Racism is a feeling of superiority of one race or culture over another race or culture. Racial prejudice has been part of man’s dilemma throughout human history. In our modern day world, there is evidence of racial discrimination in almost every facet of life. In the United States, it is the black-versus-white issue. In the Middle East, it is the Palestinian-versus-Israel conflict. During the Second World War, it was Nazi Germany’s attempt to systematically destroy the Hebrew race.
There are several biblical factors that help understand the source of racial prejudice. In Romans 5:12, all mankind are in Adam and all share God’s condemnation for Adam’s sin. In Romans 3:23 all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In James 4:1-2, James gives us a simple outworking of man’s sin in his attempt to gain supremacy over others:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
The Bible has a number of objections to racial prejudice. All mankind are a creation of God. No races evolved. All mankind possess a “God image” (Gen. 1:26-28). All mankind are in Adam and are under God’s condemnation for sin (Rom. 5:12; 3:23). All may be saved through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Acts 4:12). All mankind may come to salvation only by faith in the completed work of Christ (Eph. 2:1-8; Titus 3:5-6). All believers are equally in Christ and equally members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:12-13; Gal 3:28). Finally, all believers will be equally with Christ and part of God’s family for all eternity.
Racial prejudice seeks to elevate one race above another and make it a superior race. Or, they may reduce another race to the level of sub-human and thus say that they cannot share the blessings of God equally.
It is important to understand that it was God who originally separated the nations in Genesis 10-11. There is no indication anywhere in the Bible that one race is superior to another. The lone exception is God’s choice of Israel to be God’s instrument to reveal God’s grace and salvation to all the rest of the nations in the world. But there is no biblical evidence that Israel is racially superior to other races. They were to live separately from Gentile nations to be God’s witness for salvation. But it was not because of they were superior to other nations racially.
Prejudice against the Jews has been called anti-Semitism. It is sometimes grounded in the erroneous belief that the Jews are solely responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. However, the Scriptures clearly teach that all were guilty. Jew and Gentile, as well as Roman leaders, were culpable according to Acts 4:27-28. The death of Christ for sin was the plan of God (Isa. 53:6). The love of God was the motivation for giving Christ to die that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). In realty, no one is without blame. It was our sin that caused Christ to die.
Jesus taught believers to “love one another as He has loved us” (John 15:12; 17). Love is based on respect for one another (Rom. 5:12). This includes forgiveness of one another as God has forgiven us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:32). This means when people have been racially prejudiced and hurtful to others, they should be forgiven. But they must also learn to accept every race as equal members of the human race. No race is superior to or unequal to another race of people. We are all equally a part of God’s creation.