by David M. Howard
I am a WASP and thankful for it!
“A WASP? You mean White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant? And you’re glad of it? You’ve got to be kidding!”
I am a WASP and thankful for it!
"A WASP? You mean White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant? And you’re glad of it? You’ve got to be kidding!"
Such could easily be the reaction of many to that first statement. The term "WASP" is not a complimentary one today. How many times have you heard it used in a complimentary way? The chances are you have seldom, if ever, heard it used in anything but a derogatory context.
So why am I glad to be a WASP? Let me explain. Take each word of the term and analyze it.
Why am I white? Because God made me white. I know that brown, yellow, and black are all beautiful. I know that brown, yellow, and black men have been mistreated by white men. But does that make white, per se, ugly? There may be many ugly white men, but does that make what God created ugly in itself? Certainly not. I am white because God chose to make me white. He could just as well have made me black or brown or yellow. But God, in his infinite plan, chose to make me white. I cannot change my color anymore than the leopard can change his spats. So why should I be ashamed of the color that God has given me?
Why am I Anglo-Saxon? For the same reason – because (God made me Anglo-Saxon. I – cannot change that fact anymore than I can change my color. I will always have a light complexion, blue eyes, and an Anglo-Saxon temperament. Granted that many of my ancestors and contemporaries have mistreated our brothers of another race or culture. But again, does that make being Anglo-Saxon something to be hidden? I cannot change my ancestry, so I accept it thankfully as being one of God’s gifts to me. I have many wonderful brothers in other cultures and races, and there have been many times when I have wished I was a Colombian. I might change my citizenship, but that does not change the cultural and racial roots that have shaped me.
Why am I Protestant? By conviction. I happen to believe that the basic tenets held by the evangelical Protestant church more closely conform to the teachings of Scripture than any other religious group. I have lived in Latin America where the word "protestante" used to be spoken almost as a swear word. I have seen people spit it out in contempt and sometimes even hatred. While there may be times when the connotation given to the word may make me want to avoid it, I do not change my basic convictions which can best be described in the Protestant tradition.
So I am a WASP because God, in his plan, chose to make me white and Anglo-Saxon, and because, by conviction, I am identified as Protestant. Therefore, I do neither myself nor my friends any favor by trying to pretend that I am not a WASP. I accept what God has made me and try to work from there.
I have seen more than one North American missionary pretend he was not a WASP. In an attempt to identify with the culture in which they were called to work, they deliberately cut themselves off from their North American brethren, thus denying one part of the body of Christ. They feigned being Latin Americans, an impossible pretense. God did not make them Latins either by race or by culture. It is one thing to try to understand and fit into another culture. This is indispensable for every missionary who crosses cultural, political, or geographic borders. But the pendulum of "identification" sometimes swings so far that we end up in a limbo where we cannot identify with anyone. We pretend we are not North Americans. But we cannot ever become truly of another culture (in the sense of race, ancestry, etc.) Thus, while it is one thing to identify by understanding and participating in another culture, it is quite another thing to try to be something which hod did not make us, and pretend that eve are not what God really did make us. While I may be ashamed of much that my race or my country has done and still does, I gain no real ground by pretending that I am not a white person, born in an Anglo-Saxon culture, who has accepted biblical Protestant principles. Rather, I must work together with those of another race and culture, accepting them for who and what they are, and attempting to help them accept me for who and what I am by the grace of God.
It is at this point that true identification integrates with the New Testament teaching of the body of Christ. It is only then that we can say, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." If we carry identification to the untenable extreme described above, we will be saying, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither black, nor brown, nor yellow – all of these can be one – but God spare us from the WASPS! They have no part among us."
Yes, because of what God made me by birth and because of what I am by conviction, I am a WASP and thankful for it. Within the limitations of being a WASP, a fact which I cannot change, I want to identify in every legitimate and possible way with my brothers in the body of Christ from all other cultures and races. Then we can truly all be one in Christ Jesus.
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