“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
For centuries there have been people in societies all over the world that think they can justify their racist attitudes, often using the Bible as their weapon. In the midst of a new racist revival sweeping America, we must face up to what the Bible really says about different groups of people.
What Is Race?
Firstly, we must acknowledge that when dealing with race we are trying to separate people into different races, that really only belong to one: the human race. Jews, Asians, Indians, Caucasians etc. are all ethnicities within the human race. Other than slight variations or exceptions, every human being possesses the same physical traits. We all have two arms, two legs, eyes, nose mouth and more. We also know from Genesis that every man and woman was created in the image of God himself, making us not simply ‘One Nation’, but ‘One Race’…under God.
Several Biblical writers address the human condition and what it means to be one race under God. John 3:16 says that “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” and Romans 10:12 tells us that “…there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” Both John and Romans is referring to the entire human race. This includes every country, every ethnic group and every person. Our Lord is the Lord of all.
People come in all shapes and sizes, varying according to their size, hair and eye colour, facial features and much more. Every human being looks different. However, historically, people have had the tendency to try and group people according to these physical traits, in order to fit them into a framework of racial characteristics.
This has resulted in people treating people differently and making assumptions about people based on those characteristics. Some have even gone so far as to presume that these differences should represent differences in the way that people are valued and can live.
The Biblical Basis for Racism
God’s word is final and conclusive when it comes to issues of race. The world is inhabited by only one race: the human race.
We know from Genesis that God created one man and one woman, through whom all humanity exists, and that every person on earth can be traced back to these two people since Eve was called the ‘Mother of all the living’. Interestingly enough, even the most recent scientific evidence suggests that all humans originated in one place, slowly populating the rest of the world.
Yet, one question remains: how did there come to be so much variation within the human race? Genesis 11 depicts ‘The Tower of Babel’ – an event where God confused the language of humanity in order to separate them and scatter them across the world. As a result, groups of people became socially, geographically and genetically isolated, marrying and breeding within each other. This means that generation after generation were living within their own micro-cultures, doing things differently and maintaining their physical traits through selective breeding. These ethnic similarities within groups have come to be known as racial differences but this is incorrect. There is still only one race: the human race.
A Horse of a Different Color
When it comes to skin color, there has also been a mass miss-understanding. Amongst the people that make up the one race, there is also just one colour of skin: brown.
Everyone’s skin color is made up of brown a pigment called melanin. Every person on earth has skin that contains two main forms of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. It is the proportion of each that is possessed that determines the tone of one’s skin. This means there is no fundamental difference in people to determine skin color. Every person born is a person with some-determined amounts of brown. People then fall into a spectrum of brown, whether that is light or dark brown.
The proportions are determined by several factors: one is geographical location. People who live in areas closer to the equator tend to possess darker skin, as this offers a certain amount of protection from the intense sun in these regions. Melanin is also thought to protect the skin against radiation damage, thus acting as a cancer preventative. In high altitude areas where the sun is less intense, residents need to produce Vitamin D efficiently and so tend to have lighter skin. These characteristics would eventually be carried through the gene pool and would have resulted in isolated populations taking on these characteristics within their groups. The result is today that people with dark skin tend to have dark skinned children, and those with light skin tend to produce lighter skinned children.
Eyes carry the same geographical characteristics. Melanin is also present in the eyes, protecting them from ultraviolet light. It is widely known that grey, blue and green eyes are more sensitive to light and have a higher risk of incurring sun-related problems.
We All Bleed Red
Unfortunately, generations of ideas about race can become so ingrained that it’s difficult to completely purge them out of society and out of the individual mind. However, these misperceptions must be addressed.
Every human being is a human being. Each one was created in the image of God and descended from our created ancestors Adam and Eve. When cut, every human bleeds red blood. The term ‘race’ is meaningless. There is only one race: the human race.
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth”
We can correctly speak of differences in our ethnic traditions and cultural settings but we are still the same. We all bleed red.
What Would Jesus Do?
Jesus commanded us to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” His father loved us in the same way; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…”
We must practice the love that the Father and the Son have demonstrated by loving every human being. When we mistreat people we are committing a grave sin: we are mistreating a person whom God loves, whom he created in his own image and whom Jesus died on the cross to protect.
Those who have demonstrated racism, discrimination or who have failed to love others with the love that God has shown us, must repent and ask for forgiveness, so that we may one day live in the true realisation of Galatians 3:28;
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
To honour God’s creation, be sure to sign the petition to establish Creation Day as an official holiday!