Racism and the Image of God
We live in a conflicted era. On the one hand, our society has largely concluded that racism—the unjust treatment of another person based upon their skin color—is wrong. You can still find bona fide racists today (and always will be able to find them), but I’m inclined to think that their number is few. On the other hand, large swaths of our society are secular. They have concluded that God either does not exist or is irrelevant to human life. They exchange belief in God for a belief in some doctrine of evolution. Man is nothing more than an evolved beast.
These two beliefs conflict. The belief that racism is wrong must rest on some foundational belief regarding mankind. Who is man? What is his purpose? How should he live? Our secular society has no answers to these questions. They conclude, “Man is a clump of cells. He has no purpose. It does not matter how he lives.” By denying God’s existence and/or relevance, we rob ourselves of a moral foundation.
Racism is wrong, though. We know that. It matters how we treat other people. How is it that I can say that?
Very early in the Bible (in the parts which many secularists decry as fanciful) God provides the necessary framework for the belief that racism is wrong. In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness.” This verse indicates that mankind is not some purposeless mass of matter. Rather, man is special. God has endowed mankind with His image. All people—regardless of race—possess this image. No one has a monopoly on it. It is a common possession of all mankind.
Racism is wrong because racism is a violation of God’s image. When we degrade others because of race, we degrade the God who bestowed upon them His image. An attack against others is an attack against God himself.
Our society rightfully identifies that racism is wrong but fails to account for why it’s wrong. Racism is wrong because everyone bears the image of God. Christianity provides this framework. Secularism doesn’t.