Do You Talk Like a Racist?

Racism has been a scourge on humanity for thousands of years. What does the Bible say about racism? Do we unwittingly speak the language of racism?

Throughout history, the Bible has been misinterpreted by different people to condone racism. For instance, slave owners in antebellum America quoted select scriptures to justify their treatment of African-Americans. But the Bible does not condone the idea of one race being genetically superior to another. The Bible tells us: “[God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). The Bible is clear that all of mankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Because all human beings are made in God’s image and have the potential to be in God’s family (Hebrews 2:10), to show partiality or disdain toward a person based on the color of his or her skin is sin.

The Bible speaks out very clearly about the reason that racism and other types of partiality are sinful: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9).

The intent of God’s law is love toward other human beings. In essence, God is saying that you can’t pick and choose who you will show love toward and who you will not—based on race, status or any other humanly devised factor! God expects us to “honor all people” (1 Peter 2:17).

But if you’re nodding your head, thinking, “I would never talk like a racist,” you might want to think again. Obvious racism isn’t the only way to display racism in our lives.

The language of racism

There is a large body of anthropological research about racism. Racist discourse takes a few general forms:

  • Vulgar racism is direct, pejorative expression against someone of a certain race.
  • Elite racism is when someone makes a denial followed by a negative presentation of people who are different than he or she is (“I’m not racist, but …”).
  • Hate speech is a clear and deliberate verbal assault on people of a different race or ethnicity.
  • Covert racism is a more subtle form of racism. A person practicing this would not make openly racist statements, but would show racism in the way he or she behaves. This can include tolerating and laughing at racist statements or jokes from others or using such things as mockery and stereotypes when talking about people.

Christians are expected to control their thoughts and words (2 Corinthians 10:5; James 1:26). It is very important that we overcome any form of racism and not allow it in any part of our lives.

Love your neighbor as yourself

What’s the bottom line? God makes Himself very clear about how He wants us to treat other people regardless of color—with love and respect. Every single human being was created with the equal potential to be born into the God family!

The great variety of human appearances is a product of God’s perfect creativity. But even though people of different cultures and ethnicities have differences, the much greater number of similarities shared by every human being is evidence of the unified purpose God has for each one of us!

Topics Covered: Relationships, Christian Living, Social Issues

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Life, Hope & Truth Staff