Sinners and saints regardless of race
We can sometimes feel profound sadness or disgust at our own ethnicity, when we recall some of the horrors people of our race have been guilty of. Sometimes we can feel pride when we recall the best of our race. But does our moral worth have anything to do with our race? Should we let it control us? Is God even at fault for letting us be the same race as the worst of humanity? Hugo L. from the United States writes:
I hate being mixed race. I thought I was a “German Japanese Jew,” until I found out wartime Japan murdered six times the Nazis. Why would God let me be born this way? Please explain!
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
From perspective of God’s intentions, there isn’t anything to explain. As distressed as you are about your ethnicity, it’s not inconsistent with God’s perfect character to let you be born this way. A more important question, I think, is: why get so distressed over your ethnicity? In itself, ethnicity has no moral significance (it’s irrelevant to the moral worth of a human being), and it’s something you can’t change. I’m not saying you have to be proud of your ethnicity, but I’m saying that your ethnicity is irrelevant to your worth as a human made in God’s image.
At any rate, if your problem is being racially associated with people who have committed gross atrocities, what of Russians? What of the Chinese? What of the English? What of the Maori? [NZ], What of Italians? What of Greeks? What of Mongols? What of Huns? What of Incas? What of Aztecs? Name an ethnicity, and I’ll show you a pack of sinful humans. Every ethnicity has its villains. And its heroes (though even the heroes have feet of clay).
Considering the three ethnicities you mention, they all have examples of the best, as well as the worst, of humanity. Hans and Sophie Scholl were as German as Hitler and Himmler, but the former were executed by the latter for bravely distributing pamphlets telling Germans about what the Nazis were doing to the Jews (and the Scholls were motivated by Christ in what they did).
Of course, among Jews, there was Ahaz and there was Jesus. Not only were both Jews, but both were sons of David. One was a horrendous king, and the other is the perfectly righteous King of Kings. If one wanted a merely human example of a loving Jew, Boaz in his generosity to Ruth and Naomi would be a good example (he’s not a descendant of David, but an ancestor).
As for the Japanese, there was Tokugawa Iemitsu, who systematically killed Christianity in Japan (through brutal persecution), but also Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat to Lithuania around WWII who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust at great personal risk.
My point? Each of the races you mention have demonstrated the depths of human depravity and the heights of sacrificial, Christ-like love. Your race doesn’t predestine you to be a monster, nor does it predestine you to be a saint. I highly recommend our book One Human Family, which can help you think through issues of race, and perhaps provide perspective on the matter.