Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Bible and Race
I am amazed when people use the Bible to argue that it is a sin to marry someone from a different race. The Scriptures have a great deal to say about the inter-marriage of different peoples. In the Law of God the Israelites were commanded not to inter-marry with the peoples that lived around them, but this was not a law to maintain racial purity. Instead, the laws were there so that the Covenant People of God would maintain theological and religious purity.

My very early years were spent in the segregated South and my teenage years were spent in a South that was dealing with foul fruit of racial segregation, after it was “officially” ended. I, like many (most) of my friends, believed it was “wrong” to for a white person to marry a black person. That is the way we all (most of us) thought back then.

In my early twenties, after I had started studying the Scriptures, I began to have trouble with my views about race and marriage. I remember reading an article about a mixed race couple who, after they had married, had been converted to the Christian faith, and so I began to look at the subject.

I never pretended that my views against inter-racial marriage were based on the Bible, and up until that time I had little knowledge (if any) about what the Bible said on the subject. As I began to work through this issue I realised that my views were totally cultural based had had no theological foundation.

As I read the Scriptures I realised that Law of God forbade the people of God from marrying peoples who worshipped false Gods, and the laws against inter-marriage with other peoples were based on faith and not on race. There are a number of accounts in the Bible where Covenant people married non-covenant people.Sometimes this is serously condemned, but it was ok if the non-Covenant person converted before hand and joined the Covenant people of God.

Rahab the Harlot, of Jericho, helped the Israelites conquer that Canaanite city. I think it is clear in the text that Rahab was a Canaanite. She had her own home in Jericho and she, and her extended family with her, were the only people spared when the Israelites conquered the city. Then we read that “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” (Joshua 6:25) Rahab a Canaanite, and her people were grafted into Israel. Rahab made it to the Faith hall of Fame in Hebrews 11:31.

Christians, like Old Testament saints, are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That is what we are not to do; we are not to marry non-believers. Racial separatist groups, that try to defend their position from the Bible, do great harm to the Faith of Christ and distort the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, who had Rahab, a Canaanite, as one of his ancestors.

I am proud of my Southern heritage and I will defend it any day of the week, but when heritage differs from the Scriptures we must follow the Word of God.

Deo Vindice,
Ps. God save the South (and the whole world).

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