Being a modern-day Berean
First, let me define “Berean.” In the Bible’s book of Acts (specifically, in the 17th chapter), we hear of a group from Berea who looked in their Bibles to verify the preaching of Paul.
The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11 NASB)
So, to be Berean is to be studious and open to the truth. Hopefully, that will include you, at some point.
Christians have no mandate to avoid interracial marriage
Next, let me explain how I came upon this topic. Recently, I came upon a post at The Domain for Truth where SlimJim asked “Is it OK to marry a Moabite?”
Whether my reply was prompted by a leading of the Holy Spirit in response to a need someone else had or the reply was a demonstration of my own hubris, I wish I could tell you. Nonetheless, to the question, I responded:
Wouldn’t the best response be to see that God forbids spiritual adultery (aka, marrying outside of the faith), but does not really see the skin.
One proof of this might be Ruth, who was of another race than Boaz, but of the same faith. Likewise, Moses married a Cushite (who, obviously was of another race, but, as far as we know, must have converted to the faith of Moses).
When I considered my response at The Domain for Truth, it seemed weak considering my lack of outside citations and Bible references.
Therefore, this post should provide a more reasoned response to today’s version of “Is it OK to marry a Moabite?” Let me start by using a post I had once abandoned.
An answer through an old article that I once meant to post with comments
Although this article is a bit dated, this 4 September 2019 FaithWire article may do Christians a service by telling the whole story of error, repentance, and redemption of a ill-informed Christian business owner who later corrected her course.
A lot of the headlines coming out of Mississippi over the weekend were about racism and religion after the owner of a wedding venue denied an interracial couple access to her space, citing her “Christian belief” that such a union is counter-biblical. But the untold story here is one of forgiveness, humility, and understanding.
LaKambria Welch told Deep South Voice magazine on Sunday that she drove to Boone’s Camp Event Hall in Booneville after the venue told her brother via Facebook that he wouldn’t be allowed to hold his upcoming nuptials there “because of [the company’s] beliefs.”
NEW: A Mississippi venue allegedly cancelled a couple's wedding plans after discovering the couple was a black man… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) September 01, 2019
The crux of the cordial conversation was this comment from the venue staffer: “We don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race — I mean, our Christian belief.” Welch simply listened politely.
Welch’s brother and his fiancée, who is white, had been considering the event space as a possible venue for their wedding and had been in communication with the owner of the space for about a week, according to NBC News. It wasn’t until the venue owner discovered the couple’s skin colors through Facebook that she attempted to talk with them in person.
All of those details have been widely reported. But here’s what hasn’t been shared very much: it’s harder to hate up close, and the owner of the Mississippi wedding space learned that over the weekend.
Welch, who is also a Christian, was kind and forgiving.
“I’ve stated that I am a Christian as well,” she told NBC News. “So, growing up, my grandmother would always tell me to forgive, even without an apology. I’ve always lived by that with everything.”
But the venue owner did apologize. In fact, she went home and took out her Bible to research the issue herself — to reexamine the perspectives she had, to determine if they were really biblical or actually just the racist remnants of a bygone culture.
She discussed the issue with her husband and her pastor.
She then shared her shifted beliefs in a transparent and thoughtful Facebook post to the wedding venue’s fan page:
As a child growing up in Mississippi, our racial boundaries that were unstated were that of staying with your own race. This was never verbally spoken, but it was an understood subject. On Saturday, my husband asked me to show him in the Bible where it was located as to the content concerning biracial relationships.
I studied for a minute and began to think about the history of my learning this and where it came from. I was unable to recall instances where the Bible was used, giving a verse that would support my decision.
After searching Saturday evening, Saturday night, most of the day Sunday and sitting down with my pastor Sunday night after church, I have come to the conclusion my decision, which was based on what I had thought was correct to be supported by the Bible, was incorrect! I have, for many years, stood firm on my Christian faith not knowing that biracial relationships were NEVER mentioned in the Bible! […]
As my Bible reads, there are 2 requirements for a marriage and race has nothing to do with either! All of the years I had “assumed” in my mind that I was correct, but have never taken the opportunity to research and find whether this was correct or incorrect until now.
As for the engaged couple, they have decided they won’t be getting married at the Booneville location, but the interaction certainly sparked a positive change in the owner of the venue.
(Read more at FaithWire)
While this article does provide a source-less response the question of “Is it OK to marry a Moabite?” of the blog post, it does not address the question as posed by today’s crowd. Specifically, it does not ask whether gay marriage is biblical.
You see, an allowance to marry inter-culturally does not mask the need to limit marriage to one man and one woman
As I searched for articles to buttress my views on people questioning intercultural marriage, I most often came upon articles questioning or providing secular support to same-sex marriage. And while there is no question that, at this time, there is full legal acceptance of same-sex marriage within the United States, there is also no question about the teachings of the Bible and Jesus on the matter.
Jesus calls marriage an institution between a man and a woman, but does not mention race or culture
To narrow down what the Bible says about marriage, why not start with what Jesus says?
But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10:5-9 NASB)
Had Jesus supported same-sex marriage (which was part of Greek culture of the time), He could have replaced “male and female” with “a couple.” Additionally, He spoke of the permanence of marriage by referring to the fact that men should not divide what God has put together. Therefore, unlike America’s model of marriage and divorce, Jesus mapped an institution of permanence. Nonetheless, in an area where most people spoke Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and other languages, nothing is mentioned forbidding cross-cultural marriage.
The text in Matthew presents somewhat a similar picture.
Jesus said, “He said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.” (Matthew 19:4-6 NASB)
However, in verses 8 and 9, Jesus makes allowances for the hard of heart. If your spouse commits adultery, you can divorce that spouse. However, this provision was provided for those who could not find it within themselves to forgive a cheating spouse. This was not a mandate. Additionally, being a Christian and not forgiving others could be a topic for another day. Nonetheless, the option of divorce was provided for adultery.
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
(Matthew 19:8-9 NASB)
Still nothing is mentioned forbidding cross-cultural marriage.
The New Testament calls for believers to marry within the faith
In 2 Corinthians, we are told to refrain from alliances with those who do not believe in Christ. This means no marriages with unbelievers, no business alliances, and no other pairings.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 NASB)
However, if believers of any race present themselves for marriage, they are qualified to marry as defined in the Bible.
On the other side of this overall debate on marriage, there are multiple verses within both the Old and New Testaments forbidding homosexual acts and behavior (e.g., Romans 1:24–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Leviticus 18:22; and a number of other passages). Therefore, there would be an equal prohibition against gay marriage by the Church.
God, in the Old Testament, specifically does not forbid interracial marriage, but does stand behind Moses as a prophet when he chose such a wife
In the case of Moses, after the death of his first wife, he married a Cushite (a woman from present-day Ethiopia).
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said,
“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord , shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?”
So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my Lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!”
(Numbers 12:1-12 NASB)
Although this account does not relate whether the second wife of Moses became a believer (although I will assume that she did, due to what God says in Deuteronomy 7:1-4), it does make clear that Moses married a woman of another culture and race. It also makes clear that God defended the decision of Moses to marry that woman even when Miriam and Aaron did not accept.
When God brought Moses to the edge of the Promised Land, God warned to not marry the unfaithful people who were in the land
As the People of God prepared to enter the Promised Land, God had at least one thing to say about marriage. And this word on marriage centered on how these unfaithful people might draw the people of God away from the true God.
When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. (Deuteronomy 7:1-4 NASB)
The reason that Israelites were not to intermarry was “they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods …”
When it comes to one famous Israelite and his former Moabite wife
In the case of one pair of King David’s and Jesus’ ancestors (Boaz and Ruth), the marriage between a prominent Israelite and a former Moabite was a gift from God for the following reasons:
- First, Ruth, the Moabitess, had accepted God as her God.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. (Ruth 1:16 NASB)
- Second, Ruth found that Boaz could be her kinsman-redeemer when her mother-in-law informed her of the possibility. Therefore, in that patriarchal society, Ruth had Boaz to redeem her (just as Christ redeems the believer).
Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. (Ruth 3:1-2 NASB)
- Third, after Ruth presented herself to Boaz, Boaz sought out a closer relative and got him to agree to let Boaz redeem Ruth.
Now Boaz went up to the gate and sat down there, and behold, the close relative of whom Boaz spoke was passing by, so he said, “Turn aside, friend, sit down here.” And he turned aside and sat down. So the closest relative said to Boaz, “Buy it for yourself.” And he removed his sandal. Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. (Ruth 4:1, 8-9 NASB)
- Everything was done by the book. Therefore, this marriage between one faithful Israelite and one former Moabite resulted in God’s will.
All the people who were in the court, and the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, both of whom built the house of Israel; and may you achieve wealth in Ephrathah and become famous in Bethlehem. Moreover, may your house be like the house of Perez whom Tamar bore to Judah, through the offspring which the Lord will give you by this young woman.” So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” (Ruth 4:11-15 NASB)
- First, Ruth, the Moabitess, had accepted God as her God.