Recently, Justin Giboney penned a piece for Christianity Today in which he laments and regrets the decision and refusal of “urban Christians” to challenge President Obama’s leadership and anti-Christian, leftist agenda. President Obama’s recent decision to coerce the county’s schools and universities to permit transgender students to use the bathroom, changing room, and locker room that corresponds with their “gender identity” rather than genetic dictates has forced Giboney and the urban Christian demographic to confront the consequences of sequestering their religious convictions in favor of outward social and political support for the first black president.
To Giboney’s credit, he admits that he and other urban Christians, (read primarily black Christians though he includes Hispanics) gave Barack Obama a pass when it came to his policy positions and agenda. Now suddenly after seven years, he finally questions the prudence of this decision.
Better late than never I suppose.
A proud supporter of Barack Obama, Giboney says,
I too was compelled by the historic nature of President Obama’s election. As a certified Obama apologist, I still smile in the glory of this collective prize. A culture of reverence and loyalty were aroused to historic proportions by a man who achieved the impossible. Not much more can be written about the historic nature of Obama’s election. The rejoicing mirrored the completion of a revolutionary effort. Reverence for a hero was immediately labeled sacred, and enshrined.
But the reward wasn’t without a price for black and Hispanic Christians. While our social concern was given voice, our values were muffled and dismissed. These slights were overlooked as we focused on protecting our protagonist from the far right. By code, we will condone our leader’s flaws before conveying the slightest hint of dissension to outsiders. That, after all, is family business.
First… Far right?
I wonder whom Giboney includes within this deprecatory designation. And to be sure, those who Giboney is denigrating aren’t the ‘far right’; they’re simply right of center. Though I gather there aren’t many who share Giboney’s complexion on this geographical end of the spectrum, there are many who do share his faith, and as such, are co-members of the multi-ethnic brotherhood of Jesus Christ. It’s because of this shared faith that many (though certainly not all) enthusiastically and with perseverance challenged Barack Obama’s agenda because it was – and still is – in clear and persistent conflict with their Christian religious beliefs.
Secondly, the “values” of black Christians weren’t“muffled and dismissed” as if blacks are passive victims to chance or circumstance. Giboney and other black Christians intentionally muffled and dismissed their Christian values to support and defend a black president. It was a calculated political trade-off and a bad one at that. He should at least admit fault when he’s attempting to admit fault.
Aside from that, this admission is an important and clarifying point about what’s been revealed in the age of Obama. Rather than standing on Christian principles and maintaining the courage of Christian convictions, Giboney (emblematic of most black Christians) intentionally chose racial solidarity with – and racial sympathy for – President Obama despite the predictable social costs, including the deterioration of black Christian integrity. Giboney confesses as much, admitting,
This steadfast sense of loyalty held by urban Christians forms a protective shield around our leaders. It’s dependable, almostunconditional… But it can also stifle accountability, making [minority leaders] more susceptible to their own faults.
We happily manned the front lines as Obama fought for the poor and underserved. We held our noses when he championed policy contrary to our beliefs. The unspoken, but understood call was to stand down lest we undermine our brother and empower his enemies. And stand down we did, submitting to the Obama Effect.
In other words black Christians (black non-Christians as well, obviously) reflexively circled the racial wagons, strengthening black racial fellowship and sympathy to defend Barack Obama, which was accompanied by an admitted double standard of morality and expectation primarily because of shared skin color (though certainly, ideology plays a part). I doubt Giboney and his fellow urban Christians would have sacrificed their religious integrity and the gospel of Christ by deferring to a non-black president in this way. The fact Giboney and others were decidedly silent as Barack Obama championed policies that were not only anti-Christian (same sex marriage and endorsement of homosexuality; economic policies nurtured by envy and grievance; punitive taxation and monetary redistribution, i.e., theft, politicized as reduction of inequality) but that also caused and intensified social discord (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”; several invocations of the Ferguson lie; circumventing federal immigration policies for political expediency; suing states to prevent them from upholding federal immigration policy; infringement of civil liberties) unmistakably demonstrates the power and privileged significance that racial commonality and black identity has over urban Christians.
As already mentioned and in addition to Giboney’s confession, President Obama’s transgender directive was abruptly a bridge too far. Giboney continues,
By neglecting to speak up on issues that support human flourishing, we allowed for a false dichotomy between traditional morals and social justice. The culmination of this failure enabled a gender identity policy that is in direct conflict with the truth about biology and gender (Matt. 19:4)…
Make no mistake, Christians should be the first to affirm the dignity of our transgender brothers and sisters and rail against any mistreatment. That said, the idea that one could define one’s own gender would’ve sounded absurd just three years ago. Now we’re expected to be comfortable with its conclusions. What’s more, we’re supposed to treat this continuation of the sexual revolution as the rightful heir of the civil rights movement.
He’s partially right about the false dichotomy between morals and social justice, though I disagree with the common categorization of justice. As I’ve said elsewhere, biblical justice, tsadek, is not, and should not, be apportioned according to specific social issues or agendas, and it certainly doesn’t come at the expense of calculatingly targeted groups. Justice, defined and understood biblically, encompasses how Christians are supposed to righteously live the totality of their lives — righteousness saturating horizontal relationships with other people (doing unto others, personally, and loving others as oneself) and the vertical relationship with God.
But he’s wrong in his assessment regarding gender absurdity. Not only was it absurd three years ago, it still is absurd. The problem is that Christians, for a number of internal and external reasons alike, no longer wield the cultural influence enjoyed in previous generations. As is the case, religiously speaking, leftism is much more of a culturally dominating force than Christianity, the consequence being the increased difficulty convincing the broader culture of the commonsense, morality and sincerity of our religious positions. Thus, like black Christians, we’ve partially silenced and censored ourselves.
As it relates to black Christians specifically, that purposed and neglectful silence — combined with continued social and political support for a man and an agenda that not only ignored black economic and social concerns but also appropriated black cultural history of civil rights for the homosexual and transgender agenda – is inexcusable. Black Christian silence in combination with black racial empathy facilitated that appropriation.
Giboney knows this and passively admits as much, but stops short of stating the obvious,
…the left colors our silence as approval and impels the urban political class to cross the line while the gatekeepers slumber, believing the sentiment will eventually trickle down to the grassroots. Consequently, secular liberalism controls the urban public dialogue and voting booths.
Silence in politics is death. If you don’t push and prod in the political arena, you’re invisible, no matter who your elected officials are. Urban Christians’ failure to provide our President with direction on issues dealing with the family ethic and morality was a serious misstep… We short-changed our beloved President by failing to offer him not just praise and affirmation, but correction and clear boundaries.
Yes, “the left colors… silence as approval” for good reason – the active participation, by way of the silence of black Christians and the “urban political class”!
Giboney acknowledges the urban religious demographic that he self-identifies with was strategically silent about Obama’s agenda because they wanted to minimize criticism from his political opponents. If blacks refuse to vocalize their opinions or objections why wouldn’t the left believe that the lack of objections – continued silence – is a tacit endorsement? The left expects and relies on the perpetual and unquestioning political loyalty of blacks, despite the obvious and negative effects these policies persistently have on black-dominated urban cities across the country. In this way, urban Christians, black or otherwise, are not only complicit in having helped further Obama’s damaging social vision, but also for what has happened (and hasn’t happened, for that matter) in urban areas in which they live.
Further, the left hasn’t – and doesn’t – force blacks to do anything, despite Giboney’s contention. Saying otherwise is an admission of black helplessness to influence and or determine their destinies. It also excuses them from their personal and communal obligations. (Giboney is apologizing for not taking responsibility, but not fully taking responsibility.)
Blacks are capable moral agents like their multi-ethnic counterparts and should be treated and critiqued as such. Black silence and perpetual racial allegiance is precisely why, “secular liberalism controls the urban public dialogue and voting booths,” and why, blacks are invisible, “no matter who (their) elected officials are.” As a result, not only have urban Christians, “short-changed our beloved President by failing to offer him not just praise and affirmation, but correction and clear boundaries,” but Urban Christians shortchanged themselves – their social integrity, but more importantly, their Christian integrity because of racial idolatry.
And just in time for the election of a nonblack president, Giboney confidently asserts,
As Obama’s second term ends, this trend will also come to a close. A foregone moment in history may have suggested passivity, but … Christians of conviction must stand on their principles and refuse to kneel before any political party or ideology.
Ah… only now it’s ok to stand for and rearrange Christian convictions above political and racial loyalties. Again, this course correction is better late than never I suppose.
Look, I commend Giboney for admitting the “urban Christian” error of subordinating religious convictions in favor of racial pride, fidelity and succumbing to the novelty of a non-white president. Blacks supported “one of their own,” chronically defending the indefensible by supporting Obama to their shame as Christians and blacks, in that order.
But the gravity of the admission and remorse is undermined by the safety that accompanies the delicate and sympathetic criticizing of the first black president at the end of his tenure. In other words, blacks admitting fault and criticizing Obama is easy to do now. Waiting seven years to confess to having proudly been more black than Christian is an unassailable indictment of how racialized blacks and other so-called urban Christians continue to be.