Ezra 9:1-15 NIV
Ezra’s Prayer About Intermarriage
1After these things had been done, the leaders came to and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
3When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled.4Then everyone who trembled at The Words of The GOD of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice.
5Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to The Lord my GOD 6and prayed:
“I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. 7From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today.
8“But now, for a brief moment, The Lord our GOD Has Been Gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm placea in His Sanctuary, and so our GOD Gives Light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9Though we are slaves, our GOD Has Not Forsaken us in our bondage. HE Has Shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: HE Has Granted us new life to rebuild the House of our GOD and repair its ruins, and HE Has Given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
10“But now, our GOD, what can we say after this? For we have forsaken the Commands 11YOU Gave through YOUR servants the prophets when YOU Said: ‘The land you are entering to possess is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. 12 Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them at any time, that you may be strong and eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance.’
13“What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our GOD, YOU Have Punished us less than our sins deserved and Have Given us a remnant like this. 14 Shall we then break YOUR Commands again and intermarry with the peoples who commit such detestable practices? Would YOU Not Be Angry enough with us to destroy us, Leaving us no remnant or survivor? 15Lord, The GOD of Israel, YOU Are Righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are Before YOU in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in YOUR Presence.”
What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?
The Old Testament Law commanded the Israelites not to engage in interracial marriage.
“You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following ME, to serve other gods. Then the Anger of The Would Be Kindled Against you, and HE Would Destroy you quickly”.
However, the reason for this was not primarily racial in nature. Rather, it was religious. The reason GOD Commanded against interracial marriage was that people of other races were idolaters and worshipers of false gods. The Israelites would be led astray from GOD if they intermarried with idol worshipers, pagans, or heathens.
A similar principle is laid out in the New Testament, but at a much different level: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Just as the Israelites (i.e. believers in the One True GOD, JEHOVAH) were commanded not to marry idolaters, so Christians (i.e. believers in the One True GOD, JEHOVAH and JESUS CHRIST) are commanded not to marry unbelievers. To answer this question specifically, no, the Bible does not say that interracial marriage is wrong.
As Martin Luther King noted, a person should be judged by his or her character, not by skin color. There is no place in the life of the Christian for favoritism based on race (James 2:1-10). When selecting a mate, a Christian should always first find out if the potential spouse is born again by faith in JESUS CHRIST (John 3:3-5). Faith in CHRIST, not skin color, is the biblical standard for choosing a spouse.
Interracial marriage is not a matter of right or wrong, but of wisdom, discernment, and prayer.
The only reason interracial marriage should be considered carefully is the difficulties a mixed-race couple may experience because of others who have a hard time accepting them. Many interracial couples experience discrimination and ridicule, sometimes even from their own families.
Some interracial couples experience difficulties when their children have skin tones of different shades from the parents and/or siblings. An interracial couple needs to take these things into consideration and be prepared for them, should they decide to marry. Again, though, the only biblical restriction placed on whom a Christian may marry is whether the other person is a member of the Body of CHRIST.