Question: What does the Bible say about interracial marriages? Do Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13 teach that God’s people shouldn’t marry outside of their race. What about an office in the church? How does the church help such families?
Answer: Whether interracial couples are dating, or actually married; when they come to your church you should treat them like everyone else and make them feel welcome. They are human beings with feelings, just like you and I. God loves all the same. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) The important question is…are they saved or lost? The primary concern of the pastor should be their salvation. Forget counseling until they accept Christ as their Savior, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13). Trying to counsel the unsaved in spiritual things is difficult, as described in 1 Corinthians 2:14,
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned...”
If the interracial couple are already married and sincerely want to serve the Lord with your church, they should not be rejected. They will have enough rejection from others who are unsaved. If not married, I would surely point out the negatives they may encounter by such a marriage. Love blinds many to the truth of the hardships they or their children may have to face because of social prejudice. Should they want you to marry them, then you have to make the decision based on whether you think the marriage is in the best interest of both parties. These are not easy decisions for a pastor. Be kind, pray a lot, and go slow.
The only marriage restriction, Biblically, is that we are not to marry a saved person to an unsaved person.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, the restriction was concerning Israelites marrying heathen women who worshipped heathen idols and did not worship the God of Israel—strictly prohibited by Mosaic Law. (Deuteronomy 7:1-4; Ezra 9:1,2).
In Nehemiah, the restriction was against the Ammonites and Moabites for specific actions against the God of Israel and His people. (Nehemiah 13:1,2; Deuteronomy 23:3,4; Numbers 25:1,2). It had nothing to do with race; but, with God’s people (believers) uniting in marriage with the ungodly (unbelievers).
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
What about holding an office? In most Baptist churches, deacons are nominated; and then elected, or rejected, by a vote of the congregation. You do not alter the procedure because of a person’s nationality. This will be a real test of your deacons, congregation, and your leadership in this matter.
Galatians 3:28 and Acts 10:34 are God’s view concerning the races of people. Your responsibility is to the Lord and His word, which has precedence over someone else’s opinion. (Proverbs 29:25; Psalm 118:8,9; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Proverbs 3:5,6). This may be your opportunity to instruct your congregation as to God’s Word on the subject, in lieu of some adverse opinions.