I have, once again, been asked to attempt some Biblical clarification and perspective on an EXREMELY sensitive and volatile topic. I hope everyone that reads this prays as much about it as I did while writing it.
The question this time came from a young couple in Tulsa, a Bible college student and an elderly Pastor in North Carolina. All of them basically confused about the Church’s stance on so called “Interracial Marriage”.
I am willing to admit this much right now. I haven’t seen where the Church has much of any kind of a credible doctrine on this issue. I have traveled the country over, preached in many churches and held meetings and conferences for two decades and in most cases: The leadership is against it about 70/30 and the masses of the people are for it about 70/30. The people that are against it often twist and misquote scriptures and it is usually fairly obvious that they have more of a Knee jerk reaction/Social prejudice/Emotional response to it than they do most other doctrines. The people that are for it generally use social injustices and hypocrisies in the doctrines of those that are against it, as their main points and arguments.
I have some reservations myself but they are NON-Biblical in nature. There is NOTHING in the Bible that would cause me to question that type of a relationship based on nothing but color of skin or origin of birth. This is one of my big problems with it as a doctrine. It is EXTREMELY inconsistent. Almost ALL men that I have ever spoken to are not really against interRACIAL marriage. They are against interCOLOR marriage. As a matter of fact, they are not just against two different colors. They are more against it if the two colors are further apart in shade than if they were closer together in shade. For example if a “white” person married an “Asian” person, that is not as radical “bad” as if a “white” person married a “black” person. The same is true, that if a “black” person married an “Asian” person, that is no where near as “bad” as if a “black” person married a “white” person. This gives an extraordinary appearance of a doctrine based on social behaviors and learned prejudices.
If the argument is about the old testament and God not wanting the Israelites to marry the Canaanites, etc, there are some issues there. First of all, if you want to use that and have pure doctrine that is consistent and not hypocritical then: It is “unbiblical” for Germans to marry the French and Spaniards to marry the Ecuadorians and so on. But that is not a problem for almost all people that are against so called “interracial marriage”. But those are interracial. It is almost always acceptable…..because the colors match.
Something else, according to the letter of the law in the Old Testament, Israelites were not supposed to allow Canaanites to marry into their lineages. But in the New Testament it is revealed that Rahab (a Canaanite woman) is in the lineage, not just of AN ISRAELITE, but THE ISRAELITE, JESUS. It’s ok though, because it is actually consistent with ALL scripture if it is all taken in context. Most Bible scholars say that the reason Rahab was allowed into the family of Israelites is because she was “converted” at Jericho in Joshua chapter 2. Her conversion was signified by her faith in Jehovah, her covenant with the two spies and the saving of her and her household during the battle. This agrees also with the New Testament where 2 Corinthians 14 says “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
This verse is about Christians not binding together (marriage, business, etc) with non-Christians. And Rahab was of the “race” that wasn’t allowed into the “Christian” lineage UNTIL she was converted and then it was allowed. That was a type and shadow of the spiritual understanding that would later come in 2 Corinthians.
My reservations are bases on peer pressure, societal discrimination and the mental and emotional welfare of children that would be born into such marriages. I think if a couple that were of different “colors” were considering marriage, they should seek wise and Godly counsel about the social issues and peer pressures that they could face. They should also think well ahead and prepare a plan for raising children in such an environment. But I would say the same thing about a young person from a very affluent family marrying a mate from very meager means. I would say the same thing about a person from a very strict and rigorous religious family marrying a person from a conservative but less rigid religious family.
Now, I am not going to make a shadowy demi-doctrine to cause people to believe that I don’t think God would approve of rich people marrying poor people or a more conservative individual marrying a less conservative person. I would just point out the difficulties. If said type of people did marry said type of people, it wouldn’t bring a stigma with it……would it? Or is that just somehow reserved for color?
From a STRICLTY BIBLICAL perspective, all humans are descendants of one man and one woman-Adam and Eve (1 Corinthians 15:45; Genesis 3:20). Thus, if the Bible’s history is accurate, biologically, only one race of human beings exists. Christians need to examine such matters from a Biblical perspective, instead of blindly following their cultural programming or geographical prejudices. From a spiritual perspective, the only two “races” are those who are of the kingdom of light and those who are of the kingdom of darkness. The Bible emphatically declares this by stating that a Christian should never knowingly marry a non-Christian in 2 Corinthians 6:14. It is also implied in Ephesians 5:21-33 and Matthew 19:4-7.
So the only “interracial” marriage that I can find that the Bible warns humans against is between 2 opposing spiritual races, a believer and a non-believer. This again is best shown in the story of Rahab.
It is important that Christians think about marriage as God thinks about each one of us. When the prophet Samuel went to anoint the next king of Israel, he thought the oldest of Jesse’s sons was the obvious choice due to his outward appearance. However, we read in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
There is so much to teach each generation about God and his ways and the Church is losing more of each generation, I don’t understand why we are not spending more time spiritualizing every day life for them and teaching and preaching about morality, prayer life, giving, forgiving, Godly duties of parents to children and spouses to each other and the jobs that the Holy Ghost empowers people to do and…………But I do understand one reason why we are not doing all of that. It is because it is so difficult and so time consuming to teach and preach indoctrinations that are not provable or not plainly stated in scripture and then even more difficult and even more time consuming to try to keep people convinced to believe what they have been taught in a world full of mass communication. So there isn’t enough time to teach all the true Bible basics if you have to indoctrinate also.
This article, of course, is not exhaustive for several reasons. First and foremost, I do not like to pit one scripture against another as some do. Secondly, this is one of the few subjects that is almost always purely emotionally charged and lastly, it is one of the last standing emotionally charged doctrines, as such, that really has no pure argument for it. I cannot believe that it is even still around.
To be fair to this article, I asked 3 prominent Pastors in our movement, that I know are against interracial marriage, to give me 5 minutes of their time on why it was Biblically inappropriate. When they misquoted scriptures, I pointed it out. When they twisted meanings, I pointed it out. I asked a question or two or three and they tried to answer them. ALL THREE OF THEM CONCLUDED THE SAME THING WITH ME! “We do not really have a “biblical” stance against it but it just causes confusion, hurt and there will be problems that are not being considered.”
In turn, I agreed with them that, there are cultural, local, regional and emotional issues that should be considered. But GOD should not be used as a tool to dissuade. That is disingenuous.
Cultures, barriers, presuppositions, philosophies, prejudices, beliefs and religions, form vast chasms between the message of Christ and the mind of man.
Your humble servant,
Rev. D. Todd Sloggett