What Does The Bible Say About Racism, Prejudice and Violence?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

In a nation ready to explode with riots, burning, looting, and killing, what does the Bible say about dealing with racism, prejudice, and violence?

No Reason for Racism

When it comes down to it, there’s really only one race…the human race. The Apostle Paul, speaking about the Creator, said that “he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26). Since we are all descended from one man, we are all essentially the same. Yes, there are cultural, societal, and physical differences, but the truth is every nation came “from one man,” and that man was Adam. God left no room for prejudice among His people, and allowed foreigners to become part of the nation as long as they obeyed God’s laws. The Law found in the Book of Leviticus says that “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:34). I believe that law is still relevant today because it was not part of the sacrificial laws and ceremonies that are now done away through Christ.

No Room for Prejudice

There is no room for prejudice in the church. That is the last place we should expect to see it, but sadly, that’s not always been the case. In the beginning, the church was almost 99% Jewish, but after the Apostle Paul was commissioned to go to the Gentiles, thousands of Gentiles joined the church. This is why Scripture teaches, from the Old Testament to the New, “that God shows no partiality” (Rom 2:11), and neither should we. The Apostle Peter was slow to acknowledge his aversion to Gentiles, but God finally showed Peter that the gospel was for all people, so “Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34). Since we strive to become more like Christ, remember that “the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deut 10:17).

Hurting the Cause

It’s a good thing to demonstrate and protest unjust laws. That’s how nations become better. Peaceful protests are the most effective way to change society, but when these protests turn violent, they work against the very cause they are protesting. The Bible leaves absolutely no room for destroying personal and public property to effect change. Change begins with each one of us, but burning, looting, destroying, and killing or injuring others is not the way to change, unless it is change for the worse. Violence only leads to more violence and it eventually escalates until property damage is extensive and thousands of businesses have been destroyed, along with the many lives that were associated with the destroyed homes and businesses. Ironically, the very neighborhoods the protesters come from are the very neighborhoods that are often destroyed. Change by force only creates an equal or greater force of resistance, but peaceful demonstrations that bring awareness to a societal injustice can effect change in ways that go far beyond anything we could ever do by ourselves.

Violence is Not the Way

When the New Testament was written, some of the most violent, corrupt, and evil rulers held power, and social injustices were the norm and not the exception. Bribes, extortion, and greed ruled the day, and there was little opportunity to protest. To protest was to choose to die. During the evil rule of Emperor Nero, Paul still said “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim 2:1-2). Can you imagine how hard it must have been to pray for Nero and the rest of the evil, corrupt rulers!? Imagine praying for someone who was torching Christians for his outdoor parties, and throwing them to wild beasts in the forum. Evil as these things are, God’s Word clearly tells us to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Rom 13:1). Those who are in authority, for example law enforcement, are actually “God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4). What this means is we “must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (Rom 13:5).

Love Wins

The greatest agent of change in the world is not protests, not riots, and not even writing your congressman. The greatest way to change the world, or at least the world around you, is with love. Just think how Jesus changed the world by living a sinless life, suffering and dying, and being raised on the third day!! That changed our eternity. Jesus said that we can actually know by looking, who is and who isn’t His disciples. You can single out Jesus’ disciples by the love in a person’s life or the lives of those in a local church. Jesus gave us a new commanded before He returned to the Father, saying “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). If owe really loved one another and others like Christ loved us (by sacrificing, dying, suffering), “all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Conclusion

No child of God has any excuse for rioting, looting, burning, or hurting others. That’s not God’s way and it must not be our way either. Peaceful protests are one thing, but change by force is another. God will punish all lawbreakers…including those who are rioting and destroying property and lives, but let’s remember to treat others without regard to their person. The Old Testament Law put it beautifully when it stated that “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong” (Lev 19:33). The child of God should loving and kind to all, regardless of their languages, skin color, or nationality. God made us all from the same man…Adam, so there’s no reason for racism or prejudiced. Remember, we too were once estranged from God, but only because of Christ we been reconciled back to God. So in conclusion, there is only one race…and we’re all in it; we call it the human race.

Here is some related reading for you: Will Violence Continue to Grow as Jesus’ Return Nears?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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