Let's imagine a scenario together. Let's say that you love rainbows. You really, really love rainbows. Every time you see one in the sky after a rain, it just makes your day. There's something about them that you love, and you've always loved. They're beautiful. They're rare. They're a gift from God.
One day, you're walking through a store, and you see this rectangular, rainbow sticker. All of those colors...so beautiful. So you decide to buy that sticker, and place it on the back window of your car.
Suddenly, people stop you and ask you questions. "Are you gay? I didn't know you were gay. When did this happen? You're not gay? Then are you an LGBT advocate? Are you a member of GLAAD? Why? Well, I saw the sticker on the back of your car, so I figured..."
Eventually, you would grow so tired of the questions that you'd peel the sticker off of your window. What you wouldn't do is leave it up, then proceed to give everyone who questioned you a lecture about how you just love rainbows, and you'd rather be left alone about it, and they're wrong for misunderstanding. Yes, the rainbow has come to be adopted by the LGBT community as their's, and everyone knows it, but should that affect what people think about you when you place it on your window?
Many Southerners defend the display Confederate Flag, claim that it's not racist, and insist that anyone who thinks it is should read their history books. Here's the problem: no matter your intentions, the flag has been, and will be, associated with racism. If you are genuinely against racism, but simply proud of your Southern heritage, there is no way to communicate that sentiment to a stranger who sees you from afar. To them, you're just another racist. You can say, "Heritage, not hate," but it's not going to make a difference.
Yes, the Civil War was fought over "states' rights." But what state right was the fundamental, defining issue that severed the bond between the North and the South?
Let's read an excerpt from Georgia Congressman Alexander H. Stephen's famous "Corner Stone" speech:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
What flag represented his "new government"?
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
What flag came to represent their new government? Georgia's official secession addressed it in the second sentence. Systematic racism, emphasized by the continued legalization of slavery, was essential to Confederate beliefs. Make no mistake about it — it is the reason for the Civil War.
By all historical accounts, the flag remained popular after the war as a symbol of Southern pride and in remembrance of the fallen soldiers. But it didn't stay that way. It was adopted by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, as well as the short-lived Dixiecrat Party, whose official platform included the line, "We stand for the segregation of the races." (Article 4)
Throughout the 20th century, the Confederate flag became inexorably linked with racism. Nothing that anyone says at this point can sever that tie. No, it wasn't always the primary flag of the Confederacy. No, it wasn't always a clear-cut symbol of racism. However, it is today.
In short, flying the Confederate flag doesn't necessarily make you a racist, but it definitely makes you look like one, and to that I say...
Romans 14:13-16 (ESV)
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.
If you want to be thought of as good, then find another way to express your Southern heritage. Regardless of whether it flies over a state's capital, it has no place in a Christian home.