Many people think that the Old Testament forbids interracial marriages (i.e. Jews inter-marrying with another race). In one sense it is true that the Jewish people were forbidden to intermarry with other races. However, God's intention was that the Jews keep themselves from being influenced by other pagan cultures and religions. God, in his wisdom, knew that if they married outside of the Jewish faith, they would be led away from their singular commitment to God, as Deuteronomy 7:1-6 clearly states. Perhaps one of the clearest illustrations of this is found in 1 Kings 11. Although God warned his people over and over again they failed on many occasions, and in 1 Kings 11 we see that clearly illustrated in one person. By the way, Nehemiah 13:23-27 is an interesting commentary on 1 Kings 11.
Please understand that the command God gave to his people was based on faith issues rather than race issues. It wasn't an issue of marrying outside of the Jewish race, it was a matter of marrying outside of the Jewish faith. There is a big difference. In the Old Testament, many converted to Judaism and married other Jewish people, and that was fine. God even condoned marriage with women who were taken captive in war and subsequently became Jewish (Deuteronomy 21:10-13).
You will not be surprised that the New Testament carries forward that same principle for Christians. Second Corinthians 6:14-7:1 clearly sets forth the teaching for the church: Christians must not join themselves with unbelievers in strategic alliances. This passage teaches a broad principle that would apply to such things as business partnerships, marriage, alliances with religious groups outside of the Christian faith, etc. The principle taught in Galatians 3:26-29 makes it clear that there is no race distinction in God's eyes. The teachings of these passages make it clear that when it comes to marriage it is an issue of faith, not race.
As a Christian, can I marry someone of a different race? If they have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, absolutely. However, as I understand the Scripture, I must not marry someone who is not a Christian, as 1 Corinthians 7:39 clearly states. First Corinthians 7:10-39 is an excellent passage on marriage and I would encourage you to read it carefully. Please note that 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 is talking about someone who has become a Christian after they were married and so they find themselves in a situation where they are married to an unbeliever.
In summary, the scriptures teach at least three principles on this subject:
- There is nothing wrong with inter race marriages, as long as both husband and wife are believers in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29)
- There is nothing wrong with being married to an unbeliever so long as both were unbelievers at the time of their marriage (1 Corinthians 7:17-24; 1 Peter 3:1-4)
- Christians should not pursue an alliance, such as and including marriage, with a non-believer (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)