is it biblical?
What if a Chinese
person were to marry a Polynesian, or an African with black skin were
to marry a Japanese, or a person from India were to marry a person from
America with white skin would these marriages be in accord with
There are a significant
number of Christians (particularly in America) who would claim that such
'Interracial' marriages directly violate God's principles in the Bible,
and should not be allowed.
But does the Word
of God really condemn such mixes as those above? Is there ultimately any
such thing as 'Interracial marriage?'
What constitutes a 'race'?'
In the 1800s, before
Darwinian evolution was popularized, most people, when talking about 'races',
would be referring to such groups as the 'English race', 'Irish race',
and so on. However, this all changed in 1859, when Charles Darwin published
his book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or
the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
was (and still is) inherently a racist philosophy, teaching that different
groups or 'races' of people evolved at different times and rates, so some
groups are more like their ape-like ancestors than others. The Australian
Aborigines, for instance, were considered the missing links between the
ape-like ancestor and the rest of mankind.1
This resulted in terrible prejudices and injustices towards the Australian
Aborigines.2 The leading
evolutionary spokesperson, Stephen Jay Gould, stated that 'Biological
arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased
by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.'3
Racist attitudes fuelled
by evolutionary thinking were largely responsible for an African pygmy
being displayed, along with an orangutan, in a cage in the Bronx zoo.4
As a result of Darwinian
evolution, many people started thinking in terms of the different people
groups around the world representing different 'races', but within the
context of evolutionary philosophy. This has resulted in many people today,
consciously or unconsciously, having ingrained prejudices against certain
other groups of people.
However, all human
beings in the world today are classified as Homo sapiens Sapiens
Scientists today admit that, biologically, there really is only one race
of humans. For instance, a scientist at the Advancement of Science Convention
in Atlanta stated, 'Race is a social construct derived mainly from
perceptions conditioned by events of recorded history, and it has no basic
This person went on to say that 'Curiously enough, the idea comes very
close to being of American manufacture.'5
Reporting on research
conducted on the concept of race, the American ABC News science page stated,
'More and more scientists find that the differences that set us apart
are cultural, not racial. Some even say that the word race should
be abandoned because it's meaningless.'6
The article went on to say that 'we accept the idea of race because
it's a convenient way of putting people into broad categories, frequently
to suppress them … The most hideous example was provided by
Hitler's Germany. And racial prejudice remains common throughout the world.'6
In an article in the
summer issue of the Journal of Counseling and Development,7
researchers argue that the term 'race' is basically so meaningless that
it should be discarded.
of the influences of Darwinian evolution and the resulting prejudices,
I believe everyone (and especially Christians) should abandon the term
'race(s)'. We could refer instead to the different 'people groups' around
The Bible and 'race'
The Bible does not
even use the word race in reference to people,8
but does describe all human beings as being of 'one blood' (Acts 17:26).
This of course emphasizes that we are all related, as all humans are descendants
of the first man, Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).9
As Jesus Christ also became a descendant of Adam, being called the
'last Adam' (1 Corinthians 15:45), this is why the Gospel can be
preached to all tribes and nations. Any descendant of Adam can be saved,
because our mutual relative by blood (Jesus Christ) died and rose again.
But some people think
there must be different 'races' of people because there appear to be major
differences between various groups, such as skin colour and eye shape.
The truth though
is that these so-called 'racial characteristics' are only minor variations
among people groups. If one were to take any two people anywhere in the
world, scientists have found that the basic genetic differences between
these two people would typically be around 0.2 percent even if
they came from the same people group.10
But, these so-called 'racial' characteristics that people think are major
differences (skin colour, eye shape, etc.) 'account for only 0.012 percent
of human biological variation.'7 In other
words, the so-called 'racial' differences are absolutely trivial
overall, there is more variation within any group than there is
between one group and another. If a white person is looking for
a tissue match for an organ transplant, for instance, the best match may
come from a black person, and vice versa. The ABC news science page stated,
'What the facts show is that there are differences among us, but they
stem from culture, not race.'6
The only reason many
people think these differences are major is because they've been brought
up in a culture that has taught them to see the differences this way.
Real science in the
present fits with the biblical view that all people are rather closely
related there is only one 'race' biologically. Therefore, there
is in essence no such thing as 'Interracial marriage.' So we are left
with this is there anything in the Bible that speaks clearly against
men and women from different people groups marrying?
Origin of people groups
In Genesis 11, we
read of the rebellion at the tower of Babel which resulted in people being
scattered over the earth. Because of this dispersion, and the resulting
splitting of the gene pool, different cultures formed, with certain features
becoming predominant within each group. Some of these (skin colour, eye
shape and so on) became general characteristics of each particular people
Note that the context
of Genesis 11 makes it clear that the reason for God's scattering the
people over the earth was that they had united in rebellion against God.
Some Christians point to this event in an attempt to provide a basis for
their arguments against so-called 'Interracial' marriage. They believe
that it is implied here that to keep the nations apart, God is declaring
that people from different people groups can't marry. However, there is
no such indication in this passage that what is called 'Interracial' marriage'
is condemned. Besides, there has been so much mixing of people groups
over the years, that it would be impossible for every human being today
to trace their lineage back to know for certain which group(s) they are
We need to understand
that the sovereign creator God is in charge of the nations of this world.
Paul makes this very clear in Acts 17:26. Some people erroneously claim
this verse to mean that people from different nations shouldn't marry.
However, this passage has nothing to do with marriage. As John Gill makes
clear in his classic commentary, the context is that God is in charge
of all things where, how and for how long any person, tribe or
nation will live, prosper and perish.12
In all of this, God
is working to redeem for Himself a people who are one in Christ. The Bible
makes clear in Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11 and Romans 10:12-13 that
in regard to salvation, there is no distinction between male or female
or Jew or Greek. In Christ, any separation between people is broken down.
As Christians, we are one in Christ and thus have a common purpose
to live for Him who made us. This oneness in Christ is vitally important
to understanding marriage.
Purpose of marriage
Malachi 2:15 informs
us that an important purpose of marriage is to produce godly offspring
progeny that are trained in the ways of the Lord. Jesus (in Matthew
19) and Paul (in Ephesians 5) make it clear that when a man and woman
marry, they become one flesh (because they were one flesh historically
Eve was made from Adam). Also, the man and woman must be one spiritually
so they can fulfill the command to produce godly offspring.
This is why Paul states
in 2 Corinthians 6:14, 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness?'
According to the Bible
then, which of the following marriages in the picture below does God counsel
against entering into?
The answer is obvious
number 3. According to the Bible, the priority in marriage is that
a Christian should marry only a Christian.
Sadly, there are some
Christian homes where the parents are more concerned about their children
not marrying someone from another 'race' than whether or not they are
marrying a Christian. When Christians marry non-Christians, it negates
the spiritual (not the physical) oneness in marriage, resulting in negative
consequences for the couple and their children.13
Rahab and Ruth
The examples of Rahab
and Ruth help us understand how God views the issue of marriage between
those who are from different people groups but trust in the true God.
Rahab was a Canaanite.
These Canaanites had an ungodly culture, and were descendants of Canaan,
the son of Ham. Remember, Canaan was cursed because of his obvious rebellious
nature. Sadly, many Christians state that Ham was cursed but this
is not true.14 Some have
even said that this (non-existent) curse of Ham resulted in the black
'races.' This is absurd and is the type of false teaching that has reinforced
and justified prejudices against people with dark skin.
In the genealogy in
Matthew 1, it is traditionally understood that the same Rahab is listed
here as being in the line leading to Christ. Thus Rahab, a descendant
of Ham, must have married an Israelite (descended from Shem). Since this
was clearly a union approved by God, it underlines the fact that the particular
'people group' she came from was irrelevant what mattered was that
she trusted in the true God of the Israelites.
The same can be said
of Ruth, who as a Moabitess, also married an Israelite, and is also listed
in the genealogy in Matthew 1 that leads to Christ. Prior to her marriage,
she had expressed faith in the true God (Ruth 1:16).
When Rahab and Ruth
became children of God, there was no longer any barrier to Israelites
marrying them, even though they were from different 'people groups'.
Real biblical 'Interracial'
If one wants to use
the term 'Interracial', then the real 'Interracial' marriage that God
says we should not enter into is when a child of the Last Adam (one who
is a new creation in Christ a Christian) marries one who is an
unconverted child of the First Adam (one who is dead in trespasses and
sin a non-Christian).15
Because many people
groups have been separated since the Tower of Babel, they have developed
many cultural differences. If two people from very different cultures
marry, they can have a number of communication problems, even if both
are Christians. Expectations regarding relationships with members of the
extended family, for example, can also differ. Even people from different
English-speaking countries can have communication problems because words
may have different meanings. Counsellors should go through this in detail,
anticipating the problems and giving specific examples, as some marriages
have failed because of such cultural differences. However, such problems
have nothing to do with genetics or 'race'.
- There is no biblical
justification for claiming that people from different so-called 'races'
(best described as 'people groups') should not marry.
- The biblical basis
for marriage makes it clear that a Christian should marry only a
When Christians legalistically
impose non-biblical ideas such as 'no 'Interracial' marriage' onto their
culture, they are helping to perpetuate prejudices that have often arisen
from evolutionary influences. If we are really honest, in countries like
America, the main reason for Christians being against 'Interracial' marriage'
is, in most instances, really because of skin colour. (By the way
every human being has the same skin colour it just depends on how
much of the colour one has).16
The church could greatly
relieve the tensions over racism (particularly in countries like America),
if only the leaders would teach that: all people are descended from one
man and woman; all people are equal before God; all are sinners in need
of salvation; all need to build their thinking on God's Word and judge
all their cultural aspects accordingly; all need to be one in Christ and
put an end to their rebellion against their Creator.
REFERENCES AND NOTES
'Missing links with mankind in early dawn of history', New York Tribune,
February 10, 1924, p. 11. Return to text.
Wieland, 'Darwin's bodysnatchers', Creation 14(2):16-18,
1992. Return to text.
Jay Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Belknap-Harvard Press, Cambridge,
Mass. USA, pp. 127-128, 1977. Return to text.
Bergman, 'Ota Benga: The man who was put on display in the zoo!', Creation
16(1):48-50, 1993. Return to text.
Lee Hotz, 'Race has no basis in biology, researchers say', Los Angeles
Times article reprinted in the Cincinnati Enquirer, February
20, 1997, p. A3. Return to text.
all the same', American Broadcasting Corporation News, September 10,
1998, <www.abcnews.com/sections/science/DyeHard/dye72.html> Return
Chavez Cameron and Susan Macias Wycoff, 'The destructive nature of the
term race: growing beyond a false paradigm', Journal of Couseling
& Development, 76:277-285, 1998. Return
the original, Ezra 9:2 refers to 'seed', Romans 9:3 to 'kinsmen according
to the flesh'. Return to text.
Ham, Where did Cain get his wife? Answers in Genesis, Florence,
Kentucky, USA, 1997. Return to text.
Gutin, 'End of the rainbow', Discover, pp. 72-73, November 1994.
Return to text.
Batten, Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, Carl Wieland, 'How did all the different
"races" arise (from Noah's family)?', The Answers Book,
chapter 18, to be updated and republished in 1999.
'Rugby star "proof of evolution"', Creation 18(1):8,
'Races very close', Creation 17(2):9, 1995.
'Modern "Stone Age" reconsidered', Creation 15(4):51,
Carl Wieland, 'Shades of Babel', Creation 13(1):23, 1990.
Dennis and Lyn Field (translators), 'Julmbanu: Aboriginal Babel', Creation
Jerry Bergman, 'Evolution and the origins of the biological race theory',
CEN Technical Journal 7(2):155-168, 1993. Return
note on Acts 17:26, in: John Gill, D.D., An exposition of the Old
and New Testament; the whole illustrated with notes, taken from
the most ancient Jewish writings (nine volumes), London: printed
for Mathews and Leigh, 18 Strand, by W. Clowes, Northumberland-Court,
1809. Edited, revised and updated by Larry Pierce, 1994-1995 for Online
Bible CD-ROM. Return to text.
is true that in some exceptional instances when a Christian has married
a non-Christian, the non-Christian spouse, by the grace of God, has
become a Christian. This is a praise point but it does not negate the
fact that Scripture indicates that it should not have been entered into
in the first place. This does not mean that the marriage is not actually
valid, nor does it dilute the responsibilities of the marital union
see also 1 Corinthians 7:12-14, where the context is of one partner
becoming a Christian after marriage. Return to text.
Genesis 9:18-27. Return to text.
of such 'mixed marriages' and their negative consequences can be seen
in Nehemiah 9 and 10, and Numbers 25. Return to text.
Batten, Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, Carl Wieland, 'How did all the different
"races" arise (from Noah's family)?', The Answers Book,
chapter 18, to be updated and republished in 1999. Return