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Does God allow interracial marriage?

by Stephen Davey

Brenda from Virginia asked: If the Lord forbids marriage with foreign women, why is it allowed here?

Thank you for your question, Brenda.

Your question is part of one of the most nuanced elements of theological study in the Bible: what parts of the Old Testament Law was strictly for the Israelites, and how much of the Old Testament Law applies to believers today?

You are right in your identification of the Lord’s restrictions on marriage for Israel. Deuteronomy 7:3–4 says this:

"You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly."

But it's clear in this command what God is concerned with. The issue is not one of race, but rather loyalty to God. God's concern with his people marrying foreigners was not because they were foreigners, but because they would influence Israel with their foreign false gods.

The issue of whom the people of Israel could marry was an issue of faith, not of race.

You'll remember in the book of Joshua that Rahab had faith in God and she protected the Israelite men who came to spy on the land. Even though she was a foreigner, she became part of the community and married a man from the tribe of Judah.

Rahab's son was Boaz, who married Ruth—another foreigner.

Both of these foreign women became part of the Hebrew community and are in the family lineage of Jesus Himself!

There are no racial restrictions on whom a person can marry. God does require that Christians marry other Christians. He does not want His people to be unevenly yoked with unbelievers (2Corinthians 6:14). But believers from different nations, cultures and races are free to marry.

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