I have not been in this situation – unless you count that I was born and raised in the North (USA) and I married a man from the South. In the South – that can be quite a big deal!
But I have corresponded with MANY wives in this situation – and I see the obstacles they face. So I am going to share my personal observations as well as what God’s Word says – the most important thing being God’s Word, of course!
THE BIBLE ON INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE
- Moses married a woman with dark skin. When Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses’ wife because she was a Cushite, God struck Miriam with leprosy. Moses immediately prayed that God might heal her. She was confined outside the camp for 7 days and then restored. (Numbers 12)
- In the Old Testament, the Israelites were forbidden to marry foreigners – not because of their race – but because their idolatry would contaminate God’s people and move them away from God. That is exactly what happened over and over again when God’s people intermarried with pagan people.
- In the New Testament – Paul says in I Corinthians 7:40 that “if a woman’s husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”
- II Corinthians 6:14 – Paul says “Do not be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever.”
I am not aware of any biblical reason why people from different races or cultures ought not date or marry.
But I can tell you that the greater the difference between your expectations for marriage and the reality in marriage – the greater your frustration and disappointment will be. The more similar your family and culture is to his family and culture – the easier it often is to merge two separate lives into one new family. The key is to be sensitive to God’s will and His voice and to be flexible, willing to change, grow and adapt if you believe God wants you to marry a man who is from a very different race or culture.
I have talked with many wives who are in this situation:
- who were not prepared for their family’s and friends’ reactions. I know of cases where families have disowned their children for marrying a man with a different color skin. I think that is HORRIBLE! But before you marry someone from a different culture or race – be sure that you understand that you may not have your family’s support – depending on your family’s beliefs. It’s not wrong to marry a Christian with a different skin color – we are all of equal value in the sight of God! But can you handle the consequences? If you are able to not let other people’s racism bother you – then maybe it won’t be a significant issue for you.
- who did not understand how different the two cultures really were. Some of these wives have a very hard time fitting in with their husbands’ family just because they don’t really understand the culture and their husbands’ families misinterpret the wives’ behavior based on their culture. This can be a very frustrating and difficult obstacle to overcome. It is not impossible. But really study your man’s culture and ask a LOT of questions so that you understand what the expectations are in marriage in that culture and that particular family so that you know what you are getting yourself into.
- who feel like outsiders with their husbands’ families. Are you able to embrace his different culture and enjoy it?
- who resent being compared to their mothers’-in-law. Are you willing to learn to cook your man’s favorite food even though you aren’t very familiar with it and maybe you don’t like it very much? Are you willing to consider his tastes and preferences and not just do things your way? Are you willing to learn to speak his language a bit so that you can communicate with his family? Are you willing to observe how his mother takes care of her family and how she keeps her house and consider that your husband would probably feel most at home if his new home with you has some of the same comforts he had growing up?
- who were not prepared for strangers’ reactions to them and to their children. I hope that this is not an issue in your community. Unfortunately, in the deep South of the United States of America, there is still racism lingering from 200 years ago. I didn’t see this in the North where I grew up. But I do see it where I live now. It is possible that your children may face teasing and ridicule for being biracial. This just tears my heart up that it would even be an issue for anyone. I don’t think that means you shouldn’t marry your man. But you will have to be prepared to handle some difficult situations, potentially, and somehow not take it personally.
- who thought their husband really asked Jesus to be Savior and Lord – only to find out after they were married that he was not sincere. Sometimes men (regardless of culture) will act like they accept Christ in order to win you – but they don’t seriously give their hearts to God. If you are considering marrying a newly converted man – especially someone who says He loves Jesus now because he wants to be with you – please use the utmost caution! Make sure you have time to discern with godly counsel and listening to God’s voice and observing the fruit of his life that he has seriously changed.
Like I would say with any man you want to consider for marriage – be sure you can respect him and admire him AS IS without wanting to change a thing about him. Make sure you can accept that he is a sinner and he will sin against you. Make sure you can accept that you are a sinner and you will sin against him. Be prepared to offer lots of grace, mercy and forgiveness no matter who you marry. To be able to do that, you have to be totally plugged into Christ and abiding in Him daily, overflowing with His power.
If any of you have experience with this issue or questions – you are welcome to comment!