No, Racism Is Not a Sin


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 10.43.57 PMFirst published on December 21, 2015.

“…”Racism is one subcategory of sin and so all of us are corrupted by sin and all of us have prejudices that hold us captive and hold us back from the kind of deep and meaningful relationships that we believe God calls us to,”…”  President Michael Le Roy of Calvin College

I’m an Episcopalian.  We have a rather strange definition of sin.  It is something basically defined by the list of the Ten Big Ones.  The Very Reverend John Penn once told me sin is a violation of one of the Ten Commandments. Nothing in it about racism.

I am the LORD thy God
Thou shalt have no other gods
No graven images or likenesses
Not take the LORD’s name in vain
Remember the sabbath day
Honour thy father and thy mother
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness
Thou shalt not covet

Then there are the Seven Deadly Sins of Catholicism.  They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth.  I don’t see racism on the list.  Then in Proverbs we have the following things that the Lord hates. ( Proverbs 6:16-19).  Or, sin is what separates us from God.

  1. A haughty disdainfull look
  2. A lying tongue
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood
  4. A heart that devises wicked plots
  5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief
  6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
  7. Him that soweth discord among brethren

To put it succinctly, sin required confession.  The Catholic Church has a list of mortal sins:

Abortion     Adulation     Adultery     Agnosticism     Atheism     Bestiality     Blasphemy
Contraception     Cheating     Defrauding …a worker of his wages     Missing Mass
Divination     Divorce     Drug usage     Endangering     Envy     Euthanasia     Extortion
Extreme anger     False Oaths     Fornication     Freemasonry     Hatred     Homosexual actions
Idolatry     Incest     Lying     Masturbation     Murder     Perjury     Polygamy     Pornography
Prostitution     Rape     Sacrilege     Scandal     Suicide     Terrorism     Unjust prices

Racism isn’t directly on the list. According to the United Church of Christ, it is a sin, but I’m an Episcopalian. Methodists say it is a sin.  In Torah there are 613 Mitzvot (Commandments).  There’s nothing about racism in it.  In 1994, the Episcopal Church issued a statement on the sin of racism, but if you read it, racism is about the practice of various sins, such as hatred, lying, and even false pride.  In fact, it might not behoove a person to delve too deeply into the New Testament when it comes to racism, especially in the US.  Here, it is very difficult to separate racism from slavery.  According to the Apostle Paul, slavery was NOT a sin, that a person should be content in whatever situation the Lord placed them.  I also wouldn’t delve too deeply in the Old Testament.  If you read the Mitzvot, there’s a heck of a lot of racial prejudice in it.  Christ tells us we are to love one another as we love ourselves.

Things get a little sticky when you wrap racism up in hatred and forgiveness.  The Lord’s Prayer tells us that we are forgiven – as we forgive others.  If a person hates someone of another race, and cannot forgive what happened to their ancestors well over a century ago, then it is terrifying.  They aren’t going to be forgiven.

If one is truly of Christ, then they have what is known as the Fruits of the Spirit within them.Galatians 5:22-23.

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • forbearance
  •  kindness
  •  goodness
  • faithfulness
  •  gentleness
  • self-control

This is, I think, the closest thing the Bible has to condemn racism, not by condemning outright, but in recognizing which attributes are exhibited when a person is truly living with the Holy Spirit within them.  If a person practices the Fruit of the Spirit, there can be no room for racism.  The real problem is those who are currently condemning so many of racism are truly lacking in the above.  If they don’t have love, they are nothing, and I’m not seeing much love in them.  Quite frankly, all I see is hatred.

SO…. what are sins that could include racism?  You could have a whole skew of them.  Just think about it.

Thou shalt have no other gods – idolatry
No graven images or likenesses – worship of false gods
Not take the LORD’s name in vain – using bad words, certain curses
Remember the sabbath day – (Okay, I’m constantly guilty about this one)
Honour thy father and thy mother – treating your parents like sh*t
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness – lying about someone
Thou shalt not covet – wanting something you don’t have

There are a heck of a lot of ways you could turn racism into a very real sin, but racism in itself is not a sin.  One of the problems with our increasingly ignorant culture is that even the religious classes are abjectly unlearned when it comes to so many things.  People have a basic herd mentality, doing what they are told, accepting what they are told, with no thought as to their own individuality.  In order to be politically correct, and not appear to be ‘racist’, they often knowingly violate what they know not to be true, even within their own faith.

Racism is not a sin.  But, like all truly despicable things, it causes a person to sin in ways they never would have considered.  Not only the act of racism can cause a person to sin, but the anger that the act creates, not only within the one who is a racist, but the person who despises the very act can be enveloped in the sins involved in the process.

Back in the summer, a very bad person committed the sin of murder, when he killed good men and women in a church in Charleston.  Along the way, those who detested what he did enveloped themselves in the idolatry of the hatred of the hate.  One thing I noticed were the lies being told, especially on the left.  According to Torah, lying is a sin akin to murder, and just as serious.  You are murdering the character of a person by lying about them.  A person can make idolatry of their hatred of racism.

Racism is not a sin, but it leads to sin.