Eleven years ago this summer, I fell deeply in love with a bespectacled young lady I spent four hours getting to know on a Greyhound bus.
It was a hot Tuesday afternoon–June 24, 1997 to be exact. The hot, 93-degree sun beamed down on me as I made my way to the Greyhound station in downtown Kalamazoo. I was tired, enfamished from all the packing I had done. School was out, and it was time to leave town to go home to Detroit to visit my folks. Amy–her name for the purpose of this discussion–was also getting ready to go on a long vacation back to her home in one of the New England states.
She was quiet, soft-spoken, a woman of very few words. So I thought. As I was getting in line to buy my personal pizza, she was also in line to get something to eat before our trip. Further conversation revealed that she was going my way.
She had a chip on her shoulder; she was clearly upset, and needed to let off a little steam about a few things that happened between her and the church I was currently attending.
Anyway, during the course of this bus ride, I found out she was intelligent, had this very soothing, very beautiful voice. For four of the most blissful, beautiful hours, she really opened up to me, and at one point was in tears.
By the end of that bus ride, one thing was clear: I was in love–I mean truly in love. Mind you I had happened to only see her around a few times before that. But there was one catch: Although we were both saved, born again Christians who clearly loved God–she happened to be white.
Although things are changing, there happens to be a taboo in many Christian circles against interracial dating. Although pastors–both black and white–preach that anyone against it is racist and prejudice–when that person’s son or daughter comes home with someone from a different race to bring to the dinner table–the entire dynamic changes. It’s almost like acknowledging that the crime rate in our city has tripled, but when it comes to building new prisons and okaying a millage to do that–guess what: “Not in MY backyard!”
It is the 900-pound gorilla in the room that no one in the Church wants to speak to, let alone talk about. But it won’t leave the room; it watches TV with us, it eats at our dinner tables each night. Like the realities of HIV and AIDS, it will not go away, it will not leave the Church until it is addressed within the church. In late 1998-early 1999, distinguished TV pastor the Rev. Dr. Frederick K.C. Price attempted to address the issue, but was met with all kinds of controversy within the church. Price openly took his former mentors to task, exposing them for teaching basically that interracial marriage had no place in the Church, that when considering Christian dating and marriage partners, they should stick to their own kind. In the past, Bob Jones University is at least rumoured to have had a long-standing ban on interracial dating.
This is so unfortunate, and it is not Biblical either. If you have any question about that, go to your Bible. Aaron and Miriam, when their brother, Pastor Moses, took a Cushite woman for his bride, complained. They were met with the Wrath of God, who turned them into lepers (Numbers 12:1-2). God was not concerned about their petty talk about who Moses should have married, or should not have married. It was not their business, and God was angry at them for putting their mouths on their new First Lady. In Scripture we are taught that Christ is the same “yesterday, today, and forever,” so that should give us a warning about harbouring a biased attitude on the issue today. When God blesses a brother and sister with a new bride, whether he/she is black, white, blue, green, or polka dot–we are to rejoice with them. Pure and simple. We are to keep our nose up out of their business, and worry about whether our own house is in order. Singles, take care of yourselves. You make sure you are dating and/or engaged to the man or woman God has in store for YOU.
And would you feel comfortable if you, being a black man or woman, if God told you your partner was white? Or Hispanic? Or Chinese? God may very well do this. To Him, there is “neither Greek nor Jew nor free nor bond, nor male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28). And also remember that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” That is why we should stop looking at the colour of each other’s skin, and instead look at the content of their character, as the late Dr. Martin Luther King once said. By limiting ourselves to one race, age group, skin tone, or socioeconomic status, we may miss the one who is really right for us.
Saints, hear my heart very carefully: There is no putting God in a box. For our Bible tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and our thoughts are not His. In fact, the Scripture bears out that His thoughts are even higher than our thoughts(Isaiah 55: 8-9). His ways are mysterious, and we cannot understand how God thinks. Just in case you think He has changed, check out our New Testament: Romans 11: 33 tells us that His ways are “past finding out.”
I do acknowledge the pitfalls of interracial marriage. It will prove to be drama for any kids to come out of such a union. Unfortunately, they will be teased and harassed in school. They will have to experience ignorant names like “zebra” and so on. And the world will be a difficult place for them, because neither race fully accepts them. Life is cruel like that.
However, does such taunting and being made to realise you are different invariably predispose you to failure? A thousand times no. Just ask Barack Obama. Just ask Alicia Keys, one of the best musicians and singers of our time. Or ask Mariah Carey, the famous singer. It is all in how the parents involved instill the notion that their children are somebody, just as capable of accomplishing something in life as anyone else.
But the two people involved must also be strong. Parents, siblings, and friends may decide to shun you because of your decision to accept a partner from the hand of God who happens to be from a different race. You must be ready to deal with it by being strong. If you believe God sent him or her to you, then you must stay prayed up and fasted up. You must remain strong in Him, knowing who you are–and Whose you are.
And if you are one of the people who are prejudiced against interracial couples, take heed lest God becomes displeased with you. Pray, ask for forgiveness, and ask the Holy Ghost to cleanse your heart. And if you are a pastor who preaches this sort of thing, get before God and repent. You are in the wrong. In James it says, “Be not many teachers, for you shall receive the greater condemnation.” You must teach Scripture correctly, and with a loving heart.
Prejudice and bias against other brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of how they are different from you, is not a sign of a loving heart. So please examine yourselves.