As we discussed previously, legacy-building, or the lack thereof, impacts our whole nation. So does denying or hindering other communities their God-given right to build their own legacy and family cultures. Most importantly, legacy-building is both inevitable and is not neutral.
Legacy-building can be productive and godly or destructive and sinful. Just as we can leave a godly legacy, we can leave a sinful legacy. We have to acknowledge that a sinful legacy is in fact a true legacy with lasting results into the future.
Legacy-building is also inevitable. Each generation has their moment to shine during this process. Every generation is responsible for what they leave at the feet of their children—the culture and ideas they enforced in the home and encouraged in the world. We also have to acknowledge there are various legacies left to others all around us—again, some good, some not so good.
We have to come to terms with the fact that many families have been oppressed and not allowed to exercise the God given right to raise their progeny in a godly or productive way. We also have to ask if we are responsible in turning a blind eye to that oppression.
Slavery and Statism
Take slavery for example. I can already hear people huffing and puffing as they read this. Stick with me. I would never say that people today are responsible for the sins of the previous generation. That’s not true from God’s Word, best I can tell. We are, however, responsible for how we handle the fruits of the previous generation as they manifest in our culture. Equal protection under the law for blacks was considered unthinkable for generations, until a generation could finally deal with the unrepentant sins of their fathers and mothers. Those were actual sins from previous generations in history that a subsequent generation had to undo. They did not repent for having committed the sin themselves, but they took responsibility for what needed to be done to fix that sin and its effects. They could have simply said it wasn’t their fault. They didn’t create the laws. They didn’t make this excuse, though. That’s maturity.
Our legacy as Christians should not only be oriented towards the ones we love most, it should also encompass those sinned against by previous generations. We should honestly assess the nature of that sin and how it continues to manifest among us. The Pharisees did not do this in their time, so Stephen addresses them as possessing the same stubborn unrepentant sins of the generations before them:
You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit, just as your fathers did. Which of the prophets did your fathers fail to persecute? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One. And now you are His betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:51-52).
It would have been easy for the Pharisees to dismiss Stephen and ask, condescendingly, if they were also responsible for all the other sins of the entire world.
Certain sins manifest differently from generation to generation. Therefore, if the same root sin still exists among the current generation, repentance is needed on our behalf. Nor do we refuse to repent because we are unsure where to go after repentance has taken place. We instantly, in the case of slavery, demand that we won’t pay reparations, for good reason; but then we stop there and won’t do anything. We hear only one Marxist version of a solution and then shut down the conversation. We completely deny ourselves repentance because we are unsure (again, rightfully so) of what the fruit of repentance might look like in this one solution. We also don’t wish to sin further in a vain effort to remedy the problem. We aren’t talking about saving face here.
The State is not the answer. God’s people are the answer. The State will be a part of that process if only to remove itself from the equation. Marxism has only dominated the discussion because BLM and Social Justice Warriors who are humanists, collectivists, and statist in most cases are the only ones determined to do something. Setting up endless statist systems of food distribution, shelter, and education will not help the black or minority communities, in part because it cannot help any community. Instead, it creates dependency and brainwashes people to view the State as the only possible option. They fail to see that the State is the very origin of their problem—a problem they created out of thin air.
This has occurred in America because no other group of people have made long-term and lasting avenues on these issues better than the socialists and humanists. Those who sympathized with black slaves during chattel slavery were labeled “Universalists,” in large part because Universalist Abolitionists were the only ones with enough compassion in America to stand up en masse and call the slave system an institution of evil. The churches in America at the time were doing the quite opposite. They were doing everything they could to keep their congregants and tithe money by defending the institution. After all, many slave owners were in the pews and on the membership roles. If you need more proof on this read Joel McDurmon’s The Problem of Slavery in Christian America.
We are not responsible for the sins of previous generations. We are, however, responsible for loving our neighbor and crying out against injustice. We are responsible to check ourselves to see if those same sins reside in us. We are also responsible for the effects and legacies of past sins that may still affect our neighbor.
I believe that, in many ways, the enslavement of the black community continues today through the drug war, which by some accounts Nixon implemented as a political strategy against hippies and blacks. Whether that anecdote is true or not, the statistics are staggering as to what occurred after the implementation of the War on Drugs. To begin with, America leads every single nation on earth for incarcerating (humanistic term for enslavement) its own citizens. “In 1972, 161 U.S. residents were incarcerated in prisons and jails per 100,000 population; by 2007, that rate had more than quintupled to a peak of 767 per 100,000.”1 These numbers should terrify you. Russia is far behind in second place with 474 per 100,000.
These numbers are not exclusive to the Drug War. American prison corporations make a massive amount of money by lobbying for more laws to be created at the State and Federal level. This is essentially creating more criminals out of thin air. They further lobby to have their revenues funded by taxpayer subsidies. How is welfare that makes new criminals and keeps building prisons to house them better than welfare for food stamps? If food stamps create dependency in the communities that take them, what do prison subsidies do to the same communities after laws are made to target them? It makes them criminals for the profit of another. Is slavery over or did it just take another form?
The numbers don’t stop there. Another study shows that whites and blacks use illegal drugs at roughly the same percentage: blacks at 10.0 percent and whites at 8.7 percent. If this is the case, should we not see a similar percentage of arrests among whites and blacks for similar crimes? I would argue that because whites make up 72.4 percent of the American population and blacks only 12.6 percent, whites should make up vastly more of the prison population among those charged with drug-related crimes. Sadly, it’s not even close. The Drug Policy Alliance reports “Nearly 80% of people in federal prison and almost 60% of people in state prison for drug offenses are black or latino.” According to the Census Bureau, out of 100,000 drug-related arrests from each race only 332 of them are white and 879 of them are black. That means that for every 100,000 whites, only 332 are arrested on drug related charges, while out of 100,000 blacks, 879 are arrested for the same crimes. Blacks also receive harsher sentencing, with a 13 percent higher prison/jail sentences than their white counterparts.
We are all becoming aware that the Drug War was and only is for profit and political gain. It’s now become a jobs market program for police. The police forces would shrink by half if the Drug War went away. I highly doubt Police Unions will let that happen. Even the more conservative party, however, is beginning to bend under the pressure of “Prison Reform” and the futility of the Drug War. Ted Cruz in his recent primary was willing to debate the legalization of Marijuana with Beto O’Rourke—something we could not have even imagined just four years ago. The Republican Party of Texas just added a plank to their platform to decriminalize marijuana. Canada has now completely decriminalized Marijuana. The scare tactics of Reefer Madness are simply laughable and hold no weight. It’s steeped in paranoia and irrationality. There is some irony there. Propaganda Madness seems to be far deadlier and destructive that Reefer Madness ever was.
The Drug War has left entire communities devastated by separating families and stealing fathers, mothers, and children. Many Christians in America are quick to lambast the black community for fatherlessness while yet also defending these drug policies. They may or may not be aware how blacks and minority communities are affected more than white communities. Where has the Christian community been during this time of family destruction that the United States has perpetuated on blacks and minorities communities? Even the fallen world seems to have recognized the sinful culture more quickly and seeks to remedy it—with more State solutions, of course. All the while, a large segment of the Christian world continues to hide its head in the sand by telling the black community—whom they themselves never protected from government tyranny to begin with—that they must now simply move on, get over it, and “Stop playing the victim.” How can people who watch their families destroyed and ripped apart through unjust policies and procedures be told to get over it? What does this tell the victim of oppression? How can Christians speak this way to those whose faces have been ground (Isaiah 3:15)? How can one state enslave a man to a cage while another in the neighboring state walks free and the Christian culture still has yet even to look at this issue?
We know also that Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF) claims massive amounts of property unjustly. CAF basically allows for the theft of any personal property as long as an officer says he merely suspects the person of a crime. He does not need proof. Departments then make it almost impossible to reclaim the property by surrounding it with impediments that many times cost more than the property itself. This affects everyone but completely crushes the poor. If the person does not retrieve the property within a certain time frame, the department liquidates the assets into their own budget.
Through CAF, American police end up stealing more money from innocent citizens (who have never been charged with a crime) than petty thieves. According to the Institute of Justice’s 2015 report, justice departments across America deposited almost $5 billion in revenue from Civil Asset Forfeiture. In the same year, Americans lost only $3.5 billion to common thieves. At least the thieves without badges can get prosecuted. It would be interesting to see where all the extra money has gone since they implemented this wicked practice.
Toward repentance and repair
Recently I wrote a review of the book Ordinary Men. Through studying certain Nazi Occupying Police in Poland who massacred the Jews, we learned that they did not start out as bloodthirsty monsters. Over time, however, they refused to confront those in governmental authority, and they continually said that everything they did was lawful and in submission to authority. The author concludes that these men lacked a moral compass as well as conviction by which to judge their own government. They also were extremely protective of their government, nationalistic, and patriotic. As long as these men could be led to believe Jews were a national danger, they would do whatever was necessary to bring peace and harmony.
Americans are no different in their foundational worldview. There is little wonder why Christians, who are raised by the state to be deeply nationalistic, are generally homogenized into the humanist religious beliefs of the state. Christians hardly, if ever, say anything new or different until after the fact. Then they claim they were always there and will quote men like Benjamin Warfield’s father and grandfather, who stood against slavery, and pretend retroactively that everyone was like them at the time.
In light of the oppression and targeting of minority communities by big prison lobbies and Uncle Sam, what should Christians do? There is certainly more to say on this in the future, but among other things, we must first, before we even grasp the concept of Christian reconstruction, repent of our apathy, especially toward these orphans and widows. We can make excuses for why we aren’t responsible. After all, I hear that same excuse about abortion: “Why should I help end abortion? I have never had one. Stop putting guilt on me for something I haven’t done.” Some will outright refuse to hear anything wrong about their own government—especially when their own party is in office. Some will do as the church in America did to those who sympathized with freeing slaves: call them names, like “Universalists” (or “Marxists” for today). These are merely tactics to silence any nuance in the discussion. In reality, these are fig leaves to hide their own shame. They will make the same mistake as the early church in America which is to lie about our position and to continue to hold up strawman arguments that paint us as Marxists when we outright deny that the government should have any part whatsoever in this process apart from ending the tyranny. I also deny the concept of collective white guilt. What we are discussing here is only the Church’s responsibility in society and history. The Church is the only one who truly has the answers.
The affected communities also do not want an ounce of our help until we openly admit that justice has been perverted and specifically perverted to exploit them. Justice plays a large part in the area of forgiveness, and we do need to ask for forgiveness for refusing to take to the streets long before BLM and MLK did. Christians, it’s time we stop complaining that Marxists get it wrong when we refuse to even lift a finger to try to get it right. It’s also time we do what the church during slavery should have done: lead the charge, protect the widows, stop the government from grinding the faces of the poor, demand justice, and demand it on God’s terms. Lest we be found as guilty as the Pharisees under Stephen’s scathing rebuke, we must make sure our necks are not as stiff as the previous generations. If we refuse, we can create whole new injustices while denying we ever partook in the former.
Godly family legacy is crucial because it is lasting. In looking past this reality, Christians have managed to defend a system that destroys families by removing men, women, and children from their homes. This denies entire communities the ability even to build legacies because their family is under attack, continuously. In this light, the Drug War is just as much of an attack on the family as homosexuality.
We have created and tolerated laws that are not God’s. We have decided, autonomously and apart from God’s Word, that people ought to be locked in cages, housed by taxpayer money, and their mothers, fathers, and children left without stability. The logical conclusion leads to the same results as separated families during slavery: mothers ripped from their children, fathers ripped from their wives, and children stolen by CPS and handed over to a system full of sexual predators.
Likewise, prisoners are then used by corporations to cheapen labor costs with little if any compensation to the prisoner. For those who say, “Well work is good for them,” remember the sign above Auschwitz: “Arbeit macht frei“ (“Work sets you free.”). The children and family, through the culture, are then alienated to hate their parent as an “Enemy of the State” and a “Good for nothing low life.” They blame their father/mother for abandoning them, when it was actually the State that enslaved them.
This combination of oppression and resentment then drives the impoverished right into the hands of the Marxist social programs. This means that while Christians claim to hate Marxism, they nevertheless encourage the oppressions that grow Marxist programs. The history of the Christians’ failure with chattel slavery repeats itself.
The Drug War, if not openly rebuked and addressed by Christians as a wicked and abominable practice in the eyes of God, will end the same way as then. So will the Church: shamefully silent during oppression. Worse, it is not just silence, but the cheering of those who are the captors, and creating systems of man-made doctrines that excuse lawless government.
If this is the impression we give people about God and His view of justice, why would they ever listen to us about our precious Savior who satisfied justice on behalf of His people? In their eyes, our false version of justice as it is currently practiced in American Christian culture is enough to send them running as far away from the Christian community as possible. And they will run right into the arms of either liberal Christians or the socialist politicians.