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One Race, Revisited


Posted by Matt Postiff March 31, 2021 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Theology 

Today's question from an email:

Are elements of race/ethnicity etc. a result of sin?

It is an important question today. I will give you a quick outline of what I see Scripture to teach on this matter.

1. There is a single human race, not multiple races (Acts 17:26). We all descend from Adam and Eve.

2. There are different nationalities, ethnicities, people groups, cultures, etc. The Scripture uses the phrase tribe, tongue, people, nation to refer to this concept (Revelation 5:9, 13:7, 14:6). Other words are used, such as clan and families (Gen. 12:3).

3. Two main points of Babel: a) it was the event that brought different languages into the world; b) God designed it to induce the people to spread out and fill the earth. They had stuck together generally and were not obedient to God's command. So God scattered them (Gen. 11:9).

4. Babel is not firstly about the creation of different ethnicities. However, as people with the same language congregated into small groups and then scattered over the face of the earth and became isolated from one another, they began to become specialized in not only language, but culture and appearance as they intrabred mainly with those in the same group. Thus we have different people groups, and within each group common characteristics like skin color, shape of face and eyes, etc. Cultural differences developed at the same time.

5. God designed this variation into the human DNA from the beginning so that there would be a glorious variety among the human race, even as there are among the various kinds of creatures--so many dogs and cats and fish and horses and so on. Among humans, this variety would have come out without Babel--and even without the fall of Adam and Eve--but it would not have then been found in such pronounced groupings as the language barriers have helped to create. Without sin, the world would be full of all people living together with no negative thought associated with their wide variation in appearance.

Two parents have a child and the child looks similar to them but also different than each one. A child may have blue eyes but have two brown-eyed parents (like in my case, due to recessive genes from the grandparent generation). Even today, a single set of parents can have a white baby and a black baby. See here and here for examples.

6. As for the "Ham curse" as some call it, I wrote about that several years ago. Let me be clear that it is unsupportable from Scripture to suggest that dark skin color is a curse from God.

7. Bottom line: elements of race/ethnicity etc are NOT a result of sin. They ARE a result of God's creative design of the human race. How humans use those things, and twist them, and criticize them, and exalt them, and so on, THAT is a result of sin in the heart of mankind.


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