Interracial Marriage and the Bible

interracial marriageI came across a study of racial preferences of online daters recently that had some interesting statistics.  The chart to the left comes from the study and highlights the frequency of interracial marriages for different ethnic groups.  It is obvious from the chart that, while there are interracial couples, people have a strong tendency to marry others of their own ethnicity.

How should we think about interracial dating / marriage?  Should we be opposed?  Should we encourage it?  For Christians, our answers come from the Bible, so the first place we should look for guidance is there.

At first glance, one may be inclined to believe that the Bible is opposed to interracial marriage.  Deuteronomy 7:3 and Ezra 10:11 are examples of verses found in the Old Testament that warn Israel against intermarriage.  However, when we look closer we will find that this is simply not true.  The passages in the Old Testament are concerned with those who would marry outside of the faith, not those who would marry someone from a different ethnic background.

How do we know this?  Because we have examples in the Old Testament where interracial marriages are recognized by God as a good thing.  Joseph married Asenath, an African (Genesis 41:50), from whose relationship came the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.  Moses also married an African woman and was criticized by Aaron and Miriam for doing so (Numbers 12:1).  God punished Aaron and Miriam for their criticism of Moses (Numbers 12:4-9).  And Matthew mentions two non-Israelites in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5.  Rahab was a Canaanite and Ruth was a Moabite.

The New Testament also sheds some light on this issue.  The New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament law concerning intermarriage is found in 1 Corinthians 7:39 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.  Neither of these passages has anything to do with race or ethnicity, but only say that a believer should not marry an unbeliever.

How should Christians feel about interracial marriage?  We should recognize that all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, are created in the image of God and have equal value.  There is nothing wrong with interracial marriage.  The only marriages we should oppose are those between a Christian and a non-Christian, whether they are of the same ethnicity or not.

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2 Responses to Interracial Marriage and the Bible

  1. Jeff Lahr says:

    I think race should simply not be a factor in relationships; a person’s commitment to God trumps all other factors. A person’s relationship with God will be manifested by aspects that are truly important in a relationship: character and integrity; love, gratitude and forgiveness.

    However, that being said, it would be naive to think that a mixed racial couple would not face bigotry and intolerance in this fallen world. It would be my prayer that this bigotry would not be evident in the church! In fact, it should be the church family that the couple would feel most comfortable running to as a protection from the persecution that they might face in the world.

  2. Amanda says:

    nicely done 🙂

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