The Ethics of Interracial Marriage

Racial Harmony Session 5

(These are notes taken during the message.)

Five arguments that are used to oppose interracial marriage and responses to counteract them.

1. Races are God's will and therefore amalgamating them is against his will.

(Genesis 11:6-9, Deuteronomy 32:8, Acts 17:26)

Responses:

  1. These proof texts refer to separation of peoples that are along lines much more narrow than race. They are not racial divisions, so, used this way, they "prove" too much, since they would seem to forbid intermarrying between any people group boundaries even within the same race.
  2. When God separated the peoples in Genesis 11:6-9 it was by language, not race. Racial distinctions came later. This passage does not teach that people cannot learn each other's languages and marry each other. Rather, the lesson to be learned is that no group of people should conspire against God.
  3. God's punitive judgments (like the curse at the tower of Babel) do not become our mandates. For example: God cursed creation at the fall, but this does not mean that we should not use antibiotics or aspirin. So God's separating peoples does not mean there should never be any coming together of people, including in marriage.

2. God forbade the Jews from marrying other peoples.

Responses:

  1. The reasons for this prohibition were religious, not racial. (Exodus 34:12, Deuteronomy 7:1-4, 1 Kings 11:1-3, Nehemiah 13:25, Ezra 9:11-14)
  2. The only marriage constraints put on a believer are that they marry someone of the opposite sex and they they marry a believer. (1 Corinthians 7:39, 2 Corinthians 6:14)
  3. There are approved inter-ethnic marriages in the Bible. (Ruth 1:16)

3. There is a curse on Ham, the son of Noah, who the Black race came from.

Responses:

  1. The curse was on Canaan, Ham's son, not on Ham (Genesis 9:18-27), and Canaan was not the father of the Black race.
  2. Even if a particular race were cursed, the curses of God are not mandates to his people. God's curses are not commands to treat the cursed people badly.

4. Interracial marriage tends toward the lessening of the diversity that God intends.

Responses:

  1. This would carry weight, perhaps, if there were the real possibility that interracial marriage diminished diversity. But doesn't it actually increase it?
  2. The statement of relational and social unity among the races that is made by marrying interracially is as important as any biological differences. Whereas opposing interracial marriage makes the statement that races are not relationally or socially equal.

5. The cultural differences make interracial marriage wrong because the couple will be incompatible.

Responses:

  1. We should base ideas of compatibility on the facts of a situation not on the color of the people.
  2. There are same-race couples that are less compatible than interracial couples, because the issue is not race but sufficient spiritual union, common conviction, and similar expectations to make the marriage workable.

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