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Donald Sterling, racism, and the Bible

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (R) sit with his wife Rochelle (L) as they watch a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Detroit Pistons at the Staples Center, March 22, 2014 (Credit: USA TODAY Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA‘s Los Angeles Clippers, has long been infamous for racist views and actions.  For instance, he settled a housing discrimination lawsuit with the government for $2.7 million when he was accused of refusing to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks.  He made more headlines over the weekend when a racist rant was released to the media. Reaction has come quickly: President Obama called the remarks “offensive” and “ignorant,” and Michael Jordan is “completely outraged.” And rightly so.  

How does God feel about racism?  His word is clear:

  • “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
  • “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34).
  • “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all” (Romans 10:12).
  • In Christ “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

How are we to feel about racism?

  • “Do not judge by appearances” (John 7:24).
  • “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (1 John 2:9).
  • “If you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).

Christians such as William Wilberforce have been on the front lines of fighting against slavery and racism in all its forms.  Donald Sterling’s reprehensible statements show that we must be as clear and bold today as possible: Racism is sin.  It is perpetuated by people whose low self-esteem causes them to devalue others, judge by stereotypes, and seek membership in a group they consider to be superior.  

The solution is to see ourselves and each other as God sees us.  We are members of one family, each of us made in our Father’s image (Genesis 1:26-27).  Jesus died for each of us (Romans 5:8).  In heaven there will be “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).  And racism will be no more.

Oswald Chambers warns: “You must constantly beware of anything that causes you to think of yourself as a superior person.”  Has this temptation found you today?