This post may seem unnecessary to some of you, but after having been confronted with this issue three times in the last two weeks, I have felt the need to address it.
It has come to my attention that some of the Christian leaders that I admire have a certain belief that is unbiblical. Not that I’m surprised by that. Certainly I don’t expect to agree with anyone all the time. But this particular position is so completely unsupported by Scripture, is apparently more popular than I thought, and is directly affecting friends of mine, that I have decided it warrants a post. Granted, it’s a post that most people probably won’t see. But this is my only “pulpit” right now, so it must suffice.
Several otherwise reasonable folks apparently hold the position that interracial marriage is unbiblical. If you agree with this position, I’d ask you to read on and see if my Scriptural interpretation holds water.
The only verse of Scripture that I have ever heard used to defend this position is found in Numbers 36:
“This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.”
It is said by some that this Scripture is instructing us to marry within our “tribe”, and “tribe” is of course defined as our “race.” I have heard this taught as Biblical doctrine.
Very clearly the context of this verse is referring to specific circumstances, and this command is related to the preservation of the inheritance of a tribe. God allowed Israelite women to marry into any tribe they chose, but if they had no brothers and their father’s property was to pass to them, then God required them to marry within their tribe to prevent the land passing into another tribe. That is what this passage is about. The concept of race doesn’t even come close to being part of the application of this passage.
If we were to allow “tribe” to be defined as “race”, then what is to prevent us from defining “tribe” any way we like, and using this passage to forbid any marriage with which we are uncomfortable? If I decide that “tribe” means “nationality” then I could potentially use this passage to teach that Americans should not marry Canadians, and that Japanese should not marry the English. Or I could define “tribe” as indicative of social status, so then those making $100,000 a year should not be allowed to marry those making only $25,000 a year.
In no passage of Scripture, that I have ever heard or read, does God forbid the marriage of one “race” to another. (I may have time to address how we really only have one race of humans, not several. The amount of pigment in our skin does not change our race or species.) If you can prove me wrong, I would welcome the correction. He does forbid the marriage of believers to unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), but that is related to worldview and not in any way connected to genetics. Even the children of Israel were allowed to marry a foreigner if that Gentile would convert. (See the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua.)
But for those who need added proof, here are a couple interesting points.
There is scientific evidence that there is only one race of humans. Dr. Ken Ham makes this point very clearly. In fact he probably does a better job of making my point in this post than I have done. Here are some links you should check out:
There is also genetic evidence that a certain African tribe is descended from the Levites of old, and beyond that, even descended from Aaron himself. They practice some of the Levitical law and have history indicating they came from Aaron. So some researchers decided to test that theory, and found it to be accurate. Here is the article:
So if a Jew wanted to marry someone from this African tribe, would they be violating Scripture?
And for those that idolize Moses, he married an African from Ethiopia and was never condemned or judged by God for so doing. (Numbers 12)
More evidence we are all “one blood” – black and white twins. No joke. It’s for real.