The Race Card
Memorial Day, 2020 was another flash point in the history of racial tensions in America. Every media outlet in our nation descended upon this incident with incessant fervor as an expression of outrage, to let the world know about the injustice and prejudice that still lurks in the soul of our culture. In this age of the ubiquitous social media platform, this scene has been driven into the psyche of our already-divided national heart, throwing highly flammable fuel on the fire. To make matters worse, anyone with a keen eye and an intuitive mind can see the political vultures descending on the carnage to use and exploit a horrible situation for personal and party agendas. A huge insult added to a gaping injury to a deeply broken humanity.
Nelson Mandella once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” If a person was ever qualified to comment on racism, Mr. Mandela would certainly be at the top of the list. This is a powerful statement of hope and belief in the human race that there is something good locked up in people. This statement, as profound as it is, also perhaps unwittingly reveals the true nature of racism, and every other divisive “ism” in human history. The fact that we have to be “taught to love” reveals the core of the problem: love is not the natural orientation of the human heart, or is it?
You may be familiar with the term, Tabula Rasa, which was popularized by John Locke in 1690. It is a Latin phrase that means “smooth or erased tablet.” It has been co-opted by psychology to foist the belief that humans are born in a state of moral neutrality and the blank slate of our minds are programmed by what we are born into. There is much truth in this as it pertains to individual cultures. However, if this is the foundation of consciousness, then the possibility of a moral creator being the genesis of the process is eliminated and any notion of an original orientation of love is eradicated. Moral absolutes are absolutely taboo in a system where humans have to be the top of the evolutionary food chain.
The above philosophy is one of the core beliefs of Humanism. I would propose to you, then, that humanism is the source of racism. Humanism can be defined as an “outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.” Much to the chagrin of all the “religion is oppression” camp, humanism is a religion that just happens to put humanity in the position of god. Humanism is a system of beliefs that informs and shapes the actions of its adherents. That is precisely what a religion is and does. The real problem is that this system of beliefs has no foundation in that it will not allow for moral absolutes. It will allow for scientific certainties so systems like technology can be universalized and all humanity can benefit from harnessing the power of its discoveries, but it cannot tolerate moral certainties because in order for this system to work, every human being has the right, by nature of being human, to choose what is right or wrong on an individual basis. Isn’t this the innate right of a god anyway? If I am my own god, no one has the right to control me.
Because humanism is spattered with the notion that humans, deep down, want to be nice and play nice, it has been possible to see bright rays of historical hope as civilizations have risen that shone with the glory of human goodness at its best. However, if they were so good and altruistic, why did they decay and eventually disappear? Humanism in its purest form must allow for every expression of morality or it becomes oppressive. If anything goes, eventually everything goes!
Along with this free-for-all comes a sinister side effect. If everyone is allowed to define morality on an individual basis then what makes something wrong? This is where civil law comes into play. In an attempt to rope in the wild stallions of self-will, civilizations have rallied around the hope of enacting laws that define right and wrong. The question surfaces then, who gets to decide these laws? History has shown every attempt from tyrant tyranny to duly elected democracies and humanity still falls into the same morass: morality cannot be legislated. People will eventually do what they choose to do. Laws evolve around the prevailing wind of whatever group is most influential. This sets up a system of division where eventually those with power want to stay in power at the expense of and on the backs of those under their power. At its best, this is a power struggle; at its worst, this is slavery!
The only true answer for racism has to be found outside of humanism’s delusional reach. One of these two statements must be true: in the beginning, man created god in his own image, or in the beginning, God created man in His own image. History has proven that the first statement has failed miserably. The answer then, must be that humans were created in the image of God and the current state of affairs is due to a catastrophic event that shattered and fractured humanity’s ability to see the reality of this created beauty. This is precisely what the Genesis account of human history exposes.
In the Genesis 1 account, humanity is created, crafted, and designed, in the image and likeness of Almighty God. Humanity was given the “likeness” of God. This Hebrew term defines not merely a reflection or similarity, but an actual imprint, much like a stamp. God took His nature and duplicated that into the humans He created. This nature is designed to think like and act like God. If one was to do an exhaustive study on the exact nature of God as revealed in holy scripture and reduce it down to one word that would encapsulate this nature, it would be love (1 John 4:16). The nature of this love, as displayed in the revelation of God, is so inclusive and all encompassing it would make the height of humanistic love seem barbaric. God’s love exudes a passionate pursuit of every human, not in spite of their differences and orientations, but precisely because of these things. Some say as a proof text that they are not racist- “when it comes to race, I am colorblind.” God is not colorblind. God created every race and color by design and He celebrates what He creates as perfectly beautiful.
So what happened to the likeness of God imprinted in humanity? Reading further on in Genesis, we see the demise of humanity at the hands of an offer from the serpent for Adam and Eve to break off the restraints of “religion” and find their true humanity, their true greatness. By putting themselves in the center of their universe they can become gods and thus enable humanity to rise to unrestrained levels of goodness. The offer contained the path to freedom - they needed to know the difference between good and evil. For only then would humanity possess the knowledge and wisdom necessary to prop up this humanistic kingdom. An honest assessment of human history has shown the utter foolishness and profound bankruptcy of the human way to utopia. Anytime more than one human gets involved in deciding what is right and what is wrong there will be division, and with this division will eventually come racism. It is the natural byproduct of humanism. Truly a self-imploding death wish on the human race!
God’s love is so passionate that He would not allow His beauty to be marred eternally. God, Himself, would throw down His race card, and rescue humanity from this feeding frenzy of division and hatred. Scripture reveals that God came to Earth through an incarnation as a human, Jesus, who is the exact expression of the nature of Almighty God (Heb. 1:2-3). God, as Jesus, would confront humanism head-on by exposing the root of human self-will (the essence of sin), thereby destroying the fruit of humanism. In order for humanity to benefit from this extreme act of love, a full and total surrender to this original orientation must be made on the part of every individual that is truly seeking freedom and healing. How is this accomplished?
God's race card was thrown down more than two thousand years ago in the form of a cross. It was on this cross, a place of capital punishment under the Roman Empire, that Jesus suffered and died a criminal’s death at the hands of the Romans and at the demand of the religious system of the day, Judaism. The cross of Jesus is the place of surrender in that it was the place where God took all the anger, hatred, and division that humanism had created upon Himself (the wages of sin is death), and allowed a broken world to come back to its original orientation of love. This is the way the Apostle Paul reveals this powerful truth:
“But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” [Eph 2:13-16 NLT emphasis added]
The truth of this passage extends far beyond the distinctions between Jews/Non-Jews. It reaches to the farthest differences in culture, color, or creed. The cross of Jesus is the place where the failure of Humanism is redeemed by the life blood of Jesus, which contains the DNA of every race, as God is the originator of all Humanity. The “wall of hostility that separated us” comes from the Greek wording in this passage, which speaks of the wall that separates, is made out of fractured pieces of fractured people. Jesus heals the broken-hearted, binds up their wounds, and brings us all back into a place of wholeness, with no hostility between us, as we are all children of the same Father!
So what does the end of racism look like? There is still much work to do in confronting the problem and surrendering to God’s solution- the salvation of the human heart. But if you want a glimpse of what Heaven on Earth can look like in regards to racism, we need to see what the Apostle John saw in his revelation of God’s throne room:
“And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” [Rev 5:9 NIV emphasis added]
It is time, my friend, to start singing a new song!
by Pastor Jim Anan