Does the Bible support racism and religious discrimination? Judging by the support of Trump from so many Christians, especially Evangelicals, you might think the answer is yes. However, a close examination shows that the Bible does not Support Racism and Religious Discrimination.
I started to write this from the point of view of a Christian looking at Donald Trump – the current U.S. President. It’s all too easy for someone who’s not white and isn’t Christian to look at him and say, “yes, the Bible does support both racism and religious discrimination”.
In fact, I actually started writing exactly that. But then it hit me – that’s not the example I should use. Sure – he does act like he supports both. And I could, and have, written about how the Bible shows his actions and his words are wrong.
Does the Bible Support Racism and Religious Discrimination?
But that’s backwards. Rather than show that racial and religious discrimination done by self-proclaimed Christians is wrong, I should just go with the fact that the Bible says God loves everyone. And God wants everyone to be saved and have eternal life with Him. We see that very clearly in something Peter wrote.
The Day of the Lord
2Pe 3:1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
2Pe 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
2Pe 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
I left in the first part of the passage for context. It’s relevant, even today. Maybe more so today, since those things are seen as harder and harder to believe because of some of the things “known” by science. Even though other science discoveries support those same Biblical statements that others dismiss.
But the next part is the key.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
When we read anyone and everyone, the Greek words from which they came really do mean anyone and everyone. Often-times the English words lose something in the translation. But not in this case. It’s anyone and everyone. No exceptions.
There is one thing I need to point out though. Some people take verses like this out of context and think it means everyone’s going to Heaven. Why? Because they see something that they think means God doesn’t want anyone to perish – go to Hell – and does want everyone to go to Heaven – come to repentance.
But that’s misinterpreting what this really says. Here’s the Greek word for what we read as wanting, as in not wanting anyone to perish.
1014 βούλομαι [boulomai /boo·lom·ahee/] v. Middle voice of a primary verb; TDNT 1:629; TDNTA 108; GK 1089; 34 occurrences; AV translates as “will” 15 times, “would” 11 times, “be minded” twice, “intend” twice, “be disposed” once, “be willing” once, “list” once, and “of his own will” once. 1 to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded. 2 of willing as an affection, to desire. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
We see not wanting anyone to perish and we think and want it to mean that’s God’s will. But it’s not. Notice – of willing as an affection, to desire. God’s desire is for everyone to have eternal life with Him. But that isn’t the same as it’s His will and it’s going to happen, no matter what.
No – Justice is still required. Failure to accept Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for our sins – such as racism and religious discrimination – means we pay the price. It means we “perish”.
God’s love also means that if our desire is to live without Him, then that’s what we’re going to get. “Perish” – the second death – means going to Hell. The place where God isn’t.
Either way, we get what we wanted. We turn down God’s justice – we pay the price. We perish. We refuse to live with God in this life and don’t want to live with Hm in the next – we perish.
Translation, for this topic – we engage in racism and religious discrimination in this life, we turn down God’s offer of redemption, we want to live without God, we perish.
Peter continues in the passage, but the verses aren’t relevant to our topic here. However, if you’d like to read them, as long as you’re not on a cell phone, there should be a link to the entire passage at 2Pe 3:1-18.
2Pe 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
So – you may be wondering, how do I come to that conclusion from this one passage? Honestly, I don’t. There’s a lot more. But I’ll give you just two. From God Himself.
God would like everyone to be saved
I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with at least part of the first passage. But again, let’s keep it in context.
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
Jn 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jn 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’”
Jn 3:4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Jn 3:9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
So Jesus is talking to a Pharisee. One who’s afraid to be seen with Jesus, so he visits under cover of darkness. And Nicodemus, who should have known these things since he was a student of Jewish Scripture – what we call the Old Testament – learns from Jesus.
So maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on people, including ourselves, who don’t “get it” right away. Then Jesus explains things to him.
Jn 3:10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
Now, for the current topic –
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.
God would like everyone to be saved, but not everyone will be
Notice again – the offer of salvation will not be taken up by everyone. whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Not everyone will believe in Jesus. Maybe that includes you. If it does, I pray something / someone will help change your mind.
The statement is clear. Some will be saved. Some won’t. The various reasons why some won’t are also spelled out – throughout the Bible.
The next part is where we need to pay attention to our own lives. And, if necessary, to those in this world that we follow / support. We need to ask where will we end up?
As you go through this, remember that “believing” in Jesus, no matter what you may have heard, isn’t just saying some magic words. No, when we read the actual Greek words in Scripture, and when we read the rest of the New Testament for context, we see that action is required. Our belief must be so strong that we act based on it.
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.”
So where are we? Where are you? In the light? Or in the dark? And don’t forget – 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.
And also keep in mind, this isn’t doing things to be saved. This is about doing things because we are saved – by our belief that’s so strong we act based on it.
How can we follow Jesus’ commission to us when we support racism and religious discrimination?
Which brings us to the second and final passage showing that racism, religious discrimination, among other things, are not supported by the Bible.
Mt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations
We do that because we already have faith. We already believe in Jesus.
And – we go to all nations. Not the ones who are the same race we are. Not to the ones who are the same religion as we are.
Just think about that second one. What’s the point of spreading the Gospel to people who are already Christians?
You know, even as I was typing that, the answer came to mind. A lot of Christians need to hear the Gospel. Again. And again. Truth is we all do. every time we do something that’s against what Jesus taught.
But clearly, the task Jesus gave at the time was for His disciples to go to the Jews and the pagans of that era.
For us today, it’s anyone who isn’t already Christian. Although, there is that understanding that we also need refreshers. That’s why there are church services, small groups, Bible studies, Etc.
And nowhere in any of those should we see, hear or read anything saying Jesus is in favor of racism or religious discrimination. After all, if we do those things, how are we supposed to be able to spread the Gospel?
Who will even want to listen to us, let alone be baptized by us, if they think our religion discriminates against their race?
And while we disagree with other religions, we must also treat everyone with respect and with love. Otherwise, why would they want to join us? No one wants to join a group that hates them.
Conclusion – Does the Bible Support Racism and Religious Discrimination?
Hopefully, by now you can see that the Bible does not call for, or support, racism or religious persecution. Or any other kind of persecution.
Let’s see just one final passage that ties it all together.
Love for Enemies
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.”
Even though we might want to hate our enemies, the people we persecute, Jesus says not to. It can’t be any more clear. 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.
There’s just no way we should be persecuting anyone we love. And as Christians, we are to love everyone. No exceptions.
So no matter what verse or fragment of a verse you might pull out of context, in the overall context of what Jesus taught, there’s just no place for us to persecute anyone. Period. It’s not Christ-like.
On top of that, we really shouldn’t be doing what I’ll call persecution by proxy. Supporting someone else who will persecute the people we don’t like. Maybe we think that gets around the matter. We aren’t doing it. Someone else is.
But when we go back to what Jesus said about the house divided, that kind of logic only succeeds in making us a house divided. Our loyalties are split between our proxy persecutor – and Jesus. That house is going to fall. Why? Because when we don’t think we’re doing anything wrong, we don’t ask forgiveness. Essentially, we reject God’s offer of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross. And then, well, we perish.
Got it? Don’t perish! Ask forgiveness. And then try, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to stop trying to justify racism and religious discrimination through picking words out of the Bible out of context.