Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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An inquiry from a college student
Hey Pastor John,
My roommate and I were discussing interracial marriages a few weeks ago, and the theme continues popping up around me. What does the Bible say about it? Is it a bad thing? The population is becoming increasingly abundant with interracial families, and it is apparent here at college.
Paul told the saints in Corinth that it was best not to marry at all. Nevertheless, it was no sin to marry if a believing couple really wanted to do so. To those believers who decided to marry, Paul gave his blessing, but then he warned them that all married couples experience "trouble in the flesh". Now, consider that Paul's admonition was applied to marriage under the very best of circumstances; that is, in the case wherein two children of God marry who are, together, walking uprightly before the Lord. So, even in a best-case scenario, in which a couple are "equally yoked", there will be "trouble in the flesh". This is due to the inherent differences between the male and female segments of our species. Some conflicts are unavoidable.
Now, every difference in a marriage that is added to the male/female difference makes for more "troubles in the flesh". For example, if one spouse in a marriage grew up "dirt poor" while the other grew up in a very wealthy home, they will have troubles in the flesh that a couple who have similar economic backgrounds will not have to deal with. The same can be said for significant age differences, or differences in educational levels, or differences in political or social interests, and so forth. The "troubles" will be there. They can be handled well or poorly, but they will be there, and they will not go away on their own. The "troubles" in every marriage can only be magnified when a couple adds to the male/female difference the difference of race. Especially is this true in our culture concerning black/white couples, where conflict between blacks and whites is historic, and where the world-views of the two cultures often differ greatly. This point made, it cannot be stated categorically that marriage between a black and a white is sin. However, it can be stated categorically that in our time and place, it is not wise. The differences are too great.
When we marry, we never simply marry an individual; we marry who that individual is and what made him what he is: his history, his culture, his relatives, his god, his view of the world, etc. (That is why God has always absolutely forbidden His people to marry anyone who did not belong to Him.) So, it may be that somewhere there is an inter-racial couple that is happy and dedicated to Christ Jesus. It certainly is possible, if the will of God be so, and I would have no problem with that.
Over the years, I have been approached by a number of young couples (and some not so young) to let me know that they were considering marriage. When asked my opinion of their plans, I have had the same answer to almost all of them, namely, "If you can stand each other, it's fine with me." That is how I feel. If two people can stand each other, what is it to me if they want to be married, no matter who they are? Having said that, I hasten to add that I personally have never seen a black/white inter-racial couple brought together by a mutual love of God's righteousness. I am not saying that such a marriage does not exist or cannot exist; they very well may be out there. I am only saying that I have never seen one. On the contrary, my observation has been that the principal quality that brings together young blacks and whites in our time is simply what the Bible calls "the lust of the flesh".
In my studies on the subject, I have read that Alexander the Great attempted to unite his empire through many means, one of which was commanding his soldiers to marry women from conquered nations. In one such ceremony, he himself married the daughter of the defeated Persian king, while ten thousand of his soldiers wedded other Persian women. His efforts affected the history of the world, of course, but the marriages were by and large massive failures, if what I have read is true. Where cultural, historical, and social differences exist, great and many are the "troubles in the flesh" that a couple must endure and overcome to have a successful marriage.
Just a few minutes ago on the radio, I heard a Christian teacher say, correctly I think, that because of human nature, peace in the home is not the natural order for a marriage on this earth. This is true. God's grace must abound in us in order for us to have a happy home, and where more natural differences exist, more grace is required, more understanding, more dedication to God's righteousness, and more patience and faith.
The prophet Daniel foretold of this social development in our time. He saw in a vision that as this age drew to a close, "they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not cleave to one another, even as iron is not mixed with clay" (Daniel 2:43). I am convinced that the principal reason for the present day explosion of inter-racial fornication (only occasionally is there actual marriage) is an explosion of unrestrained lust, not an explosion of sophistication or wisdom, as this arrogant generation would like to think. And the unions that are made under that unclean spirit will not endure, just as Daniel predicted.
Of course, there are racial groups other than blacks and whites, but in our culture, those two are the most prominent, and in my judgment, the black/white combination here in America makes for the greatest number of "troubles" that a couple must overcome, whether that couple is married or not. The differences between whites and Asians seem not so great, and strangely, the difference between blacks and Asians does not seem so great either. But the black/white divide in this culture is very great, and I would strongly advise any young person not to pursue that kind of marriage, not so much on Biblical grounds as on the grounds of common sense.
I know that you are seeing at college a lot of inter-racial dating. This is because inter-racial anything is promoted to the hilt in this culture. The government has outlawed many of the racial divides that once existed in this society, and businesses and schools at every level, as well as the entire entertainment industry, promote the intermingling of races as a natural and desirable thing, and they all sternly impose that mind set at every turn. If they promoted godliness with the same fervor as they do inter-racial fornication and marriage, there might be some hope in it, but God is, in the main, completely left out of the equation. A day of reckoning is coming.
My opinion of this present drive in our culture for inter-racial everything is the same as always; to wit, "If you can stand each other, it's ok with me." However, what Daniel reveals to us, even if our own observations do not, is that in the long run, they won't be able to stand each other.
Please feel free to send follow-up questions if you have them, and keep up the good work in college.