“If two Christians are seeking marriage, isn’t their unity in Christ greater than anything that divides them? Isn’t part of the beauty of the Church that God has called people from “all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9)? If this is part of the glory of the Church, then surely it is right and good that it be reflected in Christian marriages. The Bible nowhere condemns interracial or other “unequal” marriages, outside of a marriage between a believer and unbeliever. Furthermore, it nowhere promotes marriage between “equals” as the ideal.”
Greetings Mark. Thanks for writing and thanks for your thoughtful questions. I’ll take your points one by one.
1.) Yes, unity in Christ would be greater than anything that divides a man and wife. However, that doesn’t mean that therefore those other categories created and ordained by God are therefore unimportant. Unity in Christ between a Christian Princess from the House of Windsor as marrying a loin-clothed Christian Hottentot from the plains of South Africa still wouldn’t make such a marriage a wise marriage.
Think about it, if ‘unity in Christ is greater than anything that divides them,’ wouldn’t it follow that Christians should marry the first Christian they meet regardless of sex, age, current marital status, economic prospects, illness, disposition, assent, ad infinitum? After all, if being a Christian is the only criteria for a husband and/or wife the first Christian you come across should find you popping the question. I mean, all you need is unity in Christ.
2.) Emphasizing “Unity in Christ” the way you do so that such unity negates very real corporeal and class differences is suggestive of thinking in a Gnostic type fashion. It is as if you are saying that who God has created us to be in our culture, race, values, and classes are all insignificant if only there is “unity in Christ.” That is a very Gnostic way to reason. We are who we are because of how God has creationally and corporeally situated us. Unity in Christ doesn’t destroy or make irrelevant those categories. To think that “Unity in Christ” makes our creational categories insignificant or irrelevant as to deciding on whom to marry is to put one in the orbit of Gnosticism.
3.) Yes, part of the beauty of the Church is that God has called people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. However, it is my conviction from reading Scripture that He calls people from every tribe, tongue, and nation in their tribes, tongues, and nations. In other words, God’s church is comprised of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation but the church is not comprised of an aggregate of individuals from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Instead the Church is comprised as a confederacy of all tribes, tongues, and nations as people exist in those tribes, tongues, and nations. Marriage should normatively occur between two people from the same tribe, tongue, and nation resulting in covenant children who will add numerically to the elect among their tribe, tongue, and nation which belong to God.
4.) If God has called people in every tribe, tongue, and nation, is it really the case that God desires every distinct tribe, tongue, and nation to be amalgamated via marriage so that every tribe, tongue, and nation loses their God created and ordained distinctiveness? It is my conviction that Scripture does not allow us to believe that given how those very tribes, tongues, and nations in their distinct tribes, tongues, and nations are present in the New Jerusalem.
5.) God cast the nations asunder at Babel, so what right does any man have to suggest they should be reunited by a casual disregard for the tribes, tongues, and nations in which He has sovereignly placed us?
6.) As I said it is part of the glory of the Church. However, it is not part of the glory of the Church to slam together what God cast asunder. Christianity has never taught or sung along with John Lennon when he sang, “Imagine there are no countries. It isn’t hard to do.” And “no countries” is where your reasoning ends up as your Christianity eventually ends up in an amalgamated stew. Nations still exist in the New Jerusalem as Revelation repeats even into chapter 22. If we amalgamate then how can the “leaves of the trees be for the healing of the Nations” (Rev. 22:2)?
7.) The Bible may not explicitly condemn inter-racial marriage but allow me to point out that every example of godly marriage we have in scripture is between people of the same race or of a closely related ethnicity.
Among the line of Promise, Isaac married a cousin, Jacob married cousins. Judah’s marriage to a Caananite woman was a source of grief and his two eldest sons were so wicked that God slew them. Judah’s heir of promise ran through his offspring by his daughter-in-law Tamar. Joseph’s Egyptian wife raises questions as to whether she was a Hamite, but was likely Hyksos, a Semitic people.
Some will point to Nu 12 and Moses “Cushite” wife, but the woman in question was Zipporah, kindred Midianite, not an Ethiopian.
8.) The Bible nowhere explicitly condemns jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and yet God has given enough sense that people know that jumping out of airplanes without parachutes is not a good idea. In the same way 2000 years of Church history teaches me that inter-racial marriage is not normative and generally speaking, is not a good idea. A book you might want to consider buying here, in order to see how the Church has spoken on this issue for 2000 years is Achord & Dow’s “Who Is My Neighbor; An Anthology In Natural Relations.”
9.) The Bible does promote marriage as only for those with shared common ground. When the Bible says that Eve was a helpmeet suitable for Adam the idea communicated there is that she was a reflection … a mirror to Adam. This is why Adam could say… “She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” He said this because she was a mirror to him. So, the bible does promote, contrary to your statement, marriage as a reality that should occur as between two people who have a harmony of background and beginnings.
Thanks again Mark for writing.