What The Bible Teaches Us About Race
Racial and ethnic bigotry have plagued mankind for thousands of years across hundreds of countries. But the Bible very clearly states that all humans come from a single couple (Adam and Eve) and that all humans are, therefore, related – we are brothers and sisters. Not only that but we are brothers and sisters made in God’s image. This is such a critical point that it is repeated multiple times for us in the first book of the Bible.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So 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 [ESV]
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. Genesis 9:6 [ESV]
God has taught us that we are all created in His image and, therefore, all have equal value. Though many have tried over time to create some justification for their racial bigotry, God settled the issue for us, starting in the first chapter of the Bible. Some have used the work of Charles Darwin as the foundation for their racism. Afterall, the title of his famous book is: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
It is claimed by many (and probably accurately given what else we know about Darwin) that the “favored races” includes human races. In other words, he did not see all races as equal. But newsflash – Charles Darwin doesn’t override God! And the Bible doesn’t just address the issue through what God spoke in the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul also address the category of bigotry (even more broadly) in the New Testament.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11 [ESV]
Paul is speaking of the Christian community in the section of scripture where this verse is contained. Paul was breaking down the various forms of bigotry people held with the examples he gives here. For example, he says that racial bigotry is not allowed by saying there is no Greek or Jew. He is saying that religious background is not a reason for bigotry with his inclusion of the circumcised and uncircumcised.
The use of the barbarian label was to say there was no difference between and, therefore, no bigotry allowed based on language spoken (as barbarian was just the derogatory description used of someone who did not speak Greek). Scythian was used to show there was no bigotry allowed based on differences in culture or education. And slave versus free to show bigotry is not allowed based on economic status or wealth. (The term as used here is not justifying the form of slavery that existed in America – I will put a video out on why this is so on my Facebook page @analyticalpreacher soon)
In these times, we should all read and reread the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. This is not a story told by Jesus to teach us to do nice things for each other. It is a story that uses someone doing something nice for another to teach us to not be infected by racism. The characters in the story were of different races - a Jewish man and a Samaritan (the Jews generally referred to the Samaritans as “half-breeds”). Notice in the story a Jewish man asks Jesus who is the neighbor that he is required to love. And Jesus tells the story where the Samaritan (the minority in this case) is the hero.
Everyone you ever have or ever will meet is not only created in God’s image but is related to you as a distant relative. And you are biblically required to love all your neighbors.