For years now, Christians defending the biblical definition of marriage have dealt with a particularly frustrating retort: “Well, Christians used to be against interracial marriage, too,” people will say.
Not only is this assertion meant to equate Christian morality with racism, it implies an historical inevitability—that, in a generation or two, Christians will join the march of progress and affirm same-sex relationships, just as they affirm relationships between men and women of different skin colors.
America’s very real and shameful history of racial prejudice and violence—and especially the sinful co-option of Christians, clergy, churches, and entire denominations in that history—gives those who make such a comparison plenty of ammo. And stories like the one out of Mississippi last week don’t help. But this one has an interesting twist.
Last week, the owner of Boone’s Camp Event Hall, a wedding venue, reportedly canceled the ceremony of a mixed-race couple, citing her Christian beliefs. She was later caught on camera equating interracial marriage with gay marriage, and saying her facility can’t host either because of her faith.
What she did was indefensible, as is what she said. But don’t miss what happened next: She changed her mind and publicly apologized. Why? Well, when confronted about her actions, and with the urging of her pastor and husband, this business owner says she opened her Bible and found nothing there forbidding or even mentioning interracial marriage. And so, she changed her mind.
Happy ending? Not for critics of the Christian view of marriage, who couldn’t let such a good headline go to waste. Many saw the incident as proof that objections to gay “marriage” are really no different from objections to interracial marriage. If a plea of religious freedom doesn’t excuse one type of discrimination, they say, it shouldn’t excuse the other. In other words, Jack Philips is really no different from Jim Crow.
Now, I can’t deal with the religious freedom question in this commentary—specifically, whether religious freedom justifies racists running their businesses in racist ways. For the record, I think the answer is “no.” Religious freedom has limits.
Instead, I want to deal specifically with the claim that Christians who believe in man-woman marriage today are just doing the same thing that those who opposed interracial marriage did in past generations. And for the record, I think the answer to this question is also “no.”
The reason this teachable business owner couldn’t find racist views of marriage in the Bible is because they’re not in there. Quite the opposite, in fact. St. Paul told the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Athens that God made every nation of mankind from “one blood.” The Christian view of “races,” quite frankly, is that there are none—at least not as defined since the 19th century.
On the other hand, Scripture is not silent at all on sexual morality and the structure of marriage. You could write a book about what it has to say on the subject—in fact, I have! The biblical testimony for one man and one woman marriage is overwhelming.
Genesis, which Jesus points to when He is asked about marriage, clearly describes how and why God created humans—not black and white, not gay or straight, but male and female. He joins the two, forbidding anyone to put them asunder, and then tells them to be fruitful and multiply. Our Western concept of race is irrelevant to this biblical definition of marriage, but being male and female is central. And Scripture frequently and directly condemns homosexual behavior.
So to be clear: Support for same-sex “marriage” and opposition to interracial marriage both require the dismissal of Scripture. Study the Scriptures and you’ll discover, like this person did in Mississippi, that God condemns racism in all its forms, and that there is no biblical case to be found in opposing interracial marriage. Nor is there a biblical case to be found in supporting same-sex marriage.
Now this is an example of the sort of issue that creates really tough questions for Christians to answer, and that’s why the “What Would You Say?” video project is so important. Every single week, we will release a video that articulates a Christian answer to one of the most difficult questions to come out of our culture. You can find out more here.