Over the summer, this sign was posted outside an apartment complex swimming pool in Cincinnati. It reads, “Public Swimming Pool: White Only.” The reason the landlord posted this sign was because she claimed that a black girl’s hair products would cloud the swimming pool (Yahoo News). Despite her claim, it is painfully obvious what this woman’s true motives were.
Over the last year or two, more and more examples of racism have popped up. Some in the news, some on the streets, but saddest of all, some is being seen in the church. There have been black visitors to white congregations (and vice versa) who receive a “less than friendly” welcome. There have been interracially married couples who have had trouble finding a job to preach the gospel at a congregation because of race. There have even been people who claim the Bible forbids interracial marriages.
I grew up in a generation virtually without racism. I can probably count on one hand the number of lessons I’ve heard on racism and interracial marriage. This is simply because there hasn’t been as great of a need. However, with the increasing examples, it’s time to look back and see what Scripture says.
1. Does God Forbid Interracial Marriage? When we look in Scripture, we see multiple examples of God commanding Israel not to marry people of other nations (Deuteronomy 7:3; Joshua 23:12; Genesis 28:1; Ezra 9:1-4; Ezra 10:2-3). But the question is, why was God forbidding such marriages? Some of these same passages give the answer, “You shall not intermarry with them…for they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods…” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). The reason God didn’t want interracial marriages was because these bonds would pull them away from the Lord (Exodus 34:15-16; Joshua 23:12-13). In fact, this is exactly what happened to King Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-4).
Even with this being the case, God did not forbid ALL interracial marriages. God allowed for people from other races to convert to Judaism (Exodus 12:48-49; Isaiah 56:4-8; etc). They are still part of a different race, and probably even had a different skin color, and yet once they converted they were allowed to marry into Israel (i.e. Ruth). Clearly what God really wanted for Israel was for them to marry those who wouldn’t cause them to turn away from the Lord. He wasn’t so much concerned about the race as much as the idolatry and sin that would result from such a marriage.
In addition, Christians today are no longer to live under the commands of the Old Testament but the New (Hebrews 7:18-22; 8:7-9, 13; 10:9). In the New Testament we find no Scriptures for or against interracial marriages. Therefore, there is no reason why a person (especially a Christian) should condemn or discriminate against two interracially married people.
2. Does God Forbid Racism? Thankfully, this question is much easier to answer. First of all, racism can get people in trouble with the law. In the example given above, the landlord for the apartments in Cincinnati is facing several legal consequences. Christians are to follow the government’s laws as long as they don’t violate Scripture (Romans 13:1-5). Second, God is not racist. We know that God shows no partiality or prejudice (Romans 2:11). We also know that salvation is for all races, all colors, and all people (Romans 10:12; Colossians 3:9ff; Titus 2:11). Scripture says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28). Third, Christians are to treat all people with love and respect. Christ gave the example of the Good Samaritan not only to break down the race barrier between Jews and Samaritans (John 4:9), but also to show how a Christian should act towards all people of any race (Luke 10:30-37). See also Matthew 19:19; John 13:34; Galatians 5:4; James 2:8-9. There isn’t a “thou shall not” in regards to racism, but there are a multitude of principals which condemn such an attitude in us.
It’s quite sad to think that Christians are still dividing over racial issues. We should have the strongest bonds with each other because of what Christ did for us and the common goals we share. There is simply no valid reason why a child of God should condemn interracial marriages or engage in racism.
Notice the scene unfolded in Revelation 7:9-10, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” In heaven, there will be no racism. All people of all colors and all walks of life will be there. Whether it is whites against blacks, blacks against whites, or any other color in-between, there is no place for racism in a Christian’s life. May we always strive to be more Christ-like in this way, as well as all others.