Saturday, August 5, 2017

Debunking The "Curse of Ham" Myth

The alt-right white supremacists have resuscitated an old LIE that Noah's son Ham was "cursed" so that all of his descendants would be slaves. Many African-American pastors have expressed dismay at the spread of this malicious fallacy and we should all be equally concerned. Some Cults also teach the lie that Ham was cursed with black skin, though the Bible never teaches that. A few years ago, I was shocked and appalled to come across a large number of musty "theological" books from the 1800's indoctrinating readers into this same fiction, justifying the enslavement of people of African descent based on the so-called "Curse of Ham." Anyone who has read their Bible knows that Ham, son of Noah, was never cursed and no such thing exists. Not only is this a nasty and offensive false teaching, but from a theological perspective, it is just plain nonsense.

Genesis 9:20-27 records an event in which Ham disrespected his father by finding him drunk on wine, looking at him naked and then telling his brothers about it. Shem and Japheth were respectful of their father, entered his tent backwards and covered him.

Noah awoke and announced:

Cursed be Canaan. A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers. Blessed be the LORD the God of Shem and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth and let him dwell in the tents of Shem and let Canaan be his servant.

Here is what Satan's twisted logic looks like: Various slaveholders, theologians, pastors and religious figures once believed that all of Ham's offspring from his many sons should be their slaves and they used this passage to justify their position. That is a senseless, corrupted, perversion of Scripture, a doctrine of demons. Here is what this passage really means:

Noah saw the future and prophetically revealed that a generational curse had taken root in Ham's son Canaan. Sin had made it through the flood. Whatever rebellion, disrespect or perversion was in Ham, had corrupted his son. Over hundreds of years, this sin would grow worse and worse with each generation of Canaan's descendants, the Canaanites. They built cities, planted orchards and terraced vineyards, planted fields full of crops and then, when their sin was full, their nation was driven out and destroyed and everything they had built was given to the people of Israel, Shem's descendants. In this way, they were servants of Shem.

I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant. -Joshua 24:13

The Bible frequently refers to nations by the name of their ancestor and speaks of them in the singular. Noah's prophecy was fulfilled when everything Canaan had worked for, all the fruits of his labor was given to Israel. In this way, Canaan was Shem's servant.

Ham corrupted his son Canaan, whose descendants lived in modern day Israel, NOT Africa. There is no mention of a curse on Ham's other children who did live in Africa. The idea that all of Ham's children and therefore, all people with dark skin, are cursed to be slaves is ludicrous. This outrageous false teaching is nothing more than a made up racist lie. Dark skin is the result of high levels of melanin, something that all people have. Melanin rich skin is beautiful, remains looking younger and healthier and provides great protection from the sun. Dark skin is a sign of God's love, protection and wondrous creativity.

The sons of Canaan were judged because of their SIN, not the color of their SKIN, which we do not even know. They could have been lighter skinned, like the Egyptians who were also descended from Ham or like the Phoenicians who were Canaanites themselves.

Even though the nation of Canaan was cursed, many individuals escaped this fate through faith and others by fleeing which showed a fear of God. They have many descendants who were clearly loved by God: Simeon had a son with a Canaanite woman. Judah married a Canaanite woman and their descendants became the fine linen makers of Israel who made the priestly garments. After his wife passed away, Judah fathered a child with Tamar, also a Canaanite woman. Jesus, Himself, was descended from 2 Canaanite women, Tamar and Rahab, which means that every King in the Davidic line, and most of the tribe of Judah had a measure of Canaanite blood running through their veins. Jesus showed grace and mercy by ministering to a Canaanite woman and setting her daughter free from demonic oppression. SIN was the reason the nation of the Canaanites was destroyed, not bloodline, DNA or skin color. That judgement was on a nation, but individuals were spared, such as Rahab’s entire family. Let's also remember that Joseph's wife was an Egyptian woman, so his children, the tribes of Manessah and Ephraim were also descended from Ham.

After the flood of Noah's day, all of the earth was re-populated by his three sons, Ham, Shem and Japheth. Like many Old Testament prophecies, Noah's prophecy had a second spiritual meaning. By prophesying that Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem and that Canaan would be their servant, Noah predicted salvation coming to all three branches of the family, but that the pathway to restoration would be difficult for Canaan's descendants. Yes, the works of Canaan's hands were given to Shem's descendants and their labors served Israel. Yes, many of Canaan's offspring were destroyed because of their sin. But servants dwell in tents as well. Ultimately, ALL believers are grafted into Abraham's family tree. Dwelling in tents together is a sign of belonging and family. Remember that Abraham is the descendant of Shem? In a spiritual sense, we all dwell in the tent of Abraham (the tent of Shem) as servants of His God and as equals. We are all blessed through Abraham. We are all family, united by blood. Every curse is broken through Jesus Christ, including the curse of racism and disunity.  

Acts 17:26 tells us that “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” The Canaanites and their descendants are human beings that bear God's image. There is no one on this earth that isn’t created in God’s image and worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 bids believers to “Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations…” All people on earth, including those descended from the Canaanites, are worthy of a good-faith gospel presentation. According to Revelation 5:9 believers from every tongue, tribe, nation and people will be saved. We are part of one family, the family of God.

Here are links to the other 2 articles in this series:

No comments:

Post a Comment