Recently my husband and I heard a popular, famous preacher on the radio, who was preaching on Mathew 25:33
“…and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.”
confidently declare that “the obvious way” everyone can tell a sheep from a goat, is that “sheep are white” and “goats are black”. We were appalled.
SERIOUSLY!!??? Not only could this not be further from the truth, but by putting all his authority and reputation behind that statement, he just led thousands of his trusting followers into ignorance, while reinforcing the horrible lie that “God hates” anything black, and “loves” anything white! Did he even stop to consider how this could come across to people of color? I feel very angry when I hear ministry leaders so confidently spread lies and misunderstanding to their own flocks of people who trust them to have done their research and to deliver the truth.
So, for the record, both sheep and goats come in many colors! Just like dogs, there are many different breeds of both sheep and goats that have been bred around the world for millennia for quality milk, meat, fiber (to make yarn and cloth), and hides. Breeding for particular traits always brings other, distinctive traits along for the ride, creating breeds known for a certain color palate and/or pattern, and also ear and tail length, personality and disposition. Both domestic and wild breeds of sheep and goats come in a “rainbow” of beautiful, natural colors: brown, black, grey, “red”, blonde, cream and white in every shade variation possible.
Sheep have widely been bred intentionally to be white, merely because when you are selling wool from your flock, white wool is able to be dyed any color, therefore broadening the usefulness of your product. Grey, black, brown and red wool do still exist, and they are all very beautiful, but white is the most common just because it can also be easily made yellow, green, blue, purple….any color imaginable.
YOU can make a difference in the world by being sure your own “flock” (sphere of influence, others you minister to) do not function under this same lie. It matters, because people need to hear God does not operate under a preference for “color”. There are many other reasons, real attributes of goats and sheep, that make them appropriate and understandable symbols in the Mathew 23 passage wherein Jesus describes judgement day as a time of sorting the followers in His flock from the rebels. Tune in for future posts on this topic!
2 thoughts on “Goats & Sheep Are Not “Black & White””
Not only do goats and sheep come in a variety of colors, but it is hard to tell some identify some breeds as goats or sheep. There is at least one internet quiz (I think it is from Livestock Conservancy) to try to identify pictures as either goats or sheep. I am pretty good at it, but there is one picture that I get wrong. I think that still fits the story: God can tell the difference, we may not be able to.
That is an excellent point! Thanks for bringing that up. There are several goat breeds that Still look like sheep to me, and several sheep breeds that still look like goats. Have you ever found a definitive list of the differences? One distinction I have heard of “sheep tails are down,” but “goat tails are up,” like deer.