When Moses married an Ethiopian woman, the local 'White
Citizen's Council' grumbled. God indulged in a little 'symbolic speech' to set them straight:
"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he
had married an Ethiopian woman...So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.
And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as
white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. So Aaron said to Moses,
'Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have
sinned.'" (Numbers 12:1-11).
God having made His feelings about white racists plain,
where do the atheists get their information that the Bible teaches blacks are inferior to whites?
From Bible interpretations that don't pass the straight-face test, like the 'mark of Cain'!
Acquired characteristics are not passed on to offspring; so why would an acquired characteristic
like the 'mark of Cain' be passed on to Cain's descendants at all? The Bible says nothing about
Cain's descendants inheriting the 'mark', which was placed on Cain to protect him from vengeance; why
his descendants would need such protection is far from obvious: "Then the LORD said to him, 'Not so!
Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.' And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so
that no one who came upon him would kill him." (Genesis 4:15). If Cain was not born with this
characteristic - and he was not -- then in the ordinary course of nature, his descendents would
not inherit it. While God could certainly change Cain's genetic make-up if He willed the 'mark' to
be inherited, where in the text does it suggest He wished to do so?
Even if the 'mark of Cain' were imagined to be heritable
versus 'a tattoo', where does the text even hint that the 'mark' is 'black complexion', versus 'a
birthmark shaped like the State of Utah', or 'red hair', or an 'epicanthic fold'? Nor is the 'mark'
placed on Cain to mark him out for ill-treatment, but rather precisely to protect him from
ill-treatment. Reassembling the atheist/racist house of cards for the moment, if we were to allow
the speculation that the 'mark of Cain' were heritable, and that the 'mark of Cain' were black
skin, and that the 'mark of Cain' was intended to mark its possessor out for ill-treatment, then why
would only one of Noah's sons have inherited this character? One commonly expects brothers to be of
the same race, not different ones.
Noah uttered a curse against Canaan, the nation displaced by Israel...which racist
interpreters transform into a curse upon Africans, by displacing
it back a generation: "...he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves
shall he be to his brothers.'" (Genesis 9:25). This interpretive
approach goes back to a medieval Kabbalist named Isaac ben Judah
Abravanel, and like most Kabbalistic interpretation, it makes no effort
to connect with the text. Cush, black Africa,
was also a son of Ham, but this is not the nation Noah cursed. The Egyptians,
who held Israel in slavery until the LORD liberated them, were also Ham's
descendants: "Then Israel came to Egypt, Jacob lived as an alien in
the land of Ham." (Psalm 105:23). The Egyptians, descendants of Ham,
enslaved Israel, but were never enslaved by them. For the racists' purposes,
the wrong nation was cursed; it ought to have been Cush.
Another verse atheists advance to claim the Bible teaches
racism is Nehemiah 13:3, "Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from
Israel all the mixed multitude." Of course, northern Europeans were as much part of Nehemiah's
"mixed" multitude as any African would have been!: "When the people heard the law, they separated from
Israel all those of foreign descent." (Nehemiah 13:3 NRSV).
God had instructed His chosen people not to form marriages
with the pagans surrounding them, on grounds that this would put a snare and temptation in their way
to corrupt the worship of the true and living God with paganish practices: "Do not intermarry with
them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn
away your children from following me, to serve other gods." (Deuteronomy 7:3-4); "And you will
take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves
to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods." (Exodus 34:16).
Often enough they defied God's instructions, and just what He predicted happened: worship of
foreign gods was introduced to the people of Israel. The infamous Jezebel was only
following the religion she'd been taught as a child when she introduced Baal-worship to Israel: "And as
if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife
Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians,
and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." (1 Kings 16:31).
This isn't a question of 'race', because those foreigners who chose to cleave to the God of Israel
were welcomed: "But Ruth said, 'Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where
you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my
God. Where you die, I will die -- there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and
more as well, if even death parts me from you!" (Ruth 1:16-17). Ruth, of Moabite racial
origin, is in the family tree of King David: "...and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed
the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David." (Matthew 1:5-6).
Is there even a loose analogy between God's election of
nation Israel and the racist's claim of superiority of whites over blacks? No; nation Israel was
not chosen to be a "kingdom of priests" because they were superior to the other nations.
Quite to the contrary, God rubs their noses in how inconsequential they were: "It was not
because you were more numerous than any other people that the LORD set his heart on you and chose
you -- for you were the fewest of all peoples." (Deuteronomy 7:7). Far from stressing the
innate superiority of the Jews, the Bible stresses their pitiful state versus God's great mercy in
choosing them for His own: "No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you out of compassion
for you; but you were thrown out in the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born.
I passed by you, and saw you flailing about in your blood. As you lay in your blood, I said to
you, 'Live!...'" (Ezekiel 16:5-6).
This is a recurring theme of scripture; God's election is not
of the elder but of the younger, not of the strong but of the weak, not of the superior but of the
inferior: "Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose of
election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, 'The elder shall serve the
younger.'" (Romans 9:11-12).
There was no racial segregation in the early church.
Believers were united in one body: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor
free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28). One of
the first Gentile converts to Christianity was an Ethiopian: "So he arose and went. And behold, a man
of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge
of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot,
he was reading Isaiah the prophet...Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And
the eunuch said, 'See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?'...So he commanded the
chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized
him." (Acts 8:27-38). There was a flourishing Christian church in Ethiopia while the savages of
northern Europe were dancing around sacred trees. If North African church fathers Tertullian,
Cyprian, Augustine, and Victor, Bishop of Rome, had all boarded a time machine and tried to hop on a
bus in the American Southland in the 1950's, they'd have been obliged to go to the back of the bus.
Their precise ethnic affinities are in dispute but
what is certain is that none of these gentlemen would have looked like Heidi.
What does the Bible teach on these matters? Are the various tribes of
humanity different by creation, or are we all of one lineage, both as to
spiritual paternity and human descent?: