It’s no secret: the majority of orphans available for adoption in the United States are non-white. In the first post in this series, I looked at that statistic and speculated about why some white couples are hesitant to adopt transracially from within the U.S. foster care system. In this second post, I’d like to help you think through what the Bible teaches us about race. My goal is to help you conclude that race should be a non-issue for Christian people.
Do you realize that you and every available orphan (not to mention everyone else in the world) have something in common? Even if you look nothing alike, you all share an ancestor. The Apostle Paul, speaking to pagan Greeks, reaffirmed the account of the creation story in Genesis, saying God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26.) Therefore, you and everyone else bear resemblance to Adam. Unfortunately, the family resemblance in Adam is kind of depressing. And He left you a disappointing legacy for an inheritance: your sin nature; a life plagued with suffering; and a death sentence hanging over your head from the moment of your conception. (Genesis 3:16-19; Romans 5:12-14.)
But this is the legacy for not just you and your kin, but also for your next door neighbors; for those unscrupulous-looking people whose mug-shots make the front page of the paper; for our sworn enemies on the other side of the globe; and for the fatherless children languishing without homes. All of these souls are your cousins in Adam. You all suffer together under Adam’s curse. When you stop and think about it, this reality, however depressing, should bring solidarity. We are all – great and small – the fatherless children of Adam, abandoned and destitute, cut off from the glorious household of God.
Yet in spite of our sameness, the children of Adam have a difficult time appreciating this commonality. God saw fit to confuse our languages and spread us out across the four corners of the globe. Without a common tongue or culture, we quickly forgot our history as Adam’s people. From one family, we became many nations of families that have warred against and betrayed one another for centuries. But God disoriented us and scattered us abroad, not to encourage our sin, but to hinder it. (Genesis 11:1-9.) And after crippling us with diverse tongues and colors, he magnified his own glory in overcoming the differences and separation, uniting these nations together again, as a new race without a common color, tongue, or culture.
Instead, we now share a common Savior, Jesus Christ, the Lord. God sent His Son into the world to redeem a people of peoples for Himself. God slew Jesus at the cross for Adam’s sin and ours, and with His blood, Jesus ransomed people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” and He made them “a kingdom and priests to our God.” (Revelation 5:8-10) He now calls us “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” He redeemed us for his own praise: “so that that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) There is no doubt that God takes pleasure in what Jesus has done in saving and sanctifying such a diverse group of people.
And so, if you are a Christian, you share, at minimum, two things in common with me and every other believer in the world. We share not only our fatherless plight in Adam, but also our redemptive adoption in Christ. Your cousin-in-Adam becomes a nearer relation: a fellow adopted brother or sister in Christ! And so, because God has so graciously loved us, we love fellow saints from every tribe and cultural background, and we worship God together as one body in Christ.
We mourn with one another because we all understand the tragedy of our fallen nature in Adam, but we rejoice with one another, too, because we all understand the victory over sin that Christ purchased for our souls. Moreover, we seek to share the good news of our Savior with everyone, regardless of culture or color or language, because we have a charge from the Lord Himself, to take the gospel to the nations of the earth. (Matthew 28:18-20.)
For these reasons, Christians should be, and fortunately, often are, some of the least race-conscious people in the world. We understand ourselves to be, by the Bible’s own terms, a spiritual people, not a physical people. Hopefully, you already embrace this, because failing to understand this truth means that your thinking and conduct is “not in step with the truth of the gospel.” (Galatians 2:11-14.)
One of the best ways that God’s church can put this understanding of unity in Adam and unity in Christ on display is by indiscriminately opening our homes and families to orphans, treating them as graciously as God has treated us. Why would we ever consider an orphan’s color, when we understand God’s design for diversity? And why would we neglect the opportunity to bear witness to these spiritual realities of Adam and Christ as we respond to our calling to minister to orphans and widows in distress? If the orphan care need within our country calls for transracial adoption, then let’s pursue transracial adoption.
I am not so naïve to believe that just agreeing with the Bible right here and now will resolve the sinful attitudes and thoughts that we might have about race. Sanctification takes time; mortification of sin takes effort; obedience takes sacrifice. But I hope that God will be pleased to continue to transform our thinking about race, so that we would be a sincere reflection of God’s own heart for all the people of Adam’s helpless race.
By Ben Robinson
Ben Robinson is a recent graduate of Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. He is admitted to the Alabama Bar and is currently employed as a judicial law clerk. He and his wife, Tara, reside in Montgomery with their two daughters. The Robinsons are not themselves adopted children, and they have not yet had the blessing of becoming adoptive parents, but they are prayerfully pursuing their involvement in domestic foster care and adoption.
Photo by Steven D Polo.