you, our concern became alarm due to your increasingly harsh rhetoric toward the Black community, and then the incredibly insensitive comments that you made in the aftermath of the Ahmaud Berry and George Floyd cases. We are not alone in our alarm. A number of other people in the Black community who were willing to give your views a hearing—the very people that you want to reach—have voiced their concern. Many prominent Black conservatives have also raised a voice of concern. Unfortunately, you chose to ignore their concerns.
Those Black conservatives have toiled for years and have endured many figurative battle scars for their hard work. Your rhetoric, which is at times is careless, insensitive, and harsh, has threatened the progress of their work. What you say and how you say it may sound great to White conservatives (and yes, even racists); but, to many others it is deeply offensive, and is counterproductive to the goal of at least providing a different option for Black people to consider in terms of public policy. Along these lines, pastor Darrell Scott, a prominent Black pastor who is close to President Trump recently tweeted this in the aftermath of your video:
“I know we’re in election mode. I’ve been out here since 2015. I don’t want to lose the 8% black vote that we DO have denouncing the very people we’re trying to reach, and I won’t be guilty by association with any conservatives that do that.”
In response to that tweet, an African American Republican on Facebook made these comments: “Pastor Darrell Scott, a part of the President’s black pastor delegation spoke on Twitter about trashing victims of police violence recently with their past, all for clicks, likes and retweets. Similarly, Shermichael Singleton pondered leaving the GOP last night on Twitter. This is what happens when you allow people to run free with talking points in berating black people in policy discussions, painting them to be some type of criminal element and danger to society which literally is doing the bidding of white supremacists.”
Candace, they are right. We’re not sure why, but your tone is at times condescending and uncompassionate toward Black people. You consistently demean the very people you wish to help. We’re all for passion and zeal, but, that must be tempered with grace, humility, compassion, and empathy. By all means be passionate. Be firm when needed and speak the hard truth, and even rebuke, but do so with respect, and not in a condescending or demeaning way.
Maybe the most startling manifestation of this was your remarks on the George Floyd case (we have seen 2 different video presentations you made of this).
We were grieved by your tone and insensitivity as we listened to you eviscerate his character and chastise Black people for their seeming stupidity. You felt it appropriate to denigrate the grave of a man who was just ruthlessly choked out by bad cops, all while intentionally ignoring the reforms that he made in his life after his troubled past, just so that you could make your point that he’s not going to be a martyr for you. As you spoke, I told my wife, “If I were a racist, I’d make this mandatory viewing and circulate it far and wide on Facebook.” I said that before even knowing that others were making the same connection, as I alluded to above with the Facebook quote.
Throughout it all, you seemed to express little sorrow for what happened to him. It was as if you couldn’t wait to cast the first stones at the sinner that he was as you highlighted his sordid past—rocks that you specifically went searching for through your own research, because evidently a Black man being choked out by bad cops must have been something he brought upon himself. You claim that was not your intent, and I don’t believe it was; but, Candace, that is how it will come off to many people.
To put this in perspective, there’s this video of a teenaged White girl from Louisiana upset at how her parents told her that Mr. Floyd got what he deserved because he did something wrong. We don’t know if they were referring to Mr. Floyd’s past, but it seems more than coincidental.
Also, you seem unaware that this is a tactic that is used by racists time and again whenever a Black person is killed. For example, this article in Scientific American states, “When Black people are killed by police, their character and even their anatomy is turned into justification for their killer’s exoneration. It’s a well-honed tactic.”
Finally on this point, you made statement that could cause some to think that Mr. Floyd got what he deserved when you said that Black people are, “…using this death to cause these riots and protests pretending that this was some upstanding citizen in the Black community who was tackled down and killed for no reason…” So, people are pretending that he was killed for no reason? What was the reason he was killed for, Candace? You can see how someone could hear this and think that maybe you do think that Mr. Floyd got what he deserved because of his criminal past, and because he committed the death-worthy crime of passing a fake $20 bill while under the influence of drugs. Candace, I don’t believe you really believe that, but it highlights our concerns about what you say and how you say it.
As you continued, instead of compassion and outrage at what happened to him, you quickly ran to the rock quarry of his rap sheet, admiring each stone that you self-righteously threw, all accompanied by the holier than thou cries of “He was not a good person!” and “He’s no martyr!” You threw those stones of condemnation obscuring the fact that they had no relevance to how he was killed. You wanted the world to take their eyes off of that, and put them on the bad things Mr. Floyd did in the past. Again, you may not have intended it this way, but, you painted him as a monster who deserved what he got. To buttress the case, you took great delight in the fact that he was found to have drugs in his system at the time of his death and was high, as if to say, “See how evil he was! He got what he deserved!”
As for those stones, not all of them are entirely “smooth” (accurate) in terms of the details of his past arrest record as this article points out. Regardless, he went to jail, and all of it is totally irrelevant to what happened to him.
As I watched your presentation, it grieves me to say that I was reminded very much of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day (John 8:1-8). All I could think, Candace, was that like them, you exalted yourself in self-righteous moralism over George Floyd and stoned him in the public square—a man that was mercilessly killed by bad cops. It was as if you rubbed mounds of salt into the fresh, open wounds of his family, friends, and community who actually knew him and loved him. Again, I just have to honestly tell you, and saddens me to do so, but for me it was as if you dug up his grave, pulled out his body, and after stoning it you told Black Americans—the most important being his kids which include his precious 6–year old daughter—“There’s your hero!” Again, all I could think was that racists were cheering at the spectacle.
Candace, there is much collateral damage in what you have done. Make no mistake, you have alienated many Black people. Also, since you influence many White Conservatives who take what you say about Black issues as pure gospel, any sympathy and willingness that they may have had to discuss the very real issues regarding race was effectively doused. To them, Black people are exactly what you have painted them out to be: irrational grievance hustlers who revel in victimhood, and so dimwitted that they have the audacity to think racism still exists on an individual and possibly in the system itself in various ways.
As for the reforms in Mr. Floyd’s life that you intentionally bypassed, he had been out of prison for 7 years at the time of his murder, and had done much good during that time (this is the gap you mentioned in his record). A Christianity Today article outlines the significant positive impact “Big Floyd” made in his community. Pastor Patrick PT Ngwolo said, “George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in…The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd.” Nijalon Dunn, who was impacted by Big Floyd’s ministry, said, “His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth…There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity.”
Candace, why would you not mention that? By all accounts, that’s at least part of who he was after his incarceration, yet you falsely claimed he was criminal up to the point of his death.
The reality is that George Floyd’s story speaks to the power of redemption, something that we as Christians believe. We all have sinned, and stand rightly condemned before God. But God so loved a world of George Floyd’s and Candice Owens’ and John and Ursula Orlando’s and yes, even Derek Chauvin’s, that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and suffer and die on the cross to bear the full penalty for our sins and rose from the grave so that all who repent and trust in Him alone are forever forgiven of all of their sins—which are cast as far as the east is from the west—and brought into a living relationship with God forever.
“Big Floyd,” as far as we can discern, was gripped by the power of God’s grace during his lifetime. He understood he was a sinner, and he cried out to the Triune God of the universe for forgiveness. And in Christ, he received it, and there was real fruit in his life that showed that he was transformed from a troubled man who spent time in jail, to a man who used his experience to help keep others from going down the same hopeless path that he had travelled. Countless Christians down through the centuries have a similar story, and sing “amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now found, was blind but now I see.”
The man who wrote that famous hymn, John Newton, himself had a sordid background. By his own admission he was a hateful man and wicked slave trader who presided over and took joy in inflicting misery upon others. But then God’s grace awakened him and transformed him. His rap sheet, like all of those who come to Christ, was now covered in the blood of Jesus, and Newton could never stop being amazed at such grace that would be shown to such a wretch as he.
We can go back even further. I’m reminded of a rather famous man named Saul of Tarsus. He rounded up Christians and threw them in jail, and in some cases had them murdered for simply believing that Jesus was the Messiah. That same ruthless man was brought to his knees in repentance and faith, and became a Christian, and went on to change the world as he became known as the apostle Paul. He was at times haunted by his past, as he would describe himself as the chief of sinners, but he rejoiced in God’s sovereign grace and how his rap sheet was forever nailed to the cross and covered by the blood of the Savior. Many other examples of biblical heroes of the faith with sordid rap sheets could be cited.
True, George Floyd was no apostle Paul. But he, like Paul, like John Newton, and like everyone who trusts in Christ alone for their right standing before God was a sinner saved by grace alone, and whose rap sheet of offenses against God and man was covered forever in Christ’s blood.
None of this means that a person who comes to Christ will never struggle after their conversion. Mr. Floyd was a deeply flawed human being just like the rest of us. And like the rest of us, he was in desperate need of God’s grace. Sadly, it seems he struggled with substance abuse and relapsed. But the only thing he was suspected of that day, as far as we know, was trying to pass a fake $20 bill, which he may not have even known was fake. It matters not if he resisted arrest or not, or what was on his rap sheet 20 years ago. It wouldn’t even matter if he had just gotten out of prison the previous day. The only thing that matters is that he was killed in the way that he was.
George Floyd was not a martyr—he wasn’t killed for a cause that he or we believe in. He isn’t a hero who did some courageous act at the time of his death. No, he is a victim that had a knee in his neck for 9 minutes and killed by officers who swore to protect and serve, who we also pray would experience the transforming power of Christ’s salvation. What would possibly motivate them to do that to him? What explains why a person keeps his knee pressed into a person’s neck while 2 others put pressure on his back and legs? What possibly explains how they continued this despite his pleas, the pleas of bystanders, and despite the fact that he was unresponsive for almost 3 minutes?
We may not be able to prove that race played a role, though given what we do know, it cannot be discounted as you and others are always so quick to do. At the very least, it provides an opportunity for us as a culture to talk about issues of race and policing reform that have been swept under the rug for far too long. Unfortunately, comments like yours put that in jeopardy. And the interesting question is: what if it is discovered that race was a motivating factor? What will you say then?
So, George Floyd is not a martyr or a hero. Rather, what happened to him served as a vivid symbol of the painful history of African Americans in this country, and the justified trust gap that exists with the police. When many Black men saw what happened, they didn’t see him as hero or a martyr, they saw themselves: “That could’ve been me.” It brought back to memory their own experiences of harassment at the hands of some bad apples who are in the police force, and their own experiences of overt or covert racism, and the need to remind their sons of the precautions they need to take (that White boys don’t) when confronted by police. I encourage you to listen to the words of Air Force General Charles Brown.
There are a couple of other important issues to address in regards to your video:
1. You went on to tell Black people that they’re free to hang a picture of George Floyd as a hero on their wall if they want, but, you said, you’ll keep your picture of your hero Kobe Bryant. The irony in this is that the hero you have hitched your wagon to also had a difficult past, being credibly accused of sexual assault. Granted, he didn’t go to jail because there was a settlement, which included him having to more or less admit that he did something wrong. The point is that you seem unaware of that, as well as the fact that all of our human heroes have all have clay feet.
And there’s another irony: men like General Brown in the video clip above, and other Black men that I know, are not denying George Floyd’s past and are not saying he is martyr or a hero. You on the other hand are denying Kobe’s past, and are making him into a hero. You’re free to do so, and we won’t stand in judgment over you or Kobe, since your free to have whoever you want as a hero, and by all accounts he too experienced change in his life. We just ask that you pull the logs out of your own eyes before reaching for the speck in the eyes of the entire African American community which you seem to loathe at times (that is how you are coming across at times, Candace).
2. You said that racially motivated police brutality is a myth. Granted, it may not happen as frequently as it did in the Jim Crow South, however, to call it a myth is false. We can go no further than the many complaints down through the years against the Minneapolis police department on the issue of race. Or, we can just point to your own advice where you say: “You wanna know the best way to avoid police brutality, limit the amount of encounters you have with them…” So, which is it, Candace? Is it a non-existent myth, or do we follow your advice and limit encounters with police to avoid it, since it must obviously exist?
As for the statistics you quote, they’re not as cut and dry as you make them out to be, and they ignore other stats that speak of how Black people experience more harassment as a whole than other groups. See this article that puts the nature of the problem in perspective. This article speaks to that as well, but also may be helpful reading as it speaks of the need for empathy.
3. Finally, you made a particularly troubling comment about the Black community as a whole that must be addressed. You repeated a statement that you heard from a prominent Black conservative. You said, “The Black community is unique because it is the only community that caters to the bottom denominator of its society. Meaning that they are the only people that demand justice for those that are up to no good.”
First, as for catering to the lowest denominator, did the Black community cater to the lowest denominator when it hailed such people as Harriet Tubman, the Buffalo Soldiers, Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, the Tuskegee Airmen, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King as true heroes? Were those many innocent young Black men that were barbarically lynched in the Jim Crow South that Black people demanded justice for up to no good? Were those many innocent Black people over the years that were wrongly accused and put in prison that they demanded justice for up to no good? Was Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders that were beaten or killed that they demanded justice for up to no good?
And what are we to make of other communities that cater to the bottom denominator of their society? How do you explain Southern White culture memorializing in stone monuments, and literally celebrating as heroes, soldiers in the Confederacy who fought to continue the evil of chattel slavery? And we could talk about the movie Birth of a Nation which, among other things, “presents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order.” Much more could be said, but I hope that it is enough to see that the quote leaves much to be desired.
As we close, we do appreciate your stated desire to reach the Black community and to put before them other policy options. We grieve over the ways that you and other Black conservatives have often been treated, and the horrible names you’ve been called.
We appeal to you to stop demeaning the very people you claim you want to help. Your rhetoric may be appealing to many White conservatives (and racists); but, it is wrong, and it is turning off the very people that you wish to reach.
We also fear that maybe some White conservatives are encouraging this rhetoric, rejoicing that there is a Black person saying things that they would never say themselves out loud. Candace, be mindful that some may in fact just be using you, and once you stop singing their song, they’ll drop you like yesterday’s fake news.
We would encourage you to seek out other Black conservatives for mentoring, especially those who are sensitive to the real concerns of Black people and Black culture, and who are not dismissive of it.
Finally, you have the potential to be such a positive force for change–don’t squander it, Candace. We do pray for you, that you would receive these things in the spirit in which they are presented–firm, yes, but not mean-spirited, and with all due respect. We pray that you would seek the Lord’s wisdom in all that you do and say, and that if you haven’t already, that you would trust in Christ, who bore our sins on the cross and rose from the dead so that all who trust in Him alone could have eternal life.
I have been shocked and deeply grieved at the comments some people have made, most notably Candace Owens, which I will be responding to as well, and memes that are floating around that highlight George Floyd’s troubled past. Not only have they seen fit to denigrate the grave of a man who was ruthlessly choked out by murderers dressed like cops (they are not worthy of the noble office and title of police officer), they also intentionally ignored the reforms that Mr. Floyd made in his life after those things.
All of this is deeply disturbing for so many reasons. What follows is my response to those who have felt compelled to do this:
Instead of expressing sorrow at seeing a man killed, you’ve decided, no doubt motivated by only the best intentions (!), to alert everyone to Mr. Floyd’s previous arrest record. You just couldn’t wait to cast the first stones at the sinner that he was as you held up his record of sins against God and man—rocks that you specifically went searching for, because evidently a Black man being choked out by bad cops must have been something he brought upon himself and deserved.
It may not be your intention, but you need to know that this is a tactic that is used time and again whenever a Black person is killed. For example, this article in Scientific American states, “When Black people are killed by police, their character and even their anatomy is turned into justification for their killer’s exoneration. It’s a well-honed tactic.”
To put this in perspective, I saw a video recently of a young teenaged White girl named Izabella from Louisiana in tears as she spoke of how her parents told her that Mr. Floyd got what he deserved because he did something wrong. We don’t know if they were referring to Mr. Floyd’s past, but it certainly seems more than coincidental.
As for those stones, not all of them are entirely “smooth” (accurate), both in terms of details of his past arrest record, and his condition at the time of his arrest that led to his tragic and senseless murder. All of it is totally irrelevant to what happened to him.
Nevertheless, you quickly ran to the rock quarry of his rap sheet, admiring each stone that you self-righteously threw, as if to cry out “He was not a good person!” and “He’s no martyr!” You threw those stones of condemnation seemingly oblivious to the fact that they had no relevance to how he was choked out. You wanted the world to take their eyes off of that, and put them on the bad things Mr. Floyd did in the past which paints him as some kind of immoral monster who evidently had it coming to him. To buttress the case, you seemed to take great delight in the fact that he was found to have drugs in his system at the time of his death as if to say, “See how evil he was! He got what he deserved!”
Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day (John 8:1-8), you exalted yourself in self-righteous moralism over George Floyd and stoned him in the public square—a man that was ruthlessly murdered. You then firmly and methodically rubbed mounds of salt into the fresh, open wounds of his family, friends, and community who actually knew him and loved him, and the African American community as a whole. It was as if you dug up his grave, pulled out his body, and after stoning it, you spat on it. The message to many black Americans, the most important being his kids which include his precious 6–year old daughter, is “There’s your hero!” Racists everywhere are cheering emphatically at the spectacle. Which raises the question: what would possibly possess you to do things that we might expect racists to do?
Thanks to your efforts, any sympathy and willingness that White people may have had to discuss the very real issues that exist regarding race was effectively doused. To them, Black people are exactly what you and others have painted them out to be: irrational grievance hustlers who revel in victimhood, and so dimwitted that they have the audacity to think racism still exists.
As for the reforms in Mr. Floyd’s life that you intentionally bypassed, he had been out of prison for 7 years at the time of his murder, and had done much good during that time. A Christianity Today article outlines the significant positive impact “Big Floyd” made in his community. Pastor Patrick PT Ngwolo said, “George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in…The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd.” Nijalon Dunn, who was impacted by Big Floyd’s ministry, said, “His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth…There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity.”
Why would you not mention that? By all accounts, that’s who he was after his incarceration. Mr. Floyd’s story speaks to the power of redemption, something that we as Christians believe. We all have sinned, and stand rightly condemned before God. But God so loved a world of George Floyd’s and John Orlando’s and yes, even Derek Chauvin’s, that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and suffer and die on the cross to bear the full penalty for our sins and rose from the grave so that all who repent and trust in Him alone are forever forgiven of all of their sins—which are cast as far as the east is from the west—and brought into a living relationship with God forever.
“Big Floyd,” as far as we can discern, was gripped by the power of God’s grace. He understood he was a sinner, and he cried out to the Triune God of the universe for forgiveness. And in Christ, he received it, and there was real fruit in his life that showed that he was transformed from a troubled man who spent time in jail, to a man who used his experience to help keep others from going down the same hopeless path that he had travelled. Countless Christians down through the centuries have a similar story, and with George Floyd sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now found, was blind but now I see.”
The man who wrote that famous hymn, John Newton, himself had a sordid background. By his own admission he was a hateful man and wicked slave trader who presided over and took joy in inflicting misery upon others. But then God’s grace awakened him and transformed him. His rap sheet, like all of those who come to Christ, was now covered in the blood of Jesus, and Newton could never stop being amazed at such grace that would be shown to such a wretch as he.
We can go back even further. I’m reminded of a rather famous man named Saul of Tarsus. His claim to fame was rounding up Christians and throwing them in jail, and in some cases having them ruthlessly murdered for simply believing that Jesus was the Messiah. That same ruthless man was brought to his knees in repentance and faith, and became a Christian, and went on to change the world as he became known as the apostle Paul. He was at times haunted by his past, as he would describe himself as the chief of sinners, but he rejoiced in God’s sovereign grace and how his rap sheet was forever nailed to the cross and covered by the blood of the Savior.
True, George Floyd was no apostle Paul (and ironically I have seen White people equate Derek Chauvin, and not George Floyd, with Paul, as if to say that he could be just like Paul! But Mr. Floyd, like Paul, like John Newton, and like everyone who trusts in Christ alone for their right standing before God was a sinner saved by grace alone, and whose rap sheet of offenses against God and man was covered forever in Christ’s blood.
None of this means that a person who comes to Christ will never struggle after their conversion. Mr. Floyd was a deeply flawed human being just like the rest of us. And like the rest of us, he was in desperate need of God’s grace. Sadly, it seems he struggled with substance abuse and relapsed. But the only thing he was suspected of that day, as far as we know, was trying to pass a fake $20 bill, which he may not have even known was fake. It matters not if he resisted arrest or not, or what was on his rap sheet 10 years ago. It wouldn’t even matter if he had just gotten out of prison the previous day. The only thing that matters is that he was brutally murdered.
As for martyrs, Mr. Floyd was not killed for a cause that he or we believe in. He was tortured for 9 minutes and killed at the hands of ruthless men, who we also pray would experience the transforming power of Christ’s salvation. But, what would possibly motivate them to do that to Mr. Floyd? What explains why a person keeps his knee pressed into a person’s neck while 2 others put pressure on his back and legs? What possibly explains how they continued this despite his pleas, the pleas of bystanders, and despite the fact that he was unresponsive for almost 3 minutes? We may not be able to prove definitively that race played a role, though it cannot be discounted out of hand as so many are always so quick to do.
Whatever the case, at the very least, it provides an opportunity for us as a culture to talk about issues of race and policing reform that have been swept under the rug for far too long. And what if it is discovered that race was a motivating factor? What will you say then?
Mr. Floyd may not be a martyr, but what happened to him served as a vivid symbol of the painful history of African Americans in this country, and the justified trust gap that exists with the police. When many Black men saw what happened, they didn’t just see Mr. Floyd, they saw themselves: “That could’ve been me.” It brought back to memory their own experiences of harassment at the hands of police, and their own experiences of overt or covert racism, and the need to remind their sons of the precautions they need to take (that White boys don’t) when confronted by police.
You claim to be a patriot who loves our country. So, to understand how many of your Black brothers in the family called “American” are impacted by Big Floyd’s murder, I encourage to listen to the words of Air Force General Charles Brown. Would you be so bold as to look that great man in the eye and triumphantly rub Mr. Floyd’s rap sheet in his face? Just know that your meme does exactly that:
And since you claim to be a Christian, I refer you to the testimony of one a dear man that I have know, Shai Linne. Again, your meme has the effect of looking this dear brother in the eye and triumphantly rubbing Mr. Floyd’s rap sheet in his face.
I close with this question: why did you feel the need to post that meme highlighting Mr. Floyd’s past, while ignoring the reforms he had made in his life? What were you trying to accomplish? I encourage you to examine your heart: were you in part motivated by prejudice against Black people? If so, repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness, and in keeping with repentance I encourage you to take the meme down, and offer an apology to the family and children of Mr. Floyd, and to the African American community as whole.