I have a theory. This is my theory.
Back in the Garden of Eden, and up through the great flood of Noah’s fame, all the way until folks decided to build a tower to heaven, we all pretty much looked the same. I don’t know what that look was, but I am suspicious that it was not the Irish/English look that I am sporting today.
Some say the Tower of Babel was built near a place called Shinar that was south of Mesopotamia, while others believe it was actually in today’s northern Syria. All that is really irrelevant except to say that the world’s population was all together, and somewhere in the Middle Eastern region of the world at that time. The survivors of the flood (Noah’s family) hung together, and you can see how prolific those folks were if you take a look at Genesis 10. They were all about post flood re-population!
The story of the Tower of Babel is found in Genesis 11. Noah’s descendants decided to build a tower to heaven in order to make a name for themselves. My question is, “Who were they trying to impress?” There was no one else!
Anyway, God wasn’t having it. So he confused their speech, giving them different languages in order that they could no longer communicate well enough to complete the tower. Eventually, they grouped up by language, and set out to distant lands. In time, very different people groups emerged, depending on what region they inhabited.
Those who landed in hot, arid regions developed darker skin; God added the greater melanin content to help protect them from the harsh rays of the sun. Others landed in more northern regions where the climate was cooler, and there was no need for this added melanin. God gave them lighter, fairer skin. Those who stayed in the sandy areas that are now Syria, Iraq, and Israel developed that olive complexion they are known for today; a complexion God thought well enough of that He gave it to Jesus. You see where I’m going?
So my theory is that skin color is a matter of where your ancient Noahan descendants landed after the whole Babel debacle.
(“Noahan descendants” is my phrase. Feel free to borrow it.)
Differences in skin color have been an issue ever since… as if any of us had any control over where our nomadic ancestors wandered and ultimately settled. It is common to think one’s skin hue is superior to others that are different. But why?
I can appreciate those who fight hard against racism and say, “When I look at people, I don’t see color.” I don’t think they are lying exactly, but I don’t think they are being completely realistic. When I look at my black friends, I shouldn’t want to ignore their skin tone, or the unique shape of their eyes, noses, or the texture of their hair. When I talk to my Asian friends, how can I not see the beautiful smoothness of their skin and the shine to their straight, black hair? Why would I want to minimize all that diversity and unique beauty infused into them by their Creator?
When we deal with racism, we have to come to the place where we embrace the “different yet equal” truth. It’s no different than how we view the sexes. The trend today is to blur those lines as well. Shame on us! Yes, we are equally valuable, but we are not the same. That is okay. Each sex was created with beauty and precision to serve equally important roles in relationships. The same is true regarding race or skin color. They are different, yet equal. We shouldn’t try to ignore our differences. We need to celebrate them!
Whatever God intends to be a blessing, our enemy sets out to corrupt. Those people groups who went their separate ways were once family! And yet the enemy whispers in our ears that we are better than those who don’t look or act like we do. He tells us we are superior to them, and should not welcome them into our lives. Those people who, eons ago, were family. Separation is the enemy of community and cooperation.
If I am honest, it is often just easier to gravitate to those who look and act the way I do. But when I give in to that pattern, I miss out on so much blessing! Venturing into relationship with different kinds of people is risky. It forces us to address long held prejudices and myths about those who are not like us. Fences that were built by former generations have to be torn down. It’s those fences that keep us apart. We might feel a bit exposed without them at first, but little by little we can overcome our fear of each other and embrace the best in each of us.
But hey, it’s only a theory.