Leave "Race" at the Track
Updated: Jul 29
Let’s stop the conversation about “race relations.”
The way the word “race” is used in secular culture is unbiblical. The word RACE is used just TWICE in our NIV Bible to refer to people. (In the newest version of the NIV it is used eight times. No doubt this is one of the many accommodations to culture made by the translators of the 2011 version of the NIV.) It is used to refer to God’s people in Ezra 9:2 and Romans 9:3. This is a spiritual/
religious distinction; the Jews as a distinct group within the whole human race.
The Bible never refers to race as a way of dividing human beings by their skin color. We in the Church need to be critical of the use of the word “race” to divide people and set them against one another, especially for mere political advantage.
Historically, the word RACE was used in the English language as a synonym for nationality or ethnicity; people would talk about “the English race” or “the Irish race.” It was Darwin’s theory of evolution that popularized the notion that people of different skin colors were different races. This position was almost always to the detriment of dark-skinned persons.
Between the two world wars, the false science of eugenics promoted a similarly discriminatory view of dark-skinned people. People like Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) and Adolf Hitler popularized views like this and both of them took steps to eliminate “inferior races.”
In spite of this dastardly pedigree, the notion of “races” persists to this day. It is a fundamental contributor to the problem of racism in our nation. For America to make lasting progress in these valid concerns about equality, we need to begin by correcting our grammar. Both science and Scripture agree on this point: human beings are ONE RACE. If we could drop the use of the word race, I believe we would immediately advance the conversation about equality of opportunity in America. Let’s have a deep, extended, and effective conversation about equality and HUMAN relations. This at least will start us all in the same place and emphasize the humanity we share, taking the emphasis off the things that threaten to divide us.
I would suggest the Church lead the way in this regard, fostering communications about HUMANITY. Here we follow the example of the Apostle Paul, a Jew, who said to an audience of Greeks, FROM ONE MAN HE MADE EVERY NATION OF MEN, THAT THEY SHOULD INHABIT THE WHOLE EARTH; AND HE DETERMINED THE TIMES SET FOR THEM AND THE EXACT PLACES WHERE THEY SHOULD LIVE. And he added, ‘FOR IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE OUR BEING.’ AS SOME OF YOUR OWN POETS HAVE SAID, ‘WE ARE HIS CHILDREN.’ (Acts 17:26-27, 29)
Dr. Charles Ware has founded an organization called “Grace Relations,” dedicated to the unity of human beings of all skin color. I like that name and that goal, don’t you?