Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 5 – Racism

God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

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This is the last in a series of five blog articles on the question: whether the Bible is sexist and racist? The subject is introduced in Part 1. We tackled sexism by looking at the overarching theme of the Bible on men and women in Part 2 and by looking at how Jesus treated women in Part 4. We tackled racism in Part 3 by looking at the overarching theme of the Bible on diversity. Finally, we view racism and diversity through the life of Jesus and His followers in this part 5.

Jesus doesn’t tackle the issue of racism or diversity directly, but He lived in a complicated time. He was Jewish, living in a tight knit Jewish community, which was governed and ruled by foreigners, the Romans. The Jews had a history of living alongside foreigners and were at various times throughout that history governed by them against their will.

Many of the foreigners were actually very closely related, like the Samaritans, who were of Jewish descent, and the Canaanites before them.

The Jews believed there were only two types of people: Jews and everyone else (Gentiles). They seemed to have forgotten that the very first words God spoke to Abraham, when He chose Abraham and his progeny, was that God chose them to be a blessing to all the nations. (Genesis 12:1-3) God didn’t choose them to bless only them, but to bless all nations through them.

Jesus was that blessing. Jesus is traced back to Abraham. He is from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the root of Jesse’s seed, father of David. Jesus is the Promised One. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh, so, how Jesus viewed others is the key to understanding what the Bible says about racism and diversity.

Continue reading “Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 5 – Racism”

Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 3 – Racism

“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.” (Romans 10:12)

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This is the third part in a series on whether the Bible is sexist and racist. We introduced the question in Part 1 and explored whether the Bible is sexist in Part 2 by going back to the beginning, back to the creation story, where God introduces us to the crown of His Creation, Adam and Eve. We will explore what the Bible reveals to us about God’s view of racism in this Part 3 of the series before turning to what Jesus had to say about both sexism in Part 4 and racism in Part 5.

As we try to understand what the Bible has to say about racism, we go back to Adam and Eve. They are depicted in the Bible as representative of the human race. Genesis, therefore, has application not only to gender relations but to race relations as well. In Genesis we will look at clues for what God intended when He created the world and the people in it, and then we will go to Revelations to glimpse of how things will ultimately be when the redemption of the world is complete and God’s purpose is fulfilled.

This sweep, from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end, will show us an overarching view of race as God sees it.

Continue reading “Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 3 – Racism”

Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 2 – Sexism

If anything, Genesis 2 suggests that men need help, and Eve is to Adam what God is to mankind.

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Racism, sexism and oppression are themes in the story of man’s relations to other men (and women) throughout history. Many people today have the notion that the Bible perpetuates those things, and that enlightened men and women know better. But is that really true?

We introduced the question, “what the Bible says about sexism and racism”, in Part I. In this second part in the series, we look at what the Bible reveals to us about sexism. In Part 3, we begin to explore how the Bible addresses racism. In Part 4, we observe what Jesus reveals about sexism, and Part 5 tackles racism through the life of Jesus and what he taught.

In regard to sexism, to get an idea of what the Bible reveals about God’s idea of the interrelationship of men and women, we need to go back to the beginning, back before sin entered the world. There we are told God created Adam and Eve, the first (or representative) people. In the creation story, we get a glimpse of what God intended, and we begin to see how God views men and women in their original, intended state.

Continue reading “Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 2 – Sexism”

Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 1

The Bible has been used to justify racism, sexism and other similar things, but, are those things what the Bible really stands for?

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Many people charge the Bible with being sexist and racist. Whether the Bible is sexist and racist goes to the heart of who the Bible says God is. What does the Bible say about these things? How does the Bible describe men, women, ethnicity, diversity and human life?

Is the Bible accurately portrayed in the media on these issues? Is it accurately understood by the common person? Is the Bible accurately followed by the people who claim the Bible as their guiding light?

These questions are relevant today as Black Lives Matters and women’s marches and gatherings make the news and immigration policy is being debated in the national media in the United States.

How do we value human life? What is the basis for the value of human life?

And what does the Bible really say about these things?

This begins a five part series that looks at the evidence of how God views sexism from a biblical overview and evidence of how God views racism from a biblical overview, followed by the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed sexism and the evidence in the Bible of the way Jesus viewed racism.

Continue reading “Is the Bible Sexist and Racist? Part 1”

I Had a Dream…

We are closer to the Dream realized than the day Dr. King spoke those immortal words, but vestiges of past injustices that insidiously remain threaten to blur that Vision and even to corrupt it.

Perspective

2008 Democratic National Convention: Day 4~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More than 86 years have passed since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth. Almost 50 years have passed since his death. Not insignificantly, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day at the anniversary of his birth, not the anniversary of his death. Though I cannot help but remember the tragic day of his death that left its imprint on my young, impressionable mind, I pray that the legacy of his life will draw us back to his message. May the light of his life outshine the darkness left in the void of his death.

I had a dream….” are the words that echo through the halls of history into our present consciousness. We hear those words repeated with the same sense of passion with which they were first spoken, but they seem dulled by the resistance of time. The present passion with which those words were spoken sits now like a…

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Love Your Enemies Everyday

Cliques“Love your enemy” is a one of Jesus’ commands that may not seem like it has much application to us in our everyday lives. How many Taliban have you encountered today? For most of us in the United States, we don’t have real enemies like that.

At first blush, the tendency for most of us may be to gloss over the command to “love your enemy” because we don’t have “enemies”; however, I don’t think that Jesus gave us that option.

Jesus said in the same context, “If you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?” Even the unbelievers do that.

The truth is that we gravitate toward people and people groups that are like us.

We see it in all facets of life. The tendency to associate with our “own kind” begins early in life. On the playground, kids form cliques. The classic “no girls allowed” sign under the tree-house is just one example. Athletes stick together; nerds stick together; fraternities and sororities stick together; Italians, Irish, Mexicans – people make up the current immigrant wave – stick together. The poor associate with the poor, and the rich associate with the rich.

Racial divides are just an extreme example. We all have our “own people”, the people with whom we identity. We gravitate toward people “like us.” 

We don’t necessarily call others our enemies, but we sometimes act as if they are. The more the mentality is “us against them” the more like enemies others become. It could be Republicans and Democrats, unions and company management, people who love science and people who love religion, Muslims and Christians, Americans and Russians, haves and have-nots and the in-crowd and the “others”.

All of these classifications result from commonalities and differences, and they become reason that people separate themselves from other people. They become reasons that people do not associate with other people. They become lines in the sand, sometimes, that define friend and foe.

The application to everyday life is found in the contrast between enemies and our “own people”.

In that sense, Jesus suggested an expanded meaning of “enemies” just as he expanded the idea of fulfilling the law: it is not enough to fulfill most of the commands of the law; your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. It is not enough to refrain from murdering people; a person who is angry with or curses a brother might as well be guilty of murder. It is not enough to refrain from committing adultery; anyone who looks with lust on a woman has committed adultery in his heart.   

Enemies, then, are not just the Taliban, terrorists, rapists. Enemies are the people with whom we do not associate because they are different. Enemies are people with whom we have had differences. Enemies include anyone with whom we maintain our distance. Enemies are persons we treat as something other than neighbors.

At different times, an enemy could be a spouse, a child, a parent, a next door neighbor, a co-worker, a fellow believer. An enemy could be anyone we intentionally ignore or fail to acknowledge.

Enemies include anyone with whom we have differences, and we are called to love them. Love breaks down the differences. Love makes enemies friends. And if enemies do not respond to love, we are to love them nevertheless.

Postscript

“Love your enemies” comes from the Sermon on the Mount. I generally picture Jesus standing on a mountain addressing a multitude in this passage. Indeed, there is reference to “the crowds” in Matthew 5:1, but it says Jesus “went up on a mountainside and sat down” and “His disciples came to him.” In other words, Jesus was not speaking to the crowds in the Sermon on the Mount; he was speaking to the disciples.

The entire  presentation on loving your enemies was introduced by these statements: “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world.”  Jesus was speaking to his followers, then, who are to be salt and light in the world by loving their enemies and breaking down those barriers between people.

That does not mean that we need to identify with and be like our enemies. We are to be in the World, but not of the World. Jesus showed us how to do it. He associated with tax collectors, harlots and sinners. He greeted them. He ignored the barriers. He interacted with them. He ate with them. He loved them. They were drawn to Jesus in turn.

The Good Samaritan went out of way to help the injured Jew on the road. It is not coincidence that Jesus chose a Samaritan to help the Jew in that parable. Jews saw Samaritans as inferior and did not associate with Samaritans. Jesus showed us that we should ignore those barriers, even if it means going out of our way to do it. When we do that, we make enemies our neighbors, and we become salt and light to the World.

Post Postscript

This post was not originally inspired not by the Sermon on the Mount. I have been “chewing” for days on a pretty remarkable story of a black musician who broke the race barrier by going out of his way to befriend a Ku Klux Klansmen and, in the process, inspired many to abandon their racist ways. (You can read the story here.) I don’t know if this man is a Christian, but he is certainly like the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable who went out of his way to help the injured Jew on the side of the road.

Racism (hatred) is injury to the human soul. It disables the one who hates. The racist sees himself as superior, and creates a barrier, draws a line in the sand, and makes others enemies.

What this black musician did is what I could see Jesus doing. He did not let the hatred of the racist incite hatred in his own heart. He confronted the hatred and the racist with love demonstrated by reaching out, breaking down the barrier and befriending an enemy. The salt and light of this action changed the Klansmen, and it is the kind of salt and light that changes the world. That is love.