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Everyone really is created equal
I work out at a gym here in town about three days a week, usually
huffing and puffing on the Stair Master for about a half hour. During
that time I either read (I'm the goof with the book three inches thick)
or find myself forced to watch whatever is on the television mounted
some 10 feet from my spot.
A few weeks ago during my cardio session, Fox News carried a story and commentary on the "all whites" prom carried out in Georgia earlier this month. One of the main reasons for such mixed feelings on the subject is that last year the first integrated dance took place and was apparently a huge success. Granted, there are all sorts of legal and cultural issues to deal with, but there is a much more fundamental question in all of this: How does God view things like this?
In answering that fundamental question, it is easy to come across an
entire range of answers, depending on who happens to be speaking. Some
religious traditions teach discrimination and hail a given race or
national group as superior to another. Others advocate a much more "all
men are created equal" approach that mirrors the documents of early
American history. Probably the most ironic are the typically
protestant white supremacists who seem to overlook that Jesus was Jewish
(and had darker skin than most Europeans, for that matter).
While not everyone accepts the concept that God created human beings as
a race, there are some rather profound implications to that assumption,
especially when confronting racism. To put it simply, God created a
single human race, and even in a brief survey of religious teachings,
that is fairly consistent. In doing so, He did not make distinctions
between human beings based on how much of a sun tan they might or might
not have, if their eyes were brown or green, or whether they happened to
be born tall or short. In fact, in Jewish writings, it is stated pretty
plainly that "Man looks on the outside but God looks at the heart." That sounds like anything outward is fairly meaningless and that the
real issue has to do with a person's inner character. In addition, if
one accepts the value of a life God created as valuable, then it makes
the point that much more striking.
The real issue has to do with character and virtue, not the color of skin, the amount of money a person makes, or even what country they might be from. God certainly did not intend for human beings to judge the value of another based on these kinds of things, as evidenced by other religious writings that plainly state that He hates favoritism.
Based on these rather simple principles, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that God is no fan of racism or elitism. The Declaration of Independence echoed both religious and civil truth when it stated "All men are created equal." Not some, not the best-looking, but all.
Looking at a person's integrity or character is much more productive,
and in that case separating out by race for a school social function
reflects poorly on the character of those participating. I found it
sadly ironic that the news crews that filmed the all-white partygoers
were able to film a great many obscene gestures at the camera while
covering the story.
I think a good summary comes from a personal experience while I was a
minister near Memphis, Tenn. Our church building was located next
to a new subdivision, and an African-American family purchased a home
right near the church. I always visited new people to the neighborhood,
so I stopped by to visit. To his credit, the gentleman whose living
room I sat in asked me if he would be welcome at the church, or whether
it was a white church. In a rare flash of comic brilliance, I replied,
"it isn't a white church at all. In fact, last time I checked it was a
red brick church. I know you would be welcome, and if for some reason
you weren't, I wouldn't be, either."
He laughed and said that was a good answer. Come to think, I thought it was a good answer, too.
So does God.
So should we.
Joe Rinehart lives in Federal Way and is a former pastor.