Today there is talk about what was being called “White Privilege.” The conversation often goes nowhere because the terms “white” and “privilege” aren’t being well defined. Both are too lose and left up to everyone to interpret however they please. Thus, the discussions around white privilege often turn sour quickly, don’t forward the discussion, and end up being a waste of everyone’s time.
I’d like to talk about white privilege. However, I’m not going to define the terms. I don’t want to write a long definition of what I think it means and what others think it means. Instead, I want to look at the general concept, the basic definition that all sides agree upon, and comment on it.
Both sides, those who affirm and deny “white privilege” would, I believe, agree that whatever the term may mean it at least means people of white or light skin receiving some kind of favor, favoritism, or blessing just because of their skin.
This basic definition is why I believe both sides can’t get anywhere. They disagree on what constitutes white, and what constitutes privilege. The discussion ends because both are defining the terms on different sides.
I am most disheartened that this kind of silly discussion has entered into the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe it useless and fruitless because as Christians we are to only favor Christians over non-Christians. We do not favor poor Christians over rich Christians. Nor do we favor Pastors over laymen. We are to love one another and serve and build one another up, regardless of status within the church, gifting’s, or how big our pocket book is. The moment we start favoring certain kinds of Christians over others is the moment we lose sight of Christ. We then become like those Corinthians Paul spoke against who were causing divisions saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I am of Apollos.”
Now, I call myself a Calvinist. I do this because in general the term gets my general beliefs about man, salvation, the extent of God’s sovereignty, and who controls salvation, across. However, when I say I am a Calvinist, I do not mean it in the spirit of “I am born of or come from Calvin.” No. I mean it theologically. I mean it as a term that helps define my position quick enough for others who know the term to understand me. I believe these kinds of terms are helpful. But, the person that says, “I am of…” is a person that divides the church, because it’s a person that is trying to one up another, competing as though being from one man is better than being from another.
So, when I call myself a Calvinist, I am not trying to divide myself from Christ’s body, but I am declaring, as a part of Christ’s body, what I believe. However, what unites me with Christians isn’t particularly their view of atonement, or God’s sovereignty, or how dead man is in sin (as though people can be more or less dead). What unites me with other Christians is the Holy Spirit. We are Christians because of God, not because of our doctrine. We, as Christians, must grow and learn right doctrine, but my unity with Christ’s body isn’t how intellectual I am. My unity with Christ’s body is dependent upon Christ himself, joining His body together with His blood.
This is why the term “white privilege” is something I see as divisive. It ultimately is thinking outside of concepts God desires us to be conformed to. It seeks to define people based upon skin color and favor received instead of on who God is pleased with.
If I am jealous because another Christian is favored based on their color, then I am disjointing myself from that Christian brother or sister. Rather, I would rather both rejoice that they receive favor. I would pray that God gives them more favor. If society wants to choose someone to favor, I will pray they favor my fellow brothers and sisters. I will also pray that my fellow brothers and sisters use that favor to preach the gospel and to demonstrate the superiority of Christ. I will weep if Christians let that favor define them, and weep and pray that God protects them from the temptation of puffing themselves up.
What difference does it make to me if I am favored or not? I am a white man. Perhaps I have received privilege and perhaps I haven’t. But either way, if I am going to be favored, then may I use my favor to preach the superiority of Christ.
Ironically, I believe that once someone knows you’re a Christian in the USA today, then there are general associations made. Often I am seen as less intelligent. What I say is seen with little weight because I’m a Christian. And in the end, if I had received any privilege I lost it because I am a Christian.
But this doesn’t matter to me. My skin color will be used however it pleases God. I didn’t choose my skin tone, and nor will I rejoice or weep over my skin tone. I will rejoice in Christ and I will seek to gain Christ.
If someone simply views me as a white man and not a Christian man, then I believe my Christianity may have lost its simplicity and its power. Why? Because at that point I may be using the arm of the flesh rather than the power of God, which is the gospel.
To me, the only privilege I desire is the privilege of knowing Christ and the privilege of suffering for His name sake. Any other privilege I may receive is garbage to me. Why should I care why you favor me? Why should I care if you or others want to give me some privilege because I’m white? I care only if God is pleased. And if people are going to condemn me for being white or praise me for being white, I pray I will respond the same way both times: with the gospel.
This discussion about white privilege is nonsense. And some may say that I say that because I’m white and I don’t realize my privilege. As much as I would disagree, I don’t care to argue that. If they want to define me and try to tell me how I am experiencing life, then I cannot argue with that person. They’ve already determined who I am. And the only way of destroying their argument is to just preach Christ.
“You sir are privileged because you’re white.”
“Whether I am white or black, I don’t care. I count my race and my color as garbage in comparison to knowing Christ. And I would plead for you to, dear person, to repent of your sins and follow Christ because he is worthy and he doesn’t care what you look like. Your skin color doesn’t win favor with him. Those who love Him and obey Him wholeheartedly and with everything, hating everything else by comparison, are the people he favors. So turn to him, and repent.”
“You can say you don’t care that you’re white or black because you are white and you haven’t been through what I have. You experience the privilege and don’t realize it.”
“If you don’t think I can relate to you, you may be right. But Christ not only relates you to, but Christ stooped down and joined himself with man, even though He is God. I may receive privilege from society because I’m white, but God gives no man in his kingdom privilege because their white. He gives every man in his kingdom his Holy Spirit. Every man in his kingdom is of equal status. And even if I haven’t been through what you’ve been through, you and I both certainly haven’t been through what Christ has. And whatever you’ve been through is nothing compared to what Christ went through. So believe on Him, or perish.”
Don’t let the foolish talk of the world become the center of your discussions with them. White privilege may be utter ridiculous, but don’t answer a fool in accordance with their folly. Otherwise they’ll be wise in their own eyes. And the precious pearls of God’s foolishness are so wise and amazing that we ought not cast them before swine.