*Disclaimer: I’m not politically correct. I don’t really make an effort to be. Just a heads up yo! I call black people black. I call white people white. I call racist people ignorant. I love them all. Some with the tough kind of love.
I’ve had the privilege of growing up in the south. Southern hospitality. Gravy Biscuits. Sweet Tea. SEC football. Church on Sunday. You know, the good life. I’ve also had the displeasure of growing up in the south. Rebel flags. Rampant racism. Segregated churches. I mean, if we are being honest.
As a nation we live in a day where racial reconciliation has experienced a resurgence. As a white male, I’ll be honest. I thought err’ thing was cool. Woo-hoo! Civil Rights and MLK right? But as I’ve dialogued with a a number of African American leaders it seems that in many areas of the country there is a 45 year old band-aid on a festering wound. Even in the church….well, Lecrae said it best. ‘The most segregated hour of the week is Sunday service.’ One of the areas in the south where their are deeply entrenched mindsets is around interracial relationships.
I remember preaching at a church in small town America. An interracial couple walked in and as I was preaching I felt compelled to stop the whole service. I looked at them and said ‘this is a safe place.’ We had a ‘God moment’ interceding for racial reconciliation. I spoke with them afterwards about the shaming they’d undergone in other churches in the city and the cutting looks they’d received from ‘Christians.’ As a church we believe that we have a mandate for cultural and ethnic diversity, and as a leader in general I think it’s our responsibility to not be silent about these issues.
Let’s Be Honest…It’s Because He’s Black & She’s White
Can we just call it what it is? Can we just be honest for a second? In the south, it seems the issue of interracial marriage ONLY EVER has to do with blacks and whites. Honestly, when you think of the word interracial, do you think of any other races? If you said ‘yes’ then you’re either not from the south or probably have lived in a big city forever…or you’re just more enlightened than the rest of us. Kudos.
I have literally never had anyone tell me ‘That Asian gal shouldn’t have married that white guy. God says stay with your own tribe.’ In case you didn’t know, people against interracial marriage tend to take verses out of context to validate a haphazard theology of marriage.
If you say this about every black and white couple but you don’t think twice when a dark skinned Cuban is married to an African American dude…well you’re racist. No way around it. Get angry if you like, but that’s pretty much the definition of racism. Singling out the actions and presumed rights/social norms of one race in favor of others. It’s because he’s black, right?
I pray this verse stings and brings about repentance and a change of heart: ‘If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?’ (1 John 4:20).
It’s not about ‘race.’
One of the principles of studying your Bible is context. Another principle is taking into account all of Scripture. There are a few verses in the the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) that tell the people of God to not marry people that are either a) outside of their own tribe or b) not an Israelite. Anti-macioginists have taken these verses to mean that God has separated us into races (which is true) and that we should not cross this barrier to marry (which is untrue).
“Do not intermarry with [those in the Canaanite tribes]. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.” (Dest 7:3)
A crucial truth must be understood here. These verses aren’t primarily about race. They’re about religion. Do you know why Jewish people couldn’t marry Canaanites? It’s because they served Baal instead of Yahweh. They worshipped another God! This isn’t about our skin color, it’s about which God we serve. People in this camp often point to the life of Solomon, who married women from other nations and races for political reasons but ended up serving their gods. How can we look at the fact that he turned his affections from God to the little gods of other nations and come to the conclusion ‘well, it’s because they were from different tribes.’ To do so would overlook the likes of Ruth? The story of Rahab?
If being of a different tribe had to do with your race instead of your skin color how could the Jewish Boaz be justified in marrying the Moabite Ruth? Much less how did this grotesque marriage seem to end up in our Messiah’s genealogy? It’s because even though she was from Moab she loved and served Yahweh! One would be very hard pressed to connect any of these verses to anything other the gods these other tribes served as a reason to bar intermarriage with them.
God knows the power of misaligned hearts. So much so that there are basically two commandments when it comes to getting married: 1) they must be the opposite sex and 2) they must love and serve Jesus. That’s it.
On top of this, many of them were likely the same ‘race.’ Many of you that will read this are from the south, so this will resonate. The passages telling us not to marry from another tribe are like telling and Auburn fan not to marry an Alabama fan. In the south football is a god, so this illustration works better than you think!
Image beat race every time
I understand the heart that people have when they say ‘God is color blind. He doesn’t see race.’ But it’s just not a true statement. He does see race. He created the rainbow of human existence masterfully. The beauty in this is that it is man that is made in his image. Not white man. Not black man. Not red man.
Man. Man is made in his image. To say that interracial marriage is a sin is to say that our skin color (that God created by the way) matters more than the image we bear.
The issue of interracial marriage is just one of many in this idea of racial reconciliation. I wish there was a blog post that could fix it. I wish there was a pre-packaged answer that applied in every situation. There’s not.
There’s a path to be walked. A path that is guided by the Gospel. The Gospel, in essence, is that the Son of God died for us so that we can be sons and daughters of God.
You see I’m convinced that the issue is not a racial issue, its an identity issue. God is not color blind. We are all made uniquely. But under my skin I’m a son of God. And living from this reality is what is going to bring about any reconciliation worth having. This isn’t about how a black guy married a white girl. It’s about a son of God marrying a daughter of the King.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!