Racism: Religion and Science Agree, It’s Wrong

Racism

This is a bit of an armchair article so you are welcome to take it with a grain of salt, or a mountain. I can not in good conscience write for a site that believes 100% in God and all he is then ignore the injustice that has occurred in Charlottesville. I’ll approach this from a Biblical point of view and from a scientific one. I think that addressing both is important because there are people in the world that base their racism on religion and those that do so with science.

Defining Race

The best way to define race is to look at a dictionary isn’t it? The dictionary breaks the word ‘race’ in to different parts since it is a word that has multiple uses. Race from an anthropological standpoint is a socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture:

Defining Racism

The word racism is a two-part word. The first is race as listed above and then an ‘ism’ which is a distinctive philosophy. To practice racism is to have a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

Religion and Racism

God hates racism. Why? It is a sin and God hates sin (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Let’s address something up front because I’ve read and saw videos of racial supremacists using the Bible as a means to justify racism. There is a belief that Jews in the Bible were placed above other groups of people by God and that God has then created racism so that means racism is righteous. So how did that belief get started? Glad you asked.

In the Bible the line of Seth can be traced entirely from Adam to Seth to Noah (Genesis 5:1-32) and then from Noah to Abraham (Genesis 11:1-32). We know that God had saved Noah to save humanity. Then Abraham was to be the father of nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham was the father of Jacob who God called Israel (Genesis 32:38). The nation of Israel were from the sons of Jacob which numbered 12. Whew!

I know that is a lot of ancestry condensed but at this point God declares the nation of Israel as his chosen nation. So if God has chosen ‘us’ it must mean we are ‘better’ than others right? They couldn’t be more wrong. God’s selection of Israel was a call to evangelize the world. To take a nation of faithful people and place them in service to the world. To bring that world closer to God. God did not elevate Jews above Gentiles, instead they were called in to his service so that Gentiles could find redemption with God.

It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I’ve said it before, man really knows how to choke on important things. Over and over we are given great gifts by God and we have a tendency to pervert it. Over time the nation of Israel became elitist and instead of spreading God’s word it began to harbor it. So God did something incredibly selfless and sent Jesus, his Son to spread the truth of his desire for humanity. In Acts 17:26 there is no clearer statement than “He made from one man every nation of mankind” to signify God’s view that race classification is a man-made mechanism to deny others equality.

Jesus came to speak to the heart of the Jews and show them that God wanted every person to be part of his kingdom. Not just the descendants of the twelve tribes but all the people that spread across the world regardless of their language, skin color or other physical traits. That was the message Christ gave to his apostles, it was the great commission, and you know what? Humanity understood it more, not perfectly obviously but it took the death of Christ to get the point across.

You cannot call yourself a Christian and oppress people because they are darker or lighter than you, or if they have almond-shaped eyes versus round. It literally goes against what Jesus says Christianity is about. Racism is wrong from a non-secular standpoint. What does science say?

Science and Racism

The science part I will keep brief if only because we are still exploring our genetic heritage through the Human Genome Project but we have made some headway in to what makes us who we are on a micro-level. We know from school that humans have 46 chromosomes which is 23 from each parent. How many of those chromosomes are different between each race? None. Not a single one.

Guess how much of those 46 chromosomes make up your outward appearance? It’s about .01 or 1% of your makeup. That’s right. We fight about 1% of who we are.

Race is a social concept, not a scientific one

Dr.J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation

Race is such a terrible means to classify humans that on a geneticists level they don’t use it. They did at one time because we did not understand genetics the way we do now. It’s just like the belief that certain parts of our tongue can only taste different things. For a long time this was taught in schools in fact the image below shows exactly what I am describing. What we found out is we were wrong and that the tongue tastes all types in all parts of it. There are no hot spots for taste and textbooks changed. Kids are educated based on new knowledge and adults find out their world has been altered.

Taste

The difference is that we can see the things we classify as racial traits such as high cheekbones in Native Americans, Wide noses in Aboriginals, Almond shaped eyes in Asians and so on. That 1% that we can visualize matters to us so much we are willing to incite rage, kill, burn and loot clusters of people who share the same heritage. Yet science has proven we are all the same race, human. Where we come from doesn’t matter. We are all still human.

Conclusion

I think we slayed two dangerous dragons here today or at least made a good foundation to help others combat it. Racism is not Biblical. In fact it is the complete opposite. God created man and from him, man has grown and spread across the world. Man caused the idea of elevation of one people over another because their heritage was different. Society created a label called ‘race’ to categorize this belief that there was a difference between these groups of people.

Science has done the ‘evidence’ part of our equation and provided us concrete evidence that genetically we are 99% the same. If we can accept the world is round, the tongue is all one taster and that the Baltimore Ravens are the best football team ever (okay maybe not the last one) I wholeheartedly feel we can do away with the term race and start appreciating others for their heritage.

So you know who I am? I’m God’s child. I’m human. I’m a mutt and happy to be one. I am content to serve humanity and share what God does want and that is everyone. Hold Fast Christian and weather the storms that small groups claiming our faith cause. Ignore the slights and instead purposefully seek to help anyone in need of God’s love.

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The Watchman – Faithful Father Series

Swords for the Watchman

When you look at the feature image what do you see? A bible, a sword? Perhaps like me you see two swords. One to symbolize the combat faced in the world physically and one to combat the world spiritually. These are the tools of a watchman. These are the tools of a Christian. They are the tools of a faithful father who must guard his family against intrusion from enemies in both a physical world and the spiritual world. They are the tools he can and should use to educate his family for the now and for eternity.

“Be Watchful.” the Bible shows us in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 and when I attended Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory I had a chance to gain a deeper understanding of these verses. This monthly seminar that culminated in a retreat (I could not attend unfortunately) was a 6 Sunday study base don James McDonald’s ‘Act Like Men‘ book. It’s also something I think is important to touch upon in our Faithful Father Series as we are charged with protecting our family.

Did you know that one of the first sins man committed was not being watchful? In Genesis 2:15 God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and Adam’s duty was to work it and keep it. Naturally, we assume the plants and animals but this includes all things in the garden. Including Adam himself and his helper, Eve. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Adam’s duty was to protect God’s creation and yet he failed. He allowed Eve to eat the only fruit God had forbade them to eat. Not only did he allow but he participated. He was watchful but certainly not in the way God intended. He was not vigilant in his duty.

Being watchful is an exercise in God’s command to be vigilant against the enemy. In the first epistle of Peter we are told frankly (and people say the Bible is a mystery!) that we need to be watchful of the devil and what happens if we do not (1 Peter 5:8-10). Yet it also tells us the rewards we will receive if we are.

Act Like Men

Watchman and Education

Part of being a faithful father is teaching our children about the Trinity and the importance it has in our lives. The reality is that our children are never one hundred percent under our watch. It is our duty to prepare them for this world in more than just education. Painting a rainbows and butterflies picture of the world sets a child up for failure. We have to find a balance between allowing them to experience life and protecting them from harm.  One of the hardest things to do is allow your child to fail but it is also a chance to teach them that failure is an event that happens to everyone except God. It is an event that does not mean the end but is a chance to learn, implement new methods and to try again.

The Bible is full of great failures and then those who failed are given a chance to rebound. Often times when they have put their faith in God, they do. Moses, David, Jonah, Peter, and more. All men we consider great examples of sinners turned to God who did great works. All men who, had they given up would be but a vague mentioning and an almost forgotten memory.

Moses was a watchman of God’s chosen, the Israelite’s. He was charged with keeping them safe and turned to God during the exodus from Egypt. When they faltered God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to give them an understanding of God’s desire for them. David, Jonah and Peter were all men who God wanted to use as watchmen who would protect his people or warn them. Each stumbled and each also ran. They also found out that you cannot hide from God. They ran out of fear of the wrath God could have laid on them. What they really found was that God is forgiving in ways man can not even imagine.

That is something we should be teaching our children isn’t it? Unexpected grace. It is not something we just have in us, it is something learned. Even now I have to remind myself that how my children perceive life is so innocent and that when they do wrong it usually is not out of maleficent desire. They fear disappointing us but when we use it as a chance to show them that even in anger we can find compassion to let that anger flow away we show them that a response of fighting fire with fire is not the sole solution to their problems.

The Watchman has Long Term Goals

We can cover physical protection another day and we will, however the protection of the soul takes precedence. Our bodies are husks when we die and while we will do our best to preserve them until that time comes we need to cement our eternity more. We should teach our children to embrace God in a way that does not invoke fear of Him. The image of a Catholic nun going ham on a kid with a stick comes to mind. That is what we do not want to do.

I can’t give you a 10 step to salvation plan because I’m not God. I’m not even a pastor. I’m a guy who loves God, loves people, and wants men to embrace their heavenly father; then use that to empower their families for long term growth under God’s love and righteousness. My wife often calls me crazy for my long term planning and maybe she is right but one thing I know she appreciates is the time I take to talk to the kids about God and how our faith affects us long term.

Planning is Biblical (Proverbs 19:2, Luke 14:28) and it requires time, thought, patience and desire. The time I take to talk about the Bible with our children is being invested in who they are. It helps me plant long term growth in their lives and prepare them in ways that the world doesn’t teach. We have to teach our household to seek the Lord in all things and especially in times of weakness.

We should not just pour the word of God in to our children and friends but the most important vessel in our home, our wife. If she is the crown of our household then the care we take for our children, the desire to share God with our children, the exercises in devotion to her should be ten-fold that. Children are an amazing blessing from God but the relationship with our spouse is paramount to anything this world offers. A family, like a bridge, is only as strong as its supports and the parents together make a formidable pillar (Luke 11:17).

Prevent Rust

God has given us the tools to protect our family in all the ways that we need to. Becoming lazy and allowing your swords to rust does not just affect you. It affects all of the souls under your roof. Every person you love suffers when you do not provide direction or leadership in your home. Sometimes it will feel like a never ending loop when your children are tattling on one another but loving them in those difficult times is how you make progress in mindfulness. It is a chance to teach them why they won’t become more favorable because of ratting out one another.

Proverbs 27:17 is an often quoted verse about accountability among men. It is a fantastic and simple direction God has given us. It is also hard to follow because in the eight words of that verse we are to open ourselves up to others. Not in just a friendly manner but to reveal our heart, our dreams and our sin. That last bit is what men struggle with. It’s what every person who knows God or wants to know God struggles with. Recrimination is a terrible thing and it is not for a Christian to ridicule a person who has come to them and shared their sins. Instead we seek to help and prevent the continuation of the sin.

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.

Charles Spurgeon

Iron sharpening iron means we seek men to help build one another together. This is why Just Hold Fast exists and why I open myself up every time I write here. I want to help, I want to be helped. A rusty blade is more dangerous than a sharp one because it is unwieldy and causes unintended damage. A sharp blade is an instrument of surgical precision allowing the warrior to defend what is his by God’s grace.

We need to be watchful that our walls are not broken and when that happens, because it will, we seek to mend them quickly and then fortify them to prevent it from occurring in the same manner.

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It’s OK to Leave a Church…Sometimes

Leave a Church

This is a bit on the nose for my family and I at the moment since we are going through this decision to leave the church we have attended faithfully for 15 months. It is not something that we have taken lightly or out of anger (James 1:19-20). It is something that has lingered in our minds for months and has been discussed over and over with by my wife and I. It is OK to leave a church, you are not trapped and it isn’t always something that is going to burden you with sin. I write this for those seeking an answer to a touchy question but I also write this for myself and the ones I walk through life with that have angst right now as much as I have.

[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.

Ray Pritchard

Why are you leaving?

This is the most crucial question that must be answered because parting ways with a church is a serious event for any Christian. We are not meant to be in isolation. We should be seeking community (Ephesians 4:11-16). The answer isn’t a simple one and even after we determine why we feel we need to leave we need to ask ourselves if it is righteous.

Leaving because someone hurt your feelings is a great example of why you should not leave a church. We are fallible and a lot of times we are going to capitalize on that ability to fail. Even if we had no intention of doing so. This is part of being human and if a few people hurt your feelings at the church and you leave, it will likely happen again at your next church. Instead of running off you should give forgiveness and seek to reconcile the confrontation.

We should be seeking unity as Christians so pull yourself up by the bootstraps and seek reconciliation. If the door is closed by the other parties and they are unwilling to even discuss what happened that still doesn’t mean run. Instead, serve. Serve in spite of their behavior and do so graciously.

Reasons people leave

There is a loss regardless of whether we determine the reason as “good” or “bad” when someone stops attending a church or seeks another church. Some of the reasons below apply to why we decided to leave and some do not. Some are good reasons in my opinion and some are bad. I’d love to discuss this with others so please feel free to reach out. People have been known to leave a church because;

“Good Reasons”

  • Moving too far away
  • Long-term Missionary Work
  • Escaping false teaching
  • Openly committed and unaddressed sin
  • Power-drunk Leadership
  • and more

“Bad Reasons”

  • Church Size
  • Hurt Feelings
  • Lack of ways to Serve
  • The Church is changing
  • The Church refuses to change
  • You’re leaving/giving up Church entirely

This is a big topic, isn’t it? I hope you weren’t expecting a snack for today, it’s a banquet. There are a lot of reasons and way too many for me to cover because I can’t even think of them all. I just know these are things I have personally used before as reasons, justified or not. Reasons I have come to reconcile with their validity or whether I was just needing a scapegoat.

Don’t Give Up and Leave God

Of all the bad reasons giving up on church entirely is the most dangerous of them. God created us, Jesus commanded us to be a community and leaving that community opens a Christian up to the enemies power. It is open season on a soul.

Change can be positive or negative. How the church handles it really can affect how you are going to feel about whatever that change may be. There are still churches today that believe wholeheartedly that a woman’s place is at home, rearing kids and in a kitchen. If you’ve been at a church for over a month and that wasn’t evident to you. Please open your eyes. They will likely refuse to change that and if you are uncomfortable with that it is even more imperative that you move on.

Leadership

Leadership is hard and changes to leadership are even harder. The morale of a congregation can be shaken when a pastor who has their heart turned so fiercely to God leaves suddenly that people become hurt, angry, afraid and betrayed. Questions are asked, people are shouting, and fiefdoms can form because of it. This is when leadership must step up their game and be honest , opening their heart to those who attend their church. Non-answers to tough questions force your people to question things even more than they already do.

We cannot forget the Pastor who may be leaving the church. As an outgoing authority they are called to gracious exiting. God’s work takes providence over their personal feelings. This is not some cop out but is in fact extremely self-sacrificing because they could stay and fight. They could blast the leadership out of the water over Pharisee-like polity and power mongering. They could. Yet, a man going through God’s great work of sanctification seeks to live as Christ. And that alone is why a Pastor won’t.

Jesus could have lay waste to those who persecuted him. Effortlessly, they could have been gone, nothing, a bookmark in God’s work. Yet he submitted not out of fear but because his mission was of peace and love and forgiveness.

By God’s design, leadership in the church is a position of humility and selflessness. Church oversight is ministry, not management. Those whom God designates as spiritual shepherds are called not to be governing monarchs or slick celebrities, but humble slaves. In submission to Christ, they must exemplify sacrifice, devotion, submission, and lowliness.

John MacArthur

I have struggled with that realization of peace-seeking because of the affection I hold for a Pastor who affected me deeply. The messages that God allowed him to share with us always left me convicted. I never walked out of church feeling like I had heard the same thing by someone else just said marginally different. I am in no way putting a man on a pedestal because he is too humble for that.

What God did do is show me what a Pastor is. Something I’ve sought for over fifteen years. Something I lost and did not know how to find again. I am forever thankful and changed because of that season in my families life.

Leaving Ain’t Easy

When we choose to leave a church we are choosing to leave a portion of the body of Christ. That’s big. Leaving is a lot like a relationship coming to an end. It sure feels like it doesn’t it? There are two perspectives I want to address this final part through. That is the member and non-member of a church but one who attends regularly.

Non-members go through phases just like relationships. New church and it is so exciting! I want to be involved. What can I do to make this greater than great?! It is a lot like you meeting someone on a date you like and decide to continue dating. You start building your life on this and thinking how to show commitment to it. You start serving and getting involved, it’s a lot like you are now engaged. And that is where non-membership ends.

You could leave at any time. Whether it is a righteous reason or something that eventually proves out to be petty. While you committed yourself to the church in many ways, it was not like a membership. I am not placing non-membership in a serving role as less than a member but only highlighting there is a certain level of commitment that is missing from a non-member.

Members of a church have gone through the same steps of excitement, engagement and increased commitment but they took that last leap. They’ve married their desire to serve to that particular body. The church has poured in to them knowledge and trust that their lives meet the church’s barometer for membership.

Members parting should seek leadership and talk about it. Let them know why and pray they seek God’s authority in their leadership and not their own. When you part, do so graciously. Don’t burn bridges and cause a disturbance out of anger. There are people staying there after you are gone.

It’s Not Always Running

If you’ve come to that heart rending decision to part a church and you’ve prayed, given the decision due diligence, prayed some more, discussed it with the leadership, prayed with them. They will need your prayer and if Christ can pray for those murdering him, we surely can swallow our unjust pride and pray for them as well as the situation in general.

Leaving a church for a “good reason” is not running or “going out with a whimper” it is a walk by faith and not by sight.

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