On Race Part 4By Pastor Boffey on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
H. Some science has it figured out. 1. Researchers who put together a draft of the entire sequence of the human genome, “...unanimously declared, there is only one race---the human race...If you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent.” (Natalie Angier, Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows, NYT 8-22-2000) 2. “The genetic variation within each of the various ethnic groups of Homo sapiens is greater than that between the various ethnic groups...There is absolutely no genetic or evolutionary justification for ‘racial’ categories of humans.” (William Leonard, “Check Your Race in the Box Below,” The American Biology Teacher, p. 379) 3. Such observations are what would be expected if all mankind are of one blood, descended from Noah’s three sons. ACT 17:26; GEN 10:32.
I. Biblically, the divisions of mankind are not “races” but “...nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues...” (REV 7:9). 1. As noted earlier, the scattering of mankind at Babel would have produced distinct pools of genetic information in each language group. 2. Correspondingly, these groups would likely have commonalities with each other but also unique characteristics of genetic information, strength or weakness, talents and traditions, etc. that would be emphasized in that group. Such a pattern was seen in GEN 4:17-22. 3. As the definition of nation shows, there was a historical tendency for a nation to be tightly equated with a particular line of descent (and commonly referred to as “race”). a. Israel was such a nation, descended from Abraham through Jacob’s twelve sons: a nation made up of tribal states which (in their case) had distinguishing marks from prophecy. GEN 49:1-27. b. But even though Israel was emphatically a genealogically-developed nation, it incorporated people from other lands. RUTH 4:13-22; EST 8:17. c. Joseph married an Egyptian, Moses married a Midianite (Arabian), then an Ethiopian. The genetic make-up of Israel was diverse and inter-chromatic. d. Paul was exceptional in that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, stock of Israel and seed of Abraham. PHIL 3:5; 2CO 11:22. 4. Mankind’s skin tones are not owing to evolutionary superiority/inferiority but to the varying degrees of melanin (dark pigment) in the skin: the more one has of it, the darker the skin tone. a. Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis suggests that it is likely that the color of Adam’s skin (from which all genetic information for mankind came) was a coffee-brown type (or similar) and that all mankind are varying shades of that original color, depending on the melanin content. b. He suggests that Christians would do well to not sing of Jesus’s love for children as “...red and yellow, black and white...” but “...shades of brown from dark to light...” 5. The notion that black skin is the mark of Cain (GEN 4:15) is pure speculation and irrelevant since the line of Cain was wiped out by the Flood and black skin continued after the Flood through the line that descended from Abel to Noah. 6. Some have assumed that black skin is owing to the curse of Canaan (GEN 9:25) and therefore darker-skinned people are prone to enslavement. This is also speculation and (as earlier noted), it is not Ham (father of Canaan) but Cush whose name meant “black” and is associated with Ethiopia, etc.
VII. Scripture speaks of group generalizations, stereotypes and divisive prejudices. This aspect of human experience even has a divine component. A. The Egyptians abominated Hebrews and shepherds. GEN 43:32; 46:34. B. The Jews disdained Samaritans and Nazarenes. JOH 1:46; 8:48. C. The Gileadites exploited an Ephraimite speech peculiarity. JDG 12:5-6. D. What men say about or do to one another on a group basis is one thing. But what about when God Himself is involved with group generalization or indelicate characterization? 1. The curse of Canaan enveloped multiple nations. ACT 13:19. 2. The pronunciation concerning Ishmael has a historical implication. GEN 16:12. 3. The city of Pergamos had the stigma of being the place of Satan’s seat. REV 2:12. 4. Sodom’s name became eternally identified with a perverse lust. JUDE 1:7. 5. Metaphorically, “The ants are a people not strong... The conies are but a feeble folk...” (PRO 30:25-26). 6. The notorious Scythians are mentioned to make a point about grace. COL 3:10-11. a. Scythian: Pertaining to Scythia, an ancient region extending over a large part of European and Asiatic Russia, or to the nomadic people by whom it was inhabited. b. “...Scythians were, of all people, the most barbarous and unpolished (z), and were had in great disdain by others, therefore the apostle mentions them, as being within the reach of the powerful and efficacious grace of God; nor were the fierceness of their dispositions, and the impoliteness of their manners, any bar unto it.” (John Gill Commentary) 7. God “group generalized” the Cretians because of a national trait. TIT 1:12-13. a. Epimenides, a poet born in Crete, characterized them all as such about 600 B.C. b. They were like the Ferengi of Star Trek fame. 8. God turned the Jews’ name into a proverb and by-word. DEU 28:37; ISA 65:15. 9. It is interesting that Paul’s letters to the Corinthians deal considerably with “large living” and “loose morals.” 1CO 4:8; 11:20-22; 2CO 12:20-21. a. The Corinthian church suffered from “Gentile hangover” of stereotypical life in a city whose name became proverbial. b. Corinthianize: intr. To act the Corinthian: to live voluptuously and licentiously. c. That church was born in a city with a notoriety and it was their duty to separate from its notoriety, not to justify it. E. Making broad, even stereotypical, generalizations about distinct classes is virtually unavoidable and oftentimes a necessary part of life in this world since it is how we, with limited information and resources, must make summary assessments of the place or people where there is the greatest likelihood of success and the minimizing of risks. 1. Most reasonable people, if they have the power to do so, choose to not live among or do business with classes of people who have a negative stereotype. Hence, for example, the adage: “You can’t grow bananas in a banana republic.” 2. This human action is common to all men and is not uniquely tied to skin color or ethnicity, etc. 3. The error comes in when we assume that all in a particular class, nation, language, color, etc. are inevitably defined by the broad stereotypical generalization associated with a group. 4. It is even a greater error to assume that every individual of a particular group with a negative stereotype is irredeemable and to be automatically shunned without honest consideration of that person’s character or the possibility of grace. a. Paul knew what the general character of Crete was like but he preached and planted there anyway. b. He knew the general character of the Jews also (ROM 10:21) yet yearned for their salvation and preached to them as able. ROM 10:1. c. People need a chance to prove themselves and godly people will grant it.
VIII. The issue of slavery’s association with “race” is complex. A. slave: One who is the property of, and entirely subject to, another person, whether by capture, purchase, or birth; a servant completely divested of freedom and personal rights. B. The enslavement of others by force in lieu of an obligation has been a universal practice worldwide and still exists. C. Whatever one thinks about what Scripture has to say about master-servant relationships, bondservants, captives, etc., Scripture flatly condemns menstealing. EXO 21:16; DEU 24:7; 1TI 1:10. 1. Menstealing is stealing of men, or what we would call kidnapping. 2. kidnap: Originally, to steal or carry off (children or others) in order to provide servants or labourers for the American plantations; hence, in general use, to steal (a child), to carry off (a person) by illegal force. 3. The practice of seizing a freeman by force to be made into a slave cannot be justified, nor can trade in such enslaved persons be justified. 4. This abhorrent practice was not uniquely “white over black.” a. Whites have also been enslaved. b. The word “slave” is Middle English, a shortening of Old French esclave, equivalent of medieval Latin sclava (feminine) ‘Slavic (captive)’: some South Slavic peoples had been reduced to a servile state by conquest in the 9th cent. c. The African slave trade involved Muslim incursions for many years before the American experience and they continued in it during the modern “Plantation Era.” The sons of Ishmael have an ancient record of trade in men. GEN 37:28, 36. d. The African slave trade also involved Africans capturing and selling other Africans as slaves. e. There were numerous African slaveholders and slave traders in America, some of whom became very wealthy through this. f. North American Indians practiced slavery. Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee Indians purchased and held Africans as slaves. g. For some interesting insights on this, check out “A Brief History of Non- White Slaveholders in America” by Lipton Matthews, The Mises Institute, 11-9-20. h. Regardless of who did it to whomever else, it was wrong and is wrong.
IX. Our duty as Christians: A. We should consider all people as the descendants of Noah and of one blood, and therefore dispense with the indiscriminate use of the term “race” in referring to men. There is therefore no such thing as interracial marriage. B. We should reject any artificial distinctions in Christ. GAL 3:28; COL 3:11; REV 7:9. C. We should not let generalizations poison our thinking about individuals and long for the salvation of men out of all groups. D. We should measure ourselves and others by the content of character only. E. We should reject partiality (JAM 3:17). None are exempt from just law, nor should anyone’s rights be hindered but by actions which justly forfeit them. F. We should reject asinine notions like “only white people can be racists.” If such racism be a sin, it is a temptation common to all men. 1CO 10:13. G. We should reject unjustified violence by law enforcement. LUK 3:14. H. We should not conflate nor confuse “white privilege” with “gospel benefit.” I. We should reject the notion of reparations since God forbids punishing children for the sins of parents. EZE 18:20. J. We should affirm that all lives matter, regardless of the rejection of that concept by ungodly change-agents. K. We should be willing to cut one another slack in speech. ISA 29:20-21. L. We should govern our thoughts, words and actions by the law of love. ROM 13:9-10.
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