Does the Bible mention discrimination or bias, and if so, what is the biblical view of racism?
Grace, not Race
Even though the word racism is not in the Bible, the Bible clearly teaches that racism is not part of what God intends. There are far too many Scriptures to support that statement in one article, so there are enough to consider, in both the Old Testament and New Testament. First of all, there is no excuse, most of all Christians, to treat anyone with a different skin color, language, nation, or religion in a way that they would not want to be treated. Like Jacob’s multi-colored coat, God is saving people from every nation and people on the face of the earth. Worship in heaven will include people from many different backgrounds. After Christ’s return, they sing in heaven, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). John does not see just one nation or group of people worshiping God in heaven, but in fact people from every nation. He saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). People from all tribes, peoples, and languages will stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, so God has no greater or lesser regard for any person, nation, language, or tribe. Surely you’ve heard the Apostle Paul’s statement that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28), since, “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:29).
Old Testament Examples
When the nation Israel came out of their Egyptian bondage, there were people who came along that were not of the children of Abraham. God gave the same rights to the Israelites as He did to resident aliens. An example is Deuteronomy 1:16 where Moses wrote, “And I charged your judges at that time, Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him.” The Lord’s command, written by the Prophet Jeremiah, says, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (22:3). Ruth, a Moabite, was welcome to dwell with the Israelites as she was welcomed by Boaz, along with her mother-in-law, Naomi, later, marrying Boaz and becoming part of the royal lineage of Jesus Christ. Knowing that she was a Moabite, which was an enemy of Israel, you could tell she was surprised by her acceptance, and why “she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner” (Ruth 2:10). As long as a foreigner obeyed the laws of God, they were offered the same protection under the laws of God, just as would any natural born Israelite would be. In both the Old Testament and New Testament, we find that God is more interested in receiving worship in spirit and in truth than in who worships Him (John 4:24).
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
I think it’s in our nature to look at people and judge them. I don’t mean condemn them, but we can judge people by the way they look because if they look a certain way, it may or may not fit our expectations, but obviously, we’re wrong to do that because we don’t know their heart like God does. We should “not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). The word “judge” in this context doesn’t mean condemn but we can easily become judge, jury, and executioner. Every day you hear someone who has done this or has done that, and it’s almost as if they’re guilty till proven innocent. The Lord told the Prophet Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). I have heard some very harsh judgmental statements from believers, and I haven’t been innocent either, but I’ve learned to accept people for who they are and where they’re from. I have no excuse now. I understand that God “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), so we have no right to show partiality because “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
In God’s Image
Genesis 1:27 records the fact that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” so even in creation, God shows no partiality, and why Paul can write that “God shows no partiality” (Rom 2:11), so we know “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” (Rom 10:12). If we do show partiality, God’s Word says, we “are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9). That’s not a good place to be. Why not leave the judging up to God and assume the best in people. The Bible teachers that love believes all things (1 Cor 13:7), which I believe means we give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t make the worst assumptions about them.
Christians are commanded to love one another and not judge people by the way they look, so I hope we can see just how sinful it is to have regard, lesser or greater, for anyone of a certain color, nationality, language, and so on. There is no room for discrimination in this present world or in the world to come. If God accepts us, then we ought to accept one another, and that includes accepting their differences. Just look at nature; you can see God loves variety, and there are so many differences among the nations that I think it gives our world the look of Joseph’s coat of many colors. “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Rom 9:8), and “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Rom 4:16). It is never about race….it is only about grace.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.