Debunking a Myth
I find it utterly sad that in the Church there is still much misunderstanding and misinterpretation in regard to the subject of interracial marriage. But if we are to live as God wants us to live, it is imperative that we get this right.
Although we've made great strides in the United States, racism is far from dead. Men are still judged by the color of their skin by many, and not the content of their character. Some still think that people of other races are, somehow, inherently inferior, just because they aren't part of the same group.
And sadly, some still turn to the Bible for their false, degrading, and frankly, ungodly views. They somehow seem to ignore that the Bible teaches how all mankind is descended from two common ancestors: Adam and Eve. Indeed, we find in Genesis, the book of beginnings, that all were created in the image of Almighty God (Genesis 1:27).
What does all of this have to do with interracial marriage? Frankly everything. If all are equal in God's site, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with a person of one race, marrying a person of another. Further, there is absolutely no place in holy Scripture that tells us otherwise.
What the Bible does tell us is that "The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). Our God, indeed, is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
I. The Old Testament and Interracial Marriage
A. Old Testament Condemnation is Religious
Some people claim that interracial marriage is condemned throughout the Old Testament. However they are not reading it clearly. Verses like Deuteronomy 7:3,4 are not telling the Israelite nation not to engage in interracial marriage because they would be marrying outside of their race. Rather it is saying that these foreign people, who were idolaters, would lead their sons and daughters astray after their gods. So the prohibition was not racial but religious. The New Testament has a similar prohibition when it says in II Corinthians 6:14 that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Solomon married many foreign wives and was judged for this. However, it was not the fact that they were foreign that upset God, but that his wives lead him to follow foreign gods.
B. Moses Married Outside His Race
It is interesting that Moses himself married an African woman and was not condemned by God for it. Indeed Miriam, his sister and Aaron, his brother, spoke out against Moses for it (Numbers 12:1) but not God. The woman was a Cushite. A Cushite is from Cush, a region south of Ethiopia. The people there are known for their black skin.
The interesting thing is that, in responding to Miriam's criticism, God doesn't get angry at Moses, but at Miriam. He turns her leprous, which is quite ironic because leprosy turns your skin white (Numbers 12:10).
C. All Races Were to be Included in God's Plan
From the time that God chose Abraham and started a people for His name, foreigners were eventually included in the Lord's plan for the world. All nations were ultimately to be blessed through Abraham's descendants (Genesis 22:18). And there were provisions for Gentiles to convert to Judaism (Exodus 12:48,49).
Also from the time of the Exodus, a mixed multitude of Israelites and non-Israelites left the land of Egypt for the promised land (Exodus 12:38). It should also be remembered that Rahab and Ruth, who were both Gentile women, were both accepted into God's community of Jews. They were also in the genealogical line of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). So, obviously Jesus, in his human nature, was the product of interracial marriage.
And if we look at the prophets, it can be observed that they saw a time when all nations, both Jew and Gentile alike, would come into the Kingdom and the Messiah would be the light to both. (Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 22:27,28; Isaiah 49:6). All of these promises by God and the hopes that they represent have been fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. The New Testament and Interracial Marriage
There are absolutely no prohibitions against interracial marriage in the New Testament. We have already stated the only command. We are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14). Other than that, the New Testament goes out of its way to teach us not to promote favoritism of any kind (James 2:1-10). The Apostle Peter was told by God in a vision that he is not to call anything unclean that God has made clean (Acts 10:9-15). In this way, the Lord was preparing Peter for the acceptance of Gentiles into God's program. Of course, the Apostle Paul, in His understanding of the Body of Christ, the Church, was clear that it is made up of all men, both Jew and Gentile, who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Ephesians 3:1-12). And a verse worth memorizing and quoting is Galatians 3:28, which states: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." And, of course, there is Colossians 3:11 which tells us this about the New Humanity that Christ has created by his death, burial and resurrection:
"Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
Finally, in the book of Revelation, we have a beautiful picture of the New Jerusalem in which the nations will bring their glory and honor into it. (Revelation 21:26). Thus we have God's promise to Abraham completely fulfilled in which all nations will be blessed through his seed.
We go through all of this and come to the ultimate conclusion that God places no prohibitions upon interracial marriage. All of us are descended from Adam and Eve and are created in the image of God. All humans are sinners in need of God's grace, no matter what race or color. And under Christ, God sees us all as brothers and sisters, who are heirs and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ. He doesn't look at your outward appearance, or the part of the world that you came from and put you in some inferior, or superior category.
When it comes right down to it, I like Martin Luther King Jr., am looking for a world in which a person is not judged by the color of his or her skin, but the content of their character. We need to put away our prejudices and stop placing prohibitions upon people that the Bible never gives. If those of various races want to get married, then we should accept them as we would a marriage between a couple of the same race. Let us not call unclean, that which God has made clean. May we celebrate the differences that make each of us a unique and vital part of the Body of Christ. And may we all glorify Him together.
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