We live in a culture where we are constantly submerged in discussions about race and racism. We have conversations and host forums, sponsor debates and foster dialogues, write articles and give speeches about how to solve racial tension in our culture. But could it be that we’re grasping for solutions to a problem we’ve grossly misdefined? And could it be that the gospel not only counters culture on this issue, but reshapes the conversation about race altogether?
Consider the starting point in the gospel for so many of the social issues we have addressed: the creation of man and woman in the image of God with equal dignity before God. As we’ve seen, this means that no human being is more or less human than another. All are made in God’s image. It is a lack of trust in this gospel truth that has led to indescribable horrors in human history. Slavery in America, the Holocaust in Germany, the Armenian massacre in Turkey, the genocide in Rwanda, and the Japanese slaughter of six million Koreans, Chinese, Indo-Chinese, Indonesians, and Filipinos all derived from the satanic deception of leaders and citizens who believed that they were intrinsically superior to other types of people. From the first chapter of the Bible, however, this much is clear: all men and women are made in the very likeness of God.
Genesis 1 lays this foundation, but Genesis 10 expands on it, telling us that after the fall of man and the flood of the world, people were divided according to “their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations” (Genesis 10:31). All of these divisions, however, trace their human ancestry back to one family —Noah and his sons —who trace their ancestry back to one couple, Adam and Eve. This is precisely what Paul references in the New Testament when he tells a crowd of philosophers in Athens, “From one man [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26, NIV).
The Bible’s storyline thus depicts a basic unity behind worldly diversity. From the beginning, God designed a human family that would originate from one father and one mother. From that common ancestry would come a diverse litany of clans dwelling in distant lands and developing new nations. Before long in the Bible, you see people with various skin colors with distinct cultural patterns dotting the human landscape.
Contemplating this may cause us to wonder, “Then what race were Adam and Eve?” The answer is both obvious and simple: the human race.
“No,” we might say, “I mean what color was their skin?”
And as soon as we ask the question, we realize the problem with it —on two levels. First, we don’t know the answer to that question because the Bible doesn’t tell us. Now in most picture Bibles in the West we’ve painted a portrait of a white Adam and Eve, but we have no basis for this assumption whatsoever. For all we know, this first couple could have been any color, or different colors, for that matter. Maybe Eve’s skin was the shade of dirt or bone. If anything, genetics points to the greater probability that our first parents had darker skin, which is the dominant gene in skin color. Regardless, we find ourselves thinking and talking about people in terms the Bible doesn’t even use.
Second, and more important, God’s Word doesn’t tell us what color Adam and Eve were because God doesn’t equate membership in the human race with skin tone. Whatever color Adam and Eve (and their children) were, they contained in them a DNA designed by God that would eventually develop into a multicolored family across a multicultural world.
In this way, God’s Word reminds us that regardless of the color of our skin, we all have the same roots. Fundamentally, we are all part of the same race. That’s why we all need the same gospel. — David Platt, Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2015).