Ethics: Race and Prejudice (Part 3)

Unjust prejudice exits all over this earth. Some times it takes the form of ethnocentrism, which is prejudice based on cultural differences. “Even people who look very similar can have improper attitudes toward each other… The Irish and the English… The Koreans and the Japanese are two examples that come to mind” (Trevor Major and Richard Melson, A Christian Response to Racism, a tract published by A. P.). Some times it takes the form of racism, which can be defined as “discrimination or prejudism based on race” (education.yahoo.com/reference;dictionary). Christians should shun such prejudism. We should see the individual, and not lump the individual into a stereotypical grouping. We shouldn’t judge the individual by our pre-conceived thoughts about the group.

In this article, we will explore some of the ways racism has been defended. Even the Bible has been misused by some to defend such.

Darwinism

The original title of Charles Darwin’s book was “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection — or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle of Life.” Darwin’s bulldog, Thomas Huxley, remarked, “No rational man, cognizant of the facts believes that the average Negro is equal, still less the superior of the white man” (Brad Harrub, Convicted, p. 198). Adolph Hitler parroted Darwin saying, “Nature … chooses from the excess number of individuals the best as worthy of living… A stronger race will drive out the weak” (Mein Kampf, p. 132). This thinking was also a part of the early eugenics/birth-control/sterilization movements of the 20th century. “Thus in the progressive era of the early twentieth century, racial and ethnic minorities were viewed in largely negative terms and the progressive support of the eugenics movement was not unrelated to the presumed desirability of preventing these minorities for propagating too many of their own kind” (Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p. 111).

Here are some things to remember: (a) We’re all human beings. Bert Thompson and Brad Harrub have written, “We constitute a single biological species. Men and women with familial and cultural ties on different continents can meet, marry, and have families of their own — a fact that frustrates any attempt to parcel the world’s population into distinct subspecies or well-defined races” (The Truth About Human Origins, p. 436). (b) Moreover, some have confused education with ability “As late as the First World War, white soldiers from Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi scored lower on mental tests than black soldiers from Ohio, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania” (Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, p. 23). However, “As late as the 1930s, only 7 percent of black youngsters of high school age were attending high school in Mississippi” (ibid., p. 230). The education of blacks was outlawed or discouraged in the South for many years.

Mormons

The Mormons have a long history of racism. (1) They teach that the Lamanites were once “white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome” (2 Nephi 5:21). However, “because of their iniquity” and “that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21cf. Alma 3:6; Mormon 5:15). (2) The mixing of the seed between races was forbidden (2 Nephi 5:23). (3) However, if the Lamanites would repent they could be removed from the curse of their blackness (2 Nephi 5:22 cf. 3 Nephi 2:14-16). (4) It wasn’t until September 30, 1978 blacks were allowed into the Mormon priesthood.

The Bible nowhere teaches such a doctrine as is taught within the book of Mormon.

Bible

1. Cain’s Mark.   The Bible speaks of a mark being placed upon Cain (Genesis 4:15). Some have suggested that the mark was dark skin.  The Bible does not say this. One has as much evidence to say it was dark skin, as another does to say it was white skin and blue eyes. Moreover, the mark was not a sign of condemnation. Instead, the mark was provided to protect Cain’s life. Finally, if the mark were black skin, and if this mark did pass on to Cain’s descendants, such would not have one thing to do with how Cain’s descendants should be treated, today. (Ezekiel 18).

2. Curse of Canaan.  Some desperate to find justification for their racism have inferred without adequate evidence that the curse of Canaan (Genesis 9:18-27) was dark skin. Nothing in the text implies such.

Some have suggested that the curse was not only upon Canaan, but also upon Canaan’s father, Ham (cf. Genesis 9:18, 22). Then, it is claimed that the name “Ham” means “swarthy.” However, we should remember: (a) The curse is said to be upon Canaan, not Ham. (b) The name “Ham” does not seem to have originated with the curse (Genesis 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 9:22). (c) It is far from certain that the name “Ham” has anything to do with blackness. The term may mean “warm” or “hot” (Strong’s, B-D-B-G) or “submissive one” (ed. Curtis Cates, 35th Annual MSOP  Lectureship, p. 177). Scholarship does not support the idea of blackness to be a part of this word.

3. Inter-racial Marriages Forbidden.  Moses (a descendant of Shem cf. Gen. 10:21-ff; 11:14-ff) married an Ethiopian or Cushite (a descendant of Ham Genesis 10:6-ff; Numbers 12:1-ff). Note: Their skin color must have been distinct from Israel’s. Remember, Jeremiah asking, “can the Ethiopian change his skin?” (Jeremiah 13:23). Miriam and Aaron murmured about this, or at least used this as a pretense to complain against Moses. Yet, God upheld the leadership of Moses (Numbers 12:1-ff).

It is true that God instructed the Israelites not to marry the Canaanites (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:2-4; Joshua 23:12-13 cf. Judges 3:5-6). However, a careful reading will reveal that the concern was not of race or color, but of religious and spiritual influence. Canaanites who submitted to the one true God seem to have been accepted (Rahab Matthew 1:5 cf. Joshua 2 cf. Joshua 24:31; Judges 2:7, 10). Moreover, it should be realized that there is no listing of nations or races that are forbidden to inter-marry in the New Covenant.

 4. The Jews Killed Jesus.  Many Jews were not pleased with the filming of “The Passion of the Christ”. They were afraid that the film would stir up anti-Semitic feelings and hatred. It was feared that the movie would make the Jewish people responsible for the death of Jesus.

The truth is clear. The facts cannot be denied. Jewish people were responsible (John 19:11; Matthew 27:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15). These who delivered Jesus to Pilate were guilty of “greater sin” (John 19:11). Alas, this has been used to justify mistreatment of the Jewish people.

Things to remember: (a) Jesus was an Israelite (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-28; Romans 1:3, etc.). (b) The twelve were Israelites (Acts 1:11; 2:7). (c) Paul was an Israelite (Romans 1:11; 2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5; Acts 21:39). (d) The early church was composed exclusively of Israelites and Jewish proselytes until the conversion of Cornelius’ house (Acts 2:4-ff; 11:19 cf. 15:7). (e) It was the Israelites who carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11; 13:45-46; 18:5-6; Romans 1:14-16). (f) The fact that God removed His hedge of protection from the nation of Israel has no bearing upon whether individual Israelites could be saved (Romans 1:16).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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