Racism: An Affront to the Image of God

Racial tensions have increased recently in the United States after George Floyd’s fatal arrest in Minneapolis, MN. Floyd, a black African-American, was accused of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store. The police were called, and accusations of racism have been brought against them. The controversy centers around how white officer Derek Chauvin fatally restrained Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes.

The Minneapolis Incident

Floyd may have been guilty of the accusation. Still, the nation and even the world criticized the policemen for the way they handled the situation. They restrained Floyd with handcuffs, and some people believe that the amount of force used against him was excessive. The fact that a white officer appears to be at fault has caused another eruption in racial tensions in a country with a history of racism and enslaving African-Americans. Protests throughout the United States and the world took place in response to the incident in Minneapolis.

A Brief History of Racism and Slavery in the United States

Slavery is not a principle upon which the founders established the United States. However, the United States permitted slavery and considered slaves as only three-fifths of a person for determining representation in Congress in its early history is hypocritical. Northern states began to favor abolishing the practice in the days leading up to the American Civil War. The nation fought over the nature of states’ rights, but slavery was the social wedge issue. Southern states argued it was their right to determine for themselves whether or not they would be a “free state” or “slave state.”

After the northern states won the war, the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution officially abolished slavery. Still, it did not stop state or local governments from creating “separate but equal” laws to segregate whites and blacks. These segregation laws were in effect well into the twentieth century. 

The United States has come a long way since its founding in regards to its treatment of minorities. Not long ago, it elected Barack Obama as its first black president for two consecutive terms. Just a few generations ago, civil rights protections for all races were recognized. However, pockets of racism still exist in areas of American life. Some blacks may have their suspicions of whites when incidents like what took place in Minneapolis occur.

Biblical Application

A jury has not yet determined the verdict on the officers’ behavior as of this writing. The news, however, provokes many thoughts. What makes racism morally wrong? Is it the enactment of certain laws that make it wrong? Does a consensus of opinions make it wrong? Does it get determined by whoever wins a war? What objective moral standard is there?

Moral absolutes come from God, our Creator. The Bible gives us the answer to why racism is morally wrong. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God created people in His image (that is to say, in His likeness). The image of God establishes the basis of everyone’s equality. Everyone is a part of His creation. Everyone deserves the same respect and treatment because of it. Just as God’s essence is in the three persons of the Trinity, the likeness of God is in all persons of humanity. Racism and slavery are blasphemous because they depict the Trinity behaving in such ways.

Racism is not just a societal problem. It is a sin problem in the hearts of corrupt and depraved individuals in need of redemption. May God forgive us all when we have failed. May He mend our relationships as the nation moves forward.