The Bible says that all races, ethnicities, and cultures are equal in value and dignity. The Bible celebrates racial diversity and permits interracial marriage.
As of 1964, interracial marriage was against the law in 16 states in the USA. It wasn’t that long ago that many in our nation viewed interracial marriage as unnatural and a disgrace.
What does the Bible have to say about interracial marriage?
Interracial Marriage in the Bible
The Bible speaks a great deal about race and marriage in the Bible, but let’s start first with tangible examples of interracial marriage in the Bible. There are a few we’ll highlight.
- Rahab and Salmon (Matthew 1)
- Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 4)
- Moses and Ziporrah (Exodus 2)
It’s also possible that Song of Solomon was written about an interracial couple.
There are examples of races mixing in marriage throughout the scriptures.
What Does the Bible Say About Race, Racism, and Marriage?
Let’s look at four fundamental truths about race and racism in the Bible.
1. Everyone Has Value
All races share one ancestor who is in God’s image. Therefore, all human beings descending from Adam are in God’s image. That truth about your identity is far more important than any racial identity that you may have.
God created man in his image. He created male and female in his image. (Genesis 1:27)
Paul stood in Athens among people who were proud to be intrinsically superior to the Scythian and barbarians. He then spoke these powerful words.
He created every nation on the face the earth from one man. (Acts 17:26)
These Greeks are hearing him say, “You’re related to them, you know?” All of you have the same father.” This is Genesis 1 to27. It means that every person on this planet is related to you because they have the same mother and father. Also, all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. They should be treated accordingly.
2. Unequally Yoked = Belief in Christ, Not Race
Some who don’t believe in interracial marriage point to the verse on being unequally yoked. The Bible clearly forbids intermarrying between believers and nonbelievers, but not between races.
As long as her husband is alive, a wife is bound to him. If her husband is unable to live, she can marry whomever she chooses in the Lord’s name. (1 Corinthians 7:39)
This is the one biblical restriction on who you can marry. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you can marry someone who believes in Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament prohibited intermarrying with othernations. It wasn’t because it was cultural or racial preservation. It was religious preservation.
They will not allow you to marry them or give their daughters to yours. You would then be subject to the wrath of the Lord, who would quickly destroy you.
It is not about color-mixing or clan identity. Will this marriage have one common allegiance towards the true God? This is what you need to be concerned about more than anything. Is there one common allegiance in this marriage to the King of Kings?
God’s prohibition against interethnic or interracial marriage was not meant to preserve ethnic identity, but to preserve faith.
3. Our Oneness is a Blessing
Christ is the oneness of all people. It transcends words and turns social differences into blessings.
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:9-11)
However, this does not mean every minority culture is absorbed into the main church culture. God does not erase all cultural and ethnic differences. He redeems them. He refines them. He purifies them. He enriches their lives through the unity of the kingdom. He celebrates us as one – regardless skin color or hair length.
“God does not erase all cultural and ethnic differences, he redeems them.”
Colossians 3:11 isn’t saying there are no cultural or ethnic differences or that they have no significance. It is that these differences do not hinder deep, deep, intimate fellowship and unity among the people of God, which includes the family of God. We are saved together, baptized into the same fellowship.
4. God Disciplines for Opposing Interracial Marriage
God was very strict in disciplining those who criticize an interracial marriage. God was angry at the criticism of an interracial marriage. This was Moses’s marriage with a Cushite girl. Moses marries a black African woman. Numbers 12:1:
“Miriam, Aaron and Aaron spoke out against Moses over the Cushite wife he had married, for he had married a Cushite women.”
Cushite in Hebrew and Ethiopian are almost interchangeable. Cush is a country just south of Ethiopia. They were all black-skinned and very black-skinned historically and today. This is proven biblically by Jeremiah 13.23, where it says.
The Ethiopian can change his skin
Or the leopard’s spots?
That’s the Hebrew word for Cushite. It is also found in Numbers 12.1. Cushite was a sign of someone with dark skin. Moses married a Cushite. Daniel Hays says,
Cush is a term that refers to the region south of Egypt, above the Cataracts and the Nile where a black African civilisation flourished for more than 2,000 years. It is clear that Moses was married to a black African woman. ( From All People and Nations: A Biblical Theology of Race 71
The most important thing about Moses’ story is that God, not Moses, became angry when Aaron did that. It is interesting to see how he reacts. Although they are angry at Moses’ use of his authority, the explicit statement reads: Numbers 12:1:
Miriam, Aaron and Aaron were critical of Moses’ marriage to a Cushite wife.
Miriam says that God wants her to be light-skinned. And Miriam, who was like snow, became leprous after the cloud fell from above the tent.
God disciplines Miriam, and Moses sees no criticism. This story tells us much about God’s view on interracial marriage.
The Multiracial Scene in Heaven
In Heaven it’s abundantly clear we will all be united as one people – every tongue, tribe, nation, and color – in worship to God:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7:9)
If we’ll be united like this in Heaven, we should seek the same unity here. And if we seek this same unity in the Church, why not in marriage?
Does the Bible Celebrate Interracial Marriage?
We think the Bible is clear that interracial marriage is not only permitted, but celebrated.
One truth of marriage is that it reflects Christ’s covenant keeping love for His church (Ephesians 5:22–33). There’s little that’s more beautiful than when a Christian couple is willing to come against prejudice and fear to display a picture of the commitment and love of God for His people.
It’s a small picture and shadow of Revelation 7. And it should be celebrated.