Interracial marriage has become a commonplace practice in many parts of the world nowadays. Our society has moved on from being restrictive and racially biased when it comes to pursuing relationships with people from other races or ethnicities. Defined simply, interracial marriage involves a marriage between spouses who belong to different races.
Although quite simple to define, interracial marriage may not be as easy as it looks. In the United States, it was around the second half of the 20th century (1967 to be exact) that the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case Loving v. Virginia that laws prohibiting interracial marriage are invalid. Thus, the 16 US states that had laws against interracial marriage had to reverse their rulings in accordance with the declaration of the Supreme Court of the United States. Although the law permits interracial marriage and the American society seems to accept it, the challenge lies in the smaller units of society the interracial parties belong to: their families, friends and themselves.
Among Christians, different churches and denominations have different standpoints about interracial marriage. Racial discrimination has become deep-seated that it permeated even the walls of religious institutions such as churches and congregations. In the United States, a racially or ethnically diverse church or denomination is still a work in progress. We have yet to see the fulfillment of an ethnically diverse church wherein no single race has “majority” parishioners, but instead well-distributed and diverse churchgoers should be seen.
Going back to interracial marriage, what does the Bible really tell us about interracial marriage?
There are several important Bible verses that teach us about understanding interracial marriage. One of them is 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” That last word, “unbelievers” is emphasized here because of its key importance. A Christian should not marry a non-Christian no matter how kind and good they are. Another significant reading is given in Deuteronomy 7:1-6, where God tells the Israelites to destroy all the inhabitants of the Canaan land and not to intermarry with them because they would “turn your sons away from following Me, that they may serve other gods.”
The Bible is a wonderful reading material for us Christians. It is a useful reference when it comes to the different issues such as interracial marriage. However, caution and understanding through the Holy Spirit should be needed when interpreting God’s Word. In the previous two verses, the massage might mean that the Bible forbids interracial marriage. For an enlightened Christian, the readings mean that the Bible doesn’t forbid interracial marriage per se, but rather intermarriage between a believer and unbeliever. Thus, the Bible is clear that when both parties are believers (equally yoked), interracial marriage is not wrong.
To put our minds at ease, the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ make assuring statements when it comes to interracial marriage in Acts 17:26 and Colossians 3:9–11, respectively. In the first reading, God tells us that Adam, our forefather, was created in God’s image, which makes us all human beings of all ethnicities, also created in the image of God. To further support this, Jesus Christ’s message tells us in Colossians 3:9–11 that Christ is in all of us, no matter our differences. God values differences in ethnicity and culture and unity in faith to Him.
Interracial marriage between two believers in Christ can be a wonderful thing and every bit as wonderful as marrying someone from the same race. Interracial couples contemplating marriage must prayerfully and carefully consider the impact their marriage will have within their family relationships, future children and the society in which they live. There are also other practical and cultural issues that should be considered, and some of which no well-defined Biblical imperative.