Larry Ball

Race is Real and Not a Social Construct

Christians do not need to adopt the Neo-Marxist theory of race as a social construct in order to do battle against the CRT of Neo-Marxism. It is better to recognize the truth that distinct races do exist in objective reality, and that good and bad attributes become characteristics of races as a result of the religion that dominates them.  This includes both black and white. 

After reading a number of books on Critical Race Theory (CRT) by evangelical and reformed authors, I have become convinced that sometimes good men get it wrong.  Some of the writers I respect the most are saying that the existence of distinct human races is not real.  It is just a social construct.
What is a social construct?  It is a convention adopted by society that has no basis in objective reality.  For example, Peter Pan is a social construct.  We all know who he is, but he is not real. He exists in the mind for entertainment purposes.  A dollar bill is a social construct.  It only has value because society has given it value.  In reality, it is only paper and ink.
Social constructs are usually identified with Neo-Marxist thinking.  For example, Neo-Marxists say that binary sexual identification is not real.  The concept of sex that separates humans into male and female is a social construct.  They push the concept that, in reality, there are a multitude of sexes (they prefer the term gender).  As another example, the traditional family is a social construct.  The idea of a male and female parent with children is a convention created by society to oppress other legitimate families like those who have two males as parents.
I am hearing from my respected brethren that race is not a biblical term, and therefore the concept of race does not exist.  At the same time, these same men will say that there is only one race, and that is the human race.  The human race includes all of us because we all come from the same Adam. There is no difference between us other than the degree of melanin (pigment) in the skin.
It seems rather contradictory to me to assert that the concept of race is not real, but then to turn around and use the term race to describe all of the descendants of Adam.  There are no races, but yet, there is one race.
It is true that the Bible does not use the word race in any English translation.  More common terms are nation, tribe, clan, and peoples.  However, the Bible does not use the term “banana” either, but that does not mean it is wrong to use the word banana. Historically, mankind has been divided into races. Three prominent races are whites, blacks, and Asians (with variations in-between). They have differed in more than pigmentation of the skin. They have been associated with not only the color of the skin, but with the texture of the hair, the shape of the eyes, and even in physical speed and agility.  If you have ever watched a college NCAA basketball game, you will see what I mean. I don’t believe that speaking this way is racist. It may be more racist to avoid reality and to say that all athletes are the same in ability whether white or black.  We need to learn to be honest.
Race has been associated with the word nations or peoples who have a common geographical boundary, a common language, and a common religion. This is certainly not necessarily true of our experience here in the United States, but our nation is a rather new experiment in societies, and it appears to be disintegrating rather quickly.  The United States was once a Christian nation, and this common religion provided a basis for the unity of the various races among us.  We have changed religions and therefore we no longer have any basis for peace. A nation without a common religion will not long endure, just as a nation without a geographical border or a common language will not long endure.
Now, although we all do descend from Adam, and we all are sinners needing a Savior, we do still exist as distinct races (who probably have more in common than not).  Jeremiah identified the Ethiopian as a man who could not change the color of his skin (12:23).  Just as important as noting the color of his skin, the prophet noted that the man was an Ethiopian (Cushite) who probably lived south of Egypt, and who could be identified with a nation that had geographical boundaries, a separate language, and a separate religion.  In the New Testament the Ethiopian eunuch became a Christian, which certainly teaches us that the gospel came as a blessing for all nations and races.
The Book of Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem as being a dwelling place for the nations and the kings of the earth (21:24).  Nations will not disappear, even in the very presence of God himself.  All the distinct nations along with their kings shall be one in Christ.
God allowed various distinctions to develop among the descendants of Adam.  God loves diversity in colors, flowers, fruits, the two sexes, and even races.  However, absent from most discussions today about race is the fact that nations (and often the distinct races that define them) will always adopt a particular religion.  This religion will have the major impact on the character that nation. For example, while our white American forefathers were writing the very complicated United States Constitution, blacks in Africa, who were sold as slaves by blacks to white Europeans and Americans, could not read or write.  Why?  The grace of God!  Christianity conquered the continent of Europe and not Africa.
Christians do not need to adopt the Neo-Marxist theory of race as a social construct in order to do battle against the CRT of Neo-Marxism. It is better to recognize the truth that distinct races do exist in objective reality, and that good and bad attributes become characteristics of races as a result of the religion that dominates them.  This includes both black and white.  Most of the average guys that I know in the pew think that this “Neo-Marxist social construct invention” is nonsensical. There is nothing to be gained by denying the obvious.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.

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