This weeks A.S.K question is I think appropriate for Christmas. Christ came as the Saviour of the world. Racism is a great curse and blight on the human race. I was sent this heartfelt question from a teenager in Africa. When I discussed this at a school in West Sydney I was approached by a young girl from Africa who was in tears – partly of gratitude and partly because of the horror of racism that she had experienced. She loved this chapter….Happy Christmas to all – especially to our African brothers and sisters (going by previous years we can expect sadly to hear of some massacre by Islamists in some church somewhere on the continent – how long?, O Lord, how long?
BIBLE READING: Acts 17:16-34
TEXT: From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his off spring.’ (Acts 16:26-28)
The problem here is not with God but with man. God did not make the whites superior to Africans. He made all human beings equally in his image. The trouble is that we have turned away from God and as a result have turned on one another. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 1:1).
The question is more why were the European nations able to conquer most of the world? And why did they enslave some people? Again none of this is new – as the Bible indicates – slavery has always been a part of fallen human culture. Over a million white Europeans were enslaved by Arab traders in the Middle Ages. Africans enslaved and sold one another. In the 17th and 18th Centuries European slave traders took millions of Africans to the West Indies and America to staff their plantations. It was a shameful and disgusting trade that only ended after the campaigns led by that great Christian reformer, William Wilberforce.
Missionaries like David Livingstone and Mary Slessor from my own country were instrumental in campaigning against slavery within Africa. But slavery still exists in different forms today. There are people who are trafficked as sex slaves – tens of thousands of people throughout the world are enslaved in this way. There are other milder forms. When rich countries like my own can’t get people to do what we consider demeaning or hard jobs, we import people from poorer countries, pay them less and exploit them. That is a kind of ‘wage slavery’.
But what you are also asking is why some white people consider themselves to be superior to other races – especially Africans. Racism exists in every culture. Racism is the belief that just because of our skin colour we are superior. White racism today is not so much tied in with skin colour but with a kind of social Darwinian view that the highest evolution of the human species are largely white middle-class liberals. Social Darwinianism stemmed from Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Did you know that the full title of his influential work The Origin of the Species was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life? Those who accepted Darwinian evolution naturally thought that their race (white European) was the favoured race. This has had incredibly harmful consequences.
I am writing this from Australia where at the beginning of the 20th Century white Europeans hunted aboriginal people as though they were animals. One of the most extreme examples of this I have come across is the 19th Century writer HG Wells; famous for books like The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds. In his New Republic he answered the question as to how the New Republic would deal with the ‘inferior races’ such as the black, the yellow man etc. He stated, ‘Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go.’ He made it quite clear what he meant – the extermination of inferior races. Here was a white liberal progressive arguing that because other races were inferior they would have to go.
Of course today all liberal progressives would shout out loud their anti-racist credentials and how they believe that all humans are equal. But I’m not sure on what rational basis they base this. It is only Christianity with its view that all human beings are created in the image of God that provides a real basis for equality and diversity.
I think that you will still find that most white liberal progressives believe that their culture is superior and should be imposed upon the rest of the world. That is why you often get Western ‘charities’ or government agencies giving aid to Africa with conditions attached. They want to impose their views on issues such as abortion and sexuality on all the countries of the world. I once received a letter from the Ghanaian ambassador to the United Kingdom thanking me for speaking up for his country and pointing out as you did, that so many in the West seem to think that the West is superior and African countries backward.
My view is that the Western countries are sinking backwards into a Greco/ Roman/Pagan view of the world…my hope and prayer is that the African countries will not follow us but rather lead us back to Christianity. We need more missionaries from Africa. Come over and help us.
CONSIDER: How can we combat the challenge and sin of racism? How can African nations grow and develop as Western nations decline?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING: Mary Slessor – A Life on the Altar for God – Bruce McLennan
PRAYER: Our Father in Heaven, We thank you that all human beings are made in your image. We thank you that you have created us in different races and placed us in different nations – that all might reach out for you and find you. Lord, forgive us when we are racist and think that because of our skin colour or culture we are superior to others. Bless the people of Africa and continue to bring many in that wonderful continent to know, love and serve you, in Jesus name, Amen.
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