Tag Archives: interracial marriage

Is it wrong to marry someone of a different ethnicity?

Some have tried to use Bible passages like Deuteronomy 23:3[1] and 2 Corinthians 6:14[2] to make a case that people should marry only within certain cultural and racial confines like skin color or nationality. But when these verses are examined in light of their broader biblical context, their case falls short.

While it’s true that passages like Deuteronomy 23:3 prohibited Israelites from marrying individuals outside of the Jewish community, the Bible is full of exceptions to this rule. Joseph married an Egyptian woman.[3] Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute,[4] and Ruth, a Moabite widow,[5] both married into the tribe of Israel and became ancestors of King David and Jesus. And Uriah, the first husband of King Solomon’s mother Bathsheba, was a Hittite.

But the most interesting biblical example of cross-cultural marriage in the Bible is found in Numbers 12. In this account, Moses’ sister Miriam is struck with leprosy for criticizing Moses because he married a dark-skinned foreigner.

“While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman…The Lord was very angry with them, and he departed. As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy.” [6]

While the Bible does not condemn what is commonly called interracial marriage, some contexts and cultures make it more difficult than others. Some have even suggested that it should be avoided because of the cultural pressures and potential rejection it invites on couples and their children. Yet the Bible does not address this issue. There are times and places where these concerns might be well considered, but the idea of setting up artificial barriers based on skin color or other ethnic differences is not what ultimately brings the most glory and honor to God.

So, is it wrong to marry someone from another ethnicity? No; neither the Bible nor the spirit of Christ places any such constraints on people who love and care for one another.

[1] No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation (NIV).

[2] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (NIV)

[3] (Genesis 41:44–52)

[4] (Joshua 2&6; Matthew 1:5)

[5] (Ruth 1–4; Matthew 1:5)

[6] Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.) (Nu 12:1 & 9–10). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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What Does the Bible Say About Marrying Someone of Another Race?

Scripture neither advocates nor condemns interracial marriage. It’s true that Old Testament law disapproved the marriage of Israelites to outsiders, but it did so strictly for religious and cultural reasons.

1 A Jew who married a woman from one of the Canaanite nations would find his wife naturally inclined towards the language, culture, and religion of her childhood. But the beautiful story of Ruth, a woman of the cursed nation of Moab ( Deuteronomy 23:3 ) who became an ancestor of Christ (Ruth 4:13-17 ), should put to rest any notions that God disapproved of intermarriage between Israel and the surrounding nations solely upon racial grounds.

It’s unfortunate that some passages of Scripture have been misquoted and taken out of context to rationalize racial prejudice. The Bible clearly tells us:

  • Adam and Eve were the parents of the whole human race ( Romans 5:12-21 ).
  • God created the races from one blood ( Acts 17:26 ).

It also declares that all believers in Christ are:

  • Children of God ( 1 John 3:1 ).
  • Adopted into God’s family ( Ephesians 1:5 ).
  • Brothers and sisters in Christ ( Colossians 1:2 ).

Christ’s love requires us to love each other ( John 13:34-35 ; 1 John 4:8,16 ). Setting up artificial barriers between Christians on the basis of skin color or other racial differences is a form of hatred. We can’t hate brothers and sisters in Christ and love God at the same time ( 1 John 4:16-21 ).

There is nothing morally wrong with dating or marrying a person of another race. But the serious cultural and social demands of interracial marriage require clear vision and mature motivation. The single most important factor in choosing a lifelong mate is that person’s relationship to Christ.

  1. Some racial segregationists claim that the curse on Ham in Genesis 9:20-27 requires the races to be separate. However, the curse that resulted from Ham’s disrespectful act fell specifically upon Canaan, and the descendants of Canaan were the tribes surrounding Israel. Ruth, in fact, was a Canaanite, a Moabitess ( Ruth 1:22 ). Back To Article
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