In a time with a large number of questions in regard to racism, one might ask if it is ok for a man and a woman of different ethnicities to marry? What does the Bible say about interracial marriage? I recently was at a small gathering and a white woman who hosted the event was telling us her hardship when people basically asked her straight-up if she got pregnant before marriage when they noticed that her kids were not of the same skin tone. Her husband is from Africa, and she is from North Carolina.
What Defines Race?
No matter what a person believes on the matter of interracial marriage, I want to begin with the fact that we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). I chose to write this article because I love to research Scriptures on topics to gain understanding. I personally know and care for a variety of interracial married couples who love the Lord. One of my dearest friends is an African American woman who is married to a Caucasian man. Another of my closest friends is Greek, and she is about to marry a man of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. I tell her that they are going to have beautiful “Puerto-Greek-an” babies one day.
But let us not stop there. I am friends with a Caucasian woman married to an African American man. I also have a friend who is a Japanese woman married to a Caucasian man; they have three beautiful children and serve in ministry together. I know Romanians married to Americans, and a Pilipino woman married to a Southern man. Do they all experience hardships in different ways for their choice to marry one another? Yes. Would they have chosen a different path? No.
Many times, people have a narrow view of interracial marriage as being a couple who physically looks completely opposite of one another. However, a Russian man might look exactly like a woman from Ireland, but they are different races. Race is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “A group of people sharing a common cultural, geographical, linguistic, or religious origin or background.” I want to propose a greater issue emphasized in the Bible. We are all part of the same human race and when we are in Christ, we should value marrying within the family of God.
How Does the Bible Define Marriage?
Marriage is defined in Scripture as a covenant before God, joining a man and a woman together for their lives (Genesis 2:24). Marriage’s original intent was so that man would not be alone (Genesis 2:18). Marriage was the avenue for procreation (Genesis 1:28). Marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25). Marriage represents a greater union that will happen with God and mankind in the future (Revelation 19:9).
Are There Examples of Interracial Marriage in the Bible?
I would ask that anyone believing interracial marriage is wrong to look up Scriptures about Rahab and Salmon, (Matthew 1) Ruth and Boaz, (Ruth 4) and let us not forget that God’s book on marriage, Song of Solomon was potentially written about an interracial couple (Song of Solomon 1:5-6).
One of the most well-known examples of a diverse marriage in Scripture is Moses the Hebrew/Egyptian and Zipporah a Midianite.
Exodus 2:21-22 says, “Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.’”
Someone might argue that these were people who made mistakes, but there is nowhere in the whole Bible where God condemns marrying from another people group unless it was about a greater issue of faith. Jesus Himself was a Jew who had Gentiles in His genealogy.
Is There Any Reason Christians Cannot Participate in an Interracial Marriage?
Marla Alupoaicei from Crosswalk shares, “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.”
The only interracial marriage that is clearly outlawed in the Bible is marrying outside of the family of God. We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Jesus is the foundation for a healthy marriage. Spiritual unity is far more important than physical resemblance. Man cares about the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God explicitly tells us not to marry unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. This is not out of hatred toward them; the Lord loves everyone and wishes no one perishes (2 Peter 3:9). This is out of a Father’s wisdom because a strand of three is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). When Christ is the center of a marriage the couple thrives. If a marriage is built on the foundation of unity through Christ, there will be blessing and ministry that results from it. It is for a person’s benefit to follow this advice.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
All believers in Christ are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. We are one through Him. Whether a person speaks one language or another, whether a person is dark or light-skinned, whether a person grows up in one time zone or another, we are one people and one nation under the name of Jesus Christ.
Why Is There Still Some Debate amongst Believers for This Topic?
Trillia Newbell from iBelieve says, “Interracial marriage was illegal in many states until 1967. Think about that for a moment. That is the generation of most of our parents and grandparents.” Understanding that God’s Word is greater than our ancestors' view is key to embracing the truth that all men and women are made equal and are in fact image-bearers of God Himself.
Some believers feel strongly that this is not God’s best. They may look at Scriptures about God telling Israel not to marry Gentiles. For example, Deuteronomy 7:1-3 tells Israel not to intermarry with other nations. However, as you keep reading verse 4 explains that the greater issue was not that of color or culture, but of faith.
There are cultural differences and struggles that these couples and their children will likely face. However, God does not always take us down the easiest paths. Many times, He uses these families as a representation of what Heaven looks like in Revelation. Every nation and every tribe will be there, and we will be one people, one family.
Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”
No matter what you believe on this topic, please know that you are loved. I encourage us to dive deeper into Scripture on controversial matters and remember that God’s Word never returns void. May we love well and be respectful as we represent Christ and share our interpretations of His Scriptures.
Related Resource: Listen to our new, FREE podcast on marriage: Team Us. The best marriages have a teamwork mentality. Find practical, realistic ideas for strengthening your marriage. Listen to an episode here, and then head over to LifeAudio.com to check out all of our episodes:
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com
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