Oak Grove Church of Christ
The Bible and the Races of Men
February 24, 2019

The Bible and the Races of Men

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What is Race?

Webster’s: “Any of the major biological divisions of mankind, distinguished by color and texture of hair, color of skin and eyes, stature, bodily proportions, etc: many ethnologists now consider that there are only three primary divisions, the Caucasian (loosely ‘white race), Negroid (loosely ‘black race ) and Mongoloid (loosely, ‘yellow race ), with various subdivisions: the term has acquired so many unscientific connotations that in this sense it is often replaced in scientific usage by ‘ethnic stock  or ‘group .”

Are there Races of Men?

Even evolutionary science concludes that all existing varieties of man are members of the same species.

  • Inter-racial marriages are common and children are produced with no biological difficulties.
  • Prominent anthropologist, Ruth Benedict in her book, Race: Science and Politics stated the peoples of the earth are a single family and have a common origin.
  • This is in accord with what Paul said in Acts 17:26-27
  1. Modern anthropology has determined that there are three major categories of people.
    • Caucasoid (White)
    • Mongoloid (Brown/Yellow)
    • Negroid (Black)
  2. This system is very imprecise.
    • Skin color has great variation.
    • This also does not account for peoples of mixed race.
  3. Illustration: We have some very good friends who are an interracial couple with two wonderful, grown Christian children.
    • The mother is a black woman and the father is a white man.
    • One time, when their daughter was very small, she held her arm up against the arm of a white woman and said “Look how much darker my skin is than yours.”
    • The woman answered and said, “That's because your mother is black and your father is white.”
    • The little girl with a very confused look on her face said, “No, my daddy's not white. He's pink!”

The Bible and Race

Race” does not appear in the Bible, except is its usage referring to a sporting event. The Bible refers to differing peoples in terms such as family, tribe, people and nation. It groups people according to familial relationships and then into nationalities.

  1. g. Genesis 10:5

In the past, some Biblical scholars have concluded that the three races were the progeny of Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Some have interpreted Noah's prophecies of his sons in Genesis 9 to be the Scriptural basis for discrimination of one race against another. Particularly, the supposed curse on Ham's son, Canaan, was purported to be biblical support for Negro slavery.

This is not so!

Nowhere in the Bible is prejudice based on what we determine as “race.” When God commanded Israel to be a separated people or to utterly destroy other peoples, it was always based upon the principle of separation from sin.

  •  2 Corinthians 6:14, Same principle applies to us today.

Examples where God made no distinction between races regarding salvation.

  • In Numbers 12, Miriam criticized Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman.
    • The issue was not racial, but jealousy over Moses' leadership.
    • The criticism was over marrying a foreigner, ANY foreigner…
    • Number 12:2
  • In Acts 13:1 we read of two men, “Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene…”
    • Simeon the black man – some believe that this Simeon and the Ethiopian eunuch are one and the same.
    • Lucius of Cyrene – Cyrene was a city in N. Africa – he may have been black.
    • Yet, in the context they are both on equal footing with every other Christian in Antioch.

The Bible and Racism

  • First Century Jewish Racism
    1. The Jews perverted their special position with God into a false national and ethnic pride that looked down on all Gentiles seeing them as "dogs."
    2. This goes against their own Scriptures:
      • Genesis 12:3
      • Genesis 21:18
      • Deuteronomy 9:6
    3. John the Immerser, as well as, Peter and Paul each dealt with this:
      • Matthew 3:7-9
      • Acts 10:34-35
      • Romans 10:11-13
  • The Curse on Cain,  Genesis 4:11-15
    1. There are those who hold to the racist false idea that Cain was marked with Black skin and that all people of color descend from him.
    2. The word “mark” indicates God gave him an assurance that he would be protected.
    3. It was to reassure him of God's gracious protection of his life.
    4. Besides this, all of the descendants of Cain died in the flood – moot point!
  • The Curse on Canaan, Genesis 9:18-29
    • Some hold to another white supremacist view that the three “races” each descend from one of the sons of Noah.
      • They say since Shem is the son through whom the Messiah descended that he was superior to his brothers and was the progenitor of the Caucasian “race.”
      • They teach that all of the Mongoloid peoples descend from Japheth, who was superior to Ham, but inferior to Shem.
      • And they teach that the Negroid “race” descends from Ham and that descendants of Ham were cursed to be subservient to the white race.

This is False!

  • The descendants of Ham include: The Cushites (Ethiopia), The Mizraimites (Egypt), the Phut (Egypt) and the Canaanites (Palestine.)
  • Of these groups, the Cushites are the only people with black skin.
    • Yet it was only who was to be Canaan was to be subservient to Shem.
      • The Canaanites did not have black skin.
      • Is it not true that the Canaanites were driven out of the Promised Land by the children of Israel?

 

  • The Tower of Babel, Gen 11:5-9
    1. Did God divide the peoples according to each race?
    2. This account mentions nothing of that.
    3. Prior to this all of the people of the earth were gathered together in one geographic area, in spite of God’s command in Gen 9:1.
    4. The genetic differences between the “races” came about because of the geographic isolation of each group.
    • That brings up one final point…

Why are there differences in Skin Color?

  • Skin color has to do with the amount of a pigment known as melanin.
    1. The amount of melanin present in your genetic makeup determines how dark or light your skin color will be.
    2. There are two pairs of genes that determine your bodies level of melanin production.
    3. Pairs of genes in a sequence are called alleles.
  • These alleles are noted as Aa and Bb.
    1. The capital letters represent dominant genes and the small letters recessive genes.
    2. You get one allele from your father and another from your mother.
    3. A total of 4 genes that pertain to melanin levels in your skin.
    4. Dominant genes make the genetic determination and recessive genes have little to do with it, except when there are no dominant genes present.
  • Punnett Squares. See Slide
    1. AABB = Darkest possible skin – all descendants can only have this color.
    2. Aabb = Lightest possible skin – all descendants can only have this color.
    3. 0 Recessive, 4 Dominant = black
    4. 1R, 3D = brown
    5. 2R, 2D = middle brown.
    6. 3R, 1D = light brown / yellow
    7. 4R, 0D = white

The real question as it applies to the subject of Biblical creation:

  1. Is there a mechanism by which the racial characteristics which we see today could have originated with one human couple?
  2. The answer is a resounding yes! If Adam and Eve had been “heterozygous” (AaBb; two dominant, two recessive genes), they would have been middle-brown in color.
  3. And, from them—in one generation—racial differences could have occurred quite easily.

I had a conversation with a Christian man about an article that I had read on the origin of the different skin colors. I brought up the scientific fact that skin color is determined by the amount of melanin present in someone’s DNA makeup.

I had read that due to the genetics of melanin that Adam and Eve could not have both had white skin neither could they have both had black skin. I said, “For instance, if Eve were white and Adam were black, then according to genetics this would account for all the genetic diversity we see today regarding skin color.

He was shocked and outraged! He said, “So you think God is black!

I was momentarily at a loss, “huh!”

He said, “Adam was made in the image of God and if he was black, then you’re saying that God is black!

  • “God is a spirit…” John 4:23
  • “A spirit hath not flesh and bones…” Luke 24:39

My point in relating this story is that racism does exist in members of the church and brethren this is just wrong! If you judge another person based on racial prejudice – then you will be condemned just like the person in Matthew 7:1-2.

  • f. James 2:1, 8-9
  • God does not care what a person looks like, what their nationality is, or where they are from.

Both the Old and New Testaments show that God does not hold any significance to race. God sees all people as one people called "man."

Martin Luther King, Jr.,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

This is how God looks at people! 1 Samuel 16:7

And it is how we should also look at people today. God wants us to judge based on the character of a man, not the color of skin or outward appearance.

We need to be in a right relationship with God. Or we will face His judgement. If you have the attitude of racism you need to repent, or, if you have any other sin in your life you need repentance. 


Sources:

  • Cooper P. Abrams III, The Origin of Race. scribd.com/document/65397674/The-Origin-of-Race-By-Cooper-P-Abrams-III
  • Bert Thompson, The Origin of Races. http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=990