Racial reconciliation: The Gospel is the answer
In the Fall of 2012, I [SG] was driving down a long, narrow road to speak in a small church in central, rural Mississippi, and being from California, not prepared for the culture shock brought to me by a man in the church that day.
Although the church had been founded in the early 1800s, the building had been newly refurbished and the people were excited to hear how the facts of science demonstrate the accuracy of the historical account of the Bible. After the presentation, we had a long question–and–answer time, and, as usual, the topics were raised that we answer in The Creation Answers Book.
That is when a man came up to me and loudly insisted I was wrong. Since we had covered many topics, I asked him to be more specific in his objection. He said, “You are wrong about what you said about races.” I had briefly shared that everyone has a dark brown pigment in their skin called melanin, and that some people have a little and some people have more. He couldn’t be specific about what was ‘wrong’, so I picked up a copy of our book One Human Family from the book table and started to explain some of details, encouraging him to take the book home and read it. However, when the man emotionally told me that his brother was dating a ‘black’ woman, I was stunned when he yelled “it would be better if he were gay and dating a man!” After this outburst, the pastor told me that racism was strong in that region, that he and that man had been “taught racism” by their parents, and about the nearby location of the murder of civil rights workers in the 1960s.
While we would not want to portray such racism as typical of Christian churches, events of recent weeks in America have left many feeling that there is much more of a ‘race’ problem than we previously thought. There is so much race-based dialogue coming from both sides and circumstances have demonstrated that anyone who speaks out runs the risk of being called the ‘wrong’ colour to address it. As Christians, we need to speak not as representatives of our skin colour, but as representatives of the Gospel. Christians of every ‘race’ need to be on the front lines of reconciliation. We offer a few thoughts to contribute to this.
- Every human being is created in the image of God, and our first response should be to mourn the senseless violence. Regardless of whether a killing was unavoidable or cold-blooded murder, people are dead, and that is tragic. As one human family we all sin because we are all descended from Adam, the first sinner.
- Racism is ultimately based on the idea that someone of a different skin colour is very different from me, and therefore less human. One of the harmful consequences of evolutionary indoctrination has been the idea, even believed strongly by Charles Darwin himself, that some ‘races’ have evolved to a higher level than others. However, Scripture teaches that we are all very closely related; every person alive today is also a descendant of Noah, who lived only ~4500 years ago. There are comparatively few generations since the common ancestor of any two people; we really are one family. And genetics confirms there is only a tiny difference between even the most distantly-related people.
- The things that most people think of as racial differences are actually cultural differences. While people may dislike cultures that differ from their own and even view them with distrust, it is important to evaluate such things with a biblical lens, including introspectively discerning what sins may be ingrained in one’s own culture.
- As with so many things, the Gospel is the answer. Scripture teaches that “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9) will be present on the restored earth. What Christians have in common in Christ is much more significant than cosmetic differences of appearance or culture. Jesus was not a ‘white’ person or a ‘black’ person, but He died to save both as well as every other group of people.
We opened with a story about how racism still exists even in the Church today, where it ought not to be. At another church, a white pastor in a mixed congregation, after hearing a talk by Gary Bates (U.S.) on this subject, said: “The country is never more divided than it is on Sunday morning.” And yes, we’ve heard of all sorts of reasons why; culture, music and so on. But we must come together under Christ.
However, when the biblical truth of our origins is taught, there are profound results. A few years ago, after Gary Bates had shared some of these truths at a predominantly ‘black’ church, the pastor’s wife jumped up onto the platform with a big smile on her face, joyfully calling out “Look, I’m middle brown. We all have the same colour!”. The congregation broke out into overwhelming applause with the proclamation that we are all related and created in the image of God!
We should simply stop talking about people being black, white or whatever. We should just refer to each other as fellow human beings who are intrinsically valued by their Creator. So much so that he died a horrible cruel death so we could be reconciled back to Him.
As Christians, let us be a catalyst, through God’s love for us all and help to reconcile people to the Lord.