What does the Bible say about interracial marriages?

Let me bring out a very important text: 2 Corinthians 6:14; "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers." That last word is the most important. Obviously following this advice, a Christian would not marry an atheist or a Jew or a Muslim, etc. But what about interracial marriage? Deuteronomy 7:1-6 tells the Israelites to destroy all the inhabitants of the Canaan land and not to intermarry with them. The reason given is that they would "turn your sons away from following Me, that they may serve other gods." 2 Corinthians 6:14 applies here.

Moses' wife was of another race and Aaron and Miriam were punished for criticizing Moses' interracial marriage. That story is recorded in Numbers 12:1-15. Everyone who reads the Bible will find the book of Ruth a delight. She is another foreigner who became part of the lineage of Christ, as did the harlot, Rahab, also of another nation. The lineage of Christ is given in Matthew 1 with mention of those names. Colossians 3:11 makes it clear that in Christ we are all one.

Okay, so what about interracial marriages here and now? From the Bible it seems clear that, when both are believers, it is not wrong. Certainly any couple contemplating marriage will want to prayerfully consider the impact their marriage will have on family and future children and be prepared for what potential problems may arise.

Marriages across racial and religious barriers are becoming more and more prevalent. Assuming two are of the same religion, there are still practical reasons for concern and much thought. Two adults can accommodate to the situation much better than their children who belong to both races, but from a very practical standpoint belong to neither race. All marriages have some stress.

Right after World War II, we had American servicemen bringing their foreign spouses of many races back to the United States, full of love and devotion, only to see the pressures of society drive them apart and send the unfortunate wife back to her native home.

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Some Bible passages negative toward "intertribal" marriage:

Deuteronomy 7

1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

2 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:

3 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.

4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.


Numbers 36

3 And if they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put to the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall it be taken from the lot of our inheritance.

4 And when the jubile of the children of Israel shall be, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereunto they are received: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers.

5 And Moses commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying, The tribe of the sons of Joseph hath said well.

6 This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.

7 So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.

8 And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers.

9 Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.


1 Kings 11

2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.


Nehemiah 13

25 And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.

26 Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.

27 Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?