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  • Braden Rodriguez

Black, White, and Brown: Biblical Eye on Race and Racism

White Privilege, BLM, ALM, protests. This list of things and more are things that send people into outrage, fear, un-comfortability, and confusion. This list of things is more than just a list of things. It is a cultural tension that we live in today. Agreeing or disagreeing is a lot of what is happening today especially in the nonchurch world, but even in the Church. What I hope this blog does for us today is really gets to the heart of the issue. The heart of the biblical issue. Even as I type this, I have deleted so many lines already. Why? Maybe for fear of insensitivity. Maybe for just trying to say it the best way I can. Maybe for more reasons than one, including the reason listed before. I do not want to talk about BLM or Privilege. I do not want to talk about protests. I want to talk about what the Bible says about Race and Racism.

I want to start with some stories. I do not want you to assume anything or any belief onto me. Hear me out. Just because the last name I hold, I am presumed upon. Just because the color of my skin, I am presumed upon. (By the way mostly white and kind of tan) Just because where I grew up, I am presumed upon. Just because my family’s economic status, I am presumed upon.

My father is half Mexican and half Japanese. You say, “Interesting combo their buddy.” It is. My grandfather was a migrant from Mexico and my grandmother a migrant from Japan, they met in the south, fell in love, got married, and had my dad. He grew and married my mom, who is Caucasian. Now you say, “You got a lot going on in your blood buddy.” I do.

Because of my race, I have been told that I am supposed to be a democrat. Because of my race and geographic location, I have been told that I am supposed to be a republican. Just because my parents divorced and they live certain ways, I have been told that I should be either a republican or democrat. Just because I am for interracial relationships, I have been told that I am a liberal. Just because I have sought to seek and understand kneeling during the national anthem, I have been heard in a different light from many. At no point have I said that anyone has listened to me because of who I am as a person, but I have been presumed certain positions and expectations just because either I am half white, or because I am half brown. Now, let me be fair to those who have not presumed upon me. I say thank you.

I have been given a certain filter, just as many in the world have been given. On either side. Is this fair? No. So please take of the filter you have on right now. Come from a spot of neutrality. Come from a spot of a sinner broken by your sin. Come from a spot of needing God’s word. I try my best to do all these things.

Image of God

When we tackle the topic of race and racism I want to come from the biblical point of view. The first point to know is this. We all are created in the image of God. Mankind is created in the image of God. (Gen. 1:27; Acts 17:26) Mankind came from one race and one progenerate father. (Gen 9:19-11:32) This is the physical side, but there is a spiritual side too, only for those in Christ Jesus. If you are in Christ, you have a spiritual lineage that is shared as well. That is what is more important than any physical lineage. Your spiritual line is of most important value, because that means you are created into a new spiritual person. (Luke 3:23-38; 2 Cor. 5:17)

Spiritual Line Means a Spiritual Issue

If we come from the place that the spiritual lineage is more important than the physical lineage, we must see that there is a spiritual issue that we all have. This issue is called sin. You may say what does this have to do with race and racism? I will get there. We as a humankind all have a shared spiritual experience, we are sinful and we are dead. (Gen. 3:7, Rom. 5:12-14; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23) Due to the fact that we are all sinners and dead in sin, we have a racism issue. Racism is sinful. Racism can be defined like this , “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” Racism is a sin issue because we are all one race and to marginalize, kill, or hate humans is sin by God’s standard. (Exo. 20:13, Lev 29:9-18) This passage to follow points to the reality of oppressing the different and the reality of loving the different.

9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.11 “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.13 “You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:9-18 ESV)

Believer Are Free from Racism but Are Not Exempt from Racism

What do I mean by this? I mean that the believer can be free from this sin because Jesus can free them from it. However, this does not mean you are exempt, you still sin. Not all the time do we find that we are immediately released from the darkest sins that we carry when we receive the gift of salvation. Here is the deal, racism is a sin issue. Those who are lost will act lost, so there should be no surprise when someone who is not saved acts this way. However, those who believe in Christ should act like Christ. There is no room for racism in the life of the believer because there should be no room for sin in the life of the believer. Unfortunately, we know that we all, as believer, still sin. This does not make it acceptable though. Case in point, Paul and Jesus must correct Peter on his prejudice. (Gal. 2:11-24; Acts 10:1-48) We must correct each other on this issue. Why? Because believer, we are all one race in the Kingdom of God.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22 ESV)

We as the people of God are a singular race made by God on the physical and spiritual side. The people of God are made up of all races and peoples and nations and languages. (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8, Rev. 7:9-10)

We as the people of God should not and should be concerned about race. Should not be concerned means that we should not have racism and worry about the difference of skin color. Should be concerned means that we should know that there is racism and we should work past that in our lives and in our world like Christ did. How? By loving our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Everyone and skin color is not a boundary for a neighbor.

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37 ESV)

I do not have time or word count enough to do a full explanation and implication on this passage but ask and answer these questions in yourself. Who are those that are traveling in our nation and getting hurt? Are you unwilling right now to help the hurt for fear of getting hurt yourself? Someone in the story helped, will you?

I end this blog by imploring you. Check inside yourself and see if there is any underlying racism or blatant racism in your life. It must start in the Church. The Church must set the example in this. The lost world will continue to have this issue because the world is lost. The Church must love neighbors. Everyone and Anyone. Lost and Saved. Black, White, and Brown.

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