The story of Donald Sterling, owner of an NBA franchise,being fined 2.5 million dollars and banned for life from the NBA has become a majorheadline for National news and the subject of countless blogs, interviews, andsocial media conversations. In general, there has been almost unanimous outrage fromthe American public regarding Sterling’s racist comments that were recently madepublic. There has also been praise givento the NBA for enacting such a swift and harsh penalty. And while I would tend to agree with thosewho are appalled at Mr. Sterling’s racist views and also with the way that thematter is being handled by the NBA, there are some greater lessons to belearned from this story that I want to address.
The way in which the public has reacted to this storyindicates that there are some moral guidelines that are universal in this greatcountry of ours. It is evident to me that holding racist views is clearlyoutside the acceptable boundaries (i.e. a moral standard) of the Americanculture. I guess I should be trulyhopeful in light of this reality but all hope is overwhelmed by the absolutehypocrisy of this ‘moral outcry’. I amconfident that if, instead of expressing racist comments, Sterling wererevealing that he was a homosexual, he would have received the highestcommendations, affirmation, and support. The ‘poor fellow’ just picked the wrong thing to have strong feelingsabout. I wonder if he would just tellpeople that he was ‘born with these feelings’ if everyone would be okay withthe expression of his racist orientation.
Or, what if Sterling had unknowingly revealed that hebelieved that adultery was acceptable behavior? Of course I jest. The mostdepressing part of this entire saga is that it was a secretly recordedconversation that Sterling had with his mistress that began all the outrage. And yet not one word of condemnation has beenspoken against his blatant sexual immorality. It is almost as though this part of hisbehavior is completely acceptable and the only concern is his racism. I have yet to read a single article from anywoman’s group that expresses outrage over his disregard of a woman’s dignity norof his approval of adultery.
I guess what I am saying is that all those who have stood tocondemn Mr. Sterling have done so on the basis that they believe racism iswrong. But I ask why. Who has the right to declare that racism iswrong? Many, if not most, of those whocondemn this man for this behavior would also be the ones vehemently attackingthose who declare that homosexuality is wrong. They are angered by anyone whom would impose some external standard ofmorality on matters of ‘personal choice’. In essence they are demanding that all should hold to their standards ofright and wrong, but that they need not submit to any other’s standard or moralbeliefs. Additionally, with theirsilence, they have also implicitly declared that adultery and sexualpromiscuity are also a matter of personal choice and are not subject to anyexternal moral standard. To be sure, weas Christians can condemn Sterling’s racist actions and attitudes (and I mostcertainly do) not because we feel strongly about it but rather because the Godthat created us all condemns it.
My point in bringing all this up is that this story ought toremind us that the American culture is almost entirely untethered from themoral moorings of Christianity. Theremay be a few strands of cord remaining but we ought not be hopeful inthose. I also want to impress onbelievers in Christ that God’s standard of what is right and what is wrong isnot optional. To disregard it is to setone’s life adrift into a maddening chaos where every man does what is right inhis own eyes. Our culture may well bedrifting there but that does not mean we allow our personal lives and thebeliefs we live by to become influenced by the immorality around us. I also hope that we Christians can use thesekinds of current news stories to lead to meaningful conversations with ourfriends and co-workers about why God’s way is the best way and the onlyway. And finally, I hope that this willencourage us to pray all the more diligently for revival in our nation. We have never needed it more than now.