What the Bible Says about Interracial Marriage
By Pastor Matt Black
Bible Text: Galatians 3:28-29
Preached on: Sunday, January 18, 2009
Tabernacle Baptist Church
7020 Barrington Road
Hanover Park, Illinois 60133
Introduction: Open your Bible to Galatians 3:28-29. My proposition to you tonight is that there is only one race of people: the human race. I want to speak to you tonight on the subject of marriage, specifically on “What the Bible Says about Interracial Marriage”. I want you to see how God gives only one stipulation for Christians in marriage: you can only marry “in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). You must marry a Christian.
Why speak on such a subject? We must continue to teach because there are many Christians who do not know what the Bible says concerning marriage in general. There are actually parents of all ethnic groups that would rather their child marry within their cultural ethnic group than marry a believer. This is sad, and the only way we will see change is by renewing our mind with the Scriptures (Ephesians 4:23; 5:26; Psalm 1:2).
So let us read the Scriptures tonight. Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”.
[Prayer for Gudance]
Interracial marriage was against the law in 16 states in 1967 when the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court Decision struck down those laws. This is fairly recent history. Some of you remember this decision.
Acts 17:24-28, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…”.
I. The myth of interracial marriage
No where in the Bible does God forbid marriage between two people groups or cultures. Moses was a Jew and he was very clearly married to an Ethiopian. The purpose of marriage is not physical but spiritual.
Paul makes it clear that there is only one race in Acts 17:26, “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation”.
We are all made in the image of God. We read in Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it”.
II. Examples of intercultural marriage.
A. Joseph married “Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On”, who was an Egyptian woman (Genesis 41:50-52).
B. Moses, a Jew, married Zipporah a Midianite, or African woman in Exodus 2:15-21 (See also Numbers 12:1). Zipporah’s father Jethro worshipped the true and living God (Exodus 18:10-27). Trust in the Lord, not skin color is determiner of who we marry.
C. In Numbers 31:17-18, Moses spared the Midianite virgins to intermarry among the Jewish men.
D. Rahab lived among the forbidden tribes of the Canaanites. Yet, she was allowed to marry an Israelite because of her faith in the LORD. Hebrews 11:31 says, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not”. Rahab did not perish with her people because of her faith in the Lord, and she married an Israelite. It was not forbidden because they married in the Lord.
E. Rahab the Canaanite had a son named Boaz. Boaz of course married Ruth, a Moabitess. Of course, this was a marriage made by God in heaven, for our Lord Jesus was descended from both of these Gentile tribes.
F. We should also note that Solomon was the son of Bathsheba, “daughter of Sheba” (Genesis 10:7) a descendant of Cush (remember Solomon later met with the Queen of Sheba, 1 Kings 10:1). Bathsheeba had previously been married to Uriah who was a Hittite.
G. Do you realize that In the genealogy of Christ in Matthew chapter 1, four women are mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Three out of the four are Gentiles and at least two of them are of African descent. Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba were Gentile women of faith! The point is, just as the Apostle Paul taught God has “made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth”. There is only one physical race of men on the earth: the human race.
A. Objection 1: Abraham and Isaac’s prohibition against Canaanite women.
You say, well didn’t Abraham instruct Isaac and Jacob to marry within the Jewish family (Genesis 24 3-4;—Genesis 28:1, “Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan”)? Of course, but the issue was not social but spiritual. Abraham did not want a wife for his son that was influenced by pagan religions. When Isaac instructed his son Jacob in Genesis 28:1, “Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan”, the motivation was to keep Jacob spiritually pure. The culture and ethnicity had nothing at all to do with the prohibition.
B. Objection 2: Prohibitions from the Old Testament Law.
Didn’t the Old Testament law forbid the nation of Israel from intermarrying among other nations? The answer is yes and no. The fact that they were of a different color skin had nothing to do with it. They were not to marry into a non-believing family.
Look at Deuteronomy 7:1-5, “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire”. God repeats essential the same thing in Exodus 34:10-16. The nations listed in Deuteronomy were particularly guilty of Molech, Asherah, and Baal worship. The Jews were prohibited from marrying them for spiritual reasons, not social or ethnic reasons.
The principle has not changed in the New Testament. The point of the Old Testament prohibition has nothing to do with race, but with believe or unbelief. 2 Corinthians 6:14 puts it this way, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
IV. There is a real issue of marriage is a spiritual one. We have established firmly in our church on many occasions from the Bible that there is only one physical race: the human race, but we must also establish that God is creating what He calls “a new humanity” out of the human race in Christ.
A. The Real question: Are you in Adam or in Christ?
So the real marriage question is a spiritual one. Are you of Adam’s race or are you of Christ? I Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those in Adam will have eternal condemnation, but for all those in Christ, God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4).
Application: When you walk into a room, you shouldn’t think about the color of your skin. You should think about the heart. Are they in Christ, then they are like you. If they are not in Christ, then you should want to point them to Christ. As Christians, our focus is not on the outside, but on the heart.
B. Consider that God has joined people of all ethnic groups into one new Humanity in Christ.
Look at Ephesians 2:14-16, “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby”.
Explanation/Application: Consider the Jews of Jesus time and of the Old Testament. They had taken a spiritual issue and made it a social issue. They said that anyone who wasn’t a Jew was a Gentile dog. The truth of the matter is that we are all unfit and unworthy and truly depraved people until we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. It is then that we become a member of Christ’s “race”!
V. The Most Critical Issue We Face currently is the Definition of marriage.
The most critical issue we face is not intercultural marriage between different ethnic groups. That is no issue at all. In America today, (and it is sad that this must be said), but traditional marriage is under attack. Many unbelievers are attempting to redefine marriage as we know it. Let us be clear this evening.
A. The Definition of marriage. God ordained marriage. He is the only one that can define marriage. Way back in the beginning, God defined marriage as one man with on woman for life!
Marriage is defined in Matthew 19:4, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” God’s plan for marriage is one man for one woman for life, separated and ended only by death!
We cannot allow our culture to redefine marriage. It is God who defines marriage. We can try to put in a constitutional amendment to preserve the Lord’s definition of marriage, but what we need even more than that are people who are subject not simply to man’s law in the constitution, but the Law of God written in the Word of God and on the tables of their heart.
So you ask, how can we preserve marriage?
B. The Preservation of marriage.
1. Marry only in the Lord.
One way to preserve Christian marriage is to make absolutely certain that if you are single, you marry “only in the Lord”. We are forbidden to marry outside the Body of Christ.
Parents, you must be sure that your children marry in the Lord. You must be clear with them from early on, that they can only marry another person who is born again in Christ.
2. Maintain a healthy marriage.
The best way to preserve marriage is to make sure that you stay faithful to your spouse. The only way to promote a healthy view of marriage is to have a healthy marriage!! Remember that your lasting legacy is your children. Train your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
You can be unsuccessful in many areas of life, but do not allow the raising of your children to be one of them. Lovingly, patiently, train them. You say HOW? It is as easy as taking one STEP at a time. Think of the acronym S-T-E-P.
(1.) Study the Bible with your family.
(2.) Spend Time with your family.
(3.) Be an Example. Live out the Word of God before your family.
(4.) Pray with your family.
Conclusion: What does the Bible say about interracial marriage? It says there is only one race of people physically, but spiritually there are two. The real question tonight is are you in Adam or in Christ? If you are in Christ, then it is your responsibility to preserve marriage by investing in your marriage and in your children with the STEP process. Study, Time, Example, and Prayer. Step by step you can preserve the strength of your marriage. But if you are lost, you need to turn away from the old desires in Adam, and turn to Christ. Do it now.