Guest Viewpoint: Thinking Biblically About Nation’s Racial Division

Our country is going through a serious time of COVID-19 disruptions and racial division. Most of us look to health-care leaders for answers about the coronavirus. But where do we look for answers about racial division? As Christians, our first look should be to God and the wisdom of His Word.

Fred Stone

Scripture reveals that all human beings can trace their origin to one common source (the creative work of God), and one common ancestry (Adam and Eve):

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26a).

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).

This indicates that every person is of equal worth (created in the image of God) and shares the same bloodline (as a descendant of Adam and Eve). Clearly, racial prejudice is contrary to the way God created us. Thus, sin is the cause of racial division.

Thankfully, the Bible points us to the solution of our sin problem — the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul explains how the cross tears down the wall of racial and ethnic division in Ephesians 2:13-16: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

The “dividing wall of hostility” that Paul identifies was between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were responsible for building this wall by focusing exclusively on being God’s chosen people — and looking down on everyone else. But their wall of division also became the Gentiles’ wall. Both embraced a common hostility toward one another.

There is a wall of division today between many Black and White Americans. Like the Jews, White people built this wall by maintaining the institution of slavery for more than 200 years (including colonial times). They reinforced the wall through legalized discrimination and segregation for an additional 100 years after slavery was abolished — the infamous Jim Crow era. Like the Gentiles, Black people took co-ownership of this wall of division. Racial prejudice is a two-way street, traveled by many White and Black Americans.

The most common phrase currently used to describe racial problems is “systemic racism.” While few ever define it, provides a definition by Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP: “Johnson defined systemic racism, also called structural racism or institutional racism, as ‘systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African-Americans.’”

Racism was undeniably systemic throughout this country during the years of slavery and Jim Crow. But the Civil Rights Act of 1968 officially made systemic racism illegal. Since then, additional laws have targeted discrimination in its various forms, mandating equal opportunities in every area of life for all people, regardless of color, ethnicity, etc. Federal courts have consistently upheld these laws. With more than 50 years of laws and court decisions prohibiting systemic racism, many Americans take issue with the charge that current racial problems are systemic in nature. However, there is no denying that we have groups and individuals in this country who are blatantly racist, filled with hatred for people of any race or ethnicity other than their own. Such groups and individuals demonstrate inherent racism that must be denounced and disallowed in American society.

We must clearly affirm that the lives of Black people matter. All human beings matter equally because all are created in the image of God. But Christians must understand that the organization, Black Lives Matter, opposes biblical solutions to the problem of racial division. They openly reject the Bible’s teaching on family, sexual orientation, and gender identity. They also promote socialism and oppose democracy.

To tear down the wall of racial division today, both White and Black Christians must own the problems and work together to find biblical solutions. By God’s grace and through the blood of Jesus who died for our sins, we can overcome generations of prejudice and division.

When people truly turn to Christ in faith, they simultaneously repent of their sins. But one can only repent of his or her own sins, not the sins of others. Furthermore, being White, or having been brought up in a White culture, is not a sin to be repented of (as some call for). God made each of us the color we are and providentially placed us in various cultures. No one should be called to repent of the race, ethnicity, or culture in which God created and placed them. But we must own and repent of our individual sins. Until we do, we cannot be right with God or those we have sinned against.