Back when the world was more oriented in a right side up way than it is now, racism was a short-hand way of describing the mental outlook of the bigot — and everybody knew what a bigot was also. Racism was a descriptive term, and I did not mind describing racism as a sin against God — which I have done for many decades now. And if we are using normal old school definitions, racism really is a sin against God.
But we have gotten to the point where the word is not only useless, but is also pernicious. It covers pretty much everything now — from microagressions to expressing the view at Tea Party Rallies that budgets should balance. Racism is, as a wit once explained, winning an argument with a liberal. It has become pernicious because if “racism” is a sin, then “prejudice” is also, and if “prejudice” is a sin, then “discrimination” is also. And the racism, and the prejudice, and the discrimination float over the perpetrator’s head like an inchoate cloud of undefined but still untoward thoughts. And this is how we have gotten to the the point where a person is thought to be messed up if he discriminates about anything.
Now when racism really is a sin, what is sinful about it? The Bible doesn’t ever describe racism as a sin. What has to be present in order for the sinfulness to be present? There are two sinful elements in real racism, and this is where the sin resides. The two sins are vainglory and animosity. Racism would be racially-based vainglory and racially-based animosity. The Bible describes vainglory and malice as sinful in multiple places, and if people give way to these sins it doesn’t much matter what raw material they use.
Some are vainglorious about their looks, or education, or nationality, or regional sports teams, and some are vainglorious about their race. The vainglory is the sin.
Others are hostile and malicious, and their animosity is directed at others on the basis of looks, or education, or nationality, etc. The malice is the sin.
I would urge Christians to stop using the phrase “racism is sin,” and instead start saying that “racial vainglory is sin” or “racial animosity is sin.”
When it is stated this way, it is evident that the problem is a moral one, and that the solution is repentance and forgiveness. Only Jesus can remove vainglory and hatred. If one laments the problem of racial prejudice, that is a problem that you might be able to remove with the program. Education to the rescue.