Ask RC: Is it a sin to marry outside ones race?
Yes, of course. Happily, in every jurisdiction I am aware of, it is not even legally possible to marry outside ones race. Though there are some arguing that such should be legal, even the “gay” “marriage” movement, by and large, disdains the notion. The Bible is abundantly clear that marriage is only for those of the human race, and to extend the institution beyond that is wrong.
Within the circle of humanity, God does provide a number of other prohibitions. Marriage, for instance, is, according to the Bible, one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4 -5). Marriage is also only between either two believers, or two unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14). Leviticus 18 gives us the laws of consanguinity, affirming that we may not marry those who are too close kin. The Bible forbids marrying those who have been illegitimately divorced (Matthew 19:9). The only other biblical prohibition that I am aware of is that one cannot divorce, marry another spouse, and then, after a second divorce, or the death of the second spouse, remarry the first (Deuteronomy 24:4).
Does the Bible forbid marrying outside ones culture, ones skin color, ones nation? By no means. Deuteronomy 21: 11-14 gives explicit warrant for a Jewish man to take a wife from among the women of a conquered nation. Though not as compelling, we in turn have biblical examples of godly men who married outside their national identity- Moses and his Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1), and of course Boaz and Ruth.
There have, in the past, been fine and godly men who have argued otherwise. There are likely some fine and godly men who would still so argue. The Bible, however, despite the level of detail to which it does go on whom we may or may not marry, does not so argue. The ancient creeds of the church make no such argument. The great confessional statements of the Reformation make no such argument.
Some have argued that my own position is grounded in worldliness. Those outside the church are always seeking to break down barriers, to deconstruct cultures. Miscegenation, my critics would argue, plays right into the hands of the political and theological left. I would offer two retorts. First, a healthy understanding of the antithesis, of the great battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman doesn’t mean we are to be reactionary, that we are to embrace the opposite of what the world embraces always and everywhere. We aren’t called to walking on our hands because the unbelievers walk on their feet. Because those outside the kingdom of God retain the remnants of the image of God, we should expect to agree with them from time to time.
Second, even a cursory glance of the literature demonstrates that it is actually those who argue against marrying outside ones culture, that were most influenced by worldly wisdom. Darwin’s theory of evolution created a paradigm by which even Christians began to judge one “race” as genetically superior to another. It is true enough that some cultures are better than others. What makes one culture superior, however, isn’t genetics, but the impact of the Christian faith. Low levels of melanin didn’t build Europe, the gospel did. Matching levels of melanin in turn won’t make a godly marriage. The gospel will. Away with legalism that adds to God’s perfect law.
Ask R.C. December 6, 2011