The Vanity Fair headline reads: Florida advances bill that would ban making white people feel bad about racism. It immediately brought something to mind. Do they know that Jesus wasn’t white? In fact, Jesus was, gasp, Middle Eastern. And do they know what the Bible says about foreigners and aliens? Oh yeah, do they also know that white people would have been aliens in many parts of the known world in Biblical times? Does that mean Florida will ban the Bible?
Here’s what’s going on, as reported in Vanity Fair.
On Tuesday, a bill backed by Florida governor Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from inflicting “discomfort” on white people during lessons or training about discrimination was approved by the state’s Senate Education Committee, its first hurdle before becoming a law.
I wrote about teaching the Bible in school before, for instance in Is teaching the Bible in public schools a good idea? It goes into why, in fact, bringing the Bible into schools is not a good idea. This issue of banning things that make white people feel discomfort over racism extends that reasoning even further. Why? Because, if read properly, the Bible makes everyone, including white people, feel very uncomfortable about racism. Maybe especially white people, since we’ve turned Jesus into a white man when He was actually middle eastern. You know, as in the first people some white Americans think of as terrorists? How’s that for discomfort over racism?
How can I say that?
The truth will set you free
Some of you are thinking, how can he say that? Well, sometimes the truth hurts. But then, as Jesus said, the truth will set you free. Do you remember when Jesus spoke to some Jews who believed what He said? BTW – yes, these were the ones who believed Him. At least, they said they believed Him. Remember that as we proceed.
Of course, the entire passage is important for context, but the reference to the truth is underlined.
Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”
Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
The truth will set you free – if you believe it
Remember, I said these Jews claimed to believe what Jesus said. But, if they really did believe, why are they arguing? And why are they telling Jesus that He’s wrong about them? However, the killer statement is yet to come. The one where Jesus tells them they are not children of God. And that’s why I said we must pay attention to the passage above. And now I say we must also pay attention to the one immediately following it. The one with Jesus’ response, telling those who claim to believe that they really don’t.
Jn 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
So – how can I say that? What is the truth?
The truth, much to the chagrin of some when they realize it, is that the Son of God came to earth as a Middle Eastern Jewish carpenter.
And extending that truth, based on the passages above, means that if we claim to be followers of this Middle Eastern Jewish carpenter Son of God, then we must believe Him. And we must live like we believe Him. Even the parts that make us feel uncomfortable.
By the way, do you realize just how much of the Bible makes us feel uncomfortable? You should know. Jesus told us. You almost certainly know John 3:16. However, how much of the context surrounding John 3:16 do you know? And how little of that context do you believe?
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Jn 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Isn’t that exactly what this bill in Florida is all about? Keeping things in the darkness? Not wanting to feel bad about things “white people” have done? Come on folks – do we really think we’d be all that much different? And if you say yes, just look in the mirror and ask why does that person you’re looking at support a bill that seeks to hide the reality that you are very uncomfortable?
Wait – the Bible doesn’t talk about black and white people
No, the Bible didn’t talk about white people versus black people. But surely you know about the way Jewish people felt about Samaritans. Here’s a little something on that, just in case you need a reminder.
The negative attitude of the Jews towards the Samaritans is reflected in Jesus’ statement in Matt. 10:5, in which Samaritans are linked with Gentiles in contrast to ‘the house of Israel’ (cf. Acts 1:8, in which Samaria occupies a median position between Jerusalem/Judea and the gentile world) and in John 8:48, in which the adversaries of Jesus refer to him contemptuously as ‘a Samaritan’—and demon-possessed as well. The itinerary of Jesus in Mark (10:1; it is followed in Matt. 19:1 but altered somewhat in Luke) seems to reflect a standard Jewish practice of avoiding Samaria in pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
Basically, the Jews regarded the Samaritans as a people foreign to themselves, in spite of an obviously shared heritage: the term ‘foreigner’ used by Jesus of the thankful Samaritan leper in Luke 17:18 (Gk. allogenēs) is the term used in the Jerusalem Temple inscription excluding non-Jews from the court of Israel. (The historian Josephus relates that the Samaritans were excluded from the Jerusalem Temple by formal edict, not because of nationality but due to acts of mischief they allegedly perpetrated there). It was the alien nature of the Samaritans, as commonly perceived, that gave the ironic sting to the story of the grateful leper and to the parable of the good Samaritan: only one out of ten returned to express thanks, and ‘he was a Samaritan’; the Samaritan stranger was the good neighbor, not the priest or the Levite! Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 898). Harper & Row.
Given that, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jesus came today that he’d have similar things to say to us white people about people of color.
Conclusion – Does the Bible make white people feel bad about racism?
Maybe instead of trying to shut down anything that makes us feel uncomfortable about the past, we should instead do things to make us truly comfortable about the present? I mean, it’s not like everyone who isn’t like us is our enemy. Yes, some are, for various reasons. But it doesn’t need to be that way. And aren’t we supposed to try to do something about that when it does happen?
Maybe you remember the two passages below?
Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Mt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
Mt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
If/when we Christians, even in Florida and other places with politically active self-claiming Christians, do those things, we are following the commands of our Middle Eastern Jewish carpenter namesake of our religion.
I ask – isn’t it better to follow that God?
Or do you want to continue to follow the god of those who claim to be Christian, but in Jesus’ words, may very well be children of the devil?
We cannot be both.
6:22, 23 pp — Lk 11:34-36
Mt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
The treasures of our “god” are in one of two places:
- here on earth, in politics with the god who loves those in his party
- in Heaven, with the God who loves everyone
As always, choose carefully.
Choice #1, when carried just a little further towards its inevitable interpretation, will end up with the Bible being banned. As you can imagine, that’s probably not what true Christians really want. And yet, it’s poised to go there in relatively short order. For those Christians that support it, it’s not looking good for either life in the short term, or especially for life into eternity.
On the other hand, choice number two is clearly the best option for those who truly do want to spend eternity with Jesus.
“No symbol” Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
Bible Image by cgrape from Pixabay
Combined by me
|Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 898). Harper & Row.