Monday, March 23, 2015

Met. Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Racism

Arabic original here. On the same theme by Met Ephrem, see this.

Racism from the Church's Perspective

"Our life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3)

Christ God came, suffered, was crucified and rose from the dead: all this for the salvation of the world, for the sake of every person.

Therefore, there is no place for nationalism or for sectarianism... Every person is meaningful before God, whether he knows God or does not know Him, whatever his nationality, race or religion. The Holy Bible affirms the dignity of every person created in the image of God. It is true that the Jews were known as God's chosen people. This was only a historical stage when God used them as a means to come in the body and to make every nation that believes in Him His own nation. Therefore,  the Apostle Paul says, "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" (Galatians 3:28). 

Indeed, Christ-- whether a person knows Him and believes in Him or does not know Him and believe in Him-- is sown in the heart in every human and even traced upon every human face.

In his Spiritual Instructions, Saint Dorotheus says, "Suppose a  circle whose center is God and whose rays are different paths. Every person of the created world walks along one of the rays toward the center, where Christ God is (whether the person realizes it or not). He approaches his brother walking along a different ray toward God, the center itself. The more they distance themselves from one another, the more they distance themselves from God."

Racist behavior has been rooted in the reality of sin since the beginning of humanity. A saying known among the Greeks is "he who is not a Greek  is a barbarian". This racism is rooted in our blood, us weak humans, but those who believe in Christ reject it and fight it with the word of the Gospel: "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). 

"All the seed of Adam is intended for salvation, having been renewed in Christ," according to Saint Irenaeus. People saw in the early Christians a "third race", as Tertullian put it, in the spiritual sense. That is, a "new people" in whom the two races, Jews and pagans, meet. Therefore, Christianity rejects every form of racism or religious discrimination. My neighbor is not only the person from my tribe, my neighborhood or my religion. Rather, he is every person that I meet along my way. Therefore we must respect strangers and accept dialogue, participation and cooperation with other ethnicities.

Europe attempted to renounce such distinctions after the French Revolution through embracing secularism but it deviated from the right path by renouncing at the same time all divine, religious values. Christ participated in the salvation of all outcasts, such as the Samaritans and pagans like the Canaanite woman, and so we must emulate Him. Schools have a prominent role in  working to acquire a conscience that is not racist, through education that focuses on what is common to all people and that that which is unique about the other can be a source of richness for us.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, Koura and Dependencies


The Anti-Gnostic said...

The undoing of secular society is cratering birthrates, which means eventual displacement by more tribal societies. This is exactly what has happened in the Middle East.

Nobody else over there still believes in Ba'athism. Why do Middle Eastern Christians still cling to it?

Samn! said...

I fail to see what any of this has to do with Baathism.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Anti-Gnostic is clumsily trying to transpose his white nationalist paranoia onto a Middle Eastern context.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Samn - Secular, pan-Arabic, social democracy. Again, the only people who still believe in it are Arab Christians who read French academics.

Anonymous - you tell me, how is that glorious multiculturalism and pluralistic democracy working out for the Middle East? No less than four countries are trying to be born where there used to be two secular dictatorships. Egypt is still around--not everybody has a General Abdel el-Sisi.

Samn! said...

Eh, not really. That is, there's a pretty wide range of secularist ideologies in the Middle East, some more successful than others, but very few that could be qualified as Baathism... While it's true that most secularist and leftist parties have historically had strong Christian participation, none of the extant secularist or Leftist parties (or newspapers, etc) are currently Christian-dominated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for passing along Ephrem's remarks about racism being a sin and inconsistent with Christian values. We need this reminder. Racism is a very difficult sin to get rid of because it is human nature to mistrust those different than us. It works together with related sins like pride and anger and envy. Also having a racist conscience is a short-cut to getting someone to hate his fellow man, to defy our Lord's great commandment to love our neighbor and gives the devil an easy win. Racism even keeps the church, the body of Christ divided; another easy win for the devil. Here is another quote on this line, not from an orthodox divine but from an interview with an older black woman who 50 years ago participated in the U.S. civil rights movement, the march to Selma. In a recent radio interview on democracy now she said "you can't be a Christian and a racist at the same time." Sorry I don't recall her name but she was a teenager at the Selma event and she was the one whom, while registering blacks to vote, a sheriff's deputy punched her in the face, breaking his hand. Anyway, my point is her Christian grace allows her to not be hateful, to see the sin behind racism, and she gives the same beautiful message as these remarks on your webpage.