To me, the issue boils down to what should I, as a follower of Jesus, think about this. First, some personal background. I was born in Rockville, Maryland, to parents who were raised in the North Carolina mountains. I remember going into the center of what was then a small southern town just outside of Washington, DC and walking past a memorial to soldiers from the area who had fought for the Confederacy. My family has been in North Carolina since the late 18th century and were some of the first settlers in the western part of that state. I have ancestors who fought for the South.
Because of this, and because my birth place is south of the Mason Dixon line, I have always considered myself a Southerner. Had I been alive in 1861, I probably would have fought for my state against those who were seen as invaders. None of my ancestors had slaves and were farmers rather than rich planters, so I don't think my motive would have been to preserve slavery. It was a different time then, and a person's state meant much more to them than the nation did. So, I get those who feel that the battle flag is about their heritage as southerners. I have felt the same way, and still would except for how that flag has been co-opted.by those who espouse hate and how it causes pain to the hearts of others. I have also learned more about the philosophy on which the Confederacy was founded, and as a Christian, I cannot be okay with that.
In this post, Russell Moore writes something that I believe anyone who calls themselves a Christian must take seriously. He writes:
The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little
girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with
burning crosses on front lawns by night. That sort of symbolism is out of step with
the justice of Jesus Christ.
I get what the flag means to white southerners who love their heritage, and I have no problem with anyone flying the flag on their own property, although I would encourage sensitivity to neighbors. I also am beginning to understand what the flag means to those whose heritage includes enslavement, oppression, beating, death, and discrimination. As one who follows the King whose kingdom includes every race and tongue, I cannot be for something that causes heartache to my brothers and sisters in Christ.