Racial reconciliation: The Gospel is the answer

by and

Published: July 14, 2016

In the Fall of 2012, I [SG] was driving down a long, narrow road to speak in a small church in central, rural Mississippi, and being from California, not prepared for the culture shock brought to me by a man in the church that day.

Although the church had been founded in the early 1800s, the building had been newly refurbished and the people were excited to hear how the facts of science demonstrate the accuracy of the historical account of the Bible. After the presentation, we had a long question–and–answer time, and, as usual, the topics were raised that we answer in The Creation Answers Book.

That is when a man came up to me and loudly insisted I was wrong. Since we had covered many topics, I asked him to be more specific in his objection. He said, “You are wrong about what you said about races.” I had briefly shared that everyone has a dark brown pigment in their skin called melanin, and that some people have a little and some people have more. He couldn’t be specific about what was ‘wrong’, so I picked up a copy of our book One Human Family from the book table and started to explain some of details, encouraging him to take the book home and read it. However, when the man emotionally told me that his brother was dating a ‘black’ woman, I was stunned when he yelled “it would be better if he were gay and dating a man!” After this outburst, the pastor told me that racism was strong in that region, that he and that man had been “taught racism” by their parents, and about the nearby location of the murder of civil rights workers in the 1960s.

While we would not want to portray such racism as typical of Christian churches, events of recent weeks in America have left many feeling that there is much more of a ‘race’ problem than we previously thought. There is so much race-based dialogue coming from both sides and circumstances have demonstrated that anyone who speaks out runs the risk of being called the ‘wrong’ colour to address it. As Christians, we need to speak not as representatives of our skin colour, but as representatives of the Gospel. Christians of every ‘race’ need to be on the front lines of reconciliation. We offer a few thoughts to contribute to this.

  1. Every human being is created in the image of God, and our first response should be to mourn the senseless violence. Regardless of whether a killing was unavoidable or cold-blooded murder, people are dead, and that is tragic. As one human family we all sin because we are all descended from Adam, the first sinner.
  2. Racism is ultimately based on the idea that someone of a different skin colour is very different from me, and therefore less human. One of the harmful consequences of evolutionary indoctrination has been the idea, even believed strongly by Charles Darwin himself, that some ‘races’ have evolved to a higher level than others. However, Scripture teaches that we are all very closely related; every person alive today is also a descendant of Noah, who lived only ~4500 years ago. There are comparatively few generations since the common ancestor of any two people; we really are one family. And genetics confirms there is only a tiny difference between even the most distantly-related people.
  3. The things that most people think of as racial differences are actually cultural differences. While people may dislike cultures that differ from their own and even view them with distrust, it is important to evaluate such things with a biblical lens, including introspectively discerning what sins may be ingrained in one’s own culture.
  4. As with so many things, the Gospel is the answer. Scripture teaches that “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9) will be present on the restored earth. What Christians have in common in Christ is much more significant than cosmetic differences of appearance or culture. Jesus was not a ‘white’ person or a ‘black’ person, but He died to save both as well as every other group of people.

We opened with a story about how racism still exists even in the Church today, where it ought not to be. At another church, a white pastor in a mixed congregation, after hearing a talk by Gary Bates (U.S.) on this subject, said: “The country is never more divided than it is on Sunday morning.” And yes, we’ve heard of all sorts of reasons why; culture, music and so on. But we must come together under Christ.

However, when the biblical truth of our origins is taught, there are profound results. A few years ago, after Gary Bates had shared some of these truths at a predominantly ‘black’ church, the pastor’s wife jumped up onto the platform with a big smile on her face, joyfully calling out “Look, I’m middle brown. We all have the same colour!”. The congregation broke out into overwhelming applause with the proclamation that we are all related and created in the image of God!

We should simply stop talking about people being black, white or whatever. We should just refer to each other as fellow human beings who are intrinsically valued by their Creator. So much so that he died a horrible cruel death so we could be reconciled back to Him.

As Christians, let us be a catalyst, through God’s love for us all and help to reconcile people to the Lord.

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Readers’ comments
Roger G., Australia, 13 July 2016
This is such a timely article. With so much sad and bad news coming out of the USA this article is a stabilising piece of literature. Please keep up these treasures of sane words that help to serve readers with reality and truth. Your words have power for good.
Patrick P., Australia, 14 July 2016
I have a piece of card which is coloured white on one side and black on the other. If you place either side next to a persons skin it can be shown that no one is either black or white but some shade of brown. Although it is reading something that is not there I like to think Paul should have included "neither light nor dark" in Galatians 3:27-29.
Phil K., United States, 14 July 2016
To illustrate, perform an experiment. On your Windoze computer, start Paint. Then open your "Edit colors" window. Select green. Now slide the Hue scrollbar on the right side of the window all the way to the bottom. What color do you see? Black! Slide it all the way to the top. What color do you see? White! But every color in-between is really just a different shade of green! That's how humans are. We're all the same color with varying concentrations of melanin providing a range from black to white, but every color in-between is still flesh tone.
Lita Cosner responds
Really, there are no 'black' or 'white' people, just varying shades from dark brown to light brown.
Kent O., United States, 14 July 2016
Thank you for this excellent article on race! I plan to use it in my sermon this Sunday!
Chuck J., United States, 15 July 2016
You are right in your response to Phil K. There is only one color for humans. It is called melanin. All humans contain varying amounts of it. Go with God.
Bensheh M., United States, 15 July 2016
One of the most insidious views of racism in our modern times is the belief that a persons crimes and horrible traits of character are somehow communicable to other people who share the same skin color. So that the crimes of "blacks" in Chicago should make us all suspicious of "blacks" everywhere because the propensity to commit those crimes are somehow transmitted via skin color. The other insidious view is that "blacks" have some cultural code book that they all read from in which hooliganism is secretly taught. This again means that all "blacks" should be handled as potential criminals even when no crime is committed. Christians should hold none of these views toward blacks or whites:“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin." Deut 24:16 ESV. These recent events are a call to true Christians to separate themselves from those who are Christian in name only and bring reproach on our King, Jesus Christ.
S. B., Saudi Arabia, 16 July 2016
I find the whole term of RACE wrong. Surely we are a species and inside the species you find different "breeds" for lack of a better word. Is it not feasible to say that humans was represented by a kind on the ark, which then also developed just like the animals, into different sub species(breeds), etc. Why would it happen to animals but not to humans? It is after-all clear that their are massive differences on many levels, physical to even IQ, between human groups.
Lita Cosner responds
I am actually very glad you wrote in because it gives me a chance to correct a massive misconception many people have. There are no human subspecies from a genetic standpoint, because the differences between a stereotypical African, a stereotypical Western European person, and a stereotypical Japanese person are controlled by less than 1% of 1% of the genome. In fact, we are so closely related that it can be possible for the best possible organ donor to be of a different 'race'; see the article Blood brothers. Incidentally, when you crossbreed dogs, the resultant offspring has something commonly referred to as 'hybrid vigor', but there is not a similar phenomenon among humans, because all humans are so closely related. Not only are there differences in IQ and physical stature, etc, between groups but also within them, so you can't invoke human subspecies to explain these differences. Often the variation within We refer to race not because it is a biologically meaningful term (as I mentioned, the genetic differences are very small), but because it is a helpful term to identify different cultural subgroups.
Dadie T., United States, 16 July 2016
Glory to Jesus, The Lord of lords ! I finally hear a voice who is asking for the right thing: reconciliation. We are one family under God. Race supremacy is a misconception that needs to be addressed. None is superior or inferior to the other. We have one Creator, The Master of all, our Father: GOD in the highest. Proverbs 16: 4-6 said: 4 “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. 5 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces,[a] none will go unpunished. 6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” Let’s come together to solve our family matters. Let’s everyone understand the importance of forgiving one another, caring for and loving each other. Hatred, pride, selfishness and racism are from the devil. Love, care and forgiveness are from God. Let’s not choose the devil way. Jesus died for all ethnic groups and made us all, who believe in Him, become Children of God. We all benefit of the same privilege. It’s an aberration to claim one is superior to another human being. Proverbs 16 will help anyone who claims he/she is doing the right thing by teaching segregation, hatred or vengeance, etc... 16:2 “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.” 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” What I see going around will end to the way of death. Let’s please turn the other way! Yes, The Gospel is the right and correct answer. Thanks again for the article. It's very inspiring.
David B., Canada, 17 July 2016
Isn't it interesting that all this talk about color is really talk about one thing. The flesh. You know this whole argument is from the world because it put a crazy focus on the flesh. That which is passing away. We need to ask people, "when your 'color' or flesh is taken away, will God like the spirit that is left?" As a church we need to get people to stop thinking about the flesh and think about what is above and beyond....God's Spirit. We have overcome the flesh! Now let's prove it to others and stop using it to divide!
Lita Cosner responds
However, we believe the flesh will be transformed and we will live in resurrection bodies on the restored earth. So while we obviously cannot speak definitively, it would seem that our identities are not obliterated, but sanctified in the resurrection.
Steven H., United States, 23 July 2016
I would like to state that the difference between "races" is more than just the amount of melanin in the skin: it also has to do with other physical features and may potentially involve non-physical features as well, though the latter is more difficult to analyze. However, I do agree that all "races" of humans are made in the "image of God".
Lita Cosner responds
While there are stereotypical phenotypical differences between races (for instance, the broader nose of many Africans, or the distinctive almond shape of the Asian eye), these are similarly cosmetic differences which are controlled by a tiny percentage of human DNA. Not only is every person on earth created in the image of God, we are all descended from one couple: Adam and Eve. And even closer than that, we are all descended from Noah's sons and their wives, six people. Even the most distantly related people on earth are close relatives.
Geoff C. W., Australia, 23 July 2016
I have begun to wonder if people of mixed blood (is there a better way to say this?) aren't more attractive, on average, more intelligent, more skillful, etc. This seems to be true of a number of such people I have observed. If true, could it be because these children come from a mix of very different DNA, thus reducing the degree of degradation existing in those who come from parents with more-similar DNA? It would be interesting to see if such children live longer. I have to declare a vested interest in this - I am very light brown (probably of European stock from a number of generations ago), and my wife is a bit of a mid brown, being half Asian by birth. We have three kids, all of whom fit the above description, of course (although we don't yet know about their living longer).
Lita Cosner responds
The phenomenon to which you're referring is colloquially known as "hybrid vigor". Humans are too closely related for this to happen with two people of different 'races' having children. In general, it happens, for instance, in different dog breeds where each breed is genetically impoverished, and each parent helps make up for the deficiencies in the other's genes. There is no such deficiency in any human 'race'; in fact, the variation within a race is usually greater than the differences between races.