Thursday, August 17, 2017

Race and Culture

Let's start with a definition of race from Martin Luther King, Jr. in his I Have a Dream speech on August 28, 1963:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Race is the color of the skin, according to King.  One definition in Merriam Webster Dictionary says:
a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits
For purposes of understanding this brief essay, culture is a way of life.  Again, Merriam Webster Dictionary in part says:
a :  the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
b :  the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also :  the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time
c :  the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
"Way of life" makes it easier to think about this issue.  In King's speech, race could be the "color of the skin" part, and culture could be the "content of their character" part. King in his speech was not asking for his children to be spared judgment.  They could be judged.  In a sense, they should be judged, but the criteria of that judgment should be the content of the character, what I am calling culture.

God in His Word teaches us to judge. Scripture says a lot about judgment and how to judge. We must judge and the judgment should be righteous.  For instance, many of you reading know that scripture says that Jesus taught in Matthew 7:16, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." Fruit inspection is judging the content of someone's character.

If men are going to judge, then there must be a standard of judgment.  They must know what is the basis of judging someone. People who don't believe in objective truth don't have a standard for judging except for their own opinion, which has no authority.

Race isn't a basis for judging someone.  Culture is.  We should not judge based upon race, but we should judge based upon a way of life or the content of someone's character.

If there is objective truth and an objective, authoritative standard, it is not only possible but it is necessary at times to judge people to be wrong.  We must do that.  It is necessary to judge people based upon their way of life or their lifestyles.

Not only can we judge people to be wrong based upon an authoritative standard, but we can judge both sides of an issue to be wrong.  Two sides can be wrong.  As some have said, two wrongs don't make a right.  I very often say to people that two contradictory sides can't both be right, but both can be wrong.  Just because one side is wrong doesn't mean the other side is right.  Both can be wrong.

Two ways of life opposing one another can both be wrong.  Both can be problematic.  Both can have the wrong content of their character.  Both can have a wrong way of life, as judged by an objective standard.  I very often judge two opposing sides both to be wrong.

An Ethiopian cannot change his skin and a leopard cannot change his spots (Jeremiah 13:23).  We can't judge a person by the color of his skin.  But we can judge someone by the content of his character or how Jeremiah 13:23 ends, someone who is accustomed to doing evil.

We cannot judge one race to be superior to another.  We can judge a certain way of life to be superior to another.  One way of life might be better than another one.  One way of life might be wrong and another might be right.  Some actions are better than others.  Some activities have greater value. Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor is greater than finger painting or playing video games.

I ask that you apply the above to Charlottesville and then keep applying it through the rest of your life to situations and people.  Enjoy your day.

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