15 March 2019

The Difference Between Sexual Abuse and "Race" Offenses

by Hohn Cho



A    few days ago, an ordained PCA pastor from Washington, DC—Duke Kwon—said the following:



When people hear "reparations" many retort
"forgiveness is better"
which is also what some say to victims of abuse
"no, forgive"
but forgiveness and justice are not at odds
what I release as a cross-bearer
what I'm owed as an image-bearer
alas, racial oppression is abuse

Kwon is part of a developing cadre of Asian American social justicians that includes folks like Raymond Chang and perhaps the most extreme of the group, Timothy Isaiah Cho (#NotAllChos), the former Director of Operations of Michael Horton's White Horse Inn. I was busy last week at our church's annual Shepherds Conference, but I set aside the comment above for a reply, because the mentality behind it is one of my pet peeves, the false equivalence that flattens types of offense. (There's another big issue to discuss as well, specifically the increasingly popular idea of reparations, but I'll save that for another time.)

I've written previously about sexual (and physical) abuse, and although the exact extent of the problem in certain contexts and communities may be unclear, it is a problem which is common and substantial enough that reports ought to be taken very seriously. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that complementarians in particular have a Scriptural responsibility toward women, who are by far the more frequent recipients of sexual and physical abuse, as well as the fact that such types of abuse constitute actual crimes, which pursuant to Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 are under the jurisdiction of the governing authorities, who are to wield the sword for the protection of the good and the punishment of the wrongdoer.

It appalls me, then, when I see social justicians attempt to elevate matters such as microaggressions, or increased socioeconomic status in an already wealthy nation like the United States, or the unbiblical attempt to punish children and grandchildren for the sins of their ancestors, to the same level of importance as major, tangible, current sins and crimes, such as sexual and physical abuse. It is truly a false equivalence. And it is even more appalling when social justicians attempt to equate their pet issues to the holocaust of abortion, which kills nearly a million unborn children per year in the United States alone, a disproportionate number of which are from ethnic minorities. Some like to cite the importance of speaking up for the voiceless and destitute from Proverbs 31:8-9 as a call to "justice" work, but in our age of social media, who is more voiceless than a baby in the womb, and in our rich land where starvation is basically unheard of, who is more destitute than a precious little one who has no possessions or even rights at all?

Even in cases of "race" related sins and crimes, the actual numbers pale in comparison to cases of sexual and physical abuse, as well as abortion, by multiple orders of magnitude. I already mentioned the nearly million unborn children aborted each year, and in the United States in 2016, the most recent year with available data, rapes and sexual assaults actually reported (estimated at 23.2% of all rapes and sexual assaults) numbered 298,410, while domestic violence incidents numbered 1,068,120.

Compare and contrast these numbers with 7,175 hate crimes of all types and categories in the United States in 2017, of which 5,084 were crimes against persons (as opposed to property), and the great majority (79.2%) of those crimes against persons were classed as intimidation or simple assault, while 15 were murders (0.3%). Similarly, on the much-sensationalized issue of police shootings, as I stated in point E of a past article, more people die each year from constipation (189) than unarmed people of all ethnicities die at the hands of police.

If we are to be people of the Book, we need to care about equal weights and measures, because God cares about them, and considers unequal ones to be an abomination, as we see in Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, 20:10, 20:23. Similarly, there are matters of first importance in Scripture, a concept which clearly shows that it is not biblically appropriate to attempt to draw false equivalences between certain types of actions and offenses. Indeed, while any sin will send anyone without the saving grace of Jesus Christ to hell, all sins are not the same in type or degree, and in particular, while hating a brother might be as sinful before God as murder, and looking at a woman with lust might be as sinful before God as adultery, you'd better believe that the horizontal consequences of actual murder and actual adultery will far exceed their mere heart equivalents!

So too it is with Kwon's attempt to compare "victims of abuse" to "racial oppression"—and I would argue that before his comparison can have any weight, he would need to establish precisely what he means by "racial oppression" rather than just handwave it or otherwise assume facts not in evidence. Yes, on those rarer occasions when there are actual crimes being committed against people on the basis of their ethnicity, absolutely, the subjects of those crimes have every right to call the governing authorities and see appropriate consequences visited upon the perpetrators, including restitution wherever and whenever appropriate. And when we see restitution in the Bible, most commonly under the Old Testament civil laws of ancient Israel, it invariably takes the form of a definite and determinable sum levied against the actual wrongdoer. Even if there's no crime committed, but there is sin—such as actual, demonstrable racism within the church, as opposed to the epidemic of heart reading we see from many social justicians—it may be that an appropriate authority to enforce order is indeed the church, via the exercise of church discipline.

Based on what I've read and heard, everyone reputable agrees that actual incidents of racism are wrong and unacceptable, and indeed, the unanimously strong denouncement of racism by pretty much every sector of our society is both telling and encouraging, especially when we look back over the course of history when that has not always been the case. But most of the time, what social justicians today call "racial oppression" really amounts to marginal or even imagined personal slights, disputable statistical data that according to multivariate analyses have many different causes, and the admittedly bitter fruit resulting from the sins of our ancestors which were horrific but are simply not attributable to people today, as my pastor, John MacArthur, masterfully exposited from Ezekiel 18 and other passages in the sermon series starting here.

On a practical level, I perceive many of these false equivalency efforts to bootstrap certain types of ethnic discrimination into more dire problems to be a symptom of the current disease of identity politics and intersectionality, whereby activists regularly compete for finite attention spans and capacity for outrage. The thing is, when identity politics and intersectionalism work their way into practice, women often simply lose out, whether they're stacked against groups centered around ethnicity, national origin and immigration, Islam, or more recently transgenderism.

Much of this is due to the worldly philosophy of "allyship" in which identity groups work together out of political expedience rather than biblical righteousness. Allyship says, "You support my cause, I'll support yours, and hey, we'll just shut up about any annoying inconsistencies in the other's case... maybe we'll get to that after we finish sticking it to the man." On the level of political effectiveness, this philosophy might manage to score some points. On the level of biblical ethics, however, it leaves much to be desired. Better by far to speak the truth in love and put away falsehood per Ephesians 4:15, 25, and to walk blamelessly and do what is righteous per Psalm 15:2, and to have integrity per Proverbs 10:9, 11:3, 19:1, 20:7, 28:6, and to have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way per Hebrews 13:18, and to avoid worldly alliances and plans that are not of the Spirit per Isaiah 30:1-3.

I am glad to speak up and take action in my own Christian liberty and stewardship with respect to actual injustices, whether of the limited "social justice" variety or more broadly in the area of biblical justice, such as protecting the innocent and the weak from lawbreakers in Romans 13:3, or punishing the evildoer and the violent man from Romans 13:4, or understanding the truth from our Savior in Matthew 26:52 that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword, or submitting even to harsh and oppressive authority such as the mad Roman emperor Nero in 1 Peter 2:13, or valuing the importance of work in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 especially if you want to eat, or making it our ambition to live quietly and mind our own affairs in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, or to pray for those in authority so that we can live peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives per 1 Timothy 2:1-2, or even proclaiming biblical understandings relating to marriage, divorce, family, and gender.

And the reason I would do those things is because they're right, and not because certain "allies" expect me to. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? Meanwhile, all of the allies in the world will avail me nothing if either the means or the end is ungodly, as is so often the case with the unequal weights and measures and myopic temporal focuses of many social justicians.

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