What About The Removal Of Monuments and Heroes?
A Daily Devotional And Reading From The Psalms And A Personal Opinion On A Current Topic.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
According unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions:
And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in thy sight:
That thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
And be clear when thou judgest.
Someone asked what I thought about the removal of statues and the removal of public figures from prominence that has taken place lately. Do I believe that we should pull down the monuments to the famous folk who have serious skeletons in their closets? What if a founding father or a civil rights leader committed serial adultery? Should we take their names off of every road sign or statue? What if a revered public figure didn’t have what should have been an obvious understanding that slavery is wicked or possibly even owned some slaves? I believe that it is disgraceful to treat a man like property and the abuse of another human is inexcusable. But the question remains what about the monuments that have been built in honor of such folk? What if that hero that did great things was discovered to have been a fraud in other areas of life? Do I think we should tear down the signs and monuments and stop singing their songs and telling their stories? I do not! I actually feel the monument serves an even greater purpose for society than it once did. There are many lessons that will not be learned if we sweep things under the rug. Let me use today’s Scripture reading from the Psalms to speak to my point.
When I was a little boy, I felt convicted that I should read the Bible every day. Frankly, I was not the sharpest tool in the shed so there were many parts that I couldn’t understand so I stuck with the historical books. My favorite parts of the Bible were the stories of David. Those stories had it all, kings, battles, giants, swords, armor, sling shots and a boy hero who became a great man. That man became a hero to me. He was courageous, honorable and successful. David was everything I wanted to develop in myself. I hung on every word written about him and found delight in his Godly example until I read 2 Samuel chapter eleven. I saw that at a time when he should be out fighting with his soldiers he decided to stay home. He committed adultery and covered his crime by sending an innocent husband to certain death. My hero was not so heroic after all. It took me a while to understand that this is the way it will always be with anyone other than Christ. Every knight’s shining armor has a chink in it. The greatest of men and women sin. The Bible does the honorable thing and records it’s heroes as they truly were, flaws and all.
Quick Bible Lesson on Sin
Psalm fifty-one is about David’s reaction to the preacher Nathan when he was confronted over his sin and in it, we gain an understanding of repentance. If we want to properly repent, we must understand our sin. In this portion, David calls his actions what they were, “iniquity”, “sin”, and “transgression”. Iniquity means “perversion”, it is a twisting of God’s original design. The meaning of the word “sin” is a “missing of the mark”. God’s holy standard is not met. “Transgression” is crossing the line that God has drawn. David called his actions what they were in God’s eyes. We must be careful to avoid language that relieves us of responsibility. “I slipped” or “I made a mistake” are some things we can say to acknowledge an act while still not taking full accountability. In verse four David says, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done thisevil in thy sight” even though he had sinned against many people. He sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah her husband, his own family and the nation he was leading and yet he focuses on the Lord only in his confession. Why? I have been told that an affront is magnified by the identity of it’s recipient. In other words if you slap me it might not get you in very much trouble but if you slap a uniformed police officer the punishment increases greatly. Who you sin against does matter! David recognizes his ultimate responsibility is to God and every sin is a form of rebellion against the greatest authority in the universe. Perhaps David and Bathsheba could claim that their affair was just an act between to consenting adults but it wasn’t. It was against God’s commands and an act of rebellion. It was the misuse of God’s created property so that makes it a form of robbery. If we truly understand our responsibility to God then he will properly hold us accountable to others. If you truly repent then you must grasp the weight of your sin.
What about the trend of removing statues and refusing to sing certain songs?
I have learned a lot since I was a boy. I have learned that all men apart from Jesus sin, even the great ones. I am glad the Bible doesn’t sweep the bad records of it’s heroes away and hope society will follow that example. I am motivated by both the successes and the failures of these men and women. I am humbled to beware of my human weakness. I am encouraged toward restoration when I fall because others also sinned and needed God’s grace. I have learned to not put anyone on too high a pedestal and stay away from one if ever offered to me. So what about the statues, sign, songs and movies of those that have failed? Keep them and add the rest of the story. Washington was a hero and great leader who sinned greatly by having slaves. Keep him in public eye, wooden teeth and all. The dude was offered the kingship of America but was too principled to accept the crown. That story does not need to be forgotten. Robert E. Lee was an honorable man who hated slavery and yet still fought on the side that defended the horrible practice. Why do good guys take the losing side? Isn’t that a conversation we need to have? JFK captured the affections of our nation like no other politician ever had or will along with an innumerable number of mistresses. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great leader, with a great vision and yet had his own share of mistresses and moral failures. Pete Rose belongs in the hall of fame with a placard below his picture saying he bet on baseball. Barry Bonds also needs to be in Cooperstown with a sign saying “he stuck himself in the seat with steroids” prominently on display. I don’t mean to make light of the greatness of some of our heroes faults. I don’t mean to imply that all of these failures are equal. Certainly cheating at baseball is not the same as abusing another person created in the image of God. My point is simply to say an accurate picture of our heroes is best for society. We need their examples of skill, courage and honor but we also need to learn from their mistakes. We also need constant reminders of our depravity and need for Christ. That is my humble opinion.
I am the Bald Believer