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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 14 2021

Is racism a sin?

From ancient Israel to the modern day world division among races has caused hurt and hatred, in spite of the fact the Bible clearly condemns attitudes of hostility and intolerance towards others.

Is racism a sin?
The Bible does not teach racism. The life that Jesus Christ modeled does not teach an attitude of hate or intolerance toward people. Instead, He taught an attitude of peace toward fellow man.

It’s a subject that has caused issues for millennia: race. From ancient Israel to modern day America, division among races has caused hurt and hate. While it is true that God told the ancient nation of Israel not to intermarry with other nations, notice the reason why: “Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4; compare 1 Kings 11:2). The command has to do with idea that other nations worshipped idols and not the true God. It had to do with how the other nations thought, and the negative influence they would have on those who do worship the true God, not the color of their skin.

A new teaching

In the New Testament we see a similar teaching, to not think like other nations. For instance, Paul writes, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). Again, it is a way of thinking that is condemned here, not a specific race.

Of course, some might respond, "Well, whatever the reason, God showed favor toward Israel." That was true under the Old Covenant when God was working with one specific nation, Israel. However, we see a much different story in the New Testament. Here, under the New Covenant, we see the distinction between nations erased. In Acts 10, we see the story of Peter taking the gospel to Cornelius, a Roman soldier and gentile. This caused quite a stir among the Jews of the day who were still of a mindset that God favored and loved only them. Peter broke that way of thinking down with a powerful statement in Acts 10:34-35: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Here we see in God's Holy Word—the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16)—that God does not play favorites among nations, and by extension, races. Paul spells this out very clearly in Romans 10:12 and Galatians 3:28 as well.

What does this mean for you and me?

Certainly, we can be thankful that God shows no partiality toward race or nation. But more than that, what does it say to us about how we should think? Is it okay for us to show bias for or against anyone because of their race or nationality?

Going back to Ephesians 4, let’s note again the kind of thinking we are told not to have. Through inspired Scripture, God tells us not to have our "understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4:18). If we understand that God makes no distinction between races, yet we choose to do so anyway, what does that say of our understanding, our way of thinking? Do we feel like we are more enlightened than God, or is the reality that we have chosen to allow our own understanding to be darkened?

As Christians, we should model our life after Jesus Christ. What did He teach about our attitude and treatment of other people? Notice: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Racism does not promote peace. It promotes division and hatred without cause. Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:22, “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

The Bible does not teach racism. The life that Jesus Christ modeled does not teach an attitude of hate or intolerance toward people. Instead, He taught an attitude of peace toward fellow man. Make no mistake: Racism is a sin. God is love (1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16), and His expectation is that we live a life based on love and peace toward our fellow man!