Christians Need to Stop Defending Racism with 'Whataboutism'

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists rally near Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. (Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/Sipa via AP Images)

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, we’re seeing a surge of “but what about …?” as professing Christians circle the wagons around white supremacists and Nazis for some strange and disturbing reason. Instead of denouncing the sin of racism, many professing Christians are busy scoring political points by pointing fingers at antifa and BLM. Denouncing the awful sin of racism that was/is displayed by the alt-right, white supremacists, and Nazis (basically all three of those are synonyms) is not a tacit approval of any other sin; it’s the denunciation of the heinous sin of racism.

Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have been steadfast in our belief that sin is a violation of God’s holy standard and cannot simply be excused. Because God is holy and just, He can’t overlook sin and simply pardon His people. Jesus had to suffer, be separated from God the Father, and die for each and every sin committed by his people. And it had to be Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, because God’s law has to be obeyed perfectly, and the person who took the punishment for the sins of God’s people had to be completely without sin. As the sinless, spotless “lamb,” Jesus paid the penalty that was owed the sin of God’s people. This is why Christians don’t allow for excuses when it comes to our own sin or the sin of those in our care. Or, at least, Christians didn’t use to allow for excuses and the passing of the buck. Strangely and sadly, many professing Christians are now soft-selling sin by pointing their fingers at others and saying, “But what about…?”

Racism is a heinous sin because it denies that God has made all humans in His Image. Being made in God’s Image means that all humans have worth and dignity. All racism, including nationalism steeped in racism, is a sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. Any defense of the alt-right/Nazis holds the nail as racists drive it into the hand of Jesus. That’s disgraceful, and any professing Christian who defends or merely excuses the sin of racism because of the sins/hypocrisy of others needs to repent and denounce the racism that was on display in Charlottesville without adding a “but what about.” Because here’s the thing: White supremacists represent conservative Christians if conservative Christians refuse to unequivocally denounce white supremacists. That reflects poorly on Jesus and upon his gospel.

Conservative Christians aren’t the only confessed followers of Jesus who employ the “but what about …?” tap dance in order to excuse sin. For years, progressive Christians have utilized the fallacious argument in attempts to silence any opposition to sins that their progressive partners deem off limits to condemnation. The sin of abortion is a great example, or rather, an infamous example.

Abortion is either the murder of babies, or it’s not. It can’t be a little bit of both. If abortion is the murder of babies (hint: it is), then it’s wrong, full stop. If abortion is not the murder of babies than there is zero reason to restrict it or even discourage women from having an abortion. The thing is, almost no progressive Christians will subscribe to that latter position, yet they refuse to acknowledge the first position. Similar to how President Donald Trump excuses the alt-right, they still attempt to shame and silence other Christians from speaking out against the sin of abortion by resorting to the rhetorical chicanery of “but what about …?”

Filling in that blank, progressive Christians will frequently attempt to suppress the defense of the unborn by asking, “But what about the lives of the mothers and babies that conservative Christians don’t care about? If you were really pro-life, you would adopt.” Even if that accusation were correct (and it’s not), it wouldn’t excuse abortion. One sin never justifies another sin because sin is sin. Like the conservative Christian who excuses racism by saying “but what about antifa?” by claiming that Christians can’t decry abortion until they adopt more babies or provide financial support for single mothers, the progressive Christian is also holding the nail being driven into Jesus’ hand. Abortion is sin, and Christ had to die because of the sin of abortion.

When I was a kid, I once tried to excuse my wrongdoing by claiming that my sin wasn’t so bad because my brother’s sin was worse. I only tried once because my parents quickly disabused me of the notion that I could excuse my sin by pointing my finger at someone else. It’s high time that Christians in this country embraced that same approach to sin and stopped wagging their fingers while saying “but what about.” Jesus died for sin, and we need to take it seriously, regardless of whether our position scores us political points or not.