Social Issues (Part 5): Racism

Social Issues

Racism can take on different forms and exist in varying degrees. A milder form of racism may simply mean that one views his own race as superior to other races (or possibly over one race that has been singled out in particular). More extreme forms of racism can include hostility and even violence against others based upon their race.

Those who defend their racist views will often cite common prejudices or negative stereotypes as the basis for looking down upon a particular race. Personal anecdotes are often used to support one’s racism (a negative experience with one person can be used to portray everyone of that race in the same light). Some will even use the Bible (more accurately, they will misuse it) to argue in favor of racism – for example, since Ham’s descendants were cursed (Genesis 9:22-27), those who descended from Ham are to be viewed as cursed as well.

Facts & Statistics

Reliable and unbiased statistics explaining the extent of the problem of racism in our society have been difficult to find. Studies are published which seem to have the intent of either exaggerating the problem of racism (citing statistics to “prove” racism that have nothing to do with actual racism) or claiming that racism is virtually non-existent. The most reliable statistics appear to be those that have to do with the perception of racism.

In a 2017 study, 58% of Americans viewed racism as a “big problem in our society.” Breaking down this number, 81% of blacks said racism is a big problem in society today compared to just 52% of whites.

Basic Bible Principles Relating to This

All men are made in the image of God – When God created man in the beginning, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). However, this did not apply only to the first man and woman (Adam and Eve); this applies to all men since that time, even today (cf. Genesis 9:6; James 3:9).

All men descended from one man – When Paul was speaking with the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, he told them about the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23) – the true, living God of heaven. He explained that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Since everyone came “from one man” (Adam), the different races and tribes of the earth did not evolve in different ways from lower life forms. That means that all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, etc. – are inherently equal.

All are one in Christ and Jesus died for all – Not only are all inherently equal by virtue of the fact that they were made in God’s image, there is also equality with regard to their spiritual identity as the people of God in Christ. Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Just as Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) could be one in Christ, people everywhere can be one in Him today as well. Jesus was sent to die on the cross because “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), not just a certain race.

God does not show partiality – When Peter came to the household of Cornelius (a Gentile), the gospel had not yet been preached to the Gentiles. Yet through the events described in that chapter, Peter came to understand that “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). God was willing to accept all people if they would fear and obey Him.

We are to show love for all men – As God shows no partiality, we must also show no partiality (James 2:1, 9). Therefore, Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica that they were to “increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Just as no one is excluded from the love of God, we are to show love for all men, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Bottom Line

All men are made in the image of God and Jesus died to make salvation available to all. Therefore, we are to see all men as equals and not look down on someone because of his/her race.


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Trackbacks

  1. […] Every nation is made up of people who are made in God’s image – Paul told the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). [We noticed this point also in our lesson on racism.] […]