What can be done about racism?

Racial differences are surface differences of color and culture. Beneath the trivial external variations all men are created in the image of God. The American religious landscape is dotted with perverse teachings claiming certain ethnic groups are not created in God’s image. Some have said the curse of Canaan is why black people will be slaves or poor. Some have said that blacks are not actually descended from Adam but from another group that was created by not given a soul like Adam and Eve were. Similar stupidities have been spouted about Indians, Mexicans and Eskimos. No teaching of racial superiority or inferiority is found in the Bible. The Biblical reality is that every person who has ever lived is a descendant of Adam and Eve. As a result, every person of every color and culture bears the image of God. Every person on this planet carries within the unique mark of the semblance of the Divine. All men share a common origin, common heritage and common created representation of God. Racism is not only an attack on others, it is an attack on the image of God.

The problems between ethnic groups are not caused by the intrinsic differences between groups. The problems between the races are caused by the intrinsic similarities between all people. Men do not hate others because they are different. Men hate others because of the sin, pride, selfishness, jealousy and hatred that resides naturally in every human heart. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Romans 3 describes all men, “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Destruction and misery are in their ways.” Racial violence and tensions are not because a few men are racists. The problems between races are just one expression of the universal selfishness and hatred that characterizes all mankind without Christ. As long as men are without Christ they will find an excuse to hate others. The solution is not found in taking down all nationalistic or tribal symbols. The solution is not fostering dialog between different groups. The solution The solution is replacing the commonality that divides with a commonality that unites. The solution is the transformation of the heart and relationships that can only be produced by Christ.

This transformation and unity is to be modeled withing the church. Jesus prayed that all His disciples would be one, even as He and the Father are one. The church is a community that is characterized by it’s cross cultural communion. In the church station, privilege and importance are not defined by familial heritage, personal income or political power. In the church “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free:” In the church all the redeemed are “all one in Christ.” The work of Christ on the cross has removed all national, language and culture barriers between people. In Christ, Christians are made members of a new people group. Christians are now a “holy nation, a peculiar people.” Surface diversities are nothing when compared to the essential unity between men. Racism will end when man’s sin nature is replaced by the new nature of Jesus.

Is homosexuality a sin?

Recent months have seen increased discussion about the permissibility of homosexual marriage. The public debate will probably continue for many months. For many who have a religious background the debate has gone beyond what is publically permissible to center on what the Bible teaches. Some churches have declared the Bible does not teach homosexuality is sinful. Some churches have become more ardent in their protests that homosexuality is sinful. With these issues certain to stay in the public eye for quite a while, it is necessary to answer the question, does the Bible say homosexuality is a sin.

The answer is really very simple. Yes, homosexuality is a sin. The Bible plainly and repeatedly condemns homosexuality. Jude 1:7 identifies homosexuality as one of the reasons Sodom and Gomorrha were destroyed. The Mosaic law specifically forbade any kind of homosexual behavior, including cross dressing. Romans 1:25-27 speaks of those who have rejected God and the punishment of their idolatry. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

Romans 1 identifies homosexual behavior as the punishment of rejecting God. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle to be embraced, but Divine judgment that should promote repentance not rejoicing. 1 Corinthians 6:9 includes homosexuality, “abusers of themselves with mankind”, in the list of sins which will not be found in the true child of God. 1 Timothy 1:10 says that homosexuals, “them that defile themselves with mankind”, are behaving in a way that is opposed to truth.

These are the specific Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality. Added to this is the Biblical definition of the only category of permitted sexual behavior, that which occurs between and man and his wife. The commands against all forms of illicit sexual behavior always encompass homosexual behavior. To state the case succinctly, the Bible plainly forbids all sexual desire, fantasy or activity outside the relationship of a man and woman in marriage. God’s Word does not just condemn the action it condemns the lusts. How any one can attempt to offer legitimate argument against the Bible’s clear statements is rather baffling. The statements of the Bible are plain. The only way to read the Bible as giving anything other than a consistent condemnation of homosexuality is to make one’s own ideas and philosophies more important than the plain reading of the Bible.

Why do bad things happen?

The world is filled with scenes of tragedy. The world’s woes show in gory detail that all is not right with the world. The calamities that affect every person and place on this globe have prompted some to wonder about God. If there is a God who is all powerful and rules everything, why does He allow terrible things to happen? If God is good, why does He let so many bad things take place? These questions are sometimes phrased in such a way as to imply that disaster proves God does not really exist.

The Bible provides a coherent explanation for the existence and purpose of misfortune and misery in this world. The history of bad things begins at the very beginning. God created everything and everything He created was perfect. Everything worked as it was intended. Death, tragedy, sorrow and despair were nonexistent until God’s creatures began to rebel against Him. The rebellion began with an angel named Lucifer, who was joined by countless other angels in opposition to God. Lucifer then persuaded Eve to disobey God and eat the fruit He had forbidden them. Adam joined Eve in disobedience and the whole human race was plunged into sin and death.

Following Adam and Eve’s sin, God spoke to them and declared judgment against them for their rebellion. In Genesis 3 God tells Adam, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” The sin of man brought down God’s judgment which encompassed all creation. Everything in creation is now cursed because God’s creation rejected Him. The apostle Paul declares in Romans 8, “We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” All of creation groans in intense agony because of sin. Bad things happen because man rebelled against God. God does not delight in the suffering anyone, but He will always be just. Sin will always be punished. Part of that punishment is the present suffering that fills the earth.

To decry the goodness of God because we don’t like the consequences of our sin against Him is foolish. Such outcry is a bit like a guy in prison complaining that the other inmates are mean to him, the guards don’t like him, his bed isn’t comfortable and he doesn’t get to decide in which cell he sleeps. Judgment is not pleasant and has consequences far greater than the mere pronouncement. A sentence of imprisonment always involves many inevitable unpleasantnesses. The sentence of death that came upon the world involves many unpleasant deaths and much suffering along the way. This is not to make light of the severity of suffering. Compassion moves us to aid and comfort those enduring greater agony because of sin. God in His mercy has done much to mitigate the severity of man’s suffering in this life.

God in His wisdom has not removed all the painful, present consequences of sin. The tragedies of this life serve a good purpose. The sorrows of life cause us to turn our eyes upward. What good would it do us to go through life free of pain, free of sorrow, live to a full age and then die peacefully in our sleep? The warnings of the judgment of sin would seem empty and even kind of silly. The suffering of this world remind us that we live in a place broken by sin. The sufferings of this life remind us that the consequences of sin are terrible. These tragedies remind us of sin’s horror and provide opportunity for repentance. The mercy of God gives men a temporary taste of sin’s judgment that they might be motivated to turn from sin to Him for salvation.