Seeing Me in the Bible

By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Justus George
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Courtney Grimes
By Jessie Yearwood
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
By Sandhya Curran
By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
By Jenn Wright
By Kevin Harwood
By Nandi Roszhart
By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Charlyn Valencia
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
By Kuruvilla (K.O.) Oommen
By John Dyer
By Abe Paul
By Lauren Geppert
By Jennifer Durrett
By Penny Jones
By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Norm Headlam
By Kristi Herring
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Melanie Mechsner
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Nat Pugh
By Sarah Kemper
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Catherine & Elizabeth Downing
By Gerald Ridgway
By Jill Hoenig
By Sunitha John
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
By Trey Grant
By Debbie Lucien
By Sue Edwards
By Suzie Robinson
By Paul Smith
In eLetter
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a strong relationship with God. I grew up in the church, worshipped sincerely, prayed hard, and loved to read my Bible. I also remember loving to read my illustrated Bibles and my Adventure Bible comic book (if you can call that a Bible) as a child. I was consumed by these stories and getting to know Jesus.

Still, even with the scriptures being very alive to me, I couldn’t help but feel distant from the text. As far as I knew, everyone in scripture was white, with either blonde or brown hair. No one looked anything like me except for Ham (a bad story) and the Queen of Sheba. It appeared to me that God had chosen white people to be the gatekeepers of all that was good and righteous. Even as I grew older, the imagery of Christ, the disciples, and other biblical characters remained white.

I didn’t struggle with this much until years later when I was a youth pastor and one of my kids told me that she wanted to be white because God only uses white people. In her eyes, white was good and being of color was bad. It was then that I realized the consequences that white imagery in the Bible can have on my community and family. Making all the people in the Bible white takes away the significance and dignity of people of color who are undeniably present and instrumental in God’s story.

I am proud of the fact that the Bible is primarily told in a land where the people are of color. Knowing this now, I can connect with the text on a deeper, more personal level. Equipped with the biblical knowledge I now possess, I know that it wouldn’t make sense to assume Christ was white—far from my beliefs as a child—because geography informs us otherwise. As an adult I learned that Mark, the writer of our second gospel, was African. Mark was black. He was born in Cyrene and migrated to Jerusalem, followed Jesus, wrote the gospel, and eventually moved backed to his home in Africa and started the first seminary. I am confident now that God used people of color to reach the world.

For some, this may seem insignificant. But for me, it’s not. It broke my heart when my daughter recently told me over the dinner table that she didn’t like her brown skin and preferred that it be white. I have grown to understand that an all-white Bible and imagery can be damaging and harmful to the beauty of God’s desire to work in all nations. The truth is that we are all made in his image, and it is important that we see that truth reflected in the stories we read and the pictures we see.

If you’d like to explore this topic more, I’d recommend reading “The Whitewashing of Christianity” by Jerome Gay. You can find more information on that here.

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