Throughout my formative years as a budding racially-conscious Christian, I tried to reason through the question of the morality of racial intermarriage. Like many Christians from an evangelical background, it was difficult for me to accept that something could be wrong without an express and specific condemnation of the practice in Scripture. To condemn something that the Bible did not was the essence of legalism, and this was routinely condemned as the worst of sins, since it added to God’s Word and distracted from God’s grace. For the record, I certainly believe that legalism is definitely wrong, and I believe that we should make a concerted effort to promote true Christian liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. While I reject legalism, I believe that antinomianism or the anything-goes mentality is also wrong a serious problem that Christians grapple with today.
As I was formulating my opinions on race and other important social concerns, miscegenation still did not sit well with me. At the very least, there was something that seemed odd about racially mixed relationships and marriages. One thing I learned as I was becoming cognizant of the perils of white folks is our declining demographics. By this century’s end, we will soon become almost non-existent, even in places in which our ancestors have dwelt for centuries, if current trends continue. This is true in North America as well as in Europe. Intermarriage with non-whites only accelerates this process and hastens our demise as a people. The fact that the Bible teaches that ethnic and racial identity is a positive attribute of our identity led me to continue questioning the practice. Add to this the fact that most of our ancestors seemed to have historically been opposed to race-mixing, which opposition continued until very recently. Can we as Christians make a credible claim to obeying the commandment to honor our parents while simultaneously condemning their opposition to miscegenation as nothing more than the remnants of a more “racist” and “intolerant” era than the one we live in now?
Still, while these considerations predisposed me to believe that miscegenation was contrary to God’s design, I remained uncommitted for some time as to the exact nature of the morality of miscegenation. Over time, I have developed my own thesis on the morality of miscegenation, which I formulated during discussions with Christians who were both in agreement and disagreement with the kinist approach. My approach is slightly different from the approach that Nil Desperandum takes in his excellent essay, On Interracial Marriage: The Moral Status of Miscegenation. Those reading this brief essay should not consider my argument to be in opposition to Nil’s view. To the contrary, I assent wholeheartedly to the positions that Nil takes. This should simply be considered an adjunct to the issues and arguments that Nil brings up while discussing the important topic of miscegenation.
Over the course of many discussions with both proponents and opponents of miscegenation, I noticed that many of those who support miscegenation almost always point out that there is no single verse which either establishes that miscegenation is wrong or provides an exact hereditary distance that is sinful to cross by marriage. Many of our adversaries and friendly opponents wax triumphant at this point, noting that kinism simply seems to be steeped in legalism, making a rule where none exists in God’s law. This is a serious charge indeed, and it needs to be confronted. While this typical alienist tactic seems strong when initially encountered, its perceived strength is merely superficial.
This argument is similar to typical Baptist arguments against infant baptism. Baptists argue that because there is no explicit verse in the Bible, especially in the New Testament, then infants should not be baptized. What this argument misses is that the argument in favor of infant baptism is a very strong inferential argument. Far from ignoring what the Bible teaches, those who endorse infant baptism apply principles that are clearly taught in many specific passages. This particular argument against miscegenation works the same way, and it closely parallels the inferential argument Christ used in a confrontation with the Pharisees.
Christ Confounds the Pharisees’ Argument for Divorce
Throughout Christ’s ministry, the Pharisees were in a panic. They correctly perceived Him as a threat to their own power and influence over the Hebrews. Many of them ostensibly hated their Roman overlords and wanted to reestablish an independent Israel, but they maliciously made the ultimate betrayal by swearing an oath of loyalty to Caesar in order to secure Christ’s crucifixion (John 19:15). Their encounters with Christ were attempts to stump Him with legal and theological questions. The question with which we are particularly concerned is their question on divorce.1
First, the Pharisees ask Christ if divorce is permissible: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (v. 3). Jesus responds, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (vv. 4-6). Jesus cites Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Notice that the verse which Jesus cites contains no express prohibition of divorce. There is no “thou shalt not divorce” statement to be found here. The case that Jesus makes is inferential. He is inferring a meaning from the text that agrees with the spirit of what is written. To clarify, Jesus is not reading something into the text that is not already inherent there; the same inference could have been made by anyone else. His case is strong, compelling, and in agreement with what God inspired through Moses.
Christ points out that marriage is something instituted by God. God created Adam and gave him Eve as his wife. Since marriage is a divine institution as old as humanity itself, then humanity has no right to dissolve or alter the nature of marriage. Christ views the marriage of Adam and Eve as archetypal; it thus serves as the foundation upon which subsequent marriages should be based. Christ reasons that since God had created Eve for Adam and inseparably joined them for life, so too should all marriages be lifelong. The Pharisees’ legalism here led them to interpret the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit. If God joins a couple together in matrimony, then even the self-righteous Pharisees have no legal basis for rending this union asunder.
The Pharisees do not attempt to dispute the logic that Christ had used to argue for the indissolubility of marriage, because they cannot. Instead, they jump to another passage of the Bible that seems to justify their own perspective on the permissibility of divorce. In a classic case of proof-texting, the Pharisees ask: “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?” (v. 7). The reason that this constitutes proof-texting is because the Pharisees have cited a verse which permits divorce without taking its context or qualifications into account. The verse they cite is Deuteronomy 24:1, which states: “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” Jesus responds to their mishandling of Scripture: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (vv. 8 and 9).
Jesus acknowledges that Moses had indeed permitted divorce because of the hardness of the people’s hearts. However, He again refers back to Genesis 2:24 when He states, “from the beginning it was not so.” This demonstrates that Jesus considered the creation of man and woman and their permanent joining together as husband and wife to be normative, such that any later developments were to be a mere accommodation to less-than-ideal circumstances. Jesus also clarifies for us the meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1 when He says that it is adultery to divorce and remarry, “except it be for fornication.” The Pharisees ignored the fact that while Moses did permit divorce and remarriage in Deuteronomy 24, the reason that a wife would find no favor in her husband’s eyes was because “he hath found some uncleanness in her.”
To a legalistic Pharisee, “uncleanness” could mean just about anything if we consult extant rabbinic writings in the time of Jesus. Jesus states in no uncertain terms that the uncleanness to which Moses refers strictly involves illicit sexual intercourse which dissolves the marriage bond. Although God never intends for divorce, He allows it as an accommodation when grievous sin has been committed. Even when one spouse commits adultery, it is still better to reconcile than to allow the marriage to end. This can easily be discerned in the example of Hosea, whom God tells to reconcile with his adulterous wife Gomer as an example of how God reconciles with Israel, even though Israel had gone whoring after heathen gods. The reconciliation of an estranged married couple is a wonderful testament to Christian charity and a demonstration to the unbelieving world of God’s love and compassion for erring sinners. Even when divorce and remarriage does happen to be permissible, we miss out on a magnificent opportunity to demonstrate our faith to nonbelievers.
Relevance to the Issue of Miscegenation
At this point, many might be thinking, “Great, you’ve outlined the classic Christian argument against divorce and remarriage, but what does this have to do with miscegenation? Isn’t that what you are supposed to be writing about?” The reason I invoke this passage is because, over the course of several discussions, I have noticed how alienist arguments in favor of miscegenation often parallel the dubious argument that the Pharisees used to argue in favor of divorce and remarriage. We are conditioned to think of legalism, such as the Pharisees represented, as something that prohibits what should otherwise be permitted, only taking into account explicit Bible passages. Thus, kinists who oppose miscegenation are often labeled as legalists or Pharisees. The reality is that legalism can cut both ways. Legalism can indeed argue that something should be forbidden which in reality should be allowed. A good example of this is the prohibition of alcohol amongst the teetotalists. However, legalism can often use crafty legal arguments to argue that something should be permitted which should generally be forbidden. (Think of a lawyer who uses a legal loophole to exonerate a dubious client.) I believe that most arguments that alienists use to promote the general permissibility of miscegenation are of this variety of legalism.
We can easily use the same kind of argument that Christ used against the Pharisees of His day to dispel the alienist arguments of our day. The alienist begins by asking the kinist if there is any objection to a Christian marrying someone outside of his race or ethnicity. The alienist, like the Pharisee centuries before, is looking for a word-for-word condemnation in God’s law of the practice that he seeks to permit. Like Christ, however, kinists do not need to give the alienists an exact Bible verse to prove our case. Instead, we can refer back to Adam and Eve as the archetypal marriage, the same way that Christ did when the Pharisees confronted him.
When God created Adam, He noted that it was not good for the man to remain alone. God decided to create a helpmeet for him. Out of Adam’s rib, God created woman and presented her to her husband, Adam. Adam commented upon meeting his wife: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). Adam’s declaration is significant because of the way this expression of a “bone and flesh” relationship is used in the rest of the Bible. One cardinal rule of interpretation is to always interpret Scripture by Scripture. Whatever we think that “bone and flesh” might mean, it is important to allow its usage in the Bible to dictate its meaning.
Many people argue that there is only one race, the human race, since all are descended from the first couple of Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:20; Acts 17:26a). While it is true that all humans share a common origin, it is not true that there are not meaningful distinctions within humanity. The Apostle Paul acknowledges this very fact even as he asserts our common origin in Adam. He states that God has made from “one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). The word nation is rendered from the Greek word ethnos, from which we derive our concept of ethnicity. Therefore, it should be clear that Paul is referring to nations as peoples who are distinguished by heredity, and not to simple geo-political entities. This is a modern-day corruption of the original meaning of the word “nation.” So, when the Bible uses the idiom “bone and flesh,” is it referring to the universal descent all possess from the first man? Or is it referring to some sort of subsidiary ethnic relationship? To determine this, we must look at how this idiom is used elsewhere in the Bible.
Since the first place that the bone-and-flesh idiom appears is with regards to Adam and Eve, and this couple is the source of humanity, many people might think that this expression has no ethnic significance. But this expression does have racial and ethnic significance. It is consistently used to express a close hereditary relationship, often between close family members. It is also used to communicate a broader kinship as well, but never extends beyond ethnic distinctions. Laban uses this phrase to articulate his relationship with his nephew Jacob (Gen. 29:14). This was significant, for Jacob was commanded by his parents to seek out someone from among their relations to marry, and was specifically commanded not to marry someone from among the Canaanites. Laban assures Jacob that they are kin using the expression “bone and flesh.” Laban’s comment would have been utterly nonsensical if “bone and flesh” were understood merely to denote a common humanity. Obviously, Laban was not suggesting that the Canaanites were not human, only that they were not kin to Jacob in the way that Laban and his family were kin.
The bone-and-flesh paradigm is also used to establish the principle of kin-rule. God tells the Israelites only to allow a brother as opposed to a stranger to rule over them (Deut. 17:15). How did the Israelites interpret this law? They knew that someone who ruled over them had to be a member of their ethnic nation. When the Israelites consecrated David as their king, they exclaimed: “Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh” (2 Sam. 5:1; see also 1 Chr. 11:1). King David was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah, who was promised that the royal scepter would never depart from his tribe (Gen. 49:10). Christ is the archetypal ruler and is also a descendant of the tribe of Judah. One of Christ’s prominent titles throughout the New Testament is “son of David.” This shows that King David is an Old Testament type fulfilled in Christ. King David is presented as an archetypal ruler in the same way that Adam and Eve are presented as the archetypal marriage. Thus we can see that being of the same bone and flesh is precisely what Moses had in mind when he commanded that the Israelites take a king from among their brethren in Deut. 17:15.
Just as the marriage of Adam and Eve serves as our example of what constitutes marriage, King David provides us with a firm example of what constitutes biblical civil government. In the same way that Jesus appealed to the nature of the marriage between Adam and Eve in his dispute with the Pharisees to argue for the indissolubility of marriage, so too should we make a similar appeal in our disputes with the alienists. When Adam comments that Eve was of the same “bone and flesh,” he is providing us with an aspect of what “helpmeet” means. God states that He will create a helpmeet for Adam, and presents him with a woman of his own bone and flesh; hence, of his own ethnicity. Therefore, we can be safe in concluding that this should be a normative aspect of all marriages. I am certainly not the first to employ this rationale. Many other Christians before me have arrived at this conclusion as well. R.J. Rushdoony writes:
Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and woman in the reflected image of God in man, and from man (I Cor. 11:1-12; Gen. 2:18, 21-23). “Helpmeet” means a reflection or mirror, an image of man, indicating that a woman must have something religiously and culturally in common with her husband. The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.2
It should be apparent that the alienists of our time treat the issue of miscegenation in the same way that the Pharisees of Christ’s time approached the issue of divorce. The Pharisees capitalized on the fact that there is no clear prohibition of divorce in the Mosaic law, and affirmed that divorce was permissible on the basis of the case law in Deut. 24:1. Christ clearly reproved the Pharisees’ tortured logic and rescued the true intention of God by turning their attention to the institution of marriage by God Himself in the Garden of Eden. Likewise, the kinist rescues the true intention of God for marriage by appealing to the same passage that discusses the institution of marriage. Just as God intended for marriage to be a lifelong union, God also intended for marriage to by practiced among those of the same ethnic background, seeing as this is how “bone and flesh” is used throughout the biblical narrative. The Pharisees dismissed Christ’s defense of marriage by appealing to an accommodation to divorce in the Mosaic law, and the alienist unwittingly follows suit. Christ clearly demonstrates how the Pharisees’ appeal to an accommodation in the Mosaic law is problematic. In the next article, we will see how the alienists’ appeal to an accommodation in the Mosaic law is equally problematic.