Please see the previous post, “‘Racism Isn’t the Problem, Sin is the Problem!’ : A Brief Clarification,” for some needed context for what follows here.
What Does “Jew & Gentile” Have to do With “Black & White”?
The Jew/Gentile conflict throughout the New Testament is often either (1) leveraged to prove there should be no recognition of race and ethnicity in Christ (“no Jew, no Gentile”), or (2) is denied to have anything to do with race and ethnicity since it is properly a covenantal/religious conflict. Others—those I’d agree with—see this conflict as an indispensable Biblical example of both definitive unity in Christ and a call to seek progressively lived unity in the Body. I hope, in what follows, to provide some clarity to the similarities and differences between the New Testament Jew/Gentile conflict and the white/black conflict we have inherited in the United States.
[I found it necessary later to offer one clarification to what follows. Though mentioned below, I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not think that the Jew/Gentile relation is one-to-one comparable to modern Western racial relations, but am only here responding in-kind to those who would press color-blindness via the passages discussed. Please see “What Does “Jew & Gentile” Have to do With “Black & White”? : A Clarification.“]
Among the greatest barriers to acknowledging—or even recognizing—the extent of racialization in American society, and the extent of white privilege in particular, is the post-Civil Rights ethic of “color-blindness.”
Not only does the color-blind ethic obscure the history and currency of the centuries-forged “color line” in America, it also allows for only historically unhinged explanations of current disparities, lending to the continued maintenance of the status quo, cemented through 450 years of both overt racism and racialized institution building. In fact, it renders racial and ethnic disparities nearly un-stateable, collapsing all problems into individual events among individual bad actors with “perfectly reasonable” individual explanations—usually some deficiency among minorities themselves.
While I intend to explore the interpretive patterns and social ramifications of color-blind racism in the next post, I would like here to first address the so called “color-blind theology” which is thought to furnish a Biblical justification for a color-blind ethic within the Church itself. Just as the majority of Americans today believe color-blindness to be the highest expression of anti-racism, so also many theologians seem to believe it is the God ordained basis for unity within the Church as well as the Gospel cure to any prejudice or disparity within the Body.