Analogies Gone Awry

“Can an Ethiopian change his skin?… Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” – Jeremiah 13:23

In acknowledgement of the host pastor’s wife, a visiting preacher declared: “I’ve known the First Lady for many years… She is devoted, delightful, determined and delicious!”

The congregation gasped!

Preaching from Acts 2:20, a televangelist proclaimed: “At the coming of the Lord, the sun will refuse to shine… and the moon will have a hysterectomy!”

I wondered if anyone besides me raised an eyebrow.

In a ministerial gathering shortly after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on same sex marriage, one pastor proudly exclaimed: “In my church, we love and preach the gospel to everybody – the drunkards, the drug addicts, the rapists, the robbers, the homosexuals – everybody!

After the meeting, I had an intense conversation with that pastor about the offense of placing homosexuals in that particular category.

Hyperbole can be useful at times for emphasis, but certain analogies and references strike me as quite inappropriate.

The writer of Jeremiah 13 is prophesying judgement upon the children of Israel for their wanton disobedience of God’s word.  Then to justify the judgement upon Israel, the writer claims that Israel can no more turn from evil than an Ethiopian can change his skin color.

A nation needing to change its ethical behavior is one thing.  But why would a person of color ever want or need to change her skin?

In societies where normalcy is defined by the white majority, the Ethiopian might be tempted to change his skin.  In a world where the assumptions of white supremacy are not even questioned, the Ethiopian might be tempted to change her skin.

But in the realm of God everyone is valued in the skin they’re in.


God let your change in us impact how we see the colors around us.  Amen.

Dr-Kenneth-L.jpgAbout the Author
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.