The scandal of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter president, Rachel Dolezal, turning out to be a Caucasian of European descent created a firestorm of emotion and response in June, 2015. For over 8-years, Rachel has been living the lie that she is a black woman. Her manufactured life came to light after her birth parents went to the media to set the record straight. As the media dug into the case of Ms. Dolezal, they discovered it was layers-thick, chocked full of lies. Rachel’s ruse included attending college as a black woman, teaching in the Africana Education Department at Eastern Washington University, and serving as the chairwoman of Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission.
American society was wildly conflicted on the matter, as the polarized news sources, social media, the breakfast table and the water cooler became immersed in conversation about the scandal. The left was at first baffled, then most either
denounced or kept quiet about Dolezal. The right wing, still baffled by the Caitlyn Jenner transgender coming-out, erupted in laughter, poking fun at how Rachel had actually been “transracial” and had every right to be recognized as such. What had just occurred was that the social norms of competing moral ideologies collided.
The red-faced fumbling of leftist commentators exposed their own clash of moral codes. Progressivism asserts that a “transgender” man who believed he was psychologically a woman, should be encouraged to mutilate his body and all should treat him like was really a woman. So logically, why couldn’t a white woman, who believed she was psychologically a black woman, be allowed to act and accepted as a black woman?
Answer: Two competing narratives in one ideology. It is acceptable to pretend about gender and sexuality, because it serves liberal narratives about sex and gender; it’s just cultural-relativism. It is unacceptable to pretend about race, because that doesn’t serve liberal narratives about race; that’s subjective-relativism. Relativism requires rationalization which is a 2-dollar-word for lying to your own self. Rachel Dolezal went outside the script of rationalization that had manufactured justification for the transient morality of the group.
If a banana insists it is an apple, does it become an apple? With objective standards of truth, no. With relativism and rationalization, yes. Under an objective standard of truth, a banana is a banana, and it will never be an apple. Conversely, relativism allows much more freedom of thought. According to Dr. Lew Weider of Liberty University, “Relativism is the belief that what can be known, especially in relations to moral issues, is dependent upon one’s own personal views or the collective beliefs of one’s culture.1” If you can rationalize it, with relativism a banana can be its own galaxy. Rachel can be an apple. Relativism feels good on the surface, but it’s long-term effects are dubious.
Humanity has been struggling with finding a workable concept of morality for thousands of years. We’ve consistently failed in this endeavor, so it really is no surprise when another ideology or religion takes a stab at the issue. How can morality ever be consistent when you have so many thought groups asserting that their definition is the best one? The “best one” may win for a period of time, but another “best one” morality is on the way. Morality is at best a stormy sea. Each of us is a vessel upon that sea. Where do you moor your vessel?
Coming out of captivity in Egypt, God gave Israel a clearly defined set of objective standards to live by. Had the people and leaders of Israel consistently moored their vessels to those objective standards, they would not have suffered as the Old Testament describes their suffering. But people are a broken, imperfect and selfish bunch, so Israel subjectively followed, or completely ignored God’s objective standards and repeatedly suffered the consequences. They followed other Gods, some shining, others popular, but none of them true.
Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God said of His people:
“Then the people of Judah and Jerusalem will pray to their idols and burn incense before them. But the idols will not save them when disaster strikes! Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame—altars for burning incense to your god Baal—as there are streets in Jerusalem.” – Jeremiah 11:12-13 (NLT)
The people denied the truth, and God brought judgement upon them through the Babylonian invasion and subsequent diaspora. Once a shining example of serving truth, building a tremendous Temple and nation, Israel lost everything and became a people scattered around the known world. Generations that had been blessed by God, who had known God and served Him, gave way to generations who broke their covenant with Him, then generations became captive, impoverished, and without a nation. God’s Word repeatedly testifies to the failure of relativism and rationalization.
Rationalization also has a bad name in world history. Every kingdom that has ever failed has gone down the road paved with rationalization to some extent. Entire nations “too big to fail” have fallen because they gave into the relativism of the day and lost their hold on the truth. The truth is, without the truth you rot from the inside out. The truth is, without the truth, you have nothing solid to moor your vessel to. The storms that always come set the nation adrift, and it sinks. History testifies to the failure of relativism and rationalization.
Does It Matter If Rachel Dolezal is a white person, or a black person, or an apple? If it does matter to you, God and history testify that your outcome is more sustainable. If it doesn’t matter to you, then you still own the consequences of objective truth without the benefit of recognizing it. If you’re tired of rationalizing why the banana is really an apple, perhaps you may be ready for the truth.
John 1:14 (ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Hindson, Ed et al. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.