If Blacks Were White and Whites Were Black – The Questions Nobody Considers

In a Christian world the condescension of one race toward another is wrong; it was wrong in American history during the period of slavery, and it is wrong today.

I think I can safely say as a sovereign-grace Christian, that it was only by the providence and grace of God that Europe was blessed so much. Caucasians in Europe had no claim to moral superiority—no more than any other race.  All of us, black, brown, or white, are sinners capable of the worst sins.  I don’t know why white Europe (and therefore the United States) was favored in God’s sovereignty, no more than I know why in predestination God’s chooses to save some and pass over others.  I can only appeal to sovereignty and grace.

 

Accountability for slavery In America and its consequences are slowly being assumed by conservative and Reformed Christians.  A lot has changed just over the last decade.

Biblical and exegetical work is being done today on the issue of slavery, although men like Gary North did this work many years ago (see his Tools of Dominion). The problem is that very few people ever read Dr. North.  Biblical slavery in the Old Testament (and in the New Testament) was the result of such factors as poverty and the requirement of criminal restitution—not skin color.  The goal of slavery was freedom.

Sadly, in modern America the whole slave issue is pitting blacks against whites, even in the church.  We are constantly hearing about the evils of racism and white supremacy. Other minority groups are shooting with the same ammunition, including the gay rights movement, and many women’s groups.  I was raised in Appalachia and have been contemplating leading a demonstration in Washington, D.C. on “Hillbilly Racism.”  Most of us do have teeth and we don’t chew or spit tobacco.

Now, having said all this, I think there are a couple of questions that are not being asked in all this uproar. First, why did the philosophical and economic prowess down through history come to Europe rather than to Africa?  Certainly, from the biased view of a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP), Christianity played a major role in the progress of the culture in Europe and in America.  The Christian faith originally took a foothold in Africa, but this was only temporary.  Old medieval theologians used to blame the difference on the “curse of Ham,” but this theory is not worthy of consideration.

I think I can safely say as a sovereign-grace Christian, that it was only by the providence and grace of God that Europe was blessed so much. Caucasians in Europe had no claim to moral superiority—no more than any other race.  All of us, black, brown, or white, are sinners capable of the worst sins.  I don’t know why white Europe (and therefore the United States) was favored in God’s sovereignty, no more than I know why in predestination God’s chooses to save some and pass over others.  I can only appeal to sovereignty and grace.

The second question is like unto the first.  If God had reversed his providence, and blacks were white and whites were black, did the black race have some inherent moral superiority that would have made them abhor slavery?  Would they have refused to sanction white slavery in America if the shoes had been switched?  From my understanding of the nature of sinful man, I can say emphatically No! — blacks as masters would have treated white slaves no better than the white masters treated black slaves during the slave period in America.  The black slavery market in Africa run by blacks clearly demonstrated this principle.

Unbiblical slavery brought with it the sin of ugly condescension.  Blacks were treated oftentimes as less than human.  Today, there is a tendency for many blacks to treat whites with a condescending attitude.  The white man is often considered guilty because of his skin color, and there exists a mistaken assumption that the black man would have created a better world without slavery had blacks been white and whites been black (in power and authority).   It is ironically a role reversal.

What can we conclude from this?  All of us must take responsibility for our sins, but in a Christian world the condescension of one race toward another is wrong.  It was wrong in American history during the period of slavery, and it is wrong today.  We all need a good dose of humility that will enable us to seek the grace of forgiveness in Christ.

Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tennessee.