Why ‘Racism’ Isn’t Wrong

In surveying the current sociocultural landscape in America, it seems increasing numbers of individuals are either identifying as social justice activists or aspiring to be one.

What began with the protestations of one individual over perceived systemic “racial” injustices being perpetrated against black people, primarily by those who occupy certain positions of authority (e.g. police officers), has morphed into a global movement with other notable athletes and celebrities remonstrating in solidarity.

Now, before I go on, I want to confess that the reason I placed the word racial in quotations above is that, unlike most social justice activists, I happen to not subscribe to the idea of “race” as an aspect of human identity. Scripture teaches that God created ethnicities, not “races” (in Acts 17:26, the word “nation” is the Greek noun “ethnos,” from which the English word “ethnicity” is derived).

But setting aside theological definitions for the moment, my viewpoint on the subject of “race” is more closely aligned with that of the late anthropologist Dr. Robert Wald Sussman, author of The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea who, in a 2014 Newsweek article said:

“What many people do not realize is that racial structure is not based on reality. Anthropologists have shown for many years now that there is no biological reality to human race. There are no major complex behaviors that directly correlate with what might be considered human “racial” characteristics. There is no inherent relationship between intelligence, law-abidingness, or economic practices and race, just as there is no relationship between nose size, height, blood group, or skin color and any set of complex human behaviors. However, over the past 500 years, we have been taught by an informal, mutually reinforcing consortium of intellectuals, politicians, statesmen, business and economic leaders and their books that human racial biology is real and that certain races are biologically better than others. These teachings have led to major injustices to Jews and non-Christians during the Spanish Inquisition; to blacks, Native Americans, and others during colonial times; to African Americans during slavery and reconstruction; to Jews and other Europeans during the reign of the Nazis in Germany; and to groups from Latin America and the Middle East, among others, during modern political times.”

Dr. Sussman is right.

And though science continues to provide the world with objective evidence to support his conclusions, it is not necessarily my intent that this blog post serves as an apologetic for Sussman’s, or anyone else’s, epistemology of “race.”

That said, however, I find it interesting, if not ironic, that many who do subscribe to the concept of “race” as a scientific reality choose to engage in discourse about those who exhibit “racist” attitudes, either overtly or covertly, not from the standpoint of biology but of morality.

That rationale, in my mind, raises several questions, such as:

How can anything whose ontological premise, such as “race,” is based solely on skin color become a matter of morality (racism)? After all, if such an attitude (racism) is simply a biological response to what is merely a product of that which has a biological genesis (race), should not the remedy for such an attitude also be biological as opposed to moral?

Second, and, conversely, if in fact, racism is merely a biological response to a biologically induced attribute of humankind, then, why is racism ever “wrong” to begin with? In other words, at what point does morality begin to supersede science—if at all?

And, lastly, by whose or what standard of morality should it be deemed that racism is “wrong” in the first place? Is not that which is considered right or wrong measured against an objective standard? From where—or whom—does that standard originate? Conversely, who determines that that standard should be the ultimate benchmark by which such an attitude is to be regarded as right or wrong?

In answering those—and many other—questions, I find especially helpful the words of pastor and author Dr. John MacArthur who, in his book Think Biblically: Recovering a Biblical Worldview, says:

“…the doctrine of evolution (if followed consistently) ends with a denial of the reality of evil. If naturalistic evolution is correct and there is no God, neither can there be any inviolable principles that govern the universe. And therefore, there is no moral accountability of any kind. In fact, if evolution is true, things are the way they are by sheer chance, for no transcendent reason. Nothing under such a system could ever have any real moral significance. The very notions of good and evil would be meaningless concepts. There would be no reason to condemn a Hitler or applaud a Good Samaritan.”

The book of Genesis records the first murder ever committed in human history—the premeditated taking of the life of Abel by his brother Cain. We know Cain’s actions were premeditated because prior to Cain’s carrying out the actual act itself, God spoke directly —and specifically—to him about the sinful attitude he was harboring in his heart toward Abel:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it. Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against his brother and killed him.”Gen. 4:6-8 (NASB)

Notice in that passage that Abel is twice referred to as the “brother” of Cain.

But notice also that it wasn’t for familial, relational, or genealogical reasons that God admonished Cain. God did not say to Cain, “It is wrong for you to murder Abel because he is your brother.” Nor did God say, “It is wrong to murder your brother because you both bleed the same color” or “It is sinful to murder your brother because you both share the same level of melanin.”

Those realities are important to note because when it comes to matters of “race” and “race relations,” the ethnocentric ethos to which many social justice proponents subscribe today is predicated upon mankind’s horizontal relationship to one another as opposed to our vertical relationship to God.

In other words, the assertion that racism is “wrong” is based primarily on the societal proposition that each of us is created in the image of one another (imago homo) rather than in the image of God (imago Dei). As the American poet, Maya Angelou, opined:

“We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.
We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

The problem with the kind of ethnocentric moral relativism being espoused today by many social justice activists is that it preaches the delusive message of “cura te ipsum” (physician heal thyself)

That kind of subjective and self-centered moralism is why countless social justice activists are demanding a so-called “end” to racism because they believe sincerely, albeit naively, that the genesis of sinful ethnic prejudice is biological (melanin) not spiritual (heart) and, conversely, that human beings inherently possess the capacity and the ability to stop being “racist.”  Which, again, begs the question: How is it that such an invariable and constant characteristic as skin color can so affect the human heart as to result in the attitudes that lead to the egregious maltreatment of others who don’t look like us?

“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth…”Acts 17:26 (NASB)

The God of all the universe—in His infinite and unfathomable wisdom—created and fashioned you and me with the specific ethnic characteristics we each possess. Our skin is the color it is and has the level of melanin it does because God ordained it to be so, not because you or I had anything to do with it.

Yes, “racism” is wrong—but it isn’t wrong for the reasons you think.

It isn’t because we all bleed red that racism is wrong.

It isn’t because we all belong to a “universal brotherhood of man” that racism is wrong.

It isn’t because we all breathe the same air that racism is wrong.

It isn’t because of our sociological, anthropological, or biological similarities that racism is wrong.

“Racism” is wrong not because you or I subjectively declare it to be wrong, but because it is a reflection of an innately sinful heart attitude that has no regard for others who, like you and me, have been created by God to reflect His image in the world (Gen. 1:27; Matt. 5:13-16).

It is the objective and immutable truth of the gospel that makes sinful ethnic prejudice (racism) wrong, not the subjective and malleable ethics of society.

So, to those who are calling for an “end” to racism, I applaud you. I have the utmost respect for you. Nevertheless, I often wonder if you truly understand what you’re saying when you say that? Do you have any real concept of what you’re actually asking for by calling for an “end” to racism (Matt. 7:2)?

Whether you realize it or not, what you’re demanding is complete attitudinal and behavioral perfection from every sinner who resides on the face of this earth—yourself included. Contemplate that reality for a moment and answer this: How do you propose to achieve that level of collective behavioral perfection in a world comprised of more than seven billion sinners? Through more protests? More laws? More social media hashtag campaigns? More ethnic-based or class-based government programs that will help “level the playing field”?

Think about it.

Do you not realize that none of those things are actually the solution to the concerns you have? Of course, you do. And the reason you know it is because you realize that the fundamental problem is not the darkness of a person’s skin, but the darkness of his or her heart (Mk. 7:17-23).

The only way to “end” sinful ethnic prejudice is to repent of it—like any other sin—and to have our hearts and minds renewed by the regenerative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eze. 36:26-27; Rom. 12:2).

That is the only lasting solution.

Humbly in Christ,


Image credit: galleryhip.com

22 thoughts on “Why ‘Racism’ Isn’t Wrong

  1. Amanda O'Bryan

    Oh my goodness! I love the way you word things! This is so true, so clear, so perfect for these times! I have asked myself, so often, why? Why is racism so prevelant today? Why is it all we hear about in the news? The answer is that so many are rejecting God in every aspect of society and on every continent! Unless we frame our lives with Gods word and with the heart and head knowledge that we are His creation (everything is His creation), we will never respect or love each other. Oh! Come children and drink The Living Water!!!

  2. Lou Abdnour

    I loved your understanding on this subject, of which is becoming more prevalent. Even though it has always been a persistent problem around the world, you have shed light onto something that has had light shed on it before, to the extent that people have become blind to.
    You are also alluding to something that I align with and has been spoken about for some time, and that is: “you can not legislate morality!”
    Wish we could, that would take on the sin problem as well. Not gonna happen.
    Thank you Brother Darrell, for sharing what God has given you, that others might have their eyes opened; even a little bit opened!
    Keep on for Jesus………

  3. Patricia Amey

    AMEN! THIS my Brother, is the TRUTH, whole TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH! This encouraged me as a Believer that there is STILL a remnant in Christ that can discern straight up Sin from social issues and speak out BOLDLY against it! Keep holding up the banner of Christ and SOUND BIBLICAL teaching!

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  5. Mike Bricker

    Brother Darrell, You are going to be hated by some who have read the title of this essay, and nothing more. You are going to be hated by some who have read and yet do not quite get the points you make. And you are going to be hated by some who read, and understand, and yet still burn because you undercut some of what they are basing their lives and beliefs on.

    So please allow me to say I agree completely with you, and they can hate me too.

    I’m also going to say, while I sincerely believe it is wrong to judge or hate someone because of their appearance and so forth, I judge young men who wear their caps backwards and their jeans too low; I judge men my age who have beards to their chests and long hair; I judge women who look as if they are maxing out their credit cards to look like they/their husbands are millionaires; I judge young women who wear those “fashionable” torn jeans. Can’t seem to help it. I’m human, we all are.
    But greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world, and I can do all things who Christ who strengthens me. Praise God!

  6. Thank you, Darrell, for speaking some biblical sanity back into this whole issue. It does, indeed, seem that even well-meaning Christians have lost sight of the real problem, and have,
    Therefore, lost hold of the real hope – the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

  7. grh

    There are two Biblical reasons why racism is wrong. You got the first reason. The other reason is because racism is a denial of the Total Depravity of mankind. As Paul writes, “For I have already charged that all, both Jew and Greek, are under sin.” Racism is wrong on this front because the racist must assume that he is somehow less depraved than his fellow sinner, and, conversely, that the other sinner from a different race is more depraved than is the racist.

    How arrogant. Total Depravity is the great equalizer for every single person in mankind’s fallen state.

    Hence, a double admonition to heed Darrell’s EXCELLENT closing thought: “You don’t end racism. You repent of it.”

  8. Having been on the Left, I can testify first-hand to the hollow and unsatisfying nature of Marxist oppression theories. Ever since returning to faith and rereading the Jewish Bible, I found a far more satisfying groundwork upon which to base my belief in justice. And that starts with the idea of a just God.

  9. Very interesting post. I agree that at its core, “racism” is sin of which we must repent, for we all are created in the image of God.
    Listening now to a podcast you are guest on Mortification of Sin, Social Justice Black Hole, which is how I learned of your blog.

  10. Rachel Orie

    I am a white Christian woman really trying to understand more about this whole topic of systemic injustice, ethnic reconciliation and redemption, and I would love to talk with you sometime about this! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

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  14. Sheri Derry Joseph

    Phenomenal article. Thank you so much for detailing it, outlining it and taking us through it step by step. Well articulated. Thank you and blessings!

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