Excerpted from Marla Alupoaicei's new book Your Intercultural Marriage (Moody Publishers, 2009)

"Often the difference between a successful marriage and a mediocre one consists of leaving about three or four things a day unsaid." ~ Harlan Miller

The more research I have done on intercultural marriage, the more I have realized that it has long been misunderstood by Christians. For thousands of years, scriptural principles have been misinterpreted and twisted to accommodate people's racial biases, prejudices, and personal agendas.

Perhaps the strongest misconception I've found is the idea that intercultural and interracial marriage were prohibited by God for racial, ethnic, or cultural reasons. This is not the case. Some of the wisest and most honored biblical heroes and heroines (including Moses, David, Esther, Ruth, Solomon, and Joseph) were involved in intercultural or interracial marriages—marriages that God approved of and blessed.

The Bible does contain some instances in which God warns His people not to intermarry with others, but this was always for spiritual reasons rather than for racial or cultural reasons. He wanted His people to keep themselves spiritually pure by not marrying people who worshipped idols or who engaged in other pagan practices. God does not prohibit marriage (intercultural or otherwise) except when it involves a Christian marrying a person who is not a Christian (2 Corinthians 6:14).

One author on the Web site Bible.org writes,

God forbade the Israelites to intermarry with the Canaanites—the people of the land. (See Genesis 24:3; Exodus 34:10-17; Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12-13; Ezra 9:2ff.) But intermarriage with all so-called foreigners was not prohibited (see Deuteronomy 21:10-13). We should recall that a number of foreigners (non-Israelites, by race) were a part of the promised line of Messiah, including Tamar (Genesis 38), Rahab (Joshua 2:1ff.), and Ruth (Book of Ruth). . . . Then there were the foreign wives of Solomon, which led to his downfall (1 Kings 11). It was not so much a matter of these women being foreign (non-Jewish by race), but a matter of these women worshipping foreign gods that was at issue. The concern was always that men's hearts would be turned from God to idols.

He continues, "In the New Testament, marrying an unbeliever (no matter what race) was forbidden (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). It seems very clear that faith in Jesus Christ tears down racial barriers. . . . If marriage is a picture of the relationship of Jesus Christ to His bride, the church (all true believers), then marriage to a believer of another race simply pictures the fact that Jesus came to save Gentiles as well as Jews."2

God used marriage as the ultimate example of how faith, love, and grace can bring together believers of all races, tribes, and languages through a shared belief in Jesus Christ.

Intercultural Marriage in History