What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?

Interracial marriage is really a misnomer. There is only one race — the human race. But, since inter-ethnic marriage and inter-skin-color marriage haven't caught on as alternate terms, I'll go with interracial marriage. Like most of the articles in the GotQuestions.org Top 20, this one can stir up some pretty heated arguments and strong emotions.

In Deuteronomy 7:3, speaking of the Israelites' relationship with the inhabitants of the promised land, God commands, "You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons." There are many other Old Testament scriptures that warned the Israelites against intermarriage with the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Some look at those scriptures and come to the conclusion that it was a racial issue. I disagree. It was a religious issue. God did not want interracial marriage between the Israelites and Canaanites because, "for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods" (Deuteronomy 7:4). It had nothing to do with skin color. It was entirely a matter of the Canaanites worshipping false gods and having evil and immoral religious practices.

The New Testament nowhere speaks about interracial marriage. It does, however, clarify the Old Testament commands. Second Corinthians 6:14 states, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" First Corinthians 15:33 says, "Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character." There is no more intimate "company" than your spouse. There is no stronger yoke than marriage. Just as the Israelites were not to intermarry with those who did not believe in the one true God, so are Christians not to intermarry with those who do not believe in the one true God. Believers are not to marry unbelievers because it hinders our faith and disrupts our relationship with God.

There are some who argue that since God separated the races at the Tower of Babel, the races should remain separate. Problem — the Tower of Babel speaks of God separating people by language, not race. There are some who argue that interracial marriage should be avoided due to the prejudice the couple will receive, whether from their families or from the surrounding culture. Problem — since when do we allow the unbiblical beliefs of others to be the determining factor in our decisions?

So, if the Bible does not speak against interracial marriage, does that mean interracial marriage is always a good thing? Not necessarily. In regards to interracial marriage, I am an advocate of the "eyes wide open" approach. An interracial couple should fully understand the risks of interracial marriage. Whether it is racism, prejudice, discrimination, or simply the disapproving glances, an interracial couple needs to consider these issues and decide accordingly. It is sad that these issues exist, but they have to be taken into account. In some, maybe even most, parts of the world, interracial marriage is strongly discouraged.

Ultimately, interracial marriage is a decision that should be made between the couple and God. Of course the couple should take the feelings of their family into account, but since there is no biblical command against interracial marriage, it is a matter of Christian freedom.

S. Michael Houdmann

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What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?