Please read Part One before continuing…
Societal unforgiveness is further tightening its coils through microagression theory. Dr. Derald Wing Sue says, “Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, non-verbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.” Sue says most microagressions happen on a subconscious level.
Microaggression theory is a Catch 22. Little distinction is made between actual and perceived prejudice. If I claim no negative feelings and take no negative actions against “marginalized groups,” I nevertheless harm them unconsciously. If I march around with a “God hates fags” sign or attend a KKK rally, I’m prejudiced. If I do none of those things and feel disgusted by them I’m still prejudiced, I just don’t know it.
A white woman who clutches her purse when passing a latino man commits a microaggression; she’s subconsciously expressing racism. (By the way, who is appointed to divine the contents of another person’s subconscious, and how will they do that?) Or is the woman clutching her purse to protect herself from the latino man’s microaggression? He subconsciously expresses male superiority and the sexual objectification of women. Who’s the perp here? I’m confused.
It troubles me to think about legislation based on microaggression theory. Imagine laws that claim to divine the subconscious motives of entire groups of people because they are deemed “privileged.” But what’s more disturbing is this: Microaggression theory provides a deeply nuanced justification for unforgiveness. Regardless of what a person does or says, I can hold against them whatever subconscious bias I assign them. Because that other person belongs to a “privileged” race, sex, or socio-economic status, they are guilty de facto and deserve my grievance.
Another side of all this societal unforgiveness is the Pharisee-effect. As I’ve said, when we fixate on the wrong others have done us, we fail to notice unforgiveness stealing and steeling our hearts. But unforgiveness isn’t the only sin we fail to own. When we constantly look at and decry the sins of others, we stop seeing *any* of our sins. We start to derive our righteousness from the failings of others. If we do this long enough, we eventually see ourselves as the faultless crusader against whatever social ill we think needs curing.
This perspective is unbiblical: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). If any group–whether privileged or marginalized–is without sin, they should throw the first stone (John 8:7).
In the history of the world, there has only been one truly innocent victim–Jesus Christ. He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). He was executed at the hands of privilege. The religious, social, and economic powers of the day condemned Him on false charges. His trial was a joke. Soldiers beat Him until He barely looked human. What was Jesus’s response to all this? “Father forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
When did Jesus utter this fault-line mending phrase? After the Romans paid Him reparations for their past injustices? After the Supreme Court ruled on His behalf? After the legislature made religious discrimination illegal? No. Jesus forgave as He suffocated and bled to death, circled by the human vultures that hated Him.
Satan is another story. One of his nicknames is “accuser” (Rev. 12:10). His MO is to condemn us based on increasingly nuanced expectations. As a society, we need to decide whether to side with the forgiveness of Christ or the accusation of the devil. As we decide, we should remember what sin Jesus said would not be forgiven. Was it racism? Sexism? Homophobia? No. It was unforgiveness: “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing” (Matt. 6:14-15).