Interracial Marriage

Straight Talk

The Question

How does God feel about inter-racial marriage? I don’t know what is wrong with me but my brother is getting married in an inter-racial relationship and I just cannot bring myself to be happy for them. I am not a racist (nor would anyone who knows me say that I was) but I feel helpless. Am I judging these two even though they held this relationship in secret for years?

– H. From Toms River, New Jersey

The Answer
Part 1: Ultimately all one race
Part 2: Handling the uncomfortable

Ultimately all one race (Part 1)

I think God feels fine about interracial marriage. Why wouldn’t he? He created our original parents, Adam and Eve, and every single one of us ultimately comes from them. In that sense we are all only one race—the human race. But I won’t leave it there because I know this is not a subject to be taken lightly. Interracial marriage still carries emotional charge, even as it diminishes with time.

Let’s clarify the issue first scripturally. There are admonitions about marriage in the Bible but none of them refer to marriage between different races. The Israelites were commanded not to marry pagans who worshipped foreign gods. Likewise, New Testament believers were given the admonition: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) This certainly pertains to marriage but is not limited to it.

At times in history when interracial relationships were considered taboo, people have frequently tried to justify condemnation of such unions by convoluting some Bible passage to support what they wanted to be true. Scripture passages were called up into service to support the view they already held and did not want to give up. The truth however, is that scripture does not condemn interracial marriages.

So what’s wrong with your brother marrying outside his race? Why can’t you bring yourself to be happy for them? Let’s deal with that next.

Handling the uncomfortable (Part 2)

I believe you when you say you are not racist. In your heart I’m sure you are not. But this is still uncomfortable for you. You say you feel helpless. What do you feel helpless about—is it a failure to influence this union, to prevent it from going forward? I realize you are struggling with emotions that you don’t know the root of.

I don’t know the root of them either but it is definitely worth finding out because if you understand the “why” of your discomfort you may more easily find peace. We all have biases (even without being truly racist) and those biases may be at work in you. The fact that your brother kept this relationship secret for years indicates discomfort on his side too. Did he realize the relationship would not be acceptable within your family circle?

I would suggest sitting down and having a heart to heart talk with God about this, and be sure to do so out loud. Articulate all your feelings as clearly as you can to the Lord and ask his help in understanding yourself and your objections. Submit your feelings to him and ask his help in reaching both understanding and acceptance.

Resolving your feeling rather than just masking them is important for you and for your brother and the woman that will now be your new sister-in-law. You must ultimately accept this relationship and fully embrace the choice that your brother has made. You don’t want a wedge between you and him and over time, he will surely know how you really feel.

Right now you have a chance to grow. You have a chance to gain insight into yourself and to adjust anything you find in your heart that is not right. Be glad this happened, not only for your brother and his future happiness but for the challenge it provides you. Love and accept your new family member—she may prove to be as right for you as she is for him.