Interracial Relationships

In the Bible there are two main groups of people: Jews and Gentiles (anyone who is not a Jew.) The Jews, also known as the Israelites, became a nation during their captivity in Egypt:

And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. (Exodus 1:7)

As the account progresses through Exodus we read how Moses lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and how they wandered through the wilderness for forty years. During this time God gave the Israelites laws and commandments.  God also declared to them that they were His special chosen people:

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6)

The word "holy" means separate and the Israelites were instructed to keep themselves separate from the nations around them. This covered all aspects of life, including relationships. God did not permit them to have interracial relationships. Why?

The following passage explains:

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. (Exodus 34:14-17)

The emphasis here is on the instruction to worship only the one true God of heaven. This cause and effect reasoning asserts that if the children of Israel were to mingle with the nations around them and take wives, they were also in danger of turning to other gods. So the principle behind the commandment not to have interracial relationships, was to keep themselves pure in their worship of God. This Biblical principle threads its way throughout the Bible, but does it only apply to the Jews, who are special in God's eyes?

A quick glance at some New Testament verses sheds a different light on things:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34-35)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galations 3:28)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. (Romans 3:23, 29-30)

These New Testament scriptures paint quite a different picture of equality, in contrast to the elitism of Deuteronomy 7. So how do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory concepts?

As the historical account unfolds through the Bible we learn that the Jews did not keep God's commandments and went a whoring with the nations around them and worshiped their gods. Later they rejected both Jesus as their messiah, and the gospel message; the way of salvation was therefore offered to the Gentiles. The following passage from Acts comments on this, addressing the Jews:

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. (Acts 13:46-47)

Romans 11:11 explains how this had a dual purpose, that "through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy." So the intent is that God wants "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."(1 Timothy 2:4). We all have the opportunity to become God's special chosen people and one in Christ.

So then, if we are all now considered the same in God's eyes, interracial relationships are fully permitted? Not quite. Heb 10:1 states that the old law was "a shadow of good things to come" and so the same principles are carried through into the New Testament scriptures. It therefore follows that if we are now God's chosen special people, God expects the same from us, in principle, as He did the Jews under the old law. The children of Israel were told to be separate, or holy, as are we:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16)

We are to be holy or separate in all aspects of life, but from whom? Just like the children of Israel - from those who do not serve the same God of heaven. Jesus explains the reasoning behind this principle:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)

Just as Israel were told by God, in Exodus 34, not to go a whoring after the gods of the nations around them, so are we:

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)

A friendship with the world could be any person or thing that pulls us away from God. So we must be very careful in our relationship choices, whether they be friends or life-long partners. The Bible comments specifically on this:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)

Now that we can all be one in Christ, God is not concerned with where we come from or to which earthly race we belong. It is no longer a question whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, but rather whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, in God's eyes. The only interracial relationship that we are warned against is a union with the world, with unbelievers and things in our lives that can draw us away from God. All our relationship decisions should be based around and not hinder, the most important relationship in our lives: our relationship with our God.

The only way to further our relationship with God is by reading the Bible and understanding what it says.  Please apply for our Learn to Read the Bible Effectively Course so that you can learn more about God and His plan and purpose?

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