Tracing our lineage back to Adam gives the racist a proverbial punch in the face because, in a very real sense, we all have the same ancestors. Though we may look different, speak different, and act different, in the end we are no different. We are humans made in the image of God, and that is more than enough.
The doctrine of the imago Dei—the image of God—is foundational to the Christian faith. We believe all people—man, woman, the unborn—have inherent value, worth, and dignity because they’re created by God (Genesis 1:27). Humanity is sacred because of the imago Dei. We have more value and worth than the cockroach because it wasn’t created after God’s likeness—we were (Genesis 1:26).
The imago Dei is one of many doctrines of our faith that is under attack. And one of the more prevalent ways it is under attack is through racism. Racism is the torch that many people use to light the imago Dei on fire.
“To the extent that racism is rooted in the twisted belief that one segment of the population is superior to another,” Don Morgan wrote, “it’s not hard to see how race-based discrimination is a direct assault on the sanctity and dignity of human life.”
Whether you want to use the word race or ethnicity, Morgan is correct. Race- or ethnicity-based discrimination is a direct assault on the sanctity of human life.
What is racism, anyway? The Oxford Dictionary defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” To be racist is to be prejudiced against another person simply because of different skin color. To be racist, in the end, is to blatantly ignore the imago Dei.
With that said, what are some ways in which racism is an attack on the image of God? And, more importantly, how should Christians respond?
Less than Human
We saw it back during the time of slavery, and, to an extent, we see it today. Those who are racist treat others as less than human. They treat them as though they weren’t created by God. This attack on the image of God is prevalent throughout our society in many ways: