As always, a controversial topic like racism generated quite the discussion on my post, “How to perpetuate racism.” While those comments are still open, I’d like to give my view now on how to end it.
In my former post, I said that racism “has nothing to do with color. Frankly, it has everything to do with sin. Racism is a spiritual issue, nothing else.”
I believe that this is the main cause of racism and, thus, the only solution lies here as well. Let me explain.
In Genesis 1:27 we’re told that “God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” The further description of life before sin showed that not only did humans have a perfect relationship with God, we had one with each other, and with the rest of creation as well.
Genesis 2:25 tells us, “The man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed.” While this may have something to do with the marriage relationship, it seems that it has more to do with their general human relationship – there was nothing about themselves or each other that required shame, including distrust. I love the NET Study Bible note on this verse:
The motif of nakedness is introduced here and plays an important role in the next chapter. In the Bible nakedness conveys different things. In this context it signifies either innocence or integrity, depending on how those terms are defined. There is no fear of exploitation, no sense of vulnerability. But after the entrance of sin into the race, nakedness takes on a negative sense. It is then usually connected with the sense of vulnerability, shame, exploitation, and exposure (such as the idea of “uncovering nakedness” either in sexual exploitation or in captivity in war). (Genesis 2:25, NET Study Bible note #75)
It is easy to see this type of fear today in the realm of racism (although it is not limited to racism). The fear and distrust of others (regardless of skin color) came about as a direct result of sin. In the immediate aftermath of the first human sin, Adam and Eve blamed others for their own sin problem, exhibiting the new pattern in their hearts of hiding from God and using others for their own agenda.
Frankly, this is a pattern that exists in our own homes, among people of our same color. The racism that we see is just an exaggerated version of our sinfulness. Instead of just blaming others, racism goes to the edge where we begin to distrust and even hate others solely on the basis that they are different than we are.
So if sin is really the issue at hand, how can this be solved? How can we end racism? There is only one answer, and many will not like it. This is how the apostle Paul put it:
“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
“Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11
Only someone who can see other people in the same way that God does has the ability to live a life completely free of racism. And Jesus’ true followers make up the only group that has the ability to live that way.
Now, to be sure, there are some things we can do to help ourselves along the way. For instance, placing ourselves in someone else’s position can help us sympathize with their situation. I know that when I stood in the middle of the Nairobi, Kenya marketplace, I really felt like the minority that I was. I stood out like the tourist I was. But while that allowed me to see another person’s plight, it didn’t end racism in my heart.
We could also learn about other cultures and beliefs. Understanding why people from a different culture do or say things can help me relate to them better, but that still doesn’t end it. Why? Because deep inside I still deal with sin, distrust, and, ultimately, hate.
All racism will end only when every person has been given a brand new outlook on life, including themselves and others around them, and that comes only through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
It sounds like a simple (or simplistic) answer to such a complex question, but anyone who has lived much life at all knows that it’s not. Learning to love people of all shapes, sizes, and colors is a life-long process.
As long as we still deal with sin, there will never be a time on this planet when racism will truly be gone. But those who genuinely follow Jesus Christ can and should show the world what it could look like.
(I list other benefits of this relationship with God in my post “What is salvation without heaven?”)