White Man’s Sin: Racism? Responding to the Current War Heating up in the Church

While many of my Christian brethren love to propagate their freedom of choice, an honest evaluation of our lives reveals that for all of our talk of freedom there are many things that we did not choose for ourselves.

We didn’t choose our birth, or the timing of our entry into this world, nor did we have a say in the location. Neither did we have the ability to chose our ethnic heritage. And if I wanted to rub some further salt in the wound, we didn’t have (nor do we now) a choice in our gender. Our coming into the world, as momentous of an event it may or may not have been, was not something that we sat down and decided beforehand.

True, our parents may have decided to “make a baby,” but even in that choice many necessary limitations were put on the will of the man and woman who wanted to bring a child into the world. On the other hand, God did make all of those choices for us. He didn’t ask our opinion, but rather He did what He deemed right.

By the way, that is always how God acts in history (it is His-story to begin with!). The Lord Almighty created mankind in His image, male and female He created us (Gen 1.26-28). God has chosen our time, our place, our talents, our gender, our skin color, our wealth and the length of our lives.

  • And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place (Acts 17.26).
  • “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass…” (Job 14.5).

God in His Sovereign providence has decreed and purposed all things perfectly according to His good will: “By your appointment [O Lord] they stand this day, for all things are your servants” (Psa 119.91; cf. Psa 148.5-6; Eph 1.11). God has a justifiable reason for everything under the sun, everything in the spiritual realm; although, we must readily admit our ignorance on many matters. For what God has not deemed worthy to reveal are His by divine right; and yet, what He has given to us is for our benefit (Deut 29.29).

I say all of this to point out one glaring truth: God has brought about all these things, including my heritage as a man. Everything that I possess is a gift from God. You with me so far? Of course, this is the easy stuff. But that is not why I am writing this post.

There is no question that we live in a nation that has a mountain of sins in its history. One of those sins is the mistreatment of others because of their skin color (or other facial features that are more readily seen). Slavery and segregation were horrible atrocities. Ethnic bigotry, which is often coined by its more popular term “racism” is downright evil. But is this evil, what we would rightly call sin, a white man’s disease? Is racism the “white man’s sin?” The answer is pretty obvious, but nonetheless its very unpopular and will be vehemently denied by many in Western society; sadly, even those in the Christian Church.

NO! Racism is not the white man’s sin, but is a sin that all people of various shades of color may be guilty of.

Notice that I did not say “all people” are guilty of this hatefulness, because the truth of the matter is that not all people of various shades of color are guilty. There are black people who are racists, just like there are white people who are racists; there are yellow people who are racists, just like there are red people who are racists. Skin color is not the determining factor of whether or not a person may be a racist. Loving to hate people because they are different than you, is! As Charles Ware notes, “At the central core of racism we find the sinful heart of men living in a fallen world.”[1]

In recent years, I was at a family outing where the discussion of Christian faith was brought up. As the conversation shifted (as they have a tendency of doing) the individual made the comment about coming to the church where I pastor. After sharing their intention of coming, they then offered as a side: “As long as you don’t have a rope in the tree out back.” For a moment, I was kind of taken back. “Why, would this individual say this to me?” I’m not a racist, never have been. Some of my best friends over the years have been people of various shades of color.

Now what seemed forever in my analytical mind, was mere moments for those attending the conversation in question. My response was quick and to the point: “all human beings are descendants of Adam… (we’re of ‘one blood’) ….”[2] Truth be told, I did not tell this person the following quote, but the quote and the teaching of Ken Ham did help in forming my own views from a biblical standpoint. What I believed to be true as a child, was just attested by another many years later, and was offered as a summary to the individual I was speaking with.

Of course, the question remains, “What do we do about racism?” Do we sweep it under the rug? Do we bury our heads in the sand? Do we avoid the conversation so that we keep from being labeled divisive? No. All of those solutions are not solutions. They may seem like solutions if you are a pacifist, but they are not no matter how greedily you may want to cling to them.

Christians are called to be divisive since our nature is to be set apart by the truth (cf. John 8.31; 14.6; 17.17). Truth naturally divides from that which is false. Therefore, confrontation is necessary. Those who are guilty of the sin of ethnic bigotry (racism) need to repent. They need to confess to Christ what they have done, and if they have in anyway harmed another image bearer, they should quickly turn to that person seeking their forgiveness.

Christians ought to drive home the truth in word and action that the remedy for such hatred is not highlighting the differences, but pointing to the need of turning from sin to the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who alone can save and radically change such hatred. For in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in [Him]” (Gal 3.28). Jesus removes all such distinctions.

What Christians should not do, and sad to say many are jumping on this band wagon, is promote one group of people based on their ethnicity over and above another, because of the sins of the past. My great, great, great grandfather may have had black slaves (he didn’t by the way, at least not that I am aware of) in the past, but I am not that man. How can you hold me accountable for the sins of others? What authority do you or any other have to seek reparations from me, when I am not the guilty party? Plainly speaking the answer is this: You have no right to seek such things from me or lay accusations at my feet, nor do you have the right to hold a grudge as if I am the one who has sinned against you.

Now it may be true that God will, because of covenantal responsibilities, deal out what He deems appropriate for such sins of the past. But He has the authority and the Sovereign right to do so. He and He alone, not you, not anyone else or even another group of likeminded individuals have Christ sanctioned authority for such actions or beliefs.

Christians are called to peace. We are called to be people of the book (The Holy Bible) and to learn to not go beyond what is written so that we are not puffed up in our hearts against another (1Cor 4.6). How much better we would all be if we were not so anorexic when it comes to reading God’s Word, so that we might rightly apply it to every situation. Racism is not a white man’s sin, but the sinful person’s hatred that needs to be nailed to the cross in order to put it through the death throes.


[1] A. Charles Ware, “A Bridge Too Far,” in Darwin’s Plantation: Evolution’s Racist Roots, Ken Ham, A. Charles Ware and Todd Hillard (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2007), 38.

[2] Ken Ham, Carl Weiland and Don Batten, One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, [1999], 2004), 167.