The Arts

Roundtable: Processing Sterling With Voddie Baucham


Phillip & Jemar are joined by cultural apologist, Dr. Voddie Baucham, to discuss the Donald Sterling controversy, the NBA’s response, and consider the implications of this in regards to Christians living in the culture.

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20 thoughts on “Roundtable: Processing Sterling With Voddie Baucham

  1. Ariel Bovat

    Way to go RAAN for getting Voddie Baucham’s insight into this issue. Bravo! Great conversation!

  2. Ariel Bovat

    Way to go RAAN for getting Voddie Baucham’s insight into this issue. Bravo! Great conversation!

  3. Sara

    The reason I was so ready to agree with Voddie is because when I saw the NBA come out and say Sterling was banned from all NBA activities, it really just felt like sweeping it under the rug to me. There was no way that by acting so hastily to remove the scrutiny the NBA was ever going to have to deal with the deep-seated issues in its culture. The Sterling ban and the subsequent replacement isn’t going to change the culture of the NBA or the possibly racist views of its other owners, or anyone else’s racists views for that matter.

    We absolutely do need to address sin in individual situations like this, as well as culturally. Yet I think a lot of political organizations created to address racism, sexism, etc, end up with so much power that learn to live according to a formula to placate the public and make it look like they’ve done their work. (Formula: Point out a transgression, create an outrage, get resignations/dismissals, celebrate!) That formula isn’t biblical, and it’s right to call it out when its leaders can’t even point to the secular origins of their so-called morality. The formula is dysfunctional and entirely political. It is based on natural feelings of outrage and resentment, but demands little examination and changes nothing in the long term. It’s also a formula that is easily co-opted by any group wanting to advance its cause, because on the surface it seems to work. Yet all of the oppressed people are still drowning beneath it.

    Also, consider how political movements in the past have truly changed things for women and for minorities. In the past, political organizing changed oppressive laws. Surely there is more legal work to do, and some organizations are great at doing this work for the benefit of the groups they work on behalf of, but in the case of Sterling the outrage is about changing hearts and minds and you can’t go about doing that through political action. It just doesn’t work. It angers, incites, provokes, all without the grace and Truth of Christ. A man can never truly change another man’s heart.

    I see that some leaders in the NAACP have also resigned over this controversy and their ties to Sterling. As bad as Sterling’s individual behaviors have been, cultural change is needed much more desperately.

  4. Lemuel

    Sarah, I must say I enjoyed our dialogue. It’s almost like I want to disagree with u on something now just to keep this going. It was very refreshing to be treated as if my opinion was a respectable one. Often times in these situations, (truly) minority views are looked at as stupid; or ridiculous. I think as a minority, that is one of the most challenging things in cross-cultural convo. Being treated as an alien for your view. From the beginning u have treated my views as propositions to be challenged instead of statements to be mocked at. To ur point about women, I agree. I would have no problem with Christian or non-Christian women who are speaking prophetically into the degradation of women in all sports(for that matter all society). I think the problem is that the people in power (whether gender or racial) have the privilege to ignore the cries of the downtrodden of society. Many people are against racism and sexism in theory, but in practice they do nothing about it. I think this is the reason I have trouble with voddie’s view because although we should not make ending racism/sexism the essence of the Gospel, often times we make it a side-issue in theory, but a non-issue in practice. So many times when I hear: let’s focus on the main thing, that’s code word for let’s ignore the side issues. Although mans depravity and condemnation before a holy God and need for a savior(Jesus) is the most important there are side issues that the gospel has implications toward. First, the Gospel, in itself presupposes calling people to repent. Repentance, in itself, presupposes a recognition of sinfulness. A recognition of sinfulness, presupposes a recognition of particular sin. So a Gospel proclamation that does not specify sins is a flawed presentation. That doesn’t mean u come out and just say, hey homosexual, ur going to hell. But it does mean expressing what god says about homosexuality and the need to repent of it. Same for racism, sexism, ect. Secondly, Christian discipleship presupposes addressing abiding sin. A discipleship that says I don’t want to call out particular sin is a flawed discipleship. That includes challenging a racist beliefs of other ethnicities. Thirdly, we are called to be light and salt of the world which atleast gives us the responsibility to speak prophetically to the culture. Christians can’t just sit back in a land filled with slaves and say, hey we are just gonna preach the gospel and let it do its work. Well, we must challenge the slavemasters sinfulness. We must speak truth to the lost world. Truth that speak to social evils and issues. Salt preserves. We as Christians have been called to attempt to spread our influence in the world to help better it. And this is not a liberation theology that says our chief end is to preserve the world. Ultimately, I know only Christ will do that at his coming. But we still are charged to influence it. Therefore, in issues like these the Christian should sit back in a super spiritual daze and say: well, all of us are sinners. And every racist is a sinner just like anybody else. Let me show u the absurdity of that: all child molesters are sinners; we will just pray for them. No need to make them feel uncomfortable. Or more relevant to evangelicals today: abortionist are all sinners, let’s just pray for them. No! U never hear that with there pet issues. It’s only racism. Why? Because they know this is the sin that is historic in many of there churches, and would step on a lot of toes. Let’s be consistent. We challenge those views that ultimately end up harming people: racism, molestation, sexism. We don’t let these views go unchalleged as Christians. I’m not saying in every case we get the law involved, but there needs to atleast be a call for repentance from the mouth of the church. Any way, as I said thank u for your time and dialogue. Be blessed!

  5. Tyshan Broden

    I really enjoyed this interview. He said a lot of things I was thinking. I was really blown away about him being removed. I thought, “they can do that based on a private conversation that has nothing to do with him being an owner?” Slippery Slope indeed.

  6. Sara

    Thank you for clarifying your position. I do agree with you that Sterling’s statements were very provocative, and certainly more provocative to black persons than whites, because of the judgment made against the dignity of black people who were all targeted by his statements. As you said, there is a cultural and historical context that makes his statements acutely painful. There is also another insult with a very deep historical context here.

    As for what I am about to say, I do not add this to minimize his racial insults, but to add to the moral concerns on this issue. Regardless of her sexually immorality and complicity in Sterling’s sin, his mistress is also being condemned and treated as property in a way that has historically been used against women. The entire situation is disgusting, drawing upon a history of male on female violence in a similar way as his statements against blacks draw upon a violent racial history between blacks and whites. There is a very, very serious problem with his statements.

    Since Voddie is a cultural apologist, I think he does have a sincere interest in directing Christians back to the most fundamental concerns for Christians, which is the loss of a grounding in biblical morality for our culture as a whole. It seems you feel that by adding in the side-arguments, Voddie is trying to minimize the racial offense here. That may be the case, but I’ve tried to look at his position from another perspective– knowing that he insists that these issues cannot be handled with political outrage as the measure of morality, nor academic debate, but with a solid grounding in biblical authority.

    “And if assumed that the purpose of raan was to give the minority view a
    voice. If an organization is meant to speak for minority concerns, I
    think it is right to give exclusively or atleast mostly the minority
    view. Why? Because I’m a racist? Because I hate white people? No!”

    I absolutely agree with you on this point and I hope that the Network sharing controversial opinions that may be viewed as deference to a racial majority doesn’t make this an uncomfortable space for minorities who oppose those views. Please know that I have no intention of calling you a racist for your position, I just wanted clarification so that we could get to the heart of your concerns. I also wanted to point out the offense I saw in your statement about Nazis/KKK, not to shame you, but so that you might be able to see it from another perspective and clarify what you meant if I misunderstood.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    In Christ, much love to you.

  7. Lemeul

    Sarah, I want you to know that I love u. As I assume, u are a sister in Christ and I want you to know that I am not against you. I just want you to see clearly my concern. In one of my previous statements I used an example of a person going to a black persons house with a KKK uniform on verses going to a white persons house with a KKK uniform on. I in no way shape or form intended to assert that because the individual was going to a white persons house, that the white person would either be ok with it, or not offended by it. The point I was trying to make is that though the white person may(and more than likely would) disaprove of it and be offended by it do u honestly think it would hurt the white person more than it hurts the black person? Do u think that the white person would be more offended then the black person? When a black person see’s the KKK uniform he is looking at a symbol of hate of his OWN culture and being. A symbol that represents a organization that has terrorized people that look just like him for years. So, although the white person may be offended by it and even have a “holy hatred” for it, it would be absurd for anyone to suggest that the feelings of hurt or offense is equal. Just as a judge rightly delivers a harsher punishment to a person who shoots a gun in a school filled with children, then a gun shot illegally in the forest, my only contention is that yes, it is right and just to judge different things harshly in different context. I never meant to suggest that his adultery or other sins he has committed should be over looked. I condemn them all because the bible condemns them all. The distinction that I making is that his racist beliefs have a more contextual and historical basis for judgement to be harsher. Why? Is it because racism is worst then adultery? No! But because your personal sex life although it is a reflection of unbiblical morality just as Paul says its a sin against your own body. Was there collateral damage? Sure, wife, kids (not sure if he has any), ect. But his racist beliefs have a more widespread social affect especially within the nba. It reveals that: 1) he looks at the majority people he works with as less than worthy of equal respect. 2) he looks as black people similar to how slave-master looked at there slaves: means of exploiting for money. 3) he looks at a large portion of his fan base as less then worthy of respect. For these reasons, as a black man myself, because of the historical and contextual circumstance of American racism, I would personally rather work for an adultery than a racist. Both are wrong, and ultimately It would be better not to work for either, but as a black man If I had to choose I would work for an adulterer before I would work for a racist. And if u think this is an example of selective reasoning well ask yourself this question: If you HAD to choose between a child molester or a band robber to work at your daycare center which would u choose? The answer is obvious because the particular sin, in this particular context has more ramifications then the other. That’s all I’m saying Sarah. I don’t hate white people. I don’t think all white people are racist. I’m just saying that the decision is right to make a distinction in how we deal with certain sins in certain context. And my concern for this message that was given with voddie is that all it is doing is echoing the majority culture point of view. And if assumed that the purpose of raan was to give the minority view a voice. If an organization is meant to speak for minority concerns, I think it is right to give exclusively or atleast mostly the minority view. Why? Because I’m a racist? Because I hate white people? No! It’s because the very concept of a minority and majority voice assumes that one is heard more regularly then the other. And if that is so, and a organization comes along claim to attempt to give voice to the minority view I would expect more than just a echoing of what the majority people would say any way. If I wanted to hear voddie position I could have heard that anywhere. It seems that he ( whether intentionally or non- intentionally) attempted to soften the reality of this man being a racist. We can’t be guilty of swinging the pendulum so far in the direction of not making the sin of racism the most heniois crime in the world, while inadvertently making it seem like something of which black people have historically had to suffer under, that they need not be so upset about. That’s the traditional majority view. I expected more from RAAN. I’m not advocating going to march on Washington about this situation but what I am saying is that I don’t need to hear from so-called “black culture voices” the contention that black people are over reacting to this case. We get that from the predominant culture already. So if there needs to be a balancing, it needs to be in the other direction. It needs to be, hey majority culture, I know u don’t know why things like trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and this particular situation upsets blacks so much but here, we will tell u why. So, Sarah I hope this atleast clarifies my view point. Although u may not agree, I just wish that u understand my concerns. Grace in The Lord!

  8. Johnny

    But, but, shouldn’t Christians spend all of their free time sitting motionless on couches watching grown men toss a ball to one another? I mean, aren’t they always selling uplifting “christian-football”-themed films at LifeWay stores to help our faith grow?
    Surely this must be foundational to our sanctification!

  9. Jeremy

    Is there a transcript of this that one can print or save?

  10. Christopher Zodrow

    God could care less about the NBA. Sports are about as important as what color socks I wear today. Truly. And, why is it that Sterling’s fornication was not an issue before he opened up his vacuous mind to the public? Why is racism a deeper problem than the offence of fornication? As long as he was just a rich fornicator with a hot girlfriend, and the NBA could go on, then everything is copacetic? The whole assumption behind this “problem” is plain old worldliness. Time to grow up as Christians, black or white.

  11. Sara

    I understand what you are saying and I agree with your points in the overall discussion of Sterling’s situation, but I am just questioning how well you have assessed Voddie’s position. I do think he made some troublesome remarks. You pointed out his remarks about the NBA being an organization of “thugs” but the way the he launched into this very point was by discussing Sterling himself and his other vile behaviors that have been overlooked. He was not saying that the black members of the NBA are the thugs exclusively, although he also mentions Kobe Bryant’s rape scandal, but he is leveling an accusation against all the members of the organization, black and white, who have failed to take a stand on moral issues in the past but are now acting as if they have moral superiority through a very severe condemnation of one man’s words made in a private context.

    Something else Voddie said that troubled me was when he spoke about the contributions that Sterling has made to the African American community, which made it seem as if his goal was to show that therefore Sterling is not a racist. BUT that is not what Voddie meant to show. He wanted to show the influence that Sterling has exercised over several predominantly black organizations for decades, including the NBA and the NAACP, and why these organizations have tolerated him and even honored him in the past despite some clear signs of racism and other immoral behavior from him.

    I do not mind continuing the discussion, but it would be very helpful if you use direct quotes from Voddie so we can look at whether or not he has made a good defense of his position, or whether he is, as you say, just bowing to (racial) majority opinion.

  12. Sara

    The level of provocation felt isn’t an appropriate measure for sin. Sin is sin. The sinner’s heart is the issue, not the number or qualities of his witnesses. Is adultery not adultery if the spouse is not present to be provoked by the act? Or is theft not theft if no one discovers it?

    Sharing a skin stone is in no way the same as sharing a racist ideology. So your flag-waving metaphor that equates white people organized around common interest in a sport to Nazis organized around a common xenophobic political objective is just offensive.

  13. Lemuel

    I did not express racism at all in my post. My argument is simple: the reason this situation is acute is because of the context(majority black league). I never said that there is a such things as a moral relativity in different context. I simply argue that just as ur middle finger is morally neutral, when done in an American context it has a different moral significance. But if u flick ur middle finger in other contries it is meaning less. Let’s be intellectually honest and recognize, that although racial slurs are always wrong in any context, racism that is expressed in a predominantly black league(race here only matters because that’s the race he has denigrated), where he has the power to express that racial prejudice makes it different. Let’s not pretend that we don’t know the biblical concept that a persons position makes there actions under a higher responsibility. God judged the religious leaders and the kings more harshly because of there position. My problem with this post is that it ignores the fact that minority voices should be magnified due to the very nature of being a minority. A majority culture person has the privilege not to know or even have to consider a minority person voice. Therefore, when the minority voice is expressed, u would expect other minorities to support it and not try to be gate keepers. The problem is that majority voices are already heard; we get enough of people hearing from the majority context. Therefore, as a black organization I would expect them to speak from the angle of the minority, not, basically condemn the minority culture of which they “claim” to be from. Point is, u can tell when someone has been influenced by the majority culture because they start bringing the same arguments that they bring. We’ve heard that argument.

  14. Lemuel

    I think you missed the point: going into a Jewish resteraunt waving a nazi flag is more morally reprehensible then going into a nazi bar waving a nazi flag. Going to a black persons house with a KKK outfit on is more morally reprehensible then going to a white persons house with KKK outfit. Please don’t pretend like u don’t understand that even though two actions can be the same, the morality of it could change depending on context!

  15. Rob Notofthisworld LeBlanc

    So Lemuel, sine you are by your own words and admission a racist, why does this bug you? The league is full of thugs? Did he say all players? No. You also missed the WHOLE of what Sterling said. He was a in an adulterous affair with a young whore, who was MORE than happy to accept all the monetary benefit of being his mistress. Since he was only separated from his wife and she stated and we know she knew this, she was immoral to begin with. Go back and listen to the recording. He was telling his slut she could do what she wanted with whom she wanted, but not to bring them to the game with her and be public about it. WHY? Glad you asked. Because as the Bible states, men love their sin, and don’t like it out in the light.
    That’s not racist. That is what a immoral man, trying to make the most of an affair, and laying a few ground rules.
    The ignorance people display is to say this is a great thing. But now it has been made legal to penalize what mob rule deems a no-no. The point was WELL made. Most of the players are immoral. But as long as you don’t touch one of the “sacred” buttons, feel free to do and think whatever you want. If you follow it logically, which seems to be a lost ability by Americans now a days, is what this will lead to. But that is what they want. Same thing Hitler wanted, Stalin wanted, uniformity, one. There is a book that speaks of this in detail.
    And you may be wondering why I called you a racist. When you hold one human being higher, better, or different than another human being; that Sir is racism. There is but one race, human. You nor I can control the chemical percentage of melanin in our skin, that which makes it dark or light. We can control our reason, logic, and treatment of one another when we remember, we are all one. Peace to you Lemuel.

  16. Rob Notofthisworld LeBlanc

    Dr. Voddie can make this statement and any other because he stands on Truth. There is one race, human, You missed the WHOLE point. Fools argue about minorities like a chemical in the skin that we have NO control over. You hate a chemical? That is absurd! But that is what happens when you reject the absolute truth of Scripture.

  17. Sara

    I don’t understand your objections, honestly.

    “The majority people on the clippers team in particular, and the nba as a
    whole, are black! So that’s why racism against black people is not

    This doesn’t make sense. If all of the people on the team were white, and Mr. Sterling was well insulated in whiteness, his statements would be okay? That’s not a reasonable standard of morality at all. Voddie made it clear that Sterling’s statements were NOT okay because of Biblical morals. They are not okay whether his team is white, or black, or any other race. Yet, he still has the right to his views because we live in a society where moral wrongness is not illegal. Voddie is asking us to question why we are prosecuting people politically when they have committed no legal wrong, in a society in which we deny the very roots of moral authority.

  18. Lemuel

    Dag, it seems that vodie is contaminated with racial inferiority. It seems that a lot of our brothers have been so heavily influenced by there white supporters that they look down on black culture themselves. I’m baffled that he had the audacity to say the league is full of thugs. That sounds just like what a racist white person would say! Listen, the reason why this is such a big issue is because of the context! The majority people on the clippers team in particular, and the nba as a whole, are black! So that’s why racism against black people is not acceptable! I have to say that this is a sell-out argument! An appeasement argument to there white counter-parts. I think you guys have been white-washed with the concept that it is ur job to fight for the cause of telling blacks to calm down! Ridiculous! I am disgusted. I think this goes back to malcom’s distinction between house negroes and field negroes!

  19. Grendel007

    Voddie baucham rocks

  20. george canady

    This was what the Sunday school class, small group and church party conversation were like at the last two reformed churches I attended here in Spring. They are a basking of T.V. news and politics. Fairly disappointing to one who wants to focus on learning scripture and how to love your neighbors and enemies. As a white man, I don’t want anyone to write me or my race an excuse for the on going history of racism. But, there are many who want to shift the blame from me and my kind of recovering racist to what ever group God would use to put a stop to this nonsense. For me I am glad that what is said in private is coming to the light more and more. I want forgiveness and I wish more of my white Christian brothers and sister did to.

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