Interracial Dating

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Does the Bible permit or forbid interracial dating and marriage? Were the ancient Israelites racially "pure" when they left Egyptian bondage? Did God warn them to not intermix with or marry anyone of another nation (Egyptians, Philistines, Hittites, Amorites, etc.) in order to maintain this purity? This short article will examine a few of the assumptions and conclusions made by those who firmly believe God does not approve of interracial "mixing."

A matter of purity

Perhaps the greatest assumption made by those who thunder that interracial dating is wrong is that the Israelites had a "pure" heredity which God wanted them to maintain. The Bible shows, however, that the group who left Egyptian bondage was anything but pure genetically.

Joseph is one of the many sons of Jacob (renamed Israel). Brothers who are envious of him sell him into slavery at an early age. After a period of several trials, God blesses him with the responsibility of overseeing all of Egypt in order to save the entire family from a famine. He marries an Egyptian woman and produces two sons named Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 46:20). Was Joseph's 'interracial marriage' against the will of God? Was he and his family considered not true Israelites and rejected?

Before his death, the patriarch Jacob not only specially "adopts" Joseph's two boys and makes them the chief inheritors of the birthright blessings received by his grandfather Abraham, he gives them the blessing of representing the family name ISRAEL (see Genesis 48)! At the time of the Exodus there were more than 32,000 fighting men in the tribe of Manasseh and 40,500 males able to fight from Ephraim's tribe (Numbers 1:33 - 35).

Some who study the topics of dating and interracial relationships in the Bible often overlook the fact that God did not restrict who could and could not leave Egypt in the Exodus. Scripture states, "also a mixed multitude went up with them" (Exodus 12:37), meaning that MANY non-Israelites (Egyptians, people from various countries who were also slaves, etc.) left Egypt under the leadership of Moses. It was to this mass of people that God gave instructions some have mistakenly used as "proof text" to show that interracial relationships are a sin.

What does Scripture say about slavery?
What does Scripture say about courtship?
Does the Bible teach against arranged marriages?

The Exodus command

The 34th chapter of Exodus delineates the creation of a second set of stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The first set was broken by Moses when, as he was coming down Mount Sinai, he saw the Israelites worshipping a pagan god (Exodus 32). The chapter also records a warning, directly from God, that is interpreted by some as FORBIDDING dating and matrimony outside of one's race. A careful reading of the pertinent verses, however, shows that this interpretation is incorrect.

12. Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the people of the land where you go (the Promised Land the Israelites were to inherit), lest it be for a snare . . . 14. For you shall worship no other god . . . 15. Lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go whoring after their gods . . . 16. And lest you take from their daughters for your sons (marriages), and their daughters go whoring after THEIR gods and make your sons go whoring after THEIR gods (Exodus 34:12, 14-16, HBFV)

To whom is God giving the above warning? To all those who he led out of Egypt, a great mass descended not only from Jacob (Israel) but also from other peoples and nations (Exodus 12:37). What does the warning concern? It concerns marriages between those who will enter the Promised Land with those already living in the area. Why is the warning given? Notice that "interracial" relationships for their own sake are the focus of the passage. The warning is given to keep those who worship the true God from being led astray to worship FALSE deities by their pagan mates (". . . and make your sons go whoring after THEIR gods" - Exodus 34:16)!

God is not forbidding interRACIAL dating and marriage in an attempt to keep the people racially pure (which they were not, as discussed above). He was warning against interRELIGIOUS matrimony, meaning marriages between those who believe and follow HIM with those who do not!

In conclusion

In the eyes of God, not man, all humans are of "one blood" (Acts 17:26). We are all descendants of Adam and Noah. In the strictest sense, there is only one race that exists - the human race. The Bible does not forbid what man defines as interracial dating or marriage.

Additional Study Materials
What does God's word say about racism?
Are there only THREE races of man?
How can the marriage bed be DEFILED?
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