Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.” -Genesis 9:25
Dr. Thomas Buford Maston (AD 1897-1988) was a longtime Ethics professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. While a student, I had the opportunity to briefly visit with T. B. Maston on a walk around the SWBTS campus. In 1959 Dr. Maston wrote “The Bible & Race,” published by Broadman Press. It was a book ahead of its times. In 2008 SWBTS reprinted this book as a part of its Centennial Classics.
In the last chapter, Maston deals with the Curse of Ham, or the Curse of Canaan in Genesis 9. This biblical passage has been wrongly used by some to justify slavery and racism. I will not reprint the entire chapter, but Maston’s conclusion.
Conclusions Concerning the Curse
“What can we conclude concerning the curse of Canaan and its relevance to the contemporary racial situation? Some personal conclusions are as follows:
1. The curse was a pronouncement of a particular sentence on a particular sin.
2. The curse was a prophecy. Its main purpose was to predict the subjugation of the Canaanites by the children of Israel.
3. The fulfilment of the terms of the curse and the time of the fulfilment were dependent on the decisions and the conduct of the ones mentioned in the curse.
4. The curse of Canaan has no direct relevance to the contemporary racial situation. The Negro was not included in the original curse, since he was not and is not a descendant of Canaan. Even if he were a descendant of Canaan, the curse itself is no longer in force.
5. Most men seek divine sanction for what they do or want to do.
6. In seeking divine sanction for enforced racial segregation, some have used the curse of Canaan, which they usually label ‘the curse of Ham,’ and the Bible in general to support their position.
7. Even Christians may defend racial segregation as the best method of temporarily and immediately handling a perplexing problem without doing great damage to the cause of Christ, so long as they will not use the curse of Canaan and other biblical incidents and teachings to support their position, and so long as they do not defend segregation as being the full and final expression of the divine will in human relations. When the latter is done, irreparable harm is done to the Christian movement and to the Christian witness at home and abroad.
Surely the God who created man in his own image, who made of one all men, who is no respecter of persons, who loved all men enough to give his Son for their salvation, and who taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves did not and does not intend that any man or any segment of mankind should be kept in permanent subserviency or should be treated as innately inferior, as second-class citizens in a first-class society.”
-T. B. Maston, The Bible & Race; 1959.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, May 29, AD 2017.
Many other articles in lower right margin.