Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Speak No Evil II: The True Challenge of the Donald Sterling Story

In a strange way, I think I'm writing this just so that, 20 years from now, if the Lord tarries, I can remember what I really felt at this moment with respect to this story.

My Initial Reaction to the Recording...

I was really confused.  Sterling seemed so insecure.  It was clear in my mind that he didn't actually have a personal issue with any black person and I didn't think that he had an issue with Magic Johnson.  But he seemed totally engrossed with the "he-say she-say"game that some circle of acquaintances or friends were playing with him.  He didn't want his lady-friend to be "broadcasting" the fact that she was with black people or other minorities.  On the face of it, it seemed totally prejudicial in a mean-spirited way against blacks.

But this was also, in my mind, confirmation of the noetic effects of the Fall.  This is the phrase used to explain the intellectual diminishment of mankind as a result of sin.  In other words, sin makes us stupid.  We simply don't think well due to the dominance of sin in our lives.  If God is the ultimate reality, and sin is rebellion against God, then it makes sense that sin is a rejection of what's real.  How is this Sterling situation related to the noetic effects of sin?  Easy: Sterling thinks its okay to BE with an ethnically minority woman but condemns her for being SEEN with an ethnic minority man.  Hence, sin makes us stupid.

My Initial Reaction to all the Initial Reactions...

To be honest, I was just hoping that no one would make a complete buffoon of themselves.  Generally, I got my wish.  I was happy that nothing was said that took the focus away from a serious investigation or made the outcry against Sterling's comments more a story than the comments themselves.  However, I was almost certain that the NBA would try to skate past this for a few weeks and release a statement or official findings after the Finals.  I had no idea that Commissioner Silver would be rendering/announcing a decision this soon.

My Thoughts on the Decision...

Not too surprising that they came down on Sterling so heavily.  I was, however, intrigued at the apparent power of the commissioner.  How do you ban the owner from coming to see his own team play?  Of course, I have no knowledge at all about the nature of contracts and agreements that owners have with the league.  The scope of it was surprising but the moral indignation wasn't.

It's easy to condemn statements that are racially-charged and hurtful.  As a 40-year old, I can respect the fact that many in an earlier generation, perhaps Mr. Sterling's generation, are still amazed by the changes that have made this kind of talk so heinous in our day.  I guess that 40+ years ago, this might not have made the news.  But certainly since I became an adult, this is basically the America that I know:  Ignorance in the form of racial hatred and/or prejudice is simply not condoned.  I don't know another America than this one.  So really, I don't think it's time to congratulate ourselves or have more talk about a "Post-Racial America", and all that jazz.  Condemning what is worthy of condemnation is not a laudable act; it's a necessary one.  Here's the real challenge...

The Real Challenge...

"...the measure by which you judge will be used against you..."

In the context of the above verse of Scripture, Jesus is warning against hypocritical judgement.  In other words, we have no right to judge others when we are guilty of the same things ourselves.  If anyone is willing to make horrible comments in private but wants to be seen as wholesome individuals in public, how are we any different from Mr. Sterling?

How many of us are really willing to be judged by the content of what we thought were private conversations?  Isn't that what the collective nation just did?  A man with what I consider immoral and inhumane perspectives spoke his mind with someone who he obviously thought would keep a confidence.  And yet, that whole conversation spilled out--literally all over the world.  Dear Reader, I wonder what you'd be feeling if your worst private conversation was made public?

What if everyone, everywhere, at all times was being recorded?  What if our every word became part of a transcript somewhere for someone to scrutinize and judge?  Matthew 12:36 says,

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

In the end, we don't have to worry about multi-media condemning us, our own words will do the job for us if we are careless.  In conclusion, the real challenge is not our judgement of Mr. Sterling, but whether we will judge ourselves righteously in the realm of our own words and what those thoughts communicate about our hearts and our desperate need for a Savior to deliver us from the righteous punishment we deserve.  

Oh Lord, help us to consider our ways that we might walk and talk uprightly before YOU...

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