Monday, March 31, 2014

What does your church say about interracial relationships?

I recently invited a person to attend worship at our church and was pleased to see them that following Sunday in our morning worship service. They attended with a parent and the person they are dating. The person they are dating is of a different ethnic background but I hadn't paid any attention to it. When I ran into them at their job, this person asked me a question that caught me a little off guard because I hadn't been asked it in a while. The person asked me "What does your church say about interracial relationships?"

When it comes to interracial relationships the Bible is clear on three things we must keep in mind.

1. Interracial relationships are not addressed in the Bible.

When it comes to different races marrying the Bible is silent on the topic for followers of Christ. I'm guessing the reason is because it doesn't matter to God what race a person is when it comes to relationships and marriage. Before some people jump on a certain set of verses I want to address them. Yes, in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 God does command the Israelites not to marry a different race of people called the Canaanites. It says, “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 sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.” The reason God didn't want the Israelites marrying another race was a spiritual reason. He didn't want the Canaanites to lead the Israelites into idol worship. No where in the New Testament do we see commands on interracial relationships. So we see that the matter of relationships is less about the outward parts of a person and more about the inward parts.

2. It's about faith not about race.

Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that when it comes to relationships, what matters is the spiritual condition of a person's heart. He writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” When it comes to relationships believers should realize that many times the one who wins out in an unequally yoked relationship is the one who is not as spiritually strong. Relationships are about growing together and growing closer to God. If two people are pulling in different directions spiritually, then it is impossible to grow close together or closer to God. Again, race has nothing to do with it. As a minister of the Gospel, this verse from 2 Corinthians 6 is used for one of my two qualifying questions before I marry a couple. That question is "Are the man and woman both followers of Christ?" If one isn't then I won't perform the marriage, regardless of race. If they both are believers, I will be glad to officiate their wedding, again, regardless of race. In fact I've already performed one interracial marriage and never thought twice about it. (The other qualifying question, in case you were wondering, is whether the couple is willing to sit down for premarital counseling. That's the other deal breaker!)

3. God looks at what is on the inside, not the outside.

The prophet Samuel, in 1 Samuel 16:7, heard God speak to him about what really matters when it comes to a person. God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." Yes, Samuel was looking for a king for Israel, but the truth of that statement from God can be applied to relationships as well. When it comes down to it, what matters to God is what is on the inside of a person not the outside. That means God is more concerned about our spiritual condition than anything else. If we have a relationship with Him through Christ, He is overjoyed. If we do not, then He is saddened. When it comes to relationships that is what God is concerned about. He wants a man and woman to be deeply in love with Him so they will know how to deeply love each other. When it comes to race and relationships, if it doesn't matter to God then it shouldn't matter to me, regardless of longstanding cultural or societal views. From my perspective I would much rather my sons date and marry a person of another race who is a strong follower of Christ than for them to marry a Caucasian woman who is a non-believer.

So when that person asked me that question I nonchalantly shrugged and said it didn't matter. I told them that the Bible doesn't say anything about it and that since it doesn't matter to God, then it doesn't matter to me. The response I received was what you would expect. The person said something to the effect of "Well I know some churches have problems with that sort of thing." Unfortunately that is sad, true, and completely against the truth of God's Word.

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