Racism and the Bible is an opinion by Pastor David Cox about racism in the Bible and our present day lives.
In today’s world that we live in, racism is a fad. It seems everything lives or dies depending on its relationship with racism. I should note that racism is no longer really racism but a tool some use to try and control others. The true meaning has gotten lost in the swirl of media campaigns that redefine and reuse the term according to their understandings and their propaganda desires.
Table of Contents
What is Racism? Bias and Prejudice
First of all, racism technically is the preference or disgust of an individual toward people of other races. This has been a political card used in the United States for years. This is built up on the fact that the United States had, allow, and even legislated rules around the factual situation that blacks were slaves during the founding of our country. I would point out a few things though.
Slavery has been around for a long time, and it was a natural outcome of one country going to war with another. That does not make it right in itself. During the war, anybody captured was a prison and slave. After the war, they continued as such. While many countries and people wish to be pompous today about the matter, the fact of the matter is that no country, no great movement ever was born to stop slavery except that around (1) God’s people wanting to be good and righteous in their outward actions before God, and (2) the United States in their biblical background. England also gave a similar history for the United States to build on.
The proper terms here are bias (a predisposition towards or favor towards somebody) or prejudice (a predisposition against somebody). So when you show favoritism towards or disgust against somebody, you are in the general area, but that is not yet racism. Racism is when you show these attitudes towards somebody because of their race, color, or country of origin. That is racism.
The Bias Fallacy – It’s the achievement gap, not systemic racism, that explains demographic disparities in education and employment.
We are all racism to some extent
In fairness to the discussion, we are all racist to a certain extent. We desire what we are familiar with and personally “like”, and that is only natural. This is not a “white person” thing. Black people have their soul food, and they as a rule marry among people of their own race or at least their own color. Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Spanish or Latinos, etc. do the same. White people do the same. We can even say to a certain extent, that within your own group, these preferences and dislikes exist among the group. Among American whites, northerners sometimes only want to live among other northerners and marry or encourage their children to marry another northerner, and southerns also. That may exist, though in my experience, I have only heard of one case, and that was an extreme. People of one religious faith want their kids to marry somebody that is in that same faith.
So to be “fair”, you do not have to like or force yourself to eat food from all over the world. To be blunt, there is nothing wrong with having preferences and dislikes. When your preferences cause grave harm to other people, then you should start thinking about cutting back on the exercise of your preferences. I personally like sardines, but according to the extreme actions of my children when I open a can, they wrinkle their noses and run out the room, I have had to refrain from eating any. There is a balance here. What you like and how it affects others. You don’t have to absolutely eat sardines.
Racism in the south mainly was seen by blacks not being allowed into positions that whites could freely enter. Also in certain situations like buses, public places, etc. there was a section for blacks and one for whites. In those situations, whites were given the privileges, and blacks had to suffer the dislikes of the system. Blacks had their water fountains and whites had their water fountains. The first time you see a black put his whole mouth on the part where the water comes out, sucking on it like a bottle, you won’t drink from any water fountain.
But over the years of 1960-1980s, basically all of that changed radically. Blacks were mixed into white schools, and whites had to accept that. But gradually something changed all that. Affirmative action. This was a public pressure to affirmatively allow the preference to be given to blacks. Later foreigners were added, and then even Muslims. If you are black, and you see affirmative action for blacks, you say great. Until that affirmative action is dropped for blacks and given to some other group, Latinos, Chinese, Muslims. Then you are against affirmative action. Interesting. Affirmative action is exactly the prejudice problem above, but the flip side, bias. Blacks were given the preference and privilege and the whites were basically locked out as the blacks were before before that.
Let’s talk about balance in Businesses
If things were equal, then we should see 90% of TV actors being Chinese, right? Wrong! Why should that be? If the movie industry would try to not be bias towards some particular group, nor prejudiced against that group, then you would assume probably, whatever the percentage of Chinese people in the United States, that percentage of Chinese actors would follow. But is that right?
First we consider the China market in the US TV and Movie industry. Why should all of our movies be made for China also? I mean, make movies for China, and then make movies for America. Why is America getting the left-overs after China gets appeased first and foremost? Yes there are 1 billion Chinese, so why does Hollywood mix that with American movies.
Secondly, why are blacks so prominent in TVs and movies when they are 14.7% (Hispanics 4.9%) of the United States population? So why are there whole TV stations and cable station devoted to black actors news, music, series, and movies? Yet in all of this “blackness” and diversity of Hollywood, look at the Oscars, the Emmies, etc. and try to find black people, and they are scarce. So the biggest preachers of diversity are hypocrites themselves.
But it is unrealistic to think that half of a company’s high paying employees should be black when that is not the percentage of blacks in the general population. What has been pushed on America is inequality, simply because of a person’s skin color. If it was wrong to refuse a good paying job to person because of his skin color (black) then it is wrong to refuse a person a good paying job because he is white. Color has to be erased from this scene, and ability has to be the major concern. Who is best qualified? Again we go back to equality as the American way.
America’s position on racism
While some people demand that there is extensive racism in “our system of government” and that has been the case since our foundation, the truth is simply just not that way. The Declaration of Independence declares that God created all men equal. The American system simply recognizes what God has done. Our government does not concede or grant rights of equality to people, they recognize what these rights that God has given all.
But all of our system of government in the United States is set up on the foundation of an equality that God has imposed on all of us.
While racism is wrong, we all have some racist tendencies in us, but we should be fair and equitable in our conduct towards everybody, even those different from us. The United States does not impose or dictate a certain religion on its citizens. The attitude of the founders was to accept the religious differences between us as each has their particular views and preferences, and although those may not be your preferences or your views, but “as Americans” you should respect their person and their views and preferences.
Notice how our political environment today is totally out of kilter with this foundational truth of equality and acceptance of differences. Also note that there are political and media actors who churn up as much confusion, anger, and chaos around cases of supposed racism, and they are working against the founding principles of our country. It is just wrong and is not American.
There can only be one conclusion to all of this. Those who wish to stir up racism issues are undermining (consciously or unconsciously) the founding principles of our country.
What does the Bible say about Racism?
I am a Christian and I turn to the Bible for guidance. That is my belief and practice, and as an American, I should be allowed that. First of all, I notice that God never places people into classes because of their birthplace nor because of their race. Israel had foreigners that were living in Israel, worshiping the true God and had all the privileges of any Israelite.
But before we talk about foreigners, let us understand that with Israel, they had their different tribes, and God very distinctly granted the Levites as the only tribe that could be priests or serve in the temple. Is that not our definition of racism? Is that not a preference towards one group? These are God’s people and God, talking about distinctions with Jews.
Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
So when we meditate on this, the bottom line is that racism doesn’t really matter. Live your life and don’t be bent out of shape because somebody doesn’t like you or didn’t give you some privilege for whatever reason.
The point is that each person will have to answer to God for their own actions, and God will judge everybody for everything one day. We do see Old Testament commandments for the nation of Israel to protect and treat equally the foreigner. Equally is what is commanded, not privilege, and definitely not prejudice against them. This does not equate to anybody that enters your country has a right to be a citizen. It does equate to all foreign citizens and even foreign visitors dwelling among your country should be given a certain equality of respect. We do not take advantage of or prevent foreigners (nor our countrymen) from earning a living or resources of protection when somebody comes aggressively to hurt them.
But even between God and individuals, God prefers some (loves) and has displeasure (hates) others. It is not wrong in itself. It is the human experience that we inherit from God. This doesn’t mean I am an Arian nation fan or KKK person. Those groups want to depress and exterminate whole classes of people that are not white. I would see that as a sin. I would condemn that. But what if those same groups attacked, depressed, and killed all Japanese, or all Mungs, or all Koreans. Would not that be completely wrong and against the America way, the foundational equality principle of the United States? Yes it would. What if the depressed people were just simply white people? Ahhh. There we hit the keynote of all of this. We have to give high privileges to black people, but if somebody is doing that for white people, it should be illegal. Why? In what way is that equal or fair? But some would make giving privileges to a certain group be declared legal and pushed by the government for all black people. So how is that far and equal?
Equality is to treat everybody fairly
Equality is what the Constitution lays out as our foundation, not affirmative action. The extreme of affirmative action is that of repartitions to blacks for the slavery of black people in America’s history. We stop for a minute and compare this with the situation in other countries’ histories, and we see the United States was a lot more towards respecting blacks and other disenfranchised peoples than any other country when our country was born.
But in the name of fairness and equality, should the United States pay some large sum of money to black people? First of all, the understanding of where money comes from is lost to those who affirm this is what should happen. The government has absolutely no money from itself. All the money that it has comes from its people. So if we make a tax of $10,000 per person from every US citizen in order to give $1000 to every black person, that is fair? But in doing this, the government just takes from the Treasury that sum of money and gives it to the black people, and the same black people are going to be paying higher taxes to cover this. Or are we to allow black people to pay lower taxes? Again the idea of equality gets more and more distant the more we think about this.
What if a man is a descendant (two generations) of black people that came from Mongolia and their first step on US soil as a family was in the 1920s? There was no slavery involved in their family history? Should they get the reparation just because their skin in black? How do you decide these cases if not one by one, and even then, the decision will probably depend on the views of that person or persons making the decision.
California is talking about giving reparations to the black people in California. But California was against slavery during the time of the Civil War. How does that work? Even so they should pay? How about the northern states that fought against slavery through the Civil War. Should northerners not pay? I want to move north then so I don’t have to pay. How about immigrates, legal or illegal. They work jobs, pay their taxes. Should they pay reparations? Well, no, they didn’t have anything to do with slavery back 100 years ago.
Point well taken, neither do people today have anything to do with what their forefathers did in those times. For a lot of people, they may not even know if their forefathers were in America when it started. But what if a black man had slaves. We should pay his descendants reparations? Again we see how fairness and equality cannot be cast into things that pass generations. The people today are who we deal with, and only actions that should cause reparations should be obligatory on people today. I get in my car and by accident wreck the neighbors mailbox, I should pay him reparations. That is in the legal system and it is sufficient.
The overruling principle in all this discussion is very simple. For most all people, if they are receiving the reparation, then they are for it. If they are paying the reparation, they may be for it or against it. When we talk reality of the sums they are throwing around, nobody, absolutely nobody wants to pay an extra $10,000 dollars in taxes above what they are presently paying. Slavery or not, just no.
God has preferences and dislikes
Rom 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
When we meditate on this, God has preferences, things and people (their persons, how is their character, their motives, their actions) what God likes. God also has displeasure with things and people (their persons how is their character, their motives, their actions). In the end analysis of things, some people go to heaven for pleasure the rest of eternity, and some people go to hell for torture for the rest of eternity, and the basis for that is God’s view of their life, their spiritual relationship with God.
The Bible constantly links the actions and character of some people to the pleasure of God, and that of other actions and character to God’s wrath. Within all of that, those who ultimately please God are those that believe in God, and accept and trust in God’s Messiah-Christ to be saved.
We do not see anywhere in Scripture where any kind of moral lecturing happens on the basis of or about racism. Foreigners in Israel were to be treated just the same as Israelites, equality. Foreigners were barred from some things, just as some classes of Israelite were. But we do see racism all through the Bible. The Egyptians had the Hebrews as slaves, a sub-citizen class. We see many different passages where countries conquering other countries and enslaving their citizens, which was a typical consequence of war between nations.
We do see God unilaterally making Israel “his darling,” while cursing and despising various other nations. I think of Moloch, that religious cult of aborting their children as being an absolute abomination to God. Why? Is God racist then? In no way. God’s hatred towards this group was because of their conduct. It was way out of line. Will those aborted babies by the cult of Molech stand before God in the grand judgment and accuse their parents? Absolutely. And God will condemn those adults that did this to their children.
Preference and displeasure are based on actions and character
I went to elementary through high school in public schools. I was around, with, and among blacks and other whites my whole life (my personal experience). I asked myself if I was racist. Well, yes, I disliked it when I had to be in closed places after recess with blacks that just smelled bad. I also disliked not being able to go to the restroom without some group of blacks shaking me down for my lunch money. So I am racist. But wait a minute. Some of my best friends were black people. So how does that fit in? I am not racism then.
The truth of the matter, we form perceptions based on experience. You like or dislike dentists when you are young based on your experiences. You go to a dentist every 6 months as a kid, and he just examines your teeth, “All good!” and here’s your lollipop. I love to go to dentists. But when you have 4 wisdom teeth extracted at the same time, you hate dentists after that. The truth of the matter is you hate bad experiences.
I think back to those groups of blacks in high school that threatened me and pushed me around, and I dislike those blacks. But then there was Harry Dennis, a black guy that was my friend. I opened a door into a hallway one day, and a group of blacks started hassling me, blocking my way, and Harry came along and put his arm around me and saw me out of there. Harry was a really good black guy, one of my best friends, and as far as I am concerned, they could have put an entire school of Harry Dennis people for me, and I would have loved it. Harry was a Christian I believe from somethings he said. But good experiences give me a good feeling. Bad experiences a bad one. That is the same with people all over, including white people. There are some white people that I have a profound dislike towards. But again that is because of their conduct, and that is not racism. That is not wrong.