By John D. Pierce
Is late better than never? Sure.
But as comedians, musicians and baseball hitters tell us: timing is very important.
Southern Baptist leadership would be taken more seriously if they stood against inequality and discrimination more closely tied to the times — such as current forms related to gender, sexual orientation and religious diversity.
Instead, many among them offer proclamations that aid in such discrimination while staking out doctrinal positions to support systemic inequality and injustice — perhaps to be rectified in the same latecomer fashion by dwindling Southern Baptists in a distant future.
To repudiate racism, however, is always a good thing. Perhaps it will help build some relational bridges.
In that sense, the convention gathering can be considered a success. Yet some good old boy pastors are surely dreading the return from their annual church-funded summer trip and having to explain to their deacons how the convention voted against the Confederate flag — years after supposedly running off all the liberals who might support such nonsense.
So let’s give the SBC their due for a step in the right direction.
Selective and tardy opposition to discrimination is better than none, one can conclude. And Southern Baptists have taken other related actions in recent years including formal resolutions apologizing for the denomination’s role and deep roots in slavery.
Primarily, however, contemporary Southern Baptist leadership has simply shown solidarity with some African-American male pastors who share their discriminatory views toward women and persons with same-sex attraction.
That’s not exactly blazing the trail for liberty and justice for all as Americans — and not even close to the inclusiveness and grace exhibited by Jesus.
So as news flows out of St. Louis where Southern Baptist representatives battled over an embattled emblem of racial division and debated whether religious liberty applies to all Americans, one might conclude that the denominational group is making a little progress on the equality front.
But timing matters. Really matters.
What if, just once, fundamentalist Christians were on the front end of an effort to bring about social change regarding basic human equality and justice — instead of being dragged across the line by a larger cultural tide?
Think of the pain — even the lives — that would be spared.
Timing matters because lives matter.