“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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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