Bible themes & marriage topics
Biblical passages used to
condemn interracial marriage:
Anti-miscegenationists -- persons opposed to interracial marriage -- come in
a variety of types:
- Some are simple racists -- most often white supremacists -- who
regard all non-whites as intrinsically inferior to all whites. Non-whites are often referred
to as the "mud" races.
- Others believe that God divided humans into different races and expected
them to remain separate from each other forever. 1
Many use verses and phrases from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures (Old and New
Testaments) to justify their ban on interracial marriage. In contrast, most
theologians have given these same passages a non-racial interpretation.
We use the King James Version of the Bible here for copyright reasons.
Some of the passages are:
- Genesis 28:1: "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan."
Anti-miscegenationists typically interpret this verse after assuming that the
Hebrews and Canaanites were of different races. Thus inter-marriage was
forbidden on racial grounds. However, growing archeological and DNA evidence has
revealed that the Hebrews originated as a sub-culture of Canaanites. Most
theologians believe that the
marriage prohibition in Genesis was grounded on a concern that the Hebrews
would adopt the Pagan polytheistic religious beliefs and practices of nearby tribes if they were to
marry outside of their culture. Thus the prohibition was based on religious, not racial differences.
- Leviticus 19:19: "Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind ..."
"Gender" is translated as "mate" or "breed" in other English
translations of the Bible. The term "kind" in the Bible can refer to a
of animal. However, creationists sometimes define "kind" as one created species
(e.g. a proto-horse) from which many types of closely related animals (e.g.
horse, zebra, donkey, perhaps even deer) developed. In this passage, the term "diverse kind" probably refers to
different breeds of cattle. Today, this
passage might refer to interbreeding of Holsteins
and Guernsey's. This verse is part of the Holiness Code that was
intended to keep behaviors of the Hebrews' different from that of the surrounding cultures.
Most Jewish and Christian theologians believe that the Code does not
apply to non-Jews.
- Deuteronomy 7:2-3: "And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before
thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no
covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages
with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter
shalt thou take unto thy son.
This is one of the passages in the Pentateuch -- the
first five books in the Bible -- in which God orders the ancient Hebrews to engage in
genocide against other tribes. They
were to kill every elder, adult, youth, child, infant and newborn from among the Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites,
and Perizzites without mercy.
Anti-miscegenationists typically regard this as racially-based. However, a near consensus of Christian theologians regard
this as religiously-based. God's concern appears to be that the Hebrews would
marry Pagan polytheists, adopt the religions of the neighboring tribes, abandon
worship of Yahweh, and become polytheistic.
- Deuteronomy 22:9: "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed
which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled."
The meaning of this verse is obscure in the King James Version. However, the New Living
Translation describes this prohibiting the sowing another species of
plant between the rows of grape bushes in a vineyard. If a farmer did this, he was
forbidden to make use of either crop. If this verse is to be interpreted
in terms of human mating, it would appear to refer to bestiality --
sexual behavior between a human and an animal. It appears to be unrelated to
- Deuteronomy 23:2: "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation
of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the
congregation of the LORD."
This verse is sometimes interpreted by anti-miscegenationists
as implying that the children of a mixed-race couple, and their
grandchildren etc., even onto the tenth generation, could not enter
the temple. There is a general consensus among theologians that this
passage refers to a child born outside of a marriage relationship,
regardless of the race(s) of its parents.
- Jeremiah 13:23: "Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a
leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have
always done evil."
At least one white supremacist group interprets this passage as implying
that one cannot start with a Black-White interracial couple and produce
White offspring. 2 However the clear sense of the verse appears to be that
if a person has habitually committed evil deeds, it is almost impossible for
them to change completely and start going only good.
- Acts 17:24-26: "God ... hath made of
one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath
determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation ..."
Because of their conservative Christian faith, essentially all anti-miscegenationists believe that
every human is a descendent
of Adam and Eve. However, they believe that at some point in history, God intentionally separated people
into different races, each in a different area of the world.
The trial judge in a famous interracial marriage case appropriately
titled "Loving v. Virginia" apparently agreed
that racial separation was God's will and that mankind must not reverse
that principle. He ignored the principle of
church and state as well as the equal protection clause in the U.S.
Constitution when finding the Loving family guilty of miscegenation. Part of his ruling stated:
"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red,
and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference
with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The
fact that he separated the races show that he did not intend for the
races to mix."
However, the phrase "bounds of their habitation" could well refer to
tribal and cultural rather than racial distinctions.
There are many passages in the Bible that have been used by anti-miscegenationists
to condemn interracial marriages. However most Christian and Jewish theologians
interpret these same verses as referring to inter-faith marriages. Other
passages refer to the Holiness Code of behavior that is generally believed to
apply only to Jews and is unrelated to marriage.
J.D. Self, author of an Internet site "Interracial Marriage is against God's
Law" concludes that God created the different races after the incident at the
Tower of Babel. Genesis records that at that time, humans showed their arrogance towards God by trying to build
a structure so tall that it would reach the firmament of Heaven.
At the time, the cultures in what is now the Middle East believed that a metal
dome above the Earth's surface separated Heaven and Earth. He
"God created the different races and dispersed them because of
man's arrogance. It is clearly evident that God purposely made the different
races. Does that mean that we hate each other? No. It does mean that was His
plan and we show our arrogance again in the face of God when we say: 'We know
You made the different races, God, but we have decided we don't like that and we
are going to try and have all the races intermarry again to get it back the way
it was because You messed it up God.' This is ultimate arrogance to God and His
plan. Pure arrogance in the face and to the plan of God."
An alternate interpretation of the Bible concludes that God loves human variety. If the stories in
Genesis are literally true, he created the human race with great diversity: two
sexes, many races, three sexual orientations, a range of heights and body
styles, hundreds of languages, etc. Interracial marriage often produces biracial
children who are different in skin color and features from both parents. This
increases human diversity even more. So,
perhaps interracial marriage has a positive value to God.
- J.D. Self, "Interracial Marriage is against God's Law," at:
http://allpointssouth.com/ On 2008-JUN-16, this account had been suspended.
- Ed. Fields, "Inter-Racial Dating, Inter-Racial Marriage, Judgement [sic]
Day," The Truth at Last, at: This is a white-supremacist organization that
refers to itself as a "White Patriot" group.
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-JUN-16
Latest update: 2008-JUN-16
Author: B.A. Robinson