Thoughts on Ethnocentrism from the angle of unintentionality in Genesis 20.1-7

Genesis 20.1-7
1 From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was staying in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman.”
4 Now Abimelech had not approached her, so he said, “Lord, would you destroy a nation even though it is innocent? 5 Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience. I have also kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I have not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will certainly die, you and all who are yours.”
Abraham lied to Abimelech about his wife Sarah, being merely his sister. So Abimelech took Sarah to be one of his wives. God threatened Abimelech with death because he was about to sleep with a married woman. Abimelech pleaded his ignorance and a clear conscience. God affirmed that Abimelech had a clear conscience, was unaware, and that is why God kept him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah. But if after being warned and made aware Abimelech slept with her or did not return her to Abraham, he would have been guilty and justly sentenced.
A few observations:
(1) Abimelech unintentionally dishonored Abraham’s marriage by taking Sarah.
(2) Abimelech did not yet “sin” because (1) he did not know and (2) he did not sleep with her. One can sin with motives or actions. At this point Abimelech did neither.
(3) When Abimelech was made aware of the situation he was now accountable to not proceed with his actions.
How could this apply to the ethnic harmony/reconciliation conversation?
If ethnocentric structural oppression still exists today, then
(1) SJG Christians may be unaware of it.
(2) May not be sinning if they are not perpetuating it.
(3) They are being made aware of it by other voices and pastors and leaders in sermons, conferences, articles, blog posts, books, and podcasts.
(4) Those who disciple others to minimize or ignore the problem perpetuate the oppression unintentionally, which is the sin that pastors and other disciplers are guilty of in their public teaching and discipleship ministries.
The SJG statement assumes there is not a massive problem today. That assumption is a moral and ethical problem for the drafters and signers, in my view.
Now, if ethnocentric structural oppression toward African Americans does not exist today then these SJG drafters and signers are correct and I need to understand, repent, and stop putting false guilt and claiming people of sin when they are in fact not sinning.

About pjtibayan

P. J. loves Jesus Christ and lives to share life and share Jesus together with Bethany Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County. P. J. has been pastoring since 2002 and earned a doctorate in biblical theology from Southern Seminary (D.Min.). He blogs regularly at
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