After posting a seriously tone-deaf article about how to accept black people into your lily-white family, The Gospel Coalition has removed the piece titled “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband.” (An archived version is still available here because that’s how the internet works.)
The article by writer Gaye Clark included a line about how Glenn, her daughter’s partner, “moved from being a black man to beloved son when I saw his true identity as an image bearer of God.” As if everything was okay only because she could ignore his skin color.
She also said we should be patient with bigots in the family:
Calling Uncle Fred a bigot because he doesn’t want your daughter in an interracial marriage dehumanizes him and doesn’t help your daughter either. Lovingly bear with others’ fears, concerns, and objections while firmly supporting your daughter and son-in-law. Don’t cut naysayers off if they aren’t undermining the marriage. Pray for them.
Needless to say, a relative who opposes your interracial marriage is very much undermining your marriage. He’s a bigot and staying silent about it doesn’t solve the problem.
Earlier today, Clark asked The Gospel Coalition to remove her article from the website:
The site complied and released an audio conversation between three African Americans (including an editor of the site) talking about the issues raised by the piece and its publication. They added that “white supremacists have threatened the author and her family.”
The article has been removed from TGC’s website at the request of the author, who regrets hurting many readers. An article intended to celebrate God’s work in this family’s life also became an occasion for hurt and pain. Understandable frustration and constructive concern was not the only response. Sadly, white supremacists have threatened the author and her family.
All that said, I think The Gospel Coalition was wrong to delete the article from their website, even if it came at the author’s request. They can’t pretend it didn’t happen and the learning opportunity here is tremendous.
A couple of years ago, Christianity Today‘s imprint publication Leadership Journal did something similar after posting a story written by an anonymous former pastor who molested a child under his watch. It gave a sex predator a platform he didn’t deserve. They eventually took down that piece, but not before plenty of critics had weighed in on it.
As I wrote then, and as I feel now, they should all take a hint from the (sorely missed) sports website Grantland. After they published a transphobic piece, they left it up on the site but included a brief message right up front that linked to a guest post detailing all the problems with the article as well as a lengthy apology from site founder Bill Simmons. That apology included this line:
We’re never taking the Dr. V piece down from Grantland partly because we want people to learn from our experience. We weren’t educated, we failed to ask the right questions, we made mistakes, and we’re going to learn from them.
That, I believe, was the right way to handle the situation.
The Gospel Coalition was right to discuss the problem, but readers deserve a chance to understand why the article raised so many concerns in the first place. It shouldn’t be the job of the Internet Archive to make that article available to everyone else.