Race and Class
John C. Rankin
On university campuses, in politics and the media, there is a popular “trinity” of evils espoused in many courses. This “trinity” is “racism, sexism and classism.” The blame for this “trinity” of evils is often laid at the doorstep of the church – the accusation is that a biblical worldview is intrinsically racist, sexist and classist. Or in other words, a reversal where the triune God is accused of favoring a “trinity” of evil.
And in fact, when the abortion industry is examined, it is the singularly most racist, sexist and classist institution there is.
Human abortion is racist. Black Americans are 12-13 percent of the population of the United States, and yet they are 38-39 percent of the abortions, as Planned Parenthood strategically places 72 percent of its abortion centers in minority neighborhoods. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, from the early part of the twentieth century, was a well known racist who wanted the abolition of the “Negro race,” a eugenicist and one who initially praised Adolf Hitler’s Mien Kampf in 1922.
Human abortion is sexist. 82 percent of all abortions are upon single women, of the remaining 18 percent, in three-quarters of the cases, the pregnancy is due to adultery, and of the remaining one-quarter, the man is usually on his way out of the marriage. In other words, the man is able to get a woman pregnant and then leave the relationship, forsake responsibility and move on. This factor is present in the overwhelming number of abortions, and thus, abortion is now a woman’s freedom, but it is the license of male chauvinism. Human abortion is also classist. The vast majority are performed on those with the least education and income, multiplied by all the single women in this category where poverty runs so deep as men take advantage of them.
It is only a biblical worldview, rooted in the ethics of Only Genesis which can redress these real and pervasive evils.
The Unity of Mankind
Only Genesis is unique in its assumption that all people have a common ancestry, rooted in the fact that all of us are created in God’s image, and all of us are descendants of Adam and Eve. All pagan origin texts are intrinsically parochial in scope at the benign level, or xenophobic (fearful of other cultural groups) and/or racist at the most evil level. Even secular humanism, rooted in the mutations of a godless macro-evolution, has no original concept of the unity of the human race. The Darwinian postulate of “the survival of the fittest” is a prescription for war, just as Marduk made war against Tiamat at the beginning of the Babylonian Genesis. There is nothing new under the sun – only a change of costume. Every origin text or concept, apart from the goodness of the order of Yahweh’s creation, is rooted therefore in the reversal, and therefore in distrust.
Racism, sexism and classism are the inevitable outcomes of any worldview not rooted in Only Genesis. The biblical lineages are traced meticulously to affirm such a common humanity, whereas pagan lineages are purposed to segregate people groups. Only the biblical genealogy makes a claim that all people come from one man and woman, whereas the assumptions of pagan genealogies start millennia later (whether in their mythological, quasi-historical or historical elements), when separation of people groups has long since occurred, and thus paganism assumes the fractured essence of the human race as a given.
In covenantal law, Yahweh’s purpose has always been to redeem the whole human race. But after the Adamic and Noahic covenants were disregarded, and after the Tower of Babel and its attempt to unify mankind negatively against Yahweh, based on astrology and sorcery, Yahweh chose to work with the remaining faithful man on the planet: Abra(ha)m. His lineage, the Hebrews, were set apart, not for the purpose of segregating humanity on racial and class divides, but for the purpose of preserving one culture that would resist the slide into polytheism and totalitarianism, and would recognize the Messiah at his appearance.
Thus, the laws for covenant Israel required that the alien and sojourner receive the same equal protection as the native-born Israelite in matters of civil rights (cf. Leviticus 24:22). The Hebrews always treated the pagans as though they should know the one true God (Elohim) above their pantheons, and the Israelites knew that, as Isaiah prophesied, the Messiah would be “a light to the Gentiles” (42:6).
Jonah was taught by God to desire mercy for his racial enemies (the Ninevites), and when Jesus came to minister to the Jews in his first coming, he began the process of breaking down the racial and sexual bigotries that infected them at the time. By meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, who was an adulteress also, he affirmed the equal dignity of women with men, and he affirmed that the racially hated “half-breed” Samaritans (descendants from the assimilated Jews of the northern kingdom conquered by the Assyrians in 721 B.C.) were equal in dignity and worth to the Jews (cf. John 4:1-42; Luke 10:25-37).
After Jesus had completed his work on the cross, rose and ascended to the Father, God appeared to Peter in Acts 10 to show him it was now time to minister the Good News to the Gentiles. When Paul spoke to the Athenians at Mars Hill in Acts 17, he appealed to their common knowledge that all people come from one man and the one true God (vv. 24-28). In his epistles he spoke of there being “no difference between Jew and Gentiles – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all those who call on him” (Romans 10:12), and that baptism in Christ is available to all (1 Cor. 12:13). In Galatians 3:26-29, we see its all-inclusiveness:
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
The “racism, sexism and classism trinity of evils” has, to the best of my knowledge, arisen without knowingly depending on biblical language. Here in Galatians 3:28, we see each such social evil addressed by Paul instinctively, as he affirms the unity of reconciliation in Christ. “Jew nor Greek” refers to racial divisions; “slave nor free” to class divisions; and “male nor female” to sexual divisions. Only the Bible, rooted in the ethics and revelation of only Genesis, affirms such a unity in the face of such division. And, as Paul refers to here, it traces back to Abraham as being the man of faith through whom this unity has been redeemed, back to the reason why Yahweh chose Israel to be a nation set apart for the necessary season until the Messiah was revealed. Thus, Paul can declare in Ephesians 2:11-22:
“Therefore, remember that formerly you who were Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Here Paul is celebrating the new, powerful and radical inclusiveness of the Gentiles. For them it was water to parched lips, nephesh (needfulness of human nature) honored. The reason why they were excluded before was not because God excluded them, but because, consistent with the ethics of informed choice, they had excluded themselves. The “circumcision of the flesh” has completed its purpose in setting apart the Jewish nation as the Messianic community, and now that the Messiah has come, the “circumcision of the heart” embraces all who choose to receive the completed work of the Messiah – by the cost of his blood on the cross.
All the racial and cultural hostilities are end for those who choose to believe in Jesus. And thus we can make observation that those who consciously refuse the known Messiah, are those who wish in some fashion, for their own personal and selfish gain, to continue in racial, sexual or class divisions.
This emphasizes why Christianity is so Jewish, and why the Jews were so Adamic. Only the faithful remnant of the Jews across the centuries, prior to the Messiah, maintained the witness of the one true God and a common humanity for all races, and in the face of all hostile divisions. Contra elitism. And Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who came to redeem all humanity, and thus the willing Gentiles, as his ultimate goal.
This trajectory brings us to Revelation 5:9-11, where we read:
“And they sang a new song:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’ ”
The reversal of the reversal is celebrated in this passage, as it is elsewhere in the book of Revelation. A people who were once one, then divided, are now reunited. Every tribe, language, people and nation will be represented before the throne of God in worship (including those, per Romans 2:12-16, who had never formally heard the Gospel preached, but whose hearts honored the order of creation).
This diversity is naturally assumed in the biblical texts where Africans are mentioned in context, as not more or less human than an Israelite (cf. the Queen of Sheba [1 Kings 10:1ff]; Ebed-Melech [Jeremiah 38:7ff] plus other Cushites; and the Ethiopian eunuch [Acts 8:26ff]). The same ethics and power of informed choice have been made available to all as image-bearers of God for salvation or refusal of it. This perspective and possibility can only be grasped from the starting point of the order of creation, and an acknowledgment that the reversal is what causes racism, sexism and classism.