The Myth of Equality


The Myth of Equality

February 5, 2019

How do you write a book on one of the most divisive topics in our nation? Writing as a white Evangelical in America, Ken Wytsma offers his perspective through his book The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege in one of the most challenging, yet refreshing books I've read in a while. For some, topics such as racism and injustice may seem better kept outside of the church and better left to the news channels, but Wytsma makes a compelling argument for why the problem, and the solution, must be addressed from a Christian standpoint. With a bold title that leaves little room for ambiguity, Wytsma approaches the topic with humility, firmness, and an accessible call to action for all members of the church.  


February is a month that often gets buried in the hustle of the new year, with the Christmas season long gone and only the faintest of signs of spring. As a bookstore, we often look at seasonal themes to highlight books and other resources that provide various perspectives for personal enrichment and empowerment. While we certainly have plenty of Valentine's Day material on the beauty of God's intention for us as individuals built for relationship (romantic or not), I was excited to learn more about African American History Month and explore our books on race. I found Wytsma's book in our Christians & Culture section and originally thought I would just skim through it to offer some thoughts as a book suggestion for our newsletter. As I settled into the Introduction, I was immediately gripped by how it seemed Wytsma was speaking directly into my questions and the discussions I've had with other DTS students regarding race and justice. 


There was no option for superficial skimming. 


The topic and Wytsma's perspective demanded my full attention, and after devouring it in three days, I am so glad for it. 


From the offset, Wytsma tackles some of the more controversial items, defining terms such as "white privilege" and "reverse racism," while also explaining that the issue of racism has more to do with our cognition and implicit biases as a society rather than burning crosses and Nazis. Through several chapters, Wytsma writes with no intention of sugarcoating history or our current events, and my eyes were opened to the many obstacles African Americans, as well as other racial minorities, have experienced here in the US. As a South Asian-American immigrant myself, I was even more surprised to understand the darker reality behind the labeling of "model minorities," of which I had always considered myself to be. 


Most of us have grown up with the Golden Rule (do unto others...), but Wytsma brings up its inverse counterpart, "the Silver Rule" (don't do unto others...), the practical rule many Americans follow. As he phrases it, "we Americans tend to believe we can do anything we want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else...and without realizing it, Christians live by the silver rule while feeling fully justified in their moral standing. Jesus and the golden role didn't leave room for this." In other words, if we don't see the plight of our brothers and sisters as a call to action, but rather assure ourselves that we are not like those who actively spread hatred, we stand in opposition to "the least of these" and Christ Himself (Matthew 25:40). 


What makes Wytsma's book unique from others on social justice is his unabashed insistence that the Gospel is not just Good News for eternal salvation, but the foundation upon which we are reconciled to God and reconciled to others. Those who walked the road before the Samaritan are not praised for their noble intentions; in the same way, we cannot expect our inaction to be recognized as Kingdom work. 


Justice, then, is central to the Gospel message, and is necessary for all Christians, regardless of race, to pursue. 


Will you agree with everything Wytsma says? Maybe not. Nevertheless, we do not need to agree on all details to affirm the fundamental responsibility we as Christians have in engaging injustice around us. We must learn to be uncomfortable in conversation for the sake of the marginalized, willing to look at our broken history, both as a nation and as Christ's body, and take action, starting with the unspoken biases we all have in our hearts. 


So take a chance, or take my word, whichever holds more value in your mind, and give The Myth of Equality a try. This is a conversation too important not to have, and the consequences are too great to give up in the face of frustration. 


The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.

The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.

The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.

And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference. 


Elie Wiesel

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