According to Pew Research Center, “In 2015, 17% of all U.S. newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, marking more than a fivefold increase since 1967, when 3% of newlyweds were intermarried.”
The Pew Research Study also found that attitudes toward interracial marriages have changed significantly, and there is a steep decline of those in opposition to interracial marriages.
In 1967, the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case ended state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. While this was a huge win for interracial couples, many people were and are still opposed. Sadly, some of the pushback still comes from Christians and Christian institutions.
Let’s look at what the Bible has to say or not say about interracial marriage.
Marriage is defined in Scripture as a covenant before God, joining a man and a woman together for their lives.
- God’s original intent was that man would not be alone.
Genesis 2:18 NIV The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:24 NIV That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
- Marriage was the avenue for procreation.
Genesis 1:28 NIV God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
- Marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for the church.
Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
- Marriage represents a greater union that will happen with God and mankind in the future.
Revelation 19:9 NIV Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
The Opposition To Interracial Marriage
Some use this Old Testament scripture to argue that God disapproves of interracial marriage.
Deuteronomy 7:1-4 NIV When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
When we put this scripture in context, we see its full meaning. This decree is not based on race or skin color, it is based on religion. The reason that God tells the Israelites not to intermarry is described in verse 4, “for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods”.
That is remarkably similar to the New Testament scripture written by Paul about believers being unequally yoked.
2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
In this verse, the apostle Paul is telling believers if they marry a nonbeliever, it will pull the believer away from God, and he or she will struggle with fulfilling their calling to follow Jesus.
So, the Bible clearly says you should not marry someone with a different faith. That scripture has nothing to do with and is not saying anything about race.
Rahab and Salmon
Joshua 2:1 NIV Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
Matthew 1:5-6 NIV Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, (emphasis mine)
Ruth and Boaz
Ruth 1:3-4 NIV Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years,
Ruth 4:13-17 NIV So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (emphasis mine)
One of the most well-known examples of a interracial marriage in Scripture is Moses and Zipporah a Midianite.
Exodus 2:21-22 NIV Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.”
Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn marrying from another people group unless it was an issue of faith. Jesus Himself was a Jew who had Gentiles in His genealogy. I’ve already identified Rahab and Ruth; another is Tamar Judah's widowed daughter-in-law (Genesis 38).
There Is No Place for Racism in Christianity
Here’s the definitive answer - the Bible does not say interracial marriage is wrong, and those who suggest it have misinterpreted Scripture.
Anyone, especially a Christian, who suggests interracial marriage is wrong needs to check their heart and check themselves for seeds of racism. Racism is sinful and evil, down to the very core. It is ignorant, judgmental hatred, and it grieves God’s heart. No human deserves any suffering due to the color of their skin.
- Racism and hatred are not of God. God is love, and racism is not.
- We are all sons and daughters of the King and made in God’s image.
- When it comes to Christian marriages, the priority is the couple’s shared faith in Jesus Christ.
- “Faith in Christ, not skin color, is the biblical standard for choosing a spouse.”
While there is much less opposition to interracial marriage today, it is important to recognize that there still are some people who do not support interracial couples.
Those entering interracial relationships should be aware of the opposition and discrimination they may face.
But strong Christian unions between members of different races can be a beautiful testimony to those who oppose it.
There are cultural differences and struggles that these couples and their children will face. However, God does not always take us down the easiest paths. Many times, He uses these families as a representation of what Heaven looks like in Revelation. Every nation and every tribe will be there, and we will be one people, one family.
All believers in Christ are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation. We are one through Him. Whether a person speaks one language or another, whether a person is dark or light-skinned, whether a person grows up in one time zone or another, we are one people and one nation under the name of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.