In 1991, Spike Lee directed a film, titled, "Jungle Fever." If you have never heard the phrase, typically it is used when a white, or Anglo, woman is attracted to or has a relationship with an African-American, or black, male. Lee's film, in part, examined both some of the joys and difficulties of having a relationship interracially. While I do not remember all the details of the film enough to recommend it, the topic of interracial relationships, or more particularly - interracial marriage, is extremely important to me because I am in an interracial (or cross-ethnic) marriage. And while I do not think much of it, there are plenty of others who do, both inside and outside the church.
Consider, for example, the somewhat recent Cheerios commercial
. It caused quite an uproar. While many people did not mind it and thought it was quite progressive reflecting our cultural climate, others were extremely offended. In commenting on the video, some said,
"Ban cheerios or never put that sick commercial on again. Listen to the public people [who] don't want to see that [stuff]...it's bad enough to see that trash [stuff] in public. You don't want to see that on Tv."
"Race mixing = demographic genocide."
"Excellent commercial. It shows cheerios is aware of the reality of our social climate, it also celebrates social equality. The people who are lashing out at this video are stuck in their own pitiful little bubbles..."
"It's a n***** sleeping with...white trash, calm down."
I do not share those comments to purposefully offend you, but as I shared, this is of particular importance to me because I am in an interracial marriage. Moreover, this not only affects my wife and me, it will also affect our children, but not simply because they are mixed ethnically but because it is highly probable they will be in an interracial marriage. That is, unless they marry someone who is part African-American, English, Native American, and Filipino. (As an aside, four of the five families currently attending my church plant Bible study
are in interracial marriages. I am sure they have pondered some of these issues as well).
I recall one of my mother's responses when I shared that I was in a relationship moving toward marriage. "Is she black?" my mother asked. My beloved father-in-law told me, when I asked for his daughter's hand in marriage, that he envisioned having a Filipino son-in-law. Despite such initial interactions, however, my father-in-law is one of my greatest supporters now and I count him an extremely close friend. Furthermore, my mother loves my wife and treats her as her own daughter.
What about inside the church?
When I searched, "interracial relationships names" on Google, this blog
was on the front page. I did not read the content, but I did read some of the comments.
"Thank you for this explanation. Today I have to tell my father that the love of my life is black. My father claims to be a good southern Baptist, however, racism still boils within him. One thing is true though...he never argues with the scripture. I am printing this article to share with him so that I am well prepared."
"Thank you so much for this. I am having to face family that don't believe in interracial relationships, yet claim to be Christian. The love I have waited a lifetime for is...a very well educated, respectful black man."
"God is not the Author of confusion, and I can assure you that one who gets involved in interracial relationships will have plenty of confusion going on. Interracial relationships hurt a lot of people, and divides families. Especially in the south. Most folks who get involved in these types of things are just stubborn and rebellious, For heavens sake parents need to take the role of being parents, set some standards for their children and give them the facts of life."
I have no way of validating whether those writing these comments are Christian or their families; nevertheless, the realities today surrounding the various arguments for or against interracial marriage in the church are alive and well. Search Google and you will find some of the historic and present realities of some peoples' views on interracial marriage within the church.
As I did a bit more bouncing around the internet, I found a Q & A section of the OPC website where one of its members answered a question about interracial marriage. It was a delightful response, one for which I am thankful. The question was, "Is interracial marriage sinful?" More particularly, someone wrote, "I have noticed a recent influx of online discussions in supposedly reformed groups saying that interracial marriages are a sin. I believe they considered themselves "kinists." What is the history of this doctrine? Would the OPC consider it heresy, or just bad theology."
The response is a beautiful one. You can read it here
So what do we do?
I am not convinced interracial marriage is sin. Since there are those who believe it is, provided I am right, we definitely need to pray for them. It might be a shock to hear this type of prayer in the pastoral prayer on Sunday or even in a small group Bible study, but I believe we need to pray for those who differ wherever we pray. And remember, God changes hearts according to his will and he is sovereign over all that takes place, both inside and outside the church.