“Our church doesn’t support interracial marriages”

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“Our church doesn’t support interracial marriages, therefore we cannot support your work.”

We received this response from a pastor earlier this week when I asked him if we could have the opportunity of sharing our ministry to Australia with the church congregation. The sad thing is, it’s not the first time we’ve heard this response. It prompted the question in me “why do churches believe interracial marriages are not biblical?”

So, is interracial marriage a sin? The short answer is “No,” but don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at what the Bible has to say.

Verses about interracial marriage

First, let’s look at Bible verses that talk specifically about two people marrying who are of different color skin.

All right, now that we’ve looked at those verses…”Wait, wait a minute” you say, “you didn’t list any verses.” That’s because there are none. Zip, nothing, nada, zilch. There is no, I repeat N-O, verses that specifically address the issue of two people of different color skin marrying.

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The word “skin” appears 83 times in the Bible. Never once is it used in relationship to marriage. It only has to do with color twice. Once in Jeremiah 13:23 and once in Lamentations 5:10. Neither even speak negatively about the color of one’s skin.

The word “interracial” appears 0 times in the Bible.

The word “marriage” appears 21 times in the Bible. The Bible certainly talks about marriage more often, but it does not use the word marriage. However, 2 verses in that number are the basis for this whole issue.

Supposed verses about interracial marriage

Here are some of the verses that people think have to do with interracial marriage.

Deuteronomy 7:2-3 “…thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them.”

If you look back at verse 1, you’ll see that the “them” referred to in these verses are the Hittities, Girgashites, Canaanites, etc. God forbade his people from intermarrying with people of other nations.

quote2The problem is, people stop reading there because it told them what they wanted to hear. You can make the Bible say whatever you want it to say when you take a verse out of context. We had a saying in Bible college, “context is king.” So what’s the context?

Look at verse 4, “for they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods.” The issue was not marrying someone of a different skin color, but rather marrying someone who served a different god. The same issue is present in Joshua 23:12.

II Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

That’s what the Bible says. This is what people see: “Be ye not unequally yoked…what communion hath light with darkness?” They then assume light and darkness refer to the color of one’s skin.

The problem is that marriage is not even the purpose of this passage. This is a biblical principle that can be applied to any partnership or relationship. But let’s look at it from the perspective of marriage. What I ask myself is, “How can they so plainly miss the ‘unequally yoked together with unbelievers.'”

With an emphasis on this phrase, this verse is no different than the Old Testament passage we’ve already discussed.

Neither of these verses have anything to do with the intermarriage of people of varying skin colors. In fact, I would go so far as to say the Bible approves interracial marriage.

A Biblical proof for interracial marriage

Here’s a strong verse in support of skin color being a non-issue with God.

I Samuel 16:7b “…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

While this verse is not about marriage, it is about how God views people. God doesn’t care what someone looks like. This reinforces what we’ve been saying so far. God is more concerned with your relationship with Him than with the color of your skin.

Another evidence is found in Numbers 12. Here, Miriam is angry at Moses because he married an Ethiopian woman. Ethopians had dark skin. Miriam tried to use this a reason that Moses should not be accepted as leader any longer.

What happens is astonishing. God comes down just to address this issue. The Bible tells us that the anger of the Lord was kindled against Miriam and He made her a leper. If not for the pleading of Moses, she might have remained that way. The point, though, is that God tells Miriam that Moses is faithful and He has chosen to use Moses.

God could have used this as a time to rebuke Moses for his choice in a wife, but He does not. In fact, the Lord is silent in this matter entirely. So while God does not necessarily affirm the validity of this marriage, He does not condemn it either. The fact is, it was a non-issue for God, and it should be a non-issue for God’s people.

Application

Let’s admit it, the issue of interracial marriages in our churches today is a cultural one, not a biblical one. They may hide behind the smoke screen of what they believe the Bible says, but the truth is that they still haven’t dealt with the prejudice in their hearts.

This may be more of an issue in other countries where a couple might receive intense cultural persecution, but it has no place in 21st century American churches.

Would you share this article with your friends and help us promote the truth of the Bible?

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33 thoughts on ““Our church doesn’t support interracial marriages”

  1. Just my thoughts. Your verses that people “believe” relate to interracial marriage?–that’s sad. If they believe those verses refer to marrying someone of a different skin color, they’re not very solid in their interpretation of Scripture. So I’d stay clear and let God direct you to other solid churches with grounded pastors and lay people. He’ll keep doing that. Sorry you run into this stuff. I don’t know what drives it.

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    • It is sad, but we don’t let it get to us. We’re just trying to encourage a change of thought, and that starts with addressing the issue. Some of us (and I mean Christians) are happily oblivious to the issues in Christian circles. People need to be aware this is still a problem in the modern American church.

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      • I never understood the animosity toward intermarriages. When you go through the lineage of Jesus, he has a Moabite (Ruth) , a Palestian (Rahab) the harlot. I have heard some state that Jews weren’t allowed to intermarry with each other. That had everything to do with an inheritance. If we are to be true to our own inheritance we all have different races in us

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      • You are right. There are plenty of examples in the Bible, even in Christ’s own lineage, of “inter-cultural” marriages. No telling if there was a skin color difference at all, but it is further evidence that the commands by God to not intermarry with other peoples were based on their faith, not on their skin color.

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  2. My issue…it is acceptable for white and Asian or white and Latino, etc. to be together. But step out with the African and White, or be an obvious mix of white and black and all heck breaks loose. That is where the hypocrisy lies.

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    • You’re right, it’s more to do with color of the skin than it has to do with being from a different country. We don’t get the criticism as bad as some do since my wife is from India. She is more of a darker tan than black, but that still bothers some. I have actually had someone question me about her heritage once, and when I told him she was from India he said “Oh good, so long as she’s not black.” Like that makes a difference? What difference does color of skin make at all?

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  3. Just a point of confusion, why would you say Moses and his Ethiopian wife had different skin colors? Moses came from Egypt where everyone had dark skin and so did he as he fit into the Pharoah’s home and no one knew he wasn’t Egyptian. It is clear that Moses was not fair skinned at all. So I’m not sure how your analogy applies, although I do agree skin color is not important to God.

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    • While it’s hard to know exactly what they looked like, Moses was an Israelite who happened to live in an Egyptian home. The Bible doesn’t really touch on his life in Pharoah’s home besides the fact that he received an excellent education because of it. Most likely, Moses looked like your average Jewish man. His status in Pharaoh’s home was due to his adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter, not so much how he looked.

      Even comparing Egyptians to Ethiopians, there is a difference. I have an Egyptian friend, and he is lighter than my wife, who is from India. And Indians are generally lighter than Africans. So most likely there was a noticeable difference between Moses and his wife. There are other examples of “interracial” marriages in Scripture, this was simply one of the most obvious and more well-known figures.

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      • Acts 17:26 tells us that we are all of one blood, we are all of the human race, we are not different races of human. There is no such thing as an interracial marraige, that is a label that has been used for centuries because of predjudice, it does not belong in the Christian’s vocabulary.

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  4. Reblogged this on Follow That Rabbit! and commented:
    As the daughter of a biracial marriage, I’ve never really understood this. I guess I skate by because I’m white and Asian. Loads of people brought back exotic wives from Vietnam or the Philippines or from any number of other places they were stationed. Being half Asian has been normalized. I’ve never experienced the kind of aggressions that follow other interracial mixes. Modern science continues to find proofs that a black human has (brace for it) the same DNA components as a white human. So does every race, ethnicity, and nationality of person. We are all people. I haven’t been discriminated against or attacked, but I’m still eager for the day when everyone comprehends that no soul is greater than another.

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    • Thank you for your thoughts. It’s kind of like Denise said above. It has been more normalized. I think it has been more accepted partly due to skin tone. But we all came from Adam. All the colors came from one place. But modern culture does not understand that, because they’ve left God out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have only run into this knowingly once, at a church where my host family over Christmas break from college attended (I am a MK, so my sister and I were staying with her roommate’s family for the break) It shocked me, since it never occurred to me that a church that seemed otherwise Biblically sound could even think that way. I later found out that they had basically kicked out the church’s only black member because he wanted to date another church member and they told him that he’d need to go to a black church if he intended to date anyone. The pastor actually considered this a sin. I later heard the pastor say in a sermon that anyone who disagreed with anything he said needed to get right with God, so there were clearly other issues there beneath the surface.

    Fotunately my host family, while completely shocked that I had no issues with interracial marriage felt it would be better to keep this to themselves and did not tell anyone at their church for the few weeks I was there.

    Upon getting back to college I spent some time studying the issue and concluded that the section about the rebellion against Moses was the only part of the Scripture that definitely addresses the subject and as you said, it is treated as a non-issue.

    This subject concerned me so much that when I was interviewing to teach at the school my current church runs I actually specifically asked what they believed on the subject. Fortunately, this paticular error is not taught there and there are several examples of interracial marriages or dating couples in my church over decade I have now been there.

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    • That’s terrible to hear that a church would drive out one of their own member because of the color of their skin and something like this. It has been my experience, though, that these types of churches are relatively small and they wonder why they do not grow. That is probably not the case with all churches. And certainly in a church like this, it’s not the only issue. Usually, as you said, you can see other signs as well.

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      • Yes, the church was failing. Almost without exception, every one of their kids that grew up there, as soon as they reached adulthood, immediately abandoned the church. There wasn’t a single you adult there past college who actually grew up in the church, but many in the area, that had quit it as soon as they could. Young people can smell hypocracy, as I’ve seen time and time again. The church still had plenty of members when I was there, but with the next generation abandoning it, it was only a matter of a few decades unless something changes.

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  6. Many smaller, rural churches are run by a family or two and center around the church cemetery and who is in it already. There is very little “Christian” left in the place and the hireling in the pulpit tells them exactly what they told him to say.  Bias and ignorance of God’s word is fairly common. Sadly, this is why young people are running away from God these days. They never got to hear the truth, just the hypocrisy.

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    • There are a lot of factors that go into the reason young people are straying and I am not sure church is one of the main contributing factors. I’m sure it’s a part of it. But I would attribute a larger responsibility on the parents, because ultimately God gave them the children and gave them the responsibility to raise them. I think parents that rely on the church to teach their children about God are more of a cause than anything.

      But, ultimately, it comes down to the choice of the child. I have known people who have grown up in loving Christian homes, in great churches, that have still strayed. Though their parents are heartbroken, there’s little they can do when the child has left the home and is on their own. They pray and hope that God will bring them around.

      That certainly does not excuse the church from not teaching sound doctrine, mind you. The pastor is supposed to be the one who God uses to speak to the local body of believers, and as you have pointed out, in some churches, the leadership is all mixed up. Christ is the head of the church, not the head deacon or the biggest family.

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  7. The first time I ran across this was in a car ride to church while in Bible college. Someone was trying to set me up with a boy and I was disinterested. So I said casually, why not you? She said, I’m a white girl so I can’t date a brown man.

    Jaw dropped. After I got over my shock, I asked her what she meant and she used the verses on how the Jewish ppl couldn’t marry their neighbors. Thankfully there were others in the vehicle who set the record straight.

    Incidentally, I ended up with a white boy… extremely Godly and wonderful husband and father. I’m Chinese. 😀

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  8. May I ask you a question? I understand your Biblical arguments. Do you think there is ever (not always by any means) a social or cultural argument against intermarriage? I had a missionary to China tell me once that he is strongly against young people who go to China for various missionary means, from getting romantically involved with Chinese, even those who are strong Christians. He said they have no idea the strong cultural differences they are getting into, and can’t until they are in the marriage.

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    • Sure, being in a different country is whole different scenario. However, the problem there is not “interracial” or skin color, rather, it’s religious or culturally based. What I mean is, a lot of middle-eastern countries are very strongly opposed to anyone marrying a Christian. The persecution those couples face is intense. Parents won’t have anything to do with their own children or grandchildren, some even call the local authorities if their children show up at their door. Many of them live in hiding with a constant threat to their lives.

      The argument that you have raised is not religious, but cultural. Two people from very different cultures would have a huge learning curve. However, from a biblical standpoint, neither scenario is wrong or a sin. This is actually more common than you may think. Most missionaries I am aware of that are “interracial” are actually missionaries to the country one of them was born in. I would say the cultural differences are minor so long as the couple are both Christians. Every marriage has adjustments. Just because two people are American, doesn’t mean they don’t have huge cultural barriers to get through, just between North and South, or East and West.

      I don’t think I would prohibit or dissuade a couple from entering into a marriage in either scenario, but I would encourage them to be well aware of what they may face because of it and be absolutely sure they are ready for it.

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  9. Interesting topic…we are a “interracial couple” I don’t really like that term since there is only one “race”, in Gods economy the human race. I am what the world classifies as “white” my wife would be classified as “black” or “African American” , though if you asked our boys 10 and 8 they would say I am “light shade”, mamma is “darker shade ” and we are “middle shade” of brown 😊. We have been blessed to not have to deal with any issues concerning this…both our families loves us for who we are and not our melanin amounts!! All the churches we fellowship with amongst Independent Baptist have been the same way…truly we have been blessed!!

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    • I don’t like it either, but for the purpose of this article, that’s what others call it. Our son is only 2 1/2, so we haven’t encountered that with him yet. But I like to say he has the perfect color tone. I burn super easy because I’m white. My wife is from India, and often complains about overheating because of her dark skin and dark hair. Since James is a happy blend, he doesn’t burn, but he doesn’t over heat either. Not to mention we think he’s handsome because of it. 🙂

      Praise the Lord, we’ve never been a part of a church that has had an issue with it, nor have we been “kicked out” of a church because of it. We just encountered this whole mentality while on deputation raising our support to be missionaries. I wasn’t even aware this was still an issue in modern day America. The odd thing is, I would say that half of the missionaries we know can be classified as “interracial” couples.

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  10. My sister is in an “inter-racial” marriage and while I imagine they had some cultural adjustments to work through that perhaps were greater than the adjustments that couples from the same culture face, that’s all it is – cultural adjustments. We all do that to some extent in all of our relationship outside of our immediate family. I am sorry that you have faced such unbiblical attitudes. Come to our church!

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  11. This is VERY good… and quite necessary I might add. I used to be on the other side of the fence regarding this issue (back when I just ‘followed the leader’) until one day when me and my father-in-law, who is also a preacher, were discussing this very thing over lunch. I was blindly dogmatic about it, and thought he shared my sentiment, that was… until he called me to the carpet and asked me to show him why it was Scripturally wrong. I stammered about with some of those verses you shared, that people usually twist around, to try and prove my point, but really, I had no substance… AT ALL. I was embarrassed, but I’m thankful for that conversation that day. It’s exactly what I needed. That’s been nearly a decade ago, and today, I can honestly say that I believe interracial marriage is one of the most beautiful pictures of the freedom God gives us.

    I’m so very glad someone showed this to me, and am planning on reblogging on my wordpress page. Great setup on the blog by the way; this page is professional and super clean. Thanks again!😃

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  12. Pingback: “Our church doesn’t support interracial marriages” – HonestPreacher.com

  13. (In Reply to reblog from The Honest Preacher)

    Josh, I grew up with you. I respect this post so much. I have a biracial daughter( my second daughter is a Caucasian and she is from my husband). My daughter doesn’t understand why she is brown and I am white. I thank you. I shared this with her and allowed her struggle to end. She struggles with who she is because she is not white like me. We are a God fearing family! We believe in our salvation. Why should my daughter , who was born from color, and any other feel like they are not right because they are not white like me????? Thank you! This was the best lesson I have been able to show her in a long time. God bless you and your family. We love you brother Josh and your family and you do not know how much this post really meant to my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jill! I’m so glad that this helped you. This issue should really be a “non-issue” as the author states in the article. However, as you and I know all too well, geography, culture and strong religious “opinions” make it reeeaaally hard on people like your daughter when it should not be. Once again, thanks so much for reading. It’s not my blog piece, but it was just too good not to share. Good hearing from you too btw!

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  14. Traver we are praying for you. God bless you and keep up the good work. My your faithfulness be increased as you stand up for truth in a world that has been deceived by Satan. If we keeping preaching sound doctrine perhaps one day all will understand that God only created one race. Hope to see ya’ll in Louisiana one day soon.

    Pastor Gary Quave (The Way Christian Center)

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  15. Pingback: “Our church is only interested in unreached people groups” |

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