What does the Bible say about racism?
Dictionary.com defines racism as “A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”
Racism should break our heart and if it doesn’t, then we have to ask ourselves why? This is one of the most distressing topics that I’ll ever speak on and it should be painful to me. Racism brings more racism, anger, hurt, pain, brokenness, and death.
Racism is not only a black issue. It’s everyone’s issue and if it’s currently not your issue, then I encourage you to make it your issue. Why should someone be bothered by this? Why should someone lament over this? Love! Love fights for others. Love pursues the burdens of other people in prayer. Love fights to understand even when it’s difficult. Let’s begin discussing what the Bible says about racism.
Christian quotes on racism
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“Racism is not an opinion it is an offense.”
“Nobody’s born racist. Society teaches it.”
“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.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The closer the people of all races get to Christ and His cross, the closer they will get to one another.” Billy Graham
“Sunday morning worship services are still the most segregated hour in America.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Racism isn’t a bad habit. It isn’t a mistake. It is sin. The answer is not sociology, it’s theology.” – Tony Evans
“God created our skin tones with beautiful variety, but all of our souls are the same color.” -Dave Willis.
“But God’s goal is not simply to have us stop looking down on other races. God wants unity, not just a ceasing of hostilities. He wants the very makeup of His church to preach the gospel: that despite our racial variants we are united under one ancestor, Adam; that we had one problem, sin; and that we have one hope, salvation in Christ. He wants us to demonstrate to the world that this unity in Christ is weightier than anything that might divide us. When the Holy Spirit confronted Peter’s racism, he didn’t just command him to quit looking down on other races. He commanded Peter to embrace Cornelius, to go in and eat with him. Peter did not go from “racist” to “non-racist”; he went from “racist” to “gracist.” J.D. Greear
“Earnest intercession will be sure to bring love with it. I do not believe you can hate a man for whom you habitually pray. If you dislike any brother Christian, pray for him doubly, not only for his sake, but for your own, that you may be cured of prejudice and saved from all unkind feeling.” Charles Spurgeon
“Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
“[God] bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even to those who deserve the opposite.” F.F. Bruce
Is racism a sin?
Scripture reveals to us that racism, discrimination, and prejudice are all outside of God’s design. Therefore, racism is a sin. The brokenness that we have in our relationships is due to the fall of Adam. We all know that Adam’s relationship with God was affected. However, we seem to forget that his relationship with Eve was affected as well. All forms of racial inequality is simply a byproduct of the fall of Adam. Racism is part of the brokenness that was created from the fall, that is being restored by God through Christ.
Also, let’s examine another way that racism is a sin. Genesis 1:27 teaches us that “God created man in His own image.” All humans should be treated equally with proper respect and honor. Racism is a direct attack on the image of God by failing to acknowledge the image of God in the person of another race.
1. James 2:8-9 “Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
2. Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”
3. James 3:9 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”
Racism in the heart
Scripture teaches us that hatred towards other is equivalent to murder. Hatred can be shown passively or actively. To have a lifestyle of habitual hatred towards others reveals that someone is not a new creation in Christ.
That does not mean that a Christian can’t struggle with racism in their heart. The seed of racism lies in the heart of all races. We have to continually repent of those racist thoughts and tendencies. We have to continually pray against a judgmental spirit. We have to continually pray for a greater love for others.
4. 1 John 3:15-16 “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
5. 1 John 2:11 “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”
6. Mark 7:21-23 “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come–sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.
7. 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
8. Matthew 15:18-19 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”
9. Leviticus 19:17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.”
God does not show favoritism
The Lord condemns favoritism. In Scripture, it doesn’t take long to notice that favoritism is contrary to God’s character and it is also inconsistent with the Christian faith. In Ephesians 2 we are taught that Christ broke down the dividing walls between Jew and gentile.
In James 2 we learn that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom. Every human life is equally valuable to the Lord. Scripture is clear that God is perfectly impartial and we should be as well.
10. Acts 10:34-36 “Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all).”
11. 2 Chronicles 19:6-7 “He said to the judges, “Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.”
12. Colossians 3:25 “The person who does wrong will be paid back for the wrong he has done. God does not play favorites.”
13. Romans 2:11 “For God shows no partiality.”
14. Acts 17:26 “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”
15. Deuteronomy 10:17-19 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
The Bible strongly condemns prejudice and favoritism.
Racism is an attack on the inclusiveness of the gospel. Throughout Scripture we see God’s heart on inclusion. He makes two different groups one in Christ. God offers salvation to all. The gospel undoubtedly opposes all forms of racism and ethnic hatred. Showing favoritism is a sin because it is contrary to God’s character. God wants us to spread the gospel to all nations. Let’s not overlook Revelation 7:9, which reminds us that God saves people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. All people are incredibly precious to the Lord.
16. John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge the righteous judgment.”
17. James 2:1 “My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”
18. 1 Timothy 5:21 “I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone.”
19. James 2:4 “have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
20. Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
21. Proverbs 28:21 “Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.”
22. Job 13:10 “He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality.”
23. Leviticus 19:15 “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
24. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
25. Romans 10:12-13 “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
26. Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
The Israelites were to love foreigners
It’s easy to treat those who look like us well, but how about those who don’t look like us? How do we treat those who are not our own nationality or skin color? We are far too comfortable in our circles. Gospel community fights to love and connect with others regardless of someone’s skin color.
There is only one race and that is the human race! There are different ethnicities of the human race, but we are all made in the image of God. Are you lovingly pursuing all people? Are you looking down on other races in your mind? Are you silent on the topic of racism?
If you’re thinking to yourself that racism is not your business, then make it your business. In the same way that God pursues you, then pursue others. The oppression of others should never cause us to shut our ears and close our eyes. I loved Charles Spurgeon’s commentary on Isaiah 58. “What promises God gives to those who consider the poor and needy round about them! But if you shut your ears to the cry of the distressed, God will shut His ears to your cry.”
27. Leviticus 19:33-34 “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
28. Exodus 22:21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
29. Leviticus 25:35 “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you.”
30. 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
31. Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
32. Acts 17:26 “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
Let’s grow in our love for others.
Let’s pray for humility to consider others as more important than ourselves. When we esteem others better than ourselves something beautiful occurs. Christians will increase in love and unity with others regardless of race or ethnicity.
Don’t gloss over these words. Take them to heart. I encourage you to start putting them into practice today. Pray for humility and a deeper love for others. Pray against anything in your heart that is stopping you from loving others as you should. Pray against that spirit that only wants to connect and make friendship with those that look like you or fit your circle. Pray against that spirit that is unwilling to become uncomfortable.
Pray against that spirit that subtly and subconsciously treats others better or worse or looks down upon them because of their race. Let’s believe that God can actually change these struggles that we all may face. Pray that you would actually desire these things and that God would remove the sin that is hindering you from craving these things.
33. Mark 12:31 “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
34. Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
35. 1 John 4:19-21 “We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.”
36. Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another.”
37. Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
38. 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded and sympathetic, love as brothers, be tender-hearted and humble.”
39. John 13:34 “I’m giving you a new commandment…to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
40. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
41. Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
The Bible and racism
There are many Bible critics who are quick to proclaim that the Bible supports racism or that God is racist Himself. This is simply not factual at all. This claim has been brought on by a misunderstanding of certain passages in the Bible. Allow me to explain. There are a few verses in the Bible that discuss having slaves. However, these passages on slavery are not the same as the slavery in the 17th century. The passages on slavery in the Bible had nothing to do with someone’s skin color being black or white. Are there slaves in the Bible? Yes. However, in the Bible, people voluntarily sold themselves into slavery for food, water, shelter, etc. The slavery of African-Americans in the 1700 and 1800s was kidnapping, which was punishable by death in the Bible. Also, it was Christians who fought to end slavery.
42. Leviticus 25:39-42 “If your brother becomes impoverished with regard to you so that he sells himself to you, you must not subject him to slave service. He must be with you as a hired worker, as a resident foreigner; he must serve with you until the year of jubilee, but then he may go free, he and his children with him, and may return to his family and to the property of his ancestors. Since they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt, they must not be sold in a slave sale.”
43. Deuteronomy 24:7 “If a man is found kidnapping a person from among his fellow Israelites, and regards him as mere property and sells him, that kidnapper must die. In this way you will purge evil from among you.”
44. Exodus 21:16″Whoever kidnaps another man must be put to death, whether he sells him or the man is found in his possession.”
45. 1 Timothy 1:9-10 “We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.”
The pain of racism
Are you struggling with the effects of racism? Maybe you have been discriminated against or racially profiled. Maybe you’re filled with anger because of the recent George Perry Floyd situation, the Trayvon Martin situation, and many others. It’s OK to be angry about racism and injustice. However, I encourage you to bring that anger to the Lord. Allow that anger to drive you to God.
Ultimately, change comes from the hand of God. I encourage you to continually love and fight for others. Continually pray for a revival for the world. Continually pray for a changed heart and salvation for people. Continually pray for unity among believers. Continually pray for the world’s awareness of this sin. Also, If you’re hurting I encourage you to bring that hurt to the Lord.
46. Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
47. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
48. Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”
49. Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Examples of racism in the Bible
God was angered by the criticism of Aaron and Miriam towards Moses and his Ethiopian wife. Take a moment to ponder this thought. They were criticizing Moses’ wife because of something that was out of her control. They were criticizing something so trivial, her beautiful God-given darker complexion. Essentially, they were criticizing an interracial marriage.
50. Numbers 12:1-10 “Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.) 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” 9 So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.”
Q1 – How is racism contrary to God’s character?
Q2 – How are Christians to respond to racism? How would Christ respond?
Q3 – Does racism break your heart? Why or why not?
Q4 – Do you struggle with racism or prejudice in your heart? If so, are you confessing it daily?
Q5 – How is your love for others growing?
Q6 – Have you experienced racism? Have you been discriminated against? Are you bringing the burden that you may feel to the Lord?
Q7 – If you have been impacted by racism, how can you give grace to those who desire to understand and listen? How can this be used to help you to grow in the Lord and your love for others?
Q8 – What are things that you can pray about and do to combat racism and increase love and unity in your community and the world?