Monday, October 22, 2007

Random Thoughts on Kinism

I’m a mutt of mostly European descent. I am part Cherokee and have some strong physical characteristics that have not been fully explained by genealogical research. With olive skin and wavy/curly black hair that come from a mysterious lineage, I probably have some Mediterranean roots of some sort. Back up to my European roots. I know I have forefathers that are English, German, Dutch and Irish. These groups include at least four ethnicities: Anglo, Saxon, Celtic and Norman. If I were a kinist, who should I have married? My wife is primarily of German descent on both sides. The Caskaddons, Sigmons and the Sigmans all trace their roots back to Germany. Her Grandmother, however, had some English heritage. Hmmm…

What is a kinist? Loosely, a kinist is someone who believes in ethnic homogeneity. That means that they believe that you should only marry someone of your own race.

Scientifically, what is a “race”? It would seem to be something in the hierarchy of biological taxonomy: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum or Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Nope, not in there. As far as I can tell, all human beings are the same species. Biologists do recognize varieties within the same species. They call these such as Subspecies, Morphs, Cultivars or Strains. While biology or genetics has not generated interest in “race”, there have been genetic and biological studies of the differences between races that have been initiated from anthropological interest instead.

The Bible certainly recognizes different tribes or ethnicities. It also says that they all come from the same man – Adam, in one case, or Noah in another. The different tribes came about because inbreeding within families brought out certain traits that allowed increased survivability in certain areas of the world. Even the naturalists look for the source group of homo sapiens and believe that all ethnicities today derived from the same group of people and migrated from that location. They do tests on mitochondrial DNA to trace similarities in the apparent mutations.

Of course, many naturalists have the view that speciation creates new genetic material that lends itself to evolution. Speciation is the breeding of significantly different traits within a genetic family. For example, a horse is one species and a donkey is another. They are in the same family and can interbreed. However they have become different enough that their offspring are typically sterile. Such naturalists may come to the conclusion that different ethnical groups of people are evolving differently and should not intermarry. This has been in the news recently. Leading geneticist James D. Watson has said as much.

This view of speciation is erroneous, however, and the genetic testing of different species bears this out. Speciation occurs as populations of a Family lose genetic material that allows variation that is not useful to the population in a given environment. No material is gained. In fact material is lost. The more material is lost, the weaker a species becomes because the less capable a species is of producing genetic variety and adapting to changing environments. Also, there is a demonstrable genetic degradation that has been occurring. For Families that have a diploid genetic structure, genetic defects in individuals can be compensated for by the other set of genes. When these errors are duplicated in both sets of genes, the defects create problems in the morphogeneses of various structures in embryos. This is why it is no longer wise as some did in ancient times not to marry your sister. In fact, it is illegal in many states to marry your first cousin. (See the map. I thought it was illegal for third cousins to marry anywhere in the US. I guess I was wrong.)

My mother-in-law’s parents had siblings that married (Her dad's brother married her mom's sister). This produced a set of what they call “double first cousins”, which was not uncommon in North Carolina a generation ago. In my estimation, sharing the same four grandparents, double first cousins would be genetically little different than siblings although having different parents. Depending on the size and speciological specialization of the original population, after a certain number of generations, it would seem that all people in an isolated population would be little different than siblings. History shows that there has been enough external genetic material introduced into most human populations by travelers, conquerors and population movements to keep this from happening.

All this to ask this question: How many generations does it take for a population once divided and separated to define two new races? Can one say that Africans are one race and Europeans are another? If so, by what precise standard? At what point in history did they become different races? Were Anglos and Saxons different races before they converged on the British Isle with the Celts? Were Etruscans, Latins and Greeks different races before they became Romans? Can anyone tell me what is the precise line of demarcation?

The arguments for Christian Kinism that I have heard are specious at best. They rely on a rather poor hermeneutic. There is a part of the Law of Moses that forbade the Hebrews to marry non-Hebrews. This was because of the fact that others would bring in their worship of other gods and destroy the unity of the children of Israel in their devotion to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The spirit of the law is what’s important. Otherwise, Rahab and Ruth would not have been held up as women to be lauded for their faith and included in the human lineage of Christ.

The other proof text I’ve hear Christian Kinists use is Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus on Mars Hill recorded by Luke in Acts. This is important because he was actually preaching against the notion that the people of Athens didn’t need the God of Paul because he was from a different place. In other words, people of ALL ethnicities are created to be children of God - including Athenians. Kinists here confuse God’s decretive will with His prescriptive will thinking that when God “determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” He “determined that they ought to have boundaries in their habitation where they don’t marry people outside their own race”. That’s adding a lot that isn’t there.

Other than this, the Kinist arguments I’ve heard are merely pleas to practicality or some innate sense about how things ought to be. For example, they may say that people of different races ought not marry because they will have a difficult time in society. If that’s a legitimate argument, then people ought not become Christian for the same reason. True Christians are promised by Christ, Paul and Peter to have a difficult time. It’s true that in the United States it has been an issue where couples of differing ethnic origins and their children have suffered discrimination. No more than ethnic minorities have. That's no argument for people not to marry.

I can also hear this argument: “Jim, would you want your daughter to marry a black man?” Well, frankly I don’t care if he’s purple as long as he’s a godly Christian man. If he’s a white atheist, she needs to refrain from allowing him to court her – when she’s old enough. We are exhorted not to be unequally yoked. That’s not ethnic or economic, that’s spiritual. If he’s a mature Christian, then he’s a child of God and a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the correct criteria.

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