Recent events have made a real issue of race and race relations, from campaigns such as “Black Lives Matter” to the issue of racial profiling in law enforcement. While this topic falls a little outside the area of Jewish missions, it is not outside the area of a Messianic or Judeo-Christian worldview. In this blog, I will not deal with the intricacies of the present problems between people groups and cultural groups within this country, but I will briefly touch upon a Scriptural worldview of the idea of race.
It must be acknowledged that there are certain distinctions and divisions which God does recognize within humankind, and these should be discussed. First, God obviously acknowledges the difference between genders. In the very first book of the Scriptures God states very clearly, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27, NKJV).” In other words, man and woman are created differently and are distinct from each other (a point quickly being lost on society today). This represents the first historical distinction that existed within humankind.
For the next distinction God allows within humankind, we need to go to the Tower of Babel and the table of nations. Chapter 10 of Genesis gives a genealogical breakdown of the nations while chapter 11, with its record of the incident of the Tower of Babel, explains the mechanism by which those nations came into existence, and the origin of the distinct languages of humankind. In chapter 10, a phrase is used in terms of the descendants of the three sons of Noah: “according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.” From this we know that the divisions that occur between peoples are according to their families (lineage), according to their languages, and according to their lands and nations (geographically and culturally).
For the last of God’s distinctions, we will look at the end of the big story as all of humanity is brought under the rule of God. We read, “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9, NKJV).’” Distinctions within humankind are being mentioned here in a way that is similar to Genesis 10. Again we see tribe, which is lineage; we see tongue, which is language; and we see people and nation - these are culture and location. There is one category of distinction which is missing from any of these divine perspectives: that is, the distinction called race. This gives us a clear clue that race is not a Biblical concept, or even a distinction worthy of consideration from God’s perspective.
I have always hated the section on various tests and questionnaires that asks me whether I am Caucasian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Other. I probably missed some categories in the list, but they would be as equally irrelevant as the categories I did remember (it is interesting to note that new “races” have been added over time to the two that were at one time the most recognizable, black and white). The answer to that question is not clear-cut for many people; it follows the fact that race does not exist from the perspective of the divine author of the universe. Differences in gender, culture, and lineage are notable by Him, but race is distinctly missing.
The answer to the present problem of race relations is to realize that race is not a thing - it is a measure of distinction between the appearance of two people groups. I saw a picture of a young lady with blonde hair, blue eyes, and lighter skin. She was born in South Africa, so in essence she is an African. She migrated and became a citizen in America, therefore she is an African-American, although she does not have dark skin. Where does she she fall within the supposed racial categories? There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the concept of different races, as opposed to one human race, was introduced through an evolutionary model of thinking and introduced with anti-black bias. I have a picture of the original title of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species. The original title was The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life - or what he really meant: “the superiority of the white race.”
In conclusion, problems of race relation are really about the challenges between people groups of different culture, lineage, and location. The best way to deal with race relations is to scrap non-Biblical designators of humankind and see the issues for what they really are. Yes, due to prejudice by those of fairer skin, who belong to the exact same human race as their darker skinned brothers and sisters, there have been injustices. But these are not a function of race - these are a function of sin. Let me close with the words that Paul gave the Athenian philosophers by the working of the Holy Spirit: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings (Acts 17:26, NKJV).”