Racism and God’s Image
Racism is wrong.
Do you know why?
If you say that it is wrong, but do not ultimately know why, then all you are doing is expressing either your own personal preferences or mirroring the preferences of others.
That is not acceptable, for preferences are subjective expressions, not objective moral statements to which all are accountable. That would be like saying, “I don’t like cats or dogs.” Yet no one ever gets charged with racism for not liking cats or dogs. There must be something far more foundational.
If racism is wrong, then it must be wrong on the basis that there is an objective, universal moral standard to which all people are amenable. If there is no objective, universal moral standard, then it cannot be said that racism is wrong for everyone. If it is not wrong for everyone, then we are back to subjective preferences. That is not acceptable.
But racism is wrong for everyone. There must be an objective, universal moral standard.
If you don’t believe there is such a standard, then don’t tell us that racism is wrong. You have no moral credibility at that point to tell others what they should or should not think about moral issues. All you can do is try to enforce your personal preferences on everyone through gaining power. That, too, is wrong.
Why is racism wrong?
The answer lies in the truth that human beings are made in God’s image.
If human beings are not made in God’s image, but are, instead, products of mindless, purposeless, accidental chance processes, then the reality would be, as Dawkins expressed it, that there is, “at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” Morality would be an illusion and there could be no ultimate justice. In this case, it cannot be said that racism is wrong. It would only be a matter of personal, subjective preference. People will either agree or disagree with the preference, but agreeing or disagreeing is not what makes something right or wrong.
But racism is wrong for everyone. I don’t mean simply that I don’t personally like it. Rather, it is a moral evil that is based upon, at bottom, an objective, universal moral standard grounded in the truth that there is a God and human beings are made in God’s image.
Because human beings are made in God’s image, racism and the effects that flow from it are a violation of the dignity and honor that fundamentally belong to all human beings. We can know that it is wrong to “curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (Jas 3:9). We can know that it is right to treat others as we would want to be treated (Matt 7:12). We can know that it is right to love one another and that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom 12:10).
Because human beings are made in God’s image, racism not only violates the dignity of other human beings, but also violates the glory, honor, and nature of God who made human beings in His image. This is why it is so important for us to love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything hinges on these. How we treat others is how we are treating God.
It matters what we think about who human beings are and where we all come from, for God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Because of this, we can also know that God desires all to be saved, that all nations are welcomed to Him, and that acting in a way contrary to this is sinful (cf. Jas 2:9).
Someone might still say, “I don’t believe in God but I still think racism is wrong and I think I know why. It is wrong because we should not mistreat fellow beings.”
That is true. We should not mistreat fellow human beings, and I do hope all can agree there, though many betray this through unjust treatment of others. Yet that answer still comes up short because all it is doing is pushing the line back. Why should we not mistreat fellow human beings? What is it about human beings that makes it so that we should treat them with honor, dignity, and respect? Why is it actually wrong? If, at bottom, there is no right or wrong, then we are back to the initial problem. After all, we shouldn’t mistreat animals either. What is it that makes human beings so special?
“So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)
Racism is wrong.
Do you know why?