S Clayton

Race has been known to be a touchy subject for many. Discussing race seems to be synonymous with speaking while treading lightly. Pondering on my understanding of different races led me to think, first, about what I believe race to be. Race, to me, refers to the physical features of a person. The first human feature that comes to mind when reflecting on race is skin color. Other physical features are included, however, such as hair, and the shape of a person’s nose, lips, and face. Ultimately, race considers color, and facial features. Because of this, race can be thought of as part of one’s DNA. Differences in the way people look can be attributed to their genetic makeup and so, race is a part of this makeup. In my personal understanding of different races, identifying where a person is from can be easy because of the way they look.

After conducting research on this topic, I realized I was only partially correct in my thinking. A person’s physical attributes is a result of their genetic code, but not in the way that I thought. A Stanford study was conducted in 2002 [1], in which human diversity was examined. The focus of this study was 4,000 and how they were distributed across the globe, breaking the world into seven geographical regions. It was found that over 92% of alleles were found in two or more regions and almost half of the alleles studied were present in all seven major geographical regions [2]. In my previous idea of race, I identified the physical features with DNA and assumed they were one in the same. This is not the case as alleles vary greatly from genetic code. Alleles differ from genes in that, all humans have the same genes that code for hair, but the different alleles are why hair comes in all types of colors and textures. [2]

Elmer (2002) discusses the importance of understanding culture and strays from using the term, ‘race’. God created differences [3] and seems to prefer it. There are several cases in the Bible where the one that is chosen by God to fulfill a mission is the one person that is different. The book of Matthew speaks of a woman that used expensive perfume on the head of Jesus. [4] This action was characteristically different from what was expected. The Bible discusses race in terms of lineages from Jacob or other patriarchs. In First Peter, we see that people from various nations are called by God and in this, we find another example of the inherent differences we see in the world. The book of Ester, also, has very specific examples of race and how it can affect people’s behavior towards one another.

God’s word seems to side more with the scientific explanation of races, rather than my understanding of it. While Deuteronomy 32:8 explains the separation of people by God, verses in Psalms, Romans, Colossians, among other books, express the fact that race is simply a way for humans to categorize themselves needlessly because God sees us as a human race where if we call on him, we will be blessed.

[1] Stanford study

[2] Chou, Vivian. Hoe Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century, Harvard University, http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/, 2017

[3] Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting in Around the World. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

[4] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture retrieved from Christian Standard Bible


E Beth

Position of Race-DB 2

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I am persuaded that there is only genetically one race; the human race However, the human construct of differences in race is born out of a need that humans have to classify in order to understand ourselves and the world and people around us. Hiebert states that “Social categories are built by establishing oppositions—by showing the differences between us and others. Each society and each age re-creates its Others in order to define itself.1 Over hundreds of years of recorded history I can see that different societies made some kind of distinction between self and others on the basis of religion, nation of origin, physical characteristics or a combination of all three things. The idea of race based on physical characteristics was first described by anthropologists in the 1800s. 2

In our present age, race is largely defined a combination of skin color, distinguishing physical characteristics, and national origin. However, in the case of my friend Elizabeth, identifying her broadly as Asian wouldn’t provide anyone with much insight into who she is or how to relate to her culturally. She was born in Brazil in the 1970s to refugees from Taiwan and mainland China. She grew up in a Christian home where her parents spoke a mixture of Portuguese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. After arriving in the United States as an adult, she obtained citizenship and married an American from Wyoming and now lives in Arizona. If someone tried to understand her as someone who grew up in China or Taiwan by considering the customs and traditions of those countries, her attitudes and behavior might be confusing.

Although many tribes, people groups, and nations are mentioned all throughout the bible, I can find no mention of race. Instead, I see exhortations to see all humankind as equal in terms of need for redemption and salvation. In the creation account, we read that “ So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”4 In Acts, Paul is speaking to a group about the identity of the unknown God when he says, “…and he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…for we are indeed his offspring.”3 In Romans the point is driven home that all are equal before God, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greeks; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”5

How this relates to the mission of the church is twofold. In one respect, God has created us in his image but yet we are also distinctive. At the end of the age people from all tribes and nations will be present to worship the Lord. In light of this diversity, we must seek to understand the unique cultural context of each person we desire to reach. However, we must also remember that all people are in need of redemption and salvation. All people having been created in God’s image have intrinsic value an immeasurable worth to God and thus to us. To reject this truth is to reject God’s view of people and his plan of redemption for humankind.

[1] Paul G Hiebert The Gospel in Human Contexts: Anthropological Explorations for Contemporary Missions. Baker Academic, 2009.

[2] Howell, Brian M., and Jenell W. Paris. Introducing Cultural Anthropology: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011.

[3] Acts 17:26, 28b (ESV)

[4] Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

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J Davidson

Right, Wrong, & Different

Top of Form

Right, Wrong, & Different

In Chapter Three of Elmer’s book Cross-Cultural Connections, he explains that growing up every child has two categories: right and wrong. These categories define how we perceive things and what is acceptable “in our mind” and what is not. Elmer says, “We all believe that our way is the right way, our beliefs are the correct and our culture is superior.”[1] He expresses these categories through the concept of a line. Elmer compares it to the generational beliefs of what is right or wrong, and how as each generation comes the right and wrong categories get smaller, whereas the differences that lie between are getting larger.[2]

A “grey area” I currently see in our world and culture today is dating versus courting. “Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman in which they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other.”[3] We see the unity of man and women in Genesis when God could not find a suitable helper for Adam, so He created one. Courtship has become a thing of the past and dating now fills it is a lot. However, generations ago courting was the right way and only way to begin a relationship with someone where now everyone is dating and sometimes dating more than one person at a time. Courting and date are altogether different. Courting happens only when both parties are prepared to commit to marriage. Dating often consists of a man and woman who may or may not want to commit to marrying the other person.[4] God created the unity of marriage to be purposeful and pleasureful. However, Satan tries to tear marriages apart every day, and he even works to mess up God’s plan for marriage before it ever happens. Pre-marital sex is at an all-time high. 1 Corinthians 7 teaches on marriage and Paul states in verses one that “ …each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” Dating tends to open the door to many temptations, where courting does open the door to some temptations in courting both parties place their accountability to God-given authorities.[5] Jesus gave this instruction with a promise: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) When a person puts the focus on courtship versus dating it creates an atmosphere that God is at the center and in control of the relationship. With that being said, when was the last time you heard of someone “courting”? I know I did not court my husband. I can see the differences here and where courting verses dating falls in the differences category, but I might say we need to bring courting back into the right category.

[1] Duane H. Elmer, Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting in Around the World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 22.

[2] Ibid., 25.

[3] “How Is Courtship Different Than Dating?,”…