Editorial: As the fight swirls, Paul’s letter gives us direction

History does not change. Though it may be ugly and unfortunate, callous and unwanted, without fairness or balance, history stands unchanged forever.

We, as people, don’t have such a restriction. There are elements about us that will not change, the family into which we are born being the easiest illustration. We choose our path, living as we are called by Jesus and the Scriptures.

So as news spread that a statue had fallen on the campus of our state’s flagship university, we move forward with history added and still more to be created.

Everyone wants the next chapter to be better than the last.

We truly believe making things better was at the heart of those protesting Silent Sam, the large bronze image of a Confederate soldier placed in 1913 on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s upper quad facing Franklin Street. Silent Sam was a memorial to Confederate alumni who lost their lives in the Civil War and all students of the university — there were about 1,000, or 40 percent at the time — who joined the Confederate States Army.

Protestors rallied for a cause; so, too, did that large majority of the university more than 150 years ago.

Paul’s teachings in the Scriptures are clear and we believe provide the best foundation for what to do then and now, especially when all around us is a political fight.

In his letter to the Romans while on a third missionary journey, in the 12th chapter and beginning in the 14th verse, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Continuing respectively in the 17th and 19th verses, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil,” and “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Paul laid out two choices: succumb to evil with bitterness, spite and cursing those causing harm, or overcome it by refusing to retaliate and taking positive steps to bless those who persecute. Be peacemakers; overcome with good.

The state administers justice, and we realize government isn’t always right and sometimes is just plain bad. As believers in eternal life, this is only a speck in time.

Paul’s letter tells the Romans, and us, there is a penalty for passing judgment on others. In the second chapter’s fifth verse, “… you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”

The people of present day don’t believe those students of the 1800s got it right, or that the university did either in the early 1900s when the statue went up. The 21st century protestors, their best intentions not withstanding, could have made a better choice.