Lecrae posted a picture of black slaves (which couldn’t have been taken until the invention of cameras many years later) and claimed that was how his ancestors spent their 4th of July, 1776.
Many liked it. Some dissented. One black man posted a response to Lecrae’s message, declaring that
“Lecrae is engaging in what some have referred to as virtue signaling– the going out of one’s way to make a point on a social issue with which literally no one disagrees in the first place.”
No one thinks slavery was good, but beyond this – no one alive today is guilty of it:
“But not only is the non-slaveholding white man innocent of this reality, but, largely speaking, the black man in 2016 America is not a victim of this either. That is to stay, this continued effort at making people remorseful about a historical social reality does nothing but create false guilt and lead to increased division.”
The reason is that each person is and can only be individual responsible, which seems to be overlooked by many today discussing this topic:
Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not those with the same skin color that came before them. By the same token, individuals who have not been harmed by the sinful actions of people centuries ago cannot claim victim-status. Individuals are harmed as individuals, not as members of a class, and sins are committed by rational, thinking, human beings, not by collectives, racial groups, gender groups, and so on.
It is gross miscategorization – one committed again and again by racial advocates – to lump all white together – Irish, British, Southern, Northern, German, French, Italian, Slavic, early immigrants, later immigrants, Jews, and those of mixed ethnicity such as myself. The same is true when lumping all blacks or Asians or even people within a given nationality or ethnicity. British and Scottish or Irish, for instance. Northern Americans and Southern Americans. Northern and Southern Louisianans, who think of themselves as distinct and separate.
Further, Charging present people with guilt from sins committed by other people in the past is a form of uber covenantalism not seen in the new covenant, much less in the modern world. Ezekiel 18 says each person shall die for his own sins; the children will not be held guilty or penalized for what the fathers did. To confess, apologize, and repent of one’s ancestors implies the opposite; that generational guilt and sins rollover like monthly cellphone data and keep storing up until it’s all exhausted. But what will exhaust this guilt? Apparently Jesus’s blood does not atone for this generational sin, since each generation has to confess it all over again.
Regardless of the catharsis people may feel, recent confessions of past sin by large denominations have not ended this cycle for all time. Quite to the contrary, they set a precedent for future generations likewise to bear their fair share of guilt and sorrow and penance. For that is more like what this is: not repentance but ongoing penance. Our civil laws of social fairness are penitential for past guilt. They display ongoing reparations.
None of this is applicable, however, unless we assume an uber covenantalism – unless the sins of the fathers are heaped upon the children; unless one is guilty for the sins of another. But to be guilty for the sins of another is not something taught in Scripture. Further, there is only one man who bore the sins of others, Jesus Christ. And lest we think ourselves as some sort of social Messiah, we cannot make atonement for what others have done in our past. For a people who boast of their love for individualism, it is contradictory to hold an idea so against it.
But if this does not suffice, Walter Williams has forgiven all white people of assumed guilt:
As the author from Reformed Libertarian notes, “But I won’t apologize on behalf of anyone. I did nothing wrong and I’m only responsible for my own actions.”