How Racist are You?

My friend Win linked to this article from Slate: Paula Deen’s Racism Isn’t Shocking At All. The assertion is that “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” sometimes.

And my gut response was, “Am I racist?” I’m surely trying not to be. Paula Deen says she called someone the N-word when he held a gun to her head. I am almost positive I wouldn’t have done the same thing, but I’m not an old southern woman either. I’m sure I have some other prejudice that could have reared its ugly head. Am I sexist, for example? Or do I judge people who are older or younger, poorer or richer, thinner, fatter, or in any way different from me? I’m afraid the answer to that is a very unfortunate yes.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis compared these sins against charity to having rats in the cellar. Turning on the lights doesn’t cause rats to spawn out of nowhere. And sudden provocation doesn’t create our failure to love. It just reveals whatever evil was already there and did not have a chance to hide.

I’ve noticed a few approaches to dealing with sin:

Hide it: Pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t talk about it all, or if it must be brought up, talk about it as though it’s a problem only other people have.

Accept it: Justify ourselves through our relative goodness. Acknowledge and keep a few favorite sins; just focus on the good we’re doing and hope it will outweigh the bad. Besides, at least we a lot better than some people … (Nevermind that pride is a sin in itself!)

Eradicate it: Bring in a professional. Be aware of the problem, keep up with scheduled maintenance, and call for help at the first sign of trouble.

I can’t remember whether it was at a fireside or in a book I read recently, but I loved the thought that we are baptized unto a remission of sins. Think about the word remission and how it applies to cancer. Sins are like cancer. They’re gonna come back if they can, and winning one battle does not mean you’ve won the war. It’s a constant fight, but the Lord is mighty to save.

Just think about how nice will it be when you can respond to provocation with love — not because you’re exercising self control but because love is all that’s there.

I’m looking forward to that. 🙂