Q What does the Bible say about race? Is interracial marriage allowed by God?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 4 Minutes
ANSWER: While mankind has always been prejudiced of those who are not like themselves, the issue of race is a relatively modern problem. The Bible speaks nothing at all regarding race as we know it. It assigns people into groups according to classifications such as nation, family, and beliefs. Skin color is not a defining factor.
Chattel slavery, which ultimately came about as an opportunity to make money, is what really drove our prejudices against race. To protect the “product,” it needed to be taught that the Black and Native American people were less than European white people; that whites had a right to own those of other races. Sadly, some of the Church got involved (there was no separation of church and state in Europe) and (wrongly) used the Bible to confirm the teaching that Blacks (and Native Americans and Asians) were cursed by God to serve the “superior race.”
The U.S. southern economy, based on slave labor, did its best to not lose its economy and way of life. Charles Darwin did not help when he released The Origin of Species by the Means of Natural Selection. Many conveniently forget that the rest of Darwin’s title was Or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Though minorities would win seeming victories throughout history in America, segments of the nation would continue to provide loopholes in keeping non-white people from being truly equal (Did you get the right to vote? We’ll just institute a poll tax that you can’t pay and move the voting places out of your area).
In the history covered in the Bible, nations were an equal opportunity oppressor. If you weren’t Assyrian, we will destroy and enslave you. If you were not Chaldean, we will destroy and enslave you. Even God’s instructions for Israel to wipe out the Canaanites had nothing to do with race; it had to do with God’s people not being corrupted by gross paganism with the expressed desire that God’s nation would be a light to other nations.
So, in answer to the first question, the Bible does not divide people by their skin color. He does not place a premium on a person due to the color of their skin. God help us if we propagate that ungodly prejudice.
In response to the second part of the question regarding interracial marriage, if racism is a recently modern horror, so is the apprehension of mixing races by marriage. God did not tell the Israelites not to marry the Canaanites because of their skin color. Here is the real reason that He told them not to intermarry with other nations: “For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods” (Deut. 7:3-4).
The concern was that a person of God would enter into a marriage covenant with a godless individual who would draw their heart away from the one true God. We, in the Age of Grace, have a similar instruction not to marry unbelievers (II Cor. 6:14-15; 7:39).
The aversion toward interracial marriage stems from leftover cultural oppression and taking Israel’s instructions and perverting them to make them fit with the “church” today. If anything, the teaching of the Body of Christ, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, should teach us God’s view on race. God looks at the whole of the human race, sent His Son to die for the sins of the human race, and wants people of all shades, status, and stature to become full members of the Body of Christ through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Division of Our Own Invention
The hang-ups and prejudices we have regarding skin tone do not come from the Creator. What a depressing thought to know that there are still some believers who allow their behavior and thoughts (consciously or subconsciously) toward those who look different than us to be dictated by racial traditions of men.
In conclusion, though we are all equal members in the Body of Christ, we are all unique individuals and have different experiences. I would encourage you, instead of repeating your favorite group’s slogan on certain issues, to listen. Fellow members in the Body of Christ have experienced things in society that I have never had to experience and vice versa. Instead of expecting that they had the same advantages or disadvantages that you had, remember I Corinthians 12:26: “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
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