I grew up in Connecticut, but lived 3 years in Virginia. My parents lived in South Carolina during their retirement years and I loved to visit there. But I could never fully understand the Southern states love for the confederate flag until I spoke with some old time Southerners.
For many old time Southerners, the flag was indeed a symbol of rebellion. They admitted so. But not like Northerners thought. To them it was not about slavery at all. I spoke with dozens of people from Virginia and South Carolina and they all spoke of slavery with disgust. They would point out that the vast majority of the Southern boys who fought in the “War of Northern Aggression” (and yes, they really called it that in Virginia!) did not come from families that were slave owners. Those families were fighting because they felt the Federal government did not have the right to tell them what to do.
Now, I know that those of us in the north look at them like they are crazy. We look at the big picture. We clearly see that though there were many issues, the major issue they were being told “not to do” was slavery. I think history is clear on this point. But Southerners don’t see it this way. And all of our pushing and shoving this view on them is only evidence to them that they are still being told not only what to do, but even how to think! So there is a natural resistance, actually viewed as honoring their ancestors. To them, resisting what we say and ask for is following beloved ancestors’ views and actions. There is a certain “honor” that causes many Southerners to push back and say, “don’t tell us what we HAVE to do or THINK”! Insisting that Southerners get rid of the Confederate flag is evidence the North has not changed; we are still taking away their right to self determination. This is particularly distressing and causes visceral reactions when coming from Northern Politicians or Northern Influenced Media.
That being said, I wish Christians in the South would take a moment and think about what the Confederate flag resembles to the rest of the country and the world. Much like the Bronze Serpent of Moses’ day was a strong symbol for good, it eventually became a stumbling block for the people of Israel. Many had been healed at the raising up of that Serpent. God wanted Moses to use the Serpent to temporarily provide healing and salvation, but the people of Israel were turning it into an idol. God’s plan for this symbol is spoken of in the New Testament in John 3:14. The Serpent was to temporarily provide healing and salvation and to point to the fact that Christ would be the actual one providing healing and salvation. Once the people began making the Serpent an idol and attempting to use it past God’s intentions, there was trouble. I fear we have reached the same point with the Confederate flag. Several despicable organizations have adopted it as their symbol or use it as a proclamation of rebellion. These groups would make the godly Southerners I know cringe.
(Please note – I am in no way suggesting that God told the Southerners to resist or use the confederate flag as their symbol, I am instead pointing out how symbols can reach a point of no longer being seen or used for their original intent.)
I pray that the wonderful godly Southerners I know would decide that it is not a dishonor to their ancestors and it is not a rejection of the principle that Northern Politicians and Northern Media do not have the right to tell them what to do and think. But rather, they would come to the conclusion that what the Confederate Flag now represents, the fringe rebellion, segregation, and separatist movements, are not what it originally represented. The flag’s symbolism has morphed. I pray that good Christians can let it go but still honor their ancestors. The flag now divides the very people it was meant to rally and unite – people in the South. It does not represent resisting the federal government’s over reach but rather represents fringe group that boil over with hatred.
Christians of the South – step back, don’t let Northern Politicians or the Northern Press tell you what to think, just think for yourselves. Is what the Confederate flag now represents what you want to stand behind? If not, and you would like for the flag to be put away for a time, I promise I will not think you are rejecting your family roots. You can still stand for independent thinking without the flag being in the forefront. I honor that.