Thursday, November 05, 2009


I can't believe I'm writing on this subject. It's as if I've been transported back to the 1950's. But the subject has arisen because I heard the story of Keith Bardwell, the white Justice of the Peace in the southeastern part of Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana, who refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black. Then I heard that he's been refusing to marry interracial couples for years.

I read on another blog this statement..."According to Bardwell, when a couple phones him to request a marriage license and ceremony, he always asks first if the couple is interracial. If they are, his normal procedure is to immediately refuse to issue them a license or perform a ceremony, but refer them elsewhere. But Bardwell says he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, since no one has complained in the past and that his reasons are noble because he's worried about the future of children of an interracial union."

Bardwell said after the news broke "I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way." He also said he has "piles and piles" of black friends and has married many black couples. He has, he said, "even let them use my bathroom." That final statement does away with any mistaken notion that he might NOT be a racist. Of course he is.

Mary told me this morning she heard he has resigned. It's nice to start the day with good news.

So...I saw a post coming on because, while Bardwell said his reason for refusing to perfom racially mixed marriages was for the sake of the children, there are still those who say the scriptures forbid such marriages.
Well do they? Is it "unbiblical" to marry someone of another race and by implication then a violation of scripture for a minister to perform a wedding of such a union? [As I said, I can't believe I'm even having to address this in the present but here goes.]

Bibical passages used by Anti-Interracial marriage folks to prove their view.

Deuteronomy 7:3...I think in context one can see that the prohibition was for believer-unbeliever marriages much as when Solomon was judged for marrying, not simply foreign women, but foreign women who held to their false gods. In the Old Covenant a Gentile could convert to Judaism which shows it wasn't so much biological as it was the worship of One God thing.

Genesis 11...reveals the rebellion at the tower of Babel which resulted in people being scattered over the earth. Some Christians point to this event in an attempt to provide a basis for their arguments against so-called ‘interracial’ marriage. But is it? They believe that it is implied here that to keep the nations apart, God is declaring that people from different races can’t marry. However, there is no such indication in this passage that what is called ‘interracial marriage’ is condemned and the word 'race' is not present. And while, as someone has said..." because of this dispersion, and the resulting splitting of the gene pool, different cultures formed, with certain features becoming predominant within each group and some of these (skin colour, eye shape and so on) becoming general characteristics of each particular people group," the fact is, the word 'race' is NEVER found in the scriptures at all. I'll speak more of this later.

2 Corinthians 6:14... The "righteousness-unrighteousness" and the "light-darkness" in this verse makes it clear it is, in context, speaking of believer-unbeliever" and is not speaking of race at all in THE TEXT. [It takes eisegesis to find it there.]

I like the way someone I read said it.."If you have three choices and only one is unbiblical which is it? The choices are___1. Black believer and White believer___2. Black unbeliever and White unbeliever___3. White unbeliever and White believer. The answer is obvious—number 3 is unbiblical according to 2 Corinthians. It is not about 'race' at all." What a great illustration of the true biblical prohibition.

Biblical passages that support my view.

Acts 17:26..."This verse emphasizes that we are all related, as all humans are descendants of the first man, Adam. Even Jesus Christ was a descendant of Adam, being called the ‘last Adam’ as shown in 1 Corinthians 15:45." This is why the Gospel can be preached to all tribes and nations.

The Bible does not even use the word race in reference to differing groups of peoples anyway. It simply declares as seen here in Acts 17:26 that we are all of ‘one blood’. This of course emphasizes that we are all related as human beings. All human beings in the world today are classified as Homo Sapiens now that science has caught up to the truth of Acts 17:26.

Scientists today [Since the rise of a genetics emphasis beginning in the 1940s.] admit that, biologically, there really is only one race of humans. For instance, a scientist [Robert Lee Hotz] at the Advancement of Science Convention in Atlanta stated, "Race is a social construct derived mainly from perceptions conditioned by events of recorded history, and it has no basic biological reality." Hotz went on to say that ‘Curiously enough, the idea comes very close to being of American manufacture." I don't know about that but the first part of his statement I agree with completely.

Galatians 3:28 settles it for me when it shows that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile [among others] but all are one in Christ. So to prohibit a marriage on the basis of the color of skin [Let's admit that that is the only reason it's happening really.] is about as prejudicial as anything that could be embraced. The idea of "race" has to be introduced to the bible because it is not there on it's own.

The arguments are always presented by the Anti -group "But would you want your children to marry one of a different race." My answer is as long as he or she is marrying a human being they're not. They would be marrying within differing peoples groups admitedly. But personally I wouldn't have any problem with marrying within differing peoples groups by my immediate family at all. None whatsoever.

I've had so called "Interracial" couples in the churches I've pastored for many years now and some have served as deacons. Quite well I might add. I've also performed marriages with differing peoples groups [Black, white and otherwise even intermixed.] and have not the slightest hesitation to do so biblically. I've never worried one minute about the color of the wedding party's tuxes, dresses, OR skin.

The anti-group goes on to say, as did the Justice of the Peace that started this whole post, "what about the children?" My answer is It's always hard for children in ANY culture especially if they are raised to be believers and, in fact, become believers. But good nurturing can always insulate against whatever problems children face if parents have learned to face difficulties in a biblical fashion and pass that on.

This whole argument is silly anyway. Were you to carry it to it's logical absurdity, you would not want an Okie to marry a Texan because of the problems the children would face given the superiority of the Okie brought into the marriage and the ridicule other children would create because that child had a Texan as a father.
[Just kidding.]

In conclusion and in seriousness... I have to agree with Ken Ham when he said..."The church could greatly relieve the tensions over racism (particularly in countries like America), if only the leaders would teach that: all people are descended from one man and woman; [IE that 'race' is no longer a valid distinction between homo sapiens] all people are equal before God; all are sinners in need of salvation; all need to build their thinking on God’s Word and judge all their cultural aspects accordingly; all need to be one in Christ and put an end to their rebellion against their Creator." I would add to teach that in the New covenant there is no race either.

As John Fogerty's new song title says..."Don't you wish it were true!!" in regards to the leaders teaching that, I sure do.

Paul B.


Tim G said...

You have dealt with this subject well. I have had mixed marriages in churches before (in the DEEP SOUTH). Culturally it is tough, but in the church we saw NO issues due to the Biblical command to love and grow (though I am sure some where not happy about it). Funny how we forget the simple fact that we all are offsprings of Adam and Eve! I loved that line!

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for weighing in.

I am convinced that the entire concept of 'race' is not a biological reality but is only a handy way of describing differences socially and culturally which is read into the text of scriptures. It IS a fact that EVERY blood type is found in every peoples group in every geographical location. That's significant to me.

Paul Burleson said...


I thought of this quote from a noted Scientist who is a Christian after I posted my previous comment. He said..."As a result of Darwinian evolution, many people started thinking in terms of the different people groups around the world representing different ‘races,’ but within the context of evolutionary philosophy. This has resulted in many people today, consciously or unconsciously, having ingrained prejudices against certain other groups of people."

What a hoot. Christians who are racists are following the Darwin evolutionary philosophy of life rather than a biblical one. Who woulda thunk such.

Aussie John said...


Who'da thunk it! I heard that the US was experimenting with time travel. So! You guys succeeded??

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Looks like it. :)

Strider said...

Growing up in the Air Force- my dad was a pilot for the first 18 years of my life- I thought racism was something from our history books until I moved to Texas. I railed against it there among my friends.

I did have an interesting experience as a pastor in West Virginia once though. It seems that a bunch of girls in a town to the south of us started dating young black men. I did condemn this as evil as the girls were not genuinely interested in the men. They were just using them to make their parents furious- which they did! I made it clear that the issue here was not race but one of using someone to get back at someone else. That is always wrong. Anyway, it was ironic for me to be the one in the position of correcting those girls after all I had taught on race relations!

Paul Burleson said...


Thanks for the personal story. Interesting.

I must confess I grew up in the poor section of Okla City and was never even aware of racial hatred until I was in Highschool in 1958. [I was not politically astute and had little frame of reference except my neighborhood. On top of that I was kinda stupid about some things.]

That year I was Student Council President for the entire city's school system and had a meeting with all officers which included the two from all black Douglas High school.

We were meeting at a nice cafe [about 15 of us] at noon and a table full of white ladies next to us got up to move. It was because they didn't like the two black young people with us. I found out later they had even asked the manager to remove them.

I saw them move and got so angry I asked our group to move to the table next to where they had moved. You get the picture.

The two Douglas students asked us not to and I asked them why not. Their answer was they [the Douglas students] respected US too much to cause a scene.

So the ones hated kept me from doing an act of revenge because they had a love that transcended any color of skin.

Boy it's fun remembering those early lessons.

Aussie John said...


I'm often amazed at the similarities between us (your first paragraph).

I grew up where there were many Australian Aboriginal people, I played with them, went to school with them, ate with them,and had several as close friends.

I knew they were much darker than I but never really took any notice of it. Neither did my friends.

I think it was in the late fifties that some Black Power fellows came from USA to Australia and had meetings with Aboriginal folk, amongst them some of my friends. From then on my friends were no longer friends.

At the time I didn't understand why I was being shunned.

There was a lot of good came out of those days, as both white and black Australians began to realize that we were all human being together.

ActivistArtistA said...

Aussie, thanks for making the point of "reverse," discrimination. It's a shame but it comes and goes both way's. Saddest of all is that not all "Homo-Sapiens" , as Paul mentioned, are perceived as equal and same-- and at liberty to marry, the GLBT community in the US is still fighting to be part of this wonderful and beautiful state of marriage which is being denied them. I guess they will have to go through the separate but equal stage like the African-American community went through before being deemed--equal in God's eyes! Until then, let's open our bathroom doors to our kin, if not our hearts!