Monday, January 18, 2021

Flawed Heroes

 

History is full of flawed heroes, jars of clay – not of porcelain – who though blemished held great treasure.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day always awakens conflicting emotions within me. Granted, as a white male from the American South, that demographic alone would cause some people to immediately ignore my opinion related to MLK.

However, I don’t consider myself a racist. I believe God created everyone in His image. All races descended originally from one race through the bloodline of Noah. Racial, ethnic, and social diversity is one way God displays various aspects of his amazing grace.

My best friend in seminary was a black man – a former drug dealer turned to Christian preacher-evangelist. I invited him to preach in three different churches where I worked. The best neighbors I had in my life were a wonderful black couple in Laurens, SC. My wife and I enjoyed many summer evenings sitting on their back porch years ago.


A Mixed Bag

But Martin Luther King, Jr., causes conflicted responses.

Positively, who can deny he was a powerful force against the evil of racism in America? He and another son of the South – Billy Graham – stood against segregation and the ignorance of hating someone because of the color of their skin. And they both confessed the Lord Jesus Christ and preached from the Christian Bible.

Who cannot be stirred by the historic “I Have a Dream” speech that challenged people to see all people as being made in the image of God? A few years ago I took my family to the Civil Rights National Monument l in Birmingham, Alabama, to view the statues mindful of key figures in the Civil Rights movement. Thankfully, we live in a day when a black man can rise from obscurity and become the President of the United States.

Those are all things to be celebrated enthusiastically.

However, MLK was no spotless hero. Several aspects of his tainted legacy bother me. History records he habitually was unfaithful sexually to his wife. Known for his girlfriends and mistresses, this was not a man of God who practiced great self-control in the area of his sex drive. 

Old FBI documents released by President Donald Trump in 2017 reveal some extremely dark sides to MLK, including his penchant for orgies.

Yes, I understand some of the FBI files could have an over-arching agenda to discredit him. However, somewhat like Bill Clinton’s private life, MLK’s sexual promiscuity is well-known.

On another note, The King Papers, which reveal many of his inner-thoughts on theology and other matters, reveal a very unorthodox King: denying the virgin birth, questioning the veracity of the Scriptures, and holding some troubling views of the atonement, just to name a few.

Socially and politically, MLK was much more a socialist than a capitalist. Some would argue his theories resembled Communism more than democracy. For years he was on the FBI’s list of people with links to Communists.

Yet, no doubt, he is a towering figure in history. The annals of time contain numerous flawed heroes – biblical Abraham, Samson, and David, Martin Luther of the Reformation, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and today, Donald Trump.

Yet some of the same voices who hail MLK as a worthy figure to be celebrated are the same ones who claim that Donald Trump is "evil" and should be rejected because of his past immoral sexual ethics. Or they are the same ones to embrace the removal of a statue or memorial to someone like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or Robert E. Lee because of their links to slavery.

Black and White

One vice of the Left is to paint people in broad black and white strokes. If they can find one flaw that goes against a leftist value, they attempt to make the media perceive the person as “all bad” or “evil.” This is a political tactic used with great success when trying to discredit an opponent.

Today, if something is dug up that was less-than-ideal from someone’s past three or four decades ago, a frenzied scurry begins to paint the entire persona as “bad.” The MeToo movement has used this tactic in some cases.

However, the real world is not that black and white. People are flawed with a combination of honorable and less than honorable characteristics. A society fueled by revenge or justice will eventually have no one left standing. All of the memorial statues will eventually be removed because no human can live up to a perfect standard.

A society oiled with grace, however, understands that we can learn from our flawed heroes. We can even celebrate them, remembering the good things about their legacies without embracing or excusing the bad.

I believe President Donald Trump is one such flawed hero. Like the Old Testament judge Samson, who had deep blemishes yet was raised up by God to help his people at a specific point in time, so I believe Trump was sovereignly exalted in a troubled time in our nation.

As author Eric Metaxsas has so eloquently stated, Donald Trump arose in American history not to be her savior, but to keep her from falling off of the cliff of no return.

Is Trump flawed? Yes. Should he be painted as completely evil and unworthy of respect and celebration? No more than Martin Luther King, Jr. and the aforementioned list.

We can celebrate the great accomplishments of a person, learn from their achievements, mistakes, and failures, without embracing all of the dark aspects of their life.

Wisdom allows us to remember with grace.


Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.


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