God & Racism

Jesus & Racism

Christianity & Racial Issues

By Grantley Morris


Are African Blacks Human Being?

Christian Racial Issues

To be racist – or look down on anyone – is to plunge a knife into the heart of the God who determines our eternal fate. We will see below why racism is not only always a sin against people close to God’s heart, it is a slanderous attack on God himself. It appalls everyone who truly knows and loves God.

Both the Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament affirm that if you trace everyone’s family tree back far enough you will find the same human ancestors.

Quite a percentage of Christians believe that just as God made us and yet we formed in our mother’s womb by a gradual and complex process, so humanity was created by God and yet formed by a gradual and complex process, commonly called evolution. There is not need to squabble over that right now because regardless of one’s opinion on the method God chose to create, all Christians unite to affirm that we are God’s creation and that the Bible’s purpose is not primarily to teach science but something far loftier – to reveal the heart of God and how he would have us view things. And over and over, God’s Word makes it clear that God wants us to see everyone, regardless of race, as being physically “one blood” (Acts 17:26, literal translation).

There was once a version of the theory of evolution that denied this biblical truth of the genetic unity of the human race and claimed that different types of apes evolved into different races of people. Because it is only a theory, evolutionary scientists differ amongst themselves and over time change their minds, but this particular guess is so contrary to the study of human genetics that it has been largely abandoned as ridiculous. I will explore this further later in the webpage.

No matter what is currently fashionable for scientists to believe, however, God – who is way ahead of everyone – reveals in his Word that, ultimately, all races of people have the same genetic heritage and, in a very real sense, are physically brothers and sisters. Moreover, he reveals that the same spiritual Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ – loves Blacks as much as Whites or Chinese and gave his life to give them the same spiritual destiny.

We will go much further than this, but just the fact that God created every race has chilling implications for anyone who wishes to look down on a race. If I hint that I regard a particular work of art as inferior, I can expect the artist’s hot displeasure. To think anyone is inferior is to insult that person’s Maker. Only a hypocrite would have the hide to claim to honor the Maker if he had a low opinion of what he has made. Hypocrisy is one of the few things that made the holy Son of God furious.

The culmination of Jesus’s work on earth was to entrust his disciples with this mission:

    Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

In modern English, nation refers to a large geo-political unit, but Jesus did not speak Twenty-First Century English. Bible scholars say that the word Jesus used refers to a usually smaller number of people, identified not by geography or politics but by their distinctive cultural and genetic heritage. The last book in the Bible spells this out with almost excessive clarity:

    Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

    Revelation 7:9,10,14-17  . . . before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. . . . And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” . . . they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple . . . Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Emphasis mine.)

If I wanted to refer to everyone in the world, any one of these four words would suffice. Combining nation, tribe, language and people – is almost overkill. It is stressing that, without exception, every grouping of people, whether distinguished by language, ancestry, culture, or geographical location, is so significant to God that he is committed to ensuring that each group has representatives who will be spiritually one with God for all eternity as a direct consequence of his precious Son trading his life for theirs.

Every one of them is priceless to God because for each the same inconceivably high price was paid – the life of God’s one and only Son – and all of them are spiritually equal because they are all spiritually one with God and with each other:

    John 17:22-23  . . . that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. . . . (More)

This spiritual equality is spelled out here:

    Galatians 3:26-29 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Colossians 3:9-12  . . . you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved . . . (Emphasis mine.)

This is saying that regardless of race, status, gender or cultural and religious background, there is no distinction in God’s eyes between anyone who belongs to Christ. All have the same spiritual heritage and the same spiritual destiny. He is equally in us all and the Father of us all:

    John 1:12-13 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not so dumb as to walk up to a heavy weight boxer and tell the proud father that I think his child is inferior. That would be far smarter than criticizing in the hearing of Almighty God – and he hears everything – someone he proudly thinks the world of. And there is no one on this planet whose welfare the Almighty would not only gladly pay galaxies of diamonds for, but paid the highest conceivable price of his infinitely precious Son, the closest thing to his heart. You have never seen a proud father like Almighty God.

The Bible closely connects loving God with loving people:

    Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

And Jesus immediately launched into his famous parable of the good Samaritan, thus emphasizing the ethnic and Bible stresses implications of loving people the way God expects us to.

The unbreakable link between loving God and loving people is further emphasized here:

    1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

The Bible highlights the ridiculous incompatibility of using the same tongue to praise God that has been used to put down another human being. Not only is this because, regardless of who it is, God loves that person stupendously, but because God himself is like that person.

    James 3:9-10 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. . . . this should not be.

And the Bible does not just stop there:

    Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, . . . anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    James 4:11-12 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?

Without repentance, to exalt oneself above anyone can be spiritual suicide:

    Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

    Proverbs 16:19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

    Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

    1 Peter 5:5  . . . All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

To insult any race or tribe or ethnic group is to insult people who will spend eternity delighting in God’s presence – even if by your attitude you exclude yourself from that privilege.

The Bible is almost color blind; seeing no need to mention the color of people’s skin. In fact, about the only reference to skin color is:

    Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin . . . ?

So every Bible reader, no matter how ignorant about skin color, knows that Ethiopians have black skin. Is it mere coincidence, then, that one of the most celebrated conversions in the early church is someone we know was black: the Ethiopian eunuch? Because the Bible sees it as highly significant, it gives considerable space to this event. Permit me to shorten the biblical account:

    Acts 8:26-29,35,36,38-39 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”  . . . Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

To the embarrassment of those who imagine that being white is desirable, white skin is mentioned in the Bible only as a sign of shame and proof of divine disapproval. As divine punishment, Elisha’s servant became “as white as snow” (2 Kings 5:26-27). Similarly, in Numbers 12, Moses’s sister, Miriam, suffered white skin (“like snow”) because of the horror of a skin abnormality inflicted as divine punishment for wrongly criticizing Moses for marrying a Cushite. It would be dishonest not to point out that the big stir was over the disease rather than the color. However, that both accounts mentioning the color emphasizes that the natural color of their skin was not so white. Moreover, the color seems to be particularly significant in Miriam’s case.

In this dispute over marrying someone with jet black skin, God emphatically took Moses’ side. By his actions, the Lord seems to have been saying, “Because you disapprove of Moses marrying someone of darker skin than your family, I’ll strike you with whiter skin than your family.”

The black skinned woman that Moses married is usually thought to be Jethro’s daughter (Exodus 18:5-6). So it seems that Jethro, too, must have been Black. This is highly significant because of Jethro’s exalted status among God’s people:

    Exodus 18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

    Exodus 18:17,24 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. . . .” Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.

Despite being led by the cloud of the Lord (Numbers 10:34), Moses begged Jethro (also known as Hobab) to remain with the Israelites and guide them:

    Numbers 10:31 But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the desert, and you can be our eyes. . . .”

The Bible stresses that everyone is made by God, loved by God and is in his very image. So to insult any race of people is to insult the God who made them, loves them and is like them. To be racist – or look down on anyone – is to plunge a knife into the heart of the God who determines our eternal fate. Racism is not only always a sin against people close to God’s heart, it is a slanderous attack on God himself. It appalls everyone who truly knows and loves God.

Scientific Proof

1. Genetics

Dr Douglas C. Wallace (professor of molecular genetics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta) points out that the average genetic difference between any two people in the world, even if they belong to the same people group, is about 0.2 percent. In contrast, racial characteristics such as skin color, eye shape etc. account for a mere 0.012 percent of genetic differences between people. He concludes that “the so-called ‘racial’ differences are absolutely trivial – overall, there is more variation within any group than there is between one group and another. If a white person is looking for a tissue match for an organ transplant, for instance, the best match may come from a black person, and vice versa.”

If you studied Black, White and Chinese artists, cleaners, professional athletes and western-accredited doctors, they would be far more alike in abilities if grouped according to profession than if grouped according to race.

2. What Makes Someone Human?

Scientifically, a species is defined as having the genetic capacity to interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Blacks and Whites can produce healthy children and so blacks and Whites are full members of the same species. In fact, when Blacks and Whites intermarry, their children are often genetically stronger than those born to more genetically similar couples.

In fact, scientists regard all races as belonging not just to the same species known as Homo sapiens but to the same subspecies known as Homo sapiens sapiens (yes, peculiarly, sapiens is repeated).

Whites More Ape-Like Than Blacks?

Let’s examine some key features distinguishing humans from monkeys and apes.

Brain Size

Whilst the human brain is impressively larger than that of apes, there are virtually no differences in brain size between races. Furthermore, any attempt to examine the exceedingly minor variations in people is confusingly complex. For example, years ago at university I was taught that Neanderthals and early modern humans, sometimes called Cro-Magnons, have a slightly larger cranial capacity to modern humans. This is now generally regarded as possible but is stated with less confidence. The challenge seems to be to find enough fossils from which to obtain a statistically reliable average. On average, modern men have larger brains than women but mine is large enough not to attempt any conclusions.

Manual Dexterity

Without exception, every race is equally superior to apes in intricate hand movements. All are physically equal in their capacity to thread a needle, write by hand, and so on.

Their Walk

Unlike any ape, all races walk fully erect, with their arms usually playing no role in locomotion. All races walk identically, although if you want to be really finicky, it could be argued that average representatives from some people groups walk with more finesse (more gracefully and with more poise) than the average Anglo-Saxon.

Lack of Body Hair

With this is a major difference, it is worth noting that some people groups, such as Mediterranean/Middle Eastern people, have more body hair than Blacks. Chinese have the least of all. Moreover, Blacks have fuzzy hair. Technically, it is more apelike to have straight hair.

Prominent Mammary Glands (Breasts)

Human females have proportionally larger breasts than apes. I’m not too confident that my wife would let me do a study on the subject, but let’s just say that Blacks are not lacking in this distinguishing feature. Moreover, even without detailed analysis I think it safe to say that there are people groups in which the average female bust is proportionally less than that of Blacks.

More Apelike?

Anyone who has seen a plucked chicken knows that they have white skin. Does this make Whites more like chickens than Blacks are?

It has been claimed that “All chimps have white skin, thin lips and flat butts.” It seems, however, that beneath their hair, chimpanzees vary as much as human races in their skin color (Source).

Perhaps by certain measures it might technically be true that Whites are marginally more apelike than Blacks but the difference between all people and apes is so vast as to render ridiculous the whole question as to which race is more apelike.

Jesus Was Not White

Studies of skulls found in Jesus’ day indicate that Jews have undergone considerable physiological changes since that time. With the Jewish dispersion through White European populations and subsequent intermarriage, the skin color of these Jews has presumably been lightening over the two thousand years since Jesus walked the earth.

To get some idea of Jesus’ racial characteristics, including skin color, we need to go back even further in time and examine his genetic heritage.

Probably next to no one in the entire Bible had fair hair or blue eyes or skin as white as the typical Englishman. Interestingly, “His eyes will be darker than wine” (Genesis 49:12) is Jacob’s divinely inspired blessing upon the Messianic line (Judah). Most likely, virtually everyone referred to in the Bible had brown eyes and (other than a few exceptional redheads and old people going grey) dark hair. But the Bible does not bother to tell us.

Despite Scripture mentioning vast numbers of people, for almost no one does it give the vaguest of what the person looked like. In the entire New Testament we are told almost nothing about the bodily appearance of anyone other than certain deformities that had to be mentioned in order to describe healings and that Zacchaeus was short (mentioned only to explain why he ended up in a tree – Luke 19:3-5). Not even how they dressed receives attention other than John the Baptist’s eccentric attire and fleeting reference to Jesus’ humiliation at the hands of his tormenters and one of his followers, who deserted both Jesus and his clothes.

This disinterest in physical appearance is entirely consistent with the Bible’s insistence that God evaluates no one on the basis of what a person looks like:

    1 Samuel 16:7 . . . Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

    Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

    Luke 16:15  . . . You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

Anyone claiming to be of God should, like him, focus on the inner person; on the spiritual not one’s body of physical appearance:

    2 Corinthians 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. . . .

    1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

If God’s Word did not regard skin color as so unimportant that it nearly never mentions it, most of us would be surprised to see how many Blacks feature. For example, few of us stop to consider that Africa is not only the home of Blacks but the home of the Jewish nation. Abraham’s descendants exploded in numbers for over four hundred years in Africa (Exodus 12:40) and although Egyptians did not have jet black skin, you can be sure it was not only Hebrews who traded with them and/or were enslaved by them. When the Hebrews finally left Africa, a diverse range of other peoples joined them, referred to in the King James Version as “a mixed multitude” (Exodus 12:38). Many of these must have been jet black. As with those who joined the Israelites in subsequent centuries, the Lord insisted that non-Israelites like these could become full members of God’s people (see Gentiles in pre-Christian times could enjoy the full benefits of God’s people). Even under the Old Covenant, being Black was no obstacle to becoming a Jew. The account quoted earlier about the Black Ethiopian eunuch reading Scripture on his way home from worshipping in Jerusalem indicates how drawn Blacks were to the Jewish religion.

The Hebrews and Egyptians were already of darker skin than the typical White. Nevertheless, inspired by the example of their leader, Moses, who married a Black, and confirmed by divine judgment upon Miriam who criticized that union, you can be sure there were plenty of interracial marriages that would have contributed still further to the darkening of the average Israelite’s skin color.

For those who wish to go beyond mere skin color, it is noteworthy that Rahab was not only a descendant of Ham (who was not cursed but some of his descendants are thought to be jet back), she was a descendant of Canaan (who was not jet black but was cursed – Genesis 9:22-27 ). Rahab was an ancestress of Jesus (Matthew 1:1,5), extolled in Hebrews 11:31 as one of the Faith Heroes, alongside Noah, Abraham, Moses and King David.

Related Pages

‘God Loves You’ means You Are God’s Favorite

Are There Really Different Races?

© 2010, 2011, Grantley Morris.

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