Racism and the Bible

In honor of MLK Day, I invite you to think with me on what is left of Racism in our society, and expecially on what part followers of Jesus can and should play in it.

In a conversation with a young person, I realized the other day that though we would like to think racism is a dark spot (and rather large spot at that) on our history, that we have moved on.

We have not.  We have improved; but the topic still needs our attention.

This was made clear to me in the context of “would you approve of your daughter dating” someone of a different race.

My immediate answer is, of course, “yes,” but my honest answer is better worded as “I hope so, think so, expect so.”

As long as I’m not certain, there is still within me, at least the danger of racism.

Much as I’d like to read your own responses to the dating your daughter scenario, here is where I really want to take this post.

Would you throw down some scripture at your adolescent child in support of your racist attitude?  (If you answer that one too confidently, substitute “your concern for cultural sensitivity and issues” for “racist attitude.”)

Here is the deal. A young person tells me that a friend’s parents said that the Bible speaks against “mixing cultures,: and they interpreted this as “so, no, you may not date a black guy.”

I get the question: Does the Bible really say this?

Well, yes and no.  Yes, there is scriptural concern for cultural purity.  No, the point was clearly not about dating someone of the same high school but a different color.

I, of course, want to sit down and discuss these alleged scriptural mandates, but I don’t know the parents, and don’t know to what they might be referring.

Even if I did, once someone has their interpretation of scripture at a place that supports the decision they want to make anyway, who am I to think a seminary education (mine) will change their minds?  Especially where there daughter is concerned?

For me, this reduces to one more instance of weaponization of scripture.  I am, again, at a loss for exactly how to approach such methodology in a way that opens minds and conversation rather than closing either or both.

Are there scriptures that you once used as proof-texts that you have since learned to read (or use) otherwise?  If so, through what process did you go to find this different way of reading?

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