Mixed Matches, Part 3
In the final article of this series, we’ll look at worry and pride — two reasons many people are often opposed to interracial relationships.
If you’ve ever watched the Jerry Springer show — please tell me that you haven’t for the sake of your brain cells — then you might have seen KKK members with hoods crisply pointing skyward, talking about the good ol’ days when there “wasn’t none of this race mixin’ goin’ on.” These well-spoken and intellectually challenging individuals will often pull out their Bibles and skillfully misquote sections of the Old Testament that forbid interracial marrying. Let’s clarify these passages, shall we?
The problems that people have with interracial relationships are in no way biblically justifiable. One of the most widely quoted objections to interracial marriage is found in Deuteronomy 7. In this chapter, God lays down the law for Moses. When talking about the Promised Land, God lists all of the groups who live there (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites and so on) and says that the Israelites are not to marry any of them.
“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you” (vv.3-4, NIV).
Let’s take note. God did not say, “Do not intermarry with them because their shade of melanin differs from yours.” He said not to marry them because they worshipped other gods. The Lord was protecting the Israelites from false religions, not different races. This passage is specifically talking about marrying people who did not serve Yahweh. In today’s society, that translates to marrying someone who is not a Christian, whatever color they happen to be.
Created in His Image
There are quite a few examples of intermarrying in the Bible. In Numbers 12, Moses, himself, married a woman from Cush, which is modern-day Ethiopia. Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother and sister, didn’t approve of the marriage, and because of their complaints God struck Miriam with leprosy (she changed her mind about the situation pretty quickly). Ruth, who is named in the lineage of Jesus, was a Moabitess, not an Israelite (Ruth 1). Rahab was a prostitute and a Canaanite, and she was also named in Jesus’ lineage and mentioned as a great woman of faith in the book of Hebrews (Joshua 2, Matthew 1, and Hebrews 11). Both of these women recognized the Lord as the one true God, and He used their bloodlines to bring Jesus into the world.
Although there aren’t Bible verses forbidding interracial relationships, there are verses declaring our equality and unity in Christ. One of the most obvious is Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
If people genuinely have a Christian worldview, there is no justification for racial discrimination of any kind. Christianity claims that all humans have descended from Adam and Eve, the first two people. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Catch that? All humans have been created in the image of God. All of them. If we have all been created in God’s image, if He knits each of us together in the womb, if we are all human beings, then there is no justification for resisting interracial unions.
Pride and Prejudice
As you’ll recall from the previous two articles, I am the result of an interracial marriage. My parents both tell me that race wasn’t a factor for them in their marriage. For the most part, no one cared that they had different shades of skin. My parents did face one race issue when they got married. Two of my mother’s Christian aunts were against the marriage. One even refused to come to the wedding. They, of course, got over it when they decided to get to know my dad. Interestingly enough, the only problems I’ve ever seen interracial couples face have come from their own family members.
My mom’s aunts were afraid of what they didn’t know. They assumed the worst things that could happen and ran with them. But the actual issue here is sin. We are fallen human beings. Because Adam and Eve sinned, our morality has been corrupted by lies. Our nature often fights against truth.
The sins that often entangle Christians who oppose interracial relationships are pride and worry. Parents with children in interracial relationships are concerned about what others will think or worried that their children will face discrimination. As fun as both worry and pride are, and believe me, I have spent plenty of quality time perfecting both of them, they are sins.
Pride works its way into an issue like interracial dating ever so sneakily. It cloaks itself in a garment of concerned excuses. But overall, being upset about mixed-race unions is plain, old, “I think I’m better than you are, and I’m too good to have any part of your problems.” Those people have decided to put their ideas, their comforts and their image above what is right.
Another issue that can affect people who oppose interracial relationships, especially parents, is one of worry. Although these people are only concerned for the well-being of their children and possible grandchildren, they are allowing the sin of worry to invade their lives. The Christian worldview is shaped by what the Bible says about God’s nature. If we truly believe that God is who He says He is, then He has everything under control. He has a plan for our lives, and He won’t fail in it. When we allow ourselves to be regulated by worry, we are failing to trust in the Lord.
Entitled to Trouble
Are interracial relationships more difficult? Are there more challenges to overcome when people from different cultures get married? Will these mixed-race couples face prejudice from others? First of all, I know lots of people who have never faced extreme problems. Second, who cares?
Somewhere as we’ve moseyed along in our American culture, we’ve gotten so used to being comfortable that we consider it a right. It’s not. If anything, our easy lifestyles have kept us from being more effective Christians. Who are you to say that you deserve a smooth, easy life? I’m pretty sure that was never promised to us in the Bible. Actually, Jesus said just the opposite: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). James 1 tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (vv. 2-3). Jesus didn’t promise that we would be happy. He didn’t say life is like a bowl of cherries. He did say that sometimes life will be hard.
Interracial couples may face discrimination from people. But we shouldn’t be surprised if they face more difficulties than same-race couples. Christians should not be shocked by the reality of sin. Satan will use any little thing possible to get any of us to focus on the wrong thing. Racism and discrimination is one he’s used for a long time.
Blessings in Disguise
So if interracial couples do face problems, should they get down on their knees and praise the Lord? Apparently. They should use their relationship as a chance to prove that interracial unions can be healthy and full of love. Either way, God has not left them. He will remain faithful, no matter what they are going through. Interracial dating is not morally wrong. There is no reason to feel guilt for dating someone outside of one’s own race, unless that person isn’t a Christian.
When my mom and dad got married, my mom’s white parents received a few whispered questions from some of their friends. “Hmm, are they sure that’s a good idea?” they would gently ask. “Won’t it be tough for them if they have mixed-race babies?” My grandma answered them matter-of-factly: “Well, his kids will be black and face possible difficulties in society no matter whom he marries. What makes our family so special that we should be exempt from prejudices?”
Grandma was right. People in this world face racism, sexism and every other kind of “ism” all of the time. So many of us are simply clueless to these struggles. Who’s to say you shouldn’t be able to relate to the hurts of others? It may make you a more effective witness. If an interracial relationship does result in a few trials, all it means is that this old world is still sinful. But here’s the good news: God is still in control.
Fade to Black
Will choosing to date someone outside of your race make your life more difficult? Hopefully not, but it could. If it does, remember that the father of lies still has a grip on humanity. He will until the day Christ returns to put him in his place. Are the potential difficulties of an interracial relationship worth it? Of course they are if it’s the person God has prepared for you. Most importantly, all of us are precious in his sight — red, yellow, black and white — and every shade in between.
Copyright 2012 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Denise Morris Snyder is an associate pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary. Denise got married to a Canadian this past summer, which means she is now freezing in Canada. Send BBQ chips to warm her.