Race and the Bible

By Weylan Deaver

If you are human, your ancestry goes back, initially, to Adam and Eve. Later, every one of us descends from Noah, and there were only eight people aboard the ark (1 Peter 3:20). The apostle Paul said that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26, ESV).

We are all kinfolk, all created in the image of God. That is why all human lives matter. That is why no animal life will ever be as important as any human life. That is why God himself said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). As the children’s Bible song goes, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” Jesus died on the cross “for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9), and God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). No skin color has a claim on divine favoritism.

Behavior is another matter altogether. Among things that the Lord hates are “hands that shed innocent blood,” and “one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16-19). It will always be wrong to equate a behavior (e.g. homosexuality) with skin color (which has nothing to do with behavior) in the interest of fostering equal treatment for aberrant behavior. Wrong behavior has no inherent connection to race, and Americans are naive to be tricked into thinking civil rights based on being human are akin to civil rights granted for being perverse.

Black lives matter, as do brown and white. Fill in the blank with any other hue. Unborn lives matter. Everyone matters, not because of any particular skin pigmentation, but because we are all in God’s own image. To despise or mistreat a man because of his color, is to sin. We cannot get out of the skin we were born with, and there is nothing inherently better about a certain variety. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). Importance is in the kind, not the color. Paul writes that “not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish” (1 Corinthians 15:39). Those who believe people are just sophisticated animals (as evolutionary theory teaches) will never grasp the God-designed, inherent distinction between humanity and other creatures, and the value God places on human life.

Skin color pales in comparison to spiritual condition. Ethics trumps ethnicity. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, no one will be concerned with skin tone. Meanwhile, failing to love a brother made in God’s image is just one more crime for which we will answer at God’s judgment bar, if we are guilty of it. “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9).