What if my parents disapprove of my interracial relationship?

Question

I hope you can help, because this is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my lifetime. I am a 20-year-old white college student who is very close to her family. My boyfriend of nine months is a 23-year-old of a different race from a different part of the world. We met as counselors at a summer Christian camp where we had the wonderful opportunity to counsel together and bring five kids to Christ. He has the wonderful qualities that I look for in a man.

What is so hard is the fact that my parents disapprove of this relationship. I have talked to them only once about it and after seeing their hurt, led them to believe that I was going to discontinue the relationship. I actually had the intention of doing so but could not do it, because he has made me so happy and been such a wonderful part of my life. It seems that whichever way I go, I desperately hurt either my boyfriend or my parents. I don’t want to go against either one, but I know I must not keep the relationship a secret forever. I know that I am my parents’ last hope, but I know I want to be happy too. I have tried to picture me and my boyfriend in the future, with my family, but that is hard. If you have some encouragement or words of advice for me, that would be great. Thanks for listening.

Answer

You must do the right thing — not the thing which pleases your boyfriend or your parents. Family considerations are far from unimportant in deciding what the right thing is, because if you marry the young man, then your birth family and the young man’s birth family will be related from now on, and hostility between the families will affect him, you, and your children. Even so, doing the right thing is not the same as doing what makes your parents happy, and you are not their last hope. I hope they haven’t been laying that on you.

Doing the right thing does include considering why your parents disapprove of the relationship, and whether their reasons are sound. Unfortunately, I can’t help you here because you don’t say what your parents’ reasons are. You mention the difference of race between you and your boyfriend — which suggests that their reasons may be based on racial prejudice — but you don’t actually say that they are. In fact, you don’t mention any of their reasons at all.

If your parents do reject the relationship just because they dislike persons of different skin color, then they are being unreasonable. But if (for example) they disapprove of the relationship because they think you’re rushing into it — or because they fear that the cultural gap may be too great to bridge, or because they don’t consider you mature enough to marry, or because they know something unfavorable about the young man which you aren’t telling me — then their thinking may or may not be sound. I simply haven’t the information to judge.

One last thing. Whatever the right thing is, secrecy couldn’t be part of it. You shouldn’t demand it, and your boyfriend shouldn’t put up with it. Doing things in the dark can bring nothing but sin, dishonesty, misery, and division of counsel. Put an end to the secrecy, not tomorrow, not tonight, but today.

Grace and peace,

PROFESSOR THEOPHILUS

Copyright 2002 Professor Theophilus. All rights reserved.

About the Author

J. Budziszewski

Professor J. Budziszewski is the author of more than a dozen books, including How to Stay Christian in College, Ask Me Anything, Ask Me Anything 2, What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide, and The Line Through the Heart. He teaches government and philosophy at the University of Texas, Austin.