Old Doxoblogy

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Racism, Class, and Sexism

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:27-29)
In these verses the Apostle Paul makes three antogonistic statements to the Galatians. He bases these three statements in the doctrine of our union with Christ.

"As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." Paul here is not calling attention to the outward symbol of water baptism, but to a precious truth that is very closely related to justification and imputation. It is the truth of our union with Christ through faith. Paul literally says that those who have been immersed into Christ now wear Christ. If you will remember what Paul said previously;
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. (Gal 3:16)
Through this doctrine of our union with Christ, or, being baptized into Christ, Paul can really and truly say that since we are Christ's, then we are Abrahm's offspring and heirs of the promise. But if we are in Christ, then we are united with Him and with all those who are in Him as well. This is the theological backdrop of Paul's three statements, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female..."

The Gospel of Christ stands in stark contrast to racism, class, and sexism. Of course Paul's statements are revolutionary in Paul's time, and properly understood, they are just as revolutionary in our own time.

Racism: The Jews were upset that Gentiles could be accepted into the covenant family of God without becoming Jews themselves. After all, God gave the Jews the circumcision, the law, the prophets, and the Messiah. For Paul to say to them, you're all the same since Messiah has come is hard to accept.
It is still hard to accept for us today, evidently. After all, we're white, they're black, others are red or yellow. To say that we are all the same is a ridiculous concept to the human mind. But the truth of the Gospel according to Paul is that there is neither Jew nor Greek, since we are one in Christ. This makes me wonder why there is a 'black' Baptist congregation across the street from my church. God forgive us! We have wrongly divided Your people.

Class: Over half of the Roman Empire at the time Paul wrote this letter were slaves or slaves that had been freed. But even the freed slaves were not on the same cultural level as those who were born free. When Paul says that, "there is neither slave nor free," this went against what the Galatians believed to be true. If you met someone on the street they were more than likely a slave of someone. And they were to be treated as such.
In our day class has divided the church needlessly as well. This is not to say that is wrong to be 'upper-class', 'lower-class', or 'middle-class'. It is to say that these divisions should not exist in the body of Christ. So you have money and your brother doesn't. It doesn't matter. We are all one in Christ. To treat others of lesser means than yourself is to live a life that is contrary to the Gospel, because in Christ we are all co-heirs with Christ. We have all the same blessings, not the material blessings, but the blessings that really matter.

Sexism: The women in Paul's day were not treated with much dignity and respect. More than often they were regarded as property rather than daughters or wives. Again, Paul's statement, "there is neither male nor female" is counter-cultural. Now obviously Paul does not mean that when your are saved that gender is no longer distinguishable between men and women. Rather, he means that in Christ men and women are both heirs of the promise. Men do not receive more than women.
In our day, there are two equal and opposite errors concerning gender. One is 'Chauvinsim' and is most commonly refuted in our culture, as well it should be. Our women should be treated with honor and respect, not as property, but as co-workers in the home. The other error is 'Feminism'. Women are not to usurp authority of men. Biblically speaking, the woman is to submit to her husband, while the husband is to lvoe his wife, following the model of the church and Christ. The Church is the bride of Christ and submits to Him, while Christ demonstrates His love for His bride. The kind of love a man is to have for his wife is the same kind of love that Christ exhibited when He lay down His life for the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

May God be delighted to work through us to bring about the restoration of unity in the visible church that already exists for those of us who have been baptized into Christ. May we repent of our disobedience to the Gospel and return to walk in it's light.

1 comment:

John Rush said...

Jeremy,

I was recently thinking about the false charge that the New Testament is inherently anti-Semitic. The reason I say the charge is false is found throughout chapter 2 of Ephesians.

Also, Paul could wish himself "cursed" in order that his Jewish brethren would be saved.

To make this false charge requires a severe neglect of the message of the New Testament.

For the church to give the impression that motivates this false charge is indeed a sin.

Good post.

JRush