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What Does the Bible Say about Interracial Marriage?

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Question: What does the Bible say about interracial marriage? Is it okay to marry interracially?

In the Bible, there is nothing wrong with interracial marriage. What the Bible does warn against is marrying someone of a different religion. This fact is the reason behind the various Old Testament instructions to not marry from different races. The Jews believed in the one true God, while other people groups believed in idols and false gods.

However, there are cases of non-jewish people (by blood) who were considered Jews because of their belief. For example, Ruth was not a Jew by blood, but is considered a Jew because of her conversion and belief.

Likewise, in the New Testament, Paul instructs believers, "Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity?" (2 Corinthians 6:14 WEB) God does not show partiality, and believers are also instructed to not show partiality, whether it be based on race, wealth, or otherwise. James says, "But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors." (James 2:9 WEB)

When choosing a spouse, the only qualification is faith in Jesus Christ. Paul says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28 WEB)

However, this does not mean that such a decision shouldn't be made carefully. Interracial marriages, especially ones that stretch across cultures or even sub-cultures, will have additional hardships beyond what a typical marriage has.

Cultural Differences in Interracial Marriages

Cultural differences, even slight sub-culture differences, can place a huge strain on a marriage. Typically, the more in common that a couple has, the less friction there will be. On the opposite side, the more differences a couple has, the more friction will exist. When cultures are different, minor issues like how you squeeze the tube of toothpaste and how the toilet paper is supposed to go are nothing compared to the massive differences in subjects like child rearing, social involvement, family involvement, foundational expectations of marriage, etc. The list goes on and on.

The more different each culture is, the more difficult it will be to navigate the joining of two people into one unit.

If there is a language barrier, marriage will be the most difficult. If one spouse knows more than one language while the other spouse only knows one, there will still be difficulties. If both people speak the same language(s), there can still be friction due to differences in sub-cultures, but being able to speak the same language(s) is essential since communication is a pillar of marriage.

Cultural Domination vs. Cultural Integration

Typically, when there are two cultures involved, one culture tends to dominate the other culture, causing the yielding person to feel subordinated. For these reasons, interracial marriage should be considered carefully and each person must be willing to put in an excess of effort to understand and respect each other if it is to succeed. The goal should be cultural integration, so that two people are becoming one unit, but this goal is difficult to achieve for any group.

The couple may also have to deal with prejudice, discrimination, and ridicule, depending on their cultures. Interracial marriages are certainly doable; it is just that they are much more difficult and require more effort to succeed. It is not uncommon for interracial marriages across cultures to result in bitterness, resentment, and regret.

Interracial marriages that involve two people from the overall same culture are much more successful.

Although, interracial or not, the foundation of any marriage is still the same, no matter the cultures involved: trust, respect, communication, etc.

Interracial Marriage "Hardship" Risk Factors

The following are basic interracial marriage hardship risk factors. The more questions you answer yes, the more friction will exist in your marriage:

  • My partner grew up in a different sub-culture from me, but the same country.
  • My partner speaks a language I don't speak OR I speak a language my partner doesn't speak. (Fluently, not just a language you studied.)
  • My primary/main language is different from my partners primary language.
  • My partner grew up in a different country than me.

Interracial marriage can be successful just like any marriage, but the couple must be aware that they will have to work extra hard to unify their lives and cultures.

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