Interracial Marriage & Minding Our Own Business

The Associated Press has reported that, “A tiny Appalachian church in Pike County [Kentucky] has voted to ban interracial couples from joining its flock, pitting members against each other in an argument over race.”

As I read the article, three things stood out to me which require attention from Scripture.

Nowhere in Scripture does God frown on interracial marriage. Some folks have badly misused passages from the Bible to condemn that which God does not condemn. For example, Ezra 9:2 says, For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” Guess what folks? The “holy race” is not white people or black people or yellow people or brown people. The holy race was Israel and what was holy about the race was not the color of their skin or distinctive features of their faces. What was holy about the people was their faith. And it was that faith that God didn’t want getting mixed and muddled with the pagan religions that were practiced by the peoples around Israel. God is concerned about maintaining the purity of the faith! Study these other passages on your own to see if this isn’t the truth (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4).

Second, no church has any business voting on what is acceptable or unacceptable belief or behavior. God has seen to that very well, thank you very much. If a thing is sin, he has said so in his Word. And if he has said a thing is sin, all the wishing and twisting and voting won’t make that go away. If he hasn’t said a thing is sin, that inherently gives people the freedom to make their own personal judgments about those things. People may disagree about what others should or should not do. They may even have some good reasons to believe as they do. But the church belongs to the Lord. It is his body, his church. You and I have no say in the matter as to what’s right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. The Bible says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). One lawgiver; one judge. That means there’s not two. That leaves me and you out.

And third, the church has no business having a “local governing conference”. It is God’s will that the local church be overseen by qualified men (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) whose primary responsibility is to see to the spiritual needs of the people they serve by shepherding their souls (Acts 20:28-32; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 5:1-5). That model has worked quite well every time it’s tried. Conventions, conferences and boards of directors will fail to serve the Lord and his church. They indeed are corruptions of God’s grand design to grow and mature the church.

Christians will do well, in every facet of their lives, to go to the Bible, God’s Word, and see what he has to say. If it’s not a problem with him, it shouldn’t be a problem with me.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Racists & The Rest of Us

Racist. It’s an ugly word and a stinging charge. Webster’s Dictionary defines racism as, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”. Unfortunately prejudice and racism are often viewed as synonymous. They are not. Prejudice, as the word obviously breaks down, is simply pre-judging a person, place or thing. That prejudgment may prove to be accurate or not. Prejudging is being too hasty. Racism is being hateful. The distrust, dislike and disdain some folks have for whole groups of society not like themselves is nothing new. People have been mistreating and misjudging each other ever since Cain clobbered Abel. But that doesn’t mean you and I have to be that way. Every man and woman, boy and girl who determines that they will personally treat all folks fairly moves society forward. How do we do that?

         See the image of God in each person. The Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Unlike God’s creation of animals and earth, the sun, moon and stars, God created people unique—in his image. That’s true of all people regardless of color, ethnicity or nationality. We all have God as our common denominator. “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God…” (Acts 17:26-27).

         Avoid stereotyping people. What is a typical white person? What is a typical black person? What is a typical Asian person? What is a typical Hispanic person? It is natural for all people to develop prejudices—prejudgments—about people, places and things with which they are unfamiliar. That happens when we process the information we receive and form an opinion before we have firsthand experience. While certainly imperfect there is nothing inherently evil in that. Sin comes in when we allow that prejudgment to lead us to think less of others and assume we know more than we do. The Bible says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26). Don’t project on people what you think you know about them.

         Make character count. Probably the most quoted line from Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “I Have A Dream” speech is this, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” That is the true measure of a person, isn’t it? To prefer the company of people because they look like you is shallow and silly. It is also self-defeating. What great friendships are undiscovered because people prefer sameness over goodness? Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).

         Get to know people. Now let’s be honest. Some people are mean and rotten. I don’t want to be friends with those people and I stand on solid ground. The Bible says, “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). That “bad company” is found in all races and nationalities. But there’s also a lot of good company out there in all races and nationalities. Once we let down our guards and get to know people we may find many of our prejudices fall by the wayside. And maybe that’s secretly what some people are afraid of. They not only have their prejudices, they prefer them. They’ve grown rather fond of their walls, makes them feel secure and superior. Those walls will also keep the people they enclose quite small and suspicious.

         Think for yourself. The Bible says, “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Don’t let others spoon feed you their poison. Not only is that unsafe, it is intellectually lazy. Believe what you believe because you have tested, weighed and thought things through.

         We will always have to deal with small-minded people. It’s the path of least resistance and it’s the path that many people choose to follow. But you and I can do better than that.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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