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The Bible Prohibits Affirmative Action!

Posted by Job on September 10, 2008

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I have been writing way too much about politics lately … I promise to work to make the site more balanced in the future. The Bible verse that explicitly prohibits affirmative action in my estimation is Proverb 11:1. “The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.” That is the NIV. The ESV gives it as follows: “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.”

Making it as simple as possible, many colleges evaluate candidates for admission and workplaces for hiring and promotion based on a points system. For instance, a numerical representation is made of a person’s qualifications. So a candidate for college admissions would acquire some points based on a combination of his grade point average and standardized test scores, for hiring based on his education and work experience, to make use of a crude example. Then that person’s numbers are compared against all of the other candidates, and people are accepted or rejected largely based on it. Those who practice affirmative action and other preference systems add points based on a person’s race or sex.

This point system is, in every respect, a scale. It is used to weigh or measure a person in the same way that, in the literal context of this verse, a person in a marketplace would measure the weight of produce or other merchandise in order to determine its financial worth. Of course, reflecting the fallen nature of mankind, dishonest vendors would rig the scales to force customers to pay more for his merchandise than they were worth. You might protest that this is an unfair comparison, for the measure of a person’s worth cannot be correctly gauged using numbers. That is true. It is also true that the supermarket scale that determines how much you will pay for your tomatoes according to their weight will not tell you how fresh the tomatoes are, what kind of tomatoes they are, or how good they will taste.

The point is that if a system of measurement is going to be used, then it must be used evenly and fairly. If such is done, then it is a just weight that the Lord loves. If it is not done, then it is a cheating scale that the Lord hates. If the Lord hates something, what is it? A sin. God loves mercy, fairness, and equity and demands that we treat each other in that fashion. 

So, the religious left demands that we accept and practice affirmative action. In doing so, they promote sin, promote people to accept and embrace sin. By calling opponents of affirmative action racist and sexist, they violate Isaiah 5:20, which pronounces death upon those who call good evil and evil good, and they also coerce and intimidate people into sinning – or to be silent in the face of sin – that otherwise would not.

However, the religious right is not totally off the hook. Why not? They criticize race based affirmative action while actually praising and defending legacy preferences! In doing this, they A) commit the same sin as the religious right with affirmative action, B) add to that the sin of hypocrisy, and C) add to that still the sin of favoring the rich and powerful – as legacies tend to be – over the poor and powerless, which James 2:1-13 calls the sin of partiality. Although when you ponder it a bit, partiality can be considered just another type of cheating scale, especially when you consider that universities openly admit that they practice legacy admissions because it helps fundraising from wealthy donors, and that it creates “a sense of community” (elitism). 

Now I am certain that there are some that would seek to introduce more variables, such as how colleges in particular factor in such values as favoring students from certain high schools (a form of elitism since these high schools are generally high income) and from certain areas of the country. I will concede this point, but only to a degree. We should agree that rigging scales by race and sex and favoring the rich in our current context are especially problematic, and as such should not be advocated or defended by any Christian.


8 Responses to “The Bible Prohibits Affirmative Action!”

  1. Bill said

    For what it is worth, I totally disagree. In fact, in my evangelical church last week, the pastor pointed out that the admonition in Deuteronomy to not gather from the edges of the fields was the first form of social welfare. It was not being honest, it was being merciful.

    As for affirmative action, it is a form of amends, and there are several examples in the scriptures of the Lord wanting us to make amends and pursue justice (Lev. 6:1-7, Luke 19:8-10) and to live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18) as well as the many scriptures about justice.

  2. Job said


    Gleaning on the edge of the field is a social welfare program offered to people that would otherwise starve. Kids who can’t get into an elite school on their academic records aren’t going to starve. They can just go somewhere else. The same thing with seeking a job or promotion.

    Make amends? Fine. But who does affirmative action make amends to, and in what way? And the best way to leave peaceably with all men is to treat everyone with fairness, equity, and legality.

    If your position is that pervasive racism still exists, make that case and advocate that something is done about the racism itself by changing hearts. You well know that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can truly change hearts.

    • bernard said

      I fail to see how proponents of affirmative action are guilty of sin. You use strong language here. I guess I am in sin and should repent. It seems that you haven’t done much empirical research on this topic, in light of your comments. I suggest a good reading on structural issues related to AA is the book, Divided By Faith out of Oxford University Press. By the way, if changing hearts is the key to ending racism, I ask you when was the last time you dealt with racism in the heart of someone else? If you did, does it ensure a change in the person? Obviously no and in the meantime, people of color continue to suffer from its effects. I would also recommend MLK’s Letter from the Birmingham jail.

      • John Kaniecki said


        Hope you are well.

        It is wrong to steal. We should repent of our evil. This land was stolen from the natives. We should return it to them. That would please God!

        If your great great great grand father had put ten thousand dollars in the bank. You would have no problem as his offspring to collect it.

        In the same way the African American slaves have put money in the bank. They never got their fourty acres and a mule.

        I know I am in the minority but I know God’s will shall prevail.



  3. supposedly…

    How some people falsely still to overlook that Jesus came to help the poor and needy persons is way beyond me

    Hey you seem all to be able read into the Bible anything you want but the reality, for all of the people who collect the tithe, the poor and priests now they were all on Biblical social welfare, and they were not allowed to own property just as Much as anyone on social aid today too.. 1/7 of the tithe was to be given to the poor, and the role of deacons was to help poor people with social aid..

    Just wait till many of you guys get to be over 55 and get cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and cannot work and how gadfly you will go on social aid.. do not bash poor people for you will walk in their footsteps next to learn compassion.. I personaly in my life now have seen many Christians in churches go that route next .

  4. Yemi said

    I totally disagree with affirmative action in theory. But it is important to be on the books. Advocating for it’s removal means you want the minority to be at the mercy of the “perfect” majority. Affirmative action is reflection of our imperfect society. If Proverbs will ultimately guide this policy. How many policy will withstand the standard of the scripture? Usury/banking policies?

  5. if true love is our guide, loving others as ourselves, then how can we go wrong…

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