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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When You Want to Answer with a Zinger, What Do You Do?

Oh, the things we want to say! I’m being real, here: there are some posts on social media that just beg you for a smarty reaction . . . or a debate . . . or even a put down. People are pushing your button, and you feel compelled to say . . . “Raspberries!” (I have a friend who used to say, “Peach fuzz!”)

What do you do when this happens? What if you vehemently disagree? What if they offend you? What if you feel the urge to express your unsanctified two cents’ worth?

As Christians, we need to exercise wisdom in our replies. It’s obvious that social media are public platforms. Whatever’s online is out there for the whole world to see. People form an opinion about you from your posts and reactions. It might not be a very complete picture or an accurate one, but you’re curating a personal portfolio, nonetheless.

So, let’s assume you get a post on your feed that begs a "creative" response. 

What should a Christian do?

There are four actions that will help you decide:

1. Pray FIRST. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). Ask the Lord to guide your thoughts to the right response, if one is needed at all.

2. Sometimes the best response—the wisest one—is not to answer at all.
  • My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit (Job 27:4).
  • Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind? (Job 15:2) The obvious answer is no. (On a humorous note, this is where the term “wind bag” comes from!)
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
  • Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him (Proverbs 26:4).
  • For it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people (Acts 23:5b).
  • Speak not evil one of another, brethren (James 4:11a).
3. There are also times when you need to speak up. It’s right to speak the Word of God without shame (if we do it in love, not using the Bible out of context or as a weapon.)
  • I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed (Psalm 119:46).
  • To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20).
  • For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
  • But he (Paul) said, I . . . speak forth the words of truth and soberness (Acts 26:25).
4. We must love others in our speech. If we speak out of anger or any other motivation, it’s useless.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1).

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit,

but the profit of many, that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).

I really love this admonition! Since it covers everything we do and our treatment of everyone, I think it can be applied to social media. Notice how it ends—wanting others to be saved. Is this our main motivation? 

May we keep the gospel of Jesus and love for souls foremost in our mind, hearts, and words.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gut Health and More Important Things

We’re always bombarded with the latest cure-all. Back in the old days, it was the same. “Take this tonic. It’ll heal whatever ails you!” There were miracle medicine salesmen back then, and there are today. By the way, essential oils, anyone? Take some frankincense. Diffuse this. Make your whole house smell like eucalyptus mixed with pine berries.

It’s okay. Really. If you actually feel better with a pink drink, and you can afford it, do it. (There’s a new one coming out this month!)*

If you want your bedroom to smell like linament, it’s okay with me. It’s your home; you can do whatever you like.

If you want to eat cancer preventing seeds and drink exotic fruit drinks, more power to you.

If you believe that your gut flora—and fauna, anyone?—are responsible for everything in your life, then fine.

I chuckle, because there’s always so much hype around these products. (Have you also noticed they’re all sold exclusively by multi-level marketing?) “Try this—you can buy it through me—and you will be healthier, slimmer, and happier—and I’ll get silver status and be a star.”

“How much does it cost?”

“Only around $5 a day. Is that too much to pay for your health?" (They all say this.)

“So, for a month, that would be . . . $150?”

“With me, you can get this product for under $100 a month.”

“Great! And how many months will it take me to look like you?”

“You’ll love this product so much you’ll want to use it for life!”

“Hmm . . . at least $100/month extra for life . . . (No way am I sharing with my spouse! That would be $200/month!) How about your 45-day trial?”

So, instead of doing some reading about said product, praying and asking the Lord if it’s His will, and asking her husband if she (they) can afford it, Mrs. Housewife signs up for the miracle tonic.

Wouldn’t it be wiser to make sure our heart health was in tip-top shape? Then, wouldn’t our priorities line up with God’s will?

What is God’s priority order, anyway? It’s really interesting. You can boil it down to two words: God, and others. Jesus said, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

Is our heart health right?

Do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? That’s God’s first priority. He wants all our love. (It’s also the first of the Ten Commandments.) This is the foundation! Love God with all our being. Really love Him! Make sure our heart focus is God, our soul is attuned to Him, and our mind is dwelling on Him. What doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (from Deuteronomy 10:12).

Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves? A lawyer once asked Jesus, Who is my neighbour? Jesus answered him with the story of the Good Samaritan. The priest passed, a Levite passed, and they didn’t help the wounded man. The Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (story from Luke 10:29-37).

Yes, we need to care for our bodies. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19) It's quite okay to eat healthy, exercise, and take vitamins.

But, where should our number one priority be? Our heart health. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

May you discern God’s priorities today—love Him and love others.


* Please understand, I’m only using a popular product and essential oils as illustrations. I have nothing either against or for them. I’ve not tried the pink drink or essential oils. It's perfectly fine if you love them and sell them. This post is about priorities.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Non-fiction Review: As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir

As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir, by Kay Bruner is not what I was expecting when I got it. It’s the true story of a missionary couple and their children who go to the Solomon Islands as Bible translators. They live among the native people in quite primitive conditions.

Kay tells how she struggles with adapting. She shares how hard she had always tried to do the right thing and be the right person. She describes interesting details about village life, travel, and customs and she comes across as real, with a sincere love for the people.

The author continues to provide a narrative of her experiences on the mission field. Her emotions begin to spiral downward due to extreme exhaustion and stress. Then, she discovers her husband has a porn addiction. At first, he only confesses to using porn those times she catches him, but she’s devastated when she finds out he’s had a six-year habit.

Their mission agency sent them home, promising to help them with counseling. “Counseling” ended up being a more-than-a-year long “evaluation.” Kay was in a very dark place, and she desperately needed help, not just evaluation. In the meantime, her husband did everything around the home and cared for her. She wasn’t able to function and was extremely depressed. Her husband stuck by her side, proving his love for her. All this time, they weren’t getting any counseling. They were only being analyzed. Finally, Kay reaches her lowest point. She describes it: “Once I fell, all the pain of all the years swept over me. There was no ability to reason, to consider, to perceive. I had no sense of purpose, no trust that something positive was coming down the road. Every good thing was behind me, in the past.”

Her epiphany comes with the revealed words “fear,” which she literally tacks to a cross, and “hope.” She just heard them in her mind. They didn’t come from Scripture.

I really thought this book was going to be about how God meets serious needs through His Word and about the author’s victory in Him. It ends woefully short of that. Though Kay’s life is much better, her marriage stronger, and the book ends with the translation of the Arosi New Testament being completed, I have a feeling that she still hasn’t found peace through true faith in Christ Jesus. I think maybe she knows Him, but she’s far from walking with God. It left me feeling sad.

I would imagine that their mission agency, along with many others, has come a long way since this book was written, about ten years ago. Today, missions are conscious that traumatized people need compassionate biblical counsel and care. I am thankful for that!

This is a book that tells a sad story. My heart truly goes out to the author.

I frankly can’t recommend As Soon As I Fell. It doesn’t edify; it only shares the author’s experience, which could have been so different if she'd sought the Bible instead of philosophy and other books and she had gotten appropriate care for her emotional-mental state from the beginning of her depression. I was also very disappointed with the dark quotes (about 80% of them) at the beginnings of the chapters.

Note: This book is for adults only. The author frankly describes female physical functions and the marital relationship, and she’s brutally honest about her husband’s porn use. It’s also transparent about their disappointments with their mission agency.

Note #2: I am not sure what kind of theology the author and her husband represent. It seems to be a branch of Protestantism. Several of the author’s statements, such as pouring as the mode of baptism, participating in the Stations of the Cross, Lent, etc. made me wonder what group they’re affiliated with. They end up being Methodists, but I’m not sure what they were at the beginning.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

So Now, Christians Are Dangerous?

Bernie Sanders calls for a “religious test” for politicians, to weed out Christians. The news media slams the Democratic Unionist Party (United Kingdom) for being “socially backwards” because they oppose same-sex marriage and abortion. CNN uses words like dangerous and danger to describe the DUP. A young Christian soccer player decides not to play on a national team because the jerseys promote LGBT freedoms.

It’s interesting that people who are all for “tolerance” are non-tolerant when someone’s ideas are different from theirs. One only has to think back in history. How about World War II? All of a sudden, one man said only Aryans were okay, so he killed all the rest: Jews, gypsies, and anyone he didn’t think fit into his scheme. Hitler wasn’t Aryan himself, but . . . .

Today, the “enemy” is “dangerous” Christian ideology. Christianity doesn’t approve of the sins they enjoy, so it must be “dangerous.” What am I referring to? I’m talking about morality.

After the Manchester, England bombing at the entrance to a stadium, we heard statements like, “We don’t want them to change our way of life” and “We want to get on with our lives.” I totally agree. But, the other day, I read an excerpt from Ariana Grande’s song, “Side to Side.” Besides extremely sexual, it includes “making deals with the devil” and vulgar language. I looked up her song lyrics and read another titled “Dangerous Woman.” Basically, it was a detailed description of the sexual act. And, these young teens and their families happily went out to hear a cute little songstress sing that?! Is this our “innocent way of life”? (Please understand, I am deeply shocked and sorry people lost their lives. I grieve with those who are wounded, and I cried and prayed for the families who lost loved ones. There was absolutely no reason for carnage there, and there’s no justification for killing people anywhere. None whatsoever.)

What I’m saying is that our “way of life” has gone through a huge morality shift.

I personally love going out at night. I remember walking around the old part of Oviedo, Spain with a family of friends late one evening. It was beautiful, with the ancient stone walls and archways lit up with floodlights. People were sitting and chatting at outdoor caf├ęs. It was a great atmosphere, and I drank it in. Recently, we were in Segovia at night, in the central plaza. It was packed with children and families, and again, I totally enjoyed myself. I believe people should be able to walk around without fear and sit down and sip a cup of tea. I would defend the right of people to attend concerts, too.

It hasn’t been all that long ago, that the Ten Commandments served as the moral compass for everyone. No one questioned them. They provide the standard for Judeo-Christian values.

In short, the Ten Commandments say:
  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, . . . wife, . . . manservant, . . . maidservant, . . . ox, . . . ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's (from Exodus 20:3-17).

So, where has society gone off track? What happened? Why do we have issues with the simplest questions about morality?

Of course, there are several factors, the most important of which is the lack of Bible knowledge. I would guess that many of my readers can’t name all ten of the Ten Commandments—and most of you are Christians. Probably your children don’t know them either. Try an experiment: ask them!

The first thing we need to do is get back to the Bible. Teach ourselves—actually read and study the Bible and apply it in practical ways to our lives. We need to practice what we know, even if it’s only a little bit. What a different world we’d have if everyone obeyed the Ten Commandments! We must not neglect teaching the Bible to our children. I think there’s been a great generational disconnect between my parents’ generation and my adult children’s generation. I think it went wrong when the Baby Boomers (my age people) got so busy in living that we neglected to teach our children in the home. We forgot that values are taught and caught. So, a lot of kids didn’t get taught, and what they caught wasn’t a pretty picture. It didn’t please God. To get back to morality, we need to be good examples of biblical truths and also teach them to our kids.

Another problem is the concept of Relativity. It basically makes everything depend on the factors around it. The dictionary defines moral relativity as “the absence of standards of absolute and universal application.” As you can imagine, when you have no standard, you have no right or wrong. Everything is determined by the person himself and his circumstances.

Let’s pretend you decide that there’s no standard about murder. It’s the Sixth Commandment, but you no longer believe in standards, so you throw that one out (along with all the rest). It therefore becomes okay to murder under certain conditions. This began with abortion when the life of the mother was in danger—almost zero cases of that—but it rationalized abortion. Then, abortion was okay for children conceived in rape. Then, if the mother couldn’t take care of the baby, then for any reason, then at any time in the pregnancy, and then to partial birth abortions at full term. Do you see the progression? That’s not all! Without an absolute standard against murder, people like “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, made it possible for people to kill themselves by assisted suicide. In the Netherlands, it became okay for doctors to make decisions about older patients and “end their suffering” at will—euthanasia. There’s been a genocide of babies with Down’s Syndrome.

When I talk to people about being sinners, I often get the laughing response, “I haven’t killed anyone.” In most people’s minds, murder is still rated as the worst sin—yet it’s tolerated in many forms today. The moral standard has been thrown away.

It’s that same moral standard that kept societies across the world from living in anarchy. It’s the biblical standard that put the brakes on total hedonism.

Today’s society sincerely believes that a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry (from Ecclesiastes 8:15).

Are Christians the bad guys?

Of course not!

There are several warnings in the Bible about the mixing up of right and wrong. Here’s one of them: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20) It’s a sad state of affairs that there’s even a mix-up at all!

To the Christian, God says, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (1 Peter 3:15-17).

God help us!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

The "Mixed" Marriage Survey Results

Photo by Mr. Mike TZ

I asked my social media friends who are married to someone from a different ethnic group—not necessarily a different skin tone—to answer ten questions. Forty-four people answered this survey A huge THANK YOU to all of my participants!

First, we’ll share the questions and responses, and then, we’ll analyze the results. Are you ready?

Q Is your spouse from: (Check all that are true for you.)

A A different ethnic group  73%
    Another home country  89%
    A different language or cultural tradition  82%
    The same country  5%

Q Does your spouse have a different skin tone from you?

A Yes.  80%
    No.  20%

Q Before you married, did you experience any opposition from your families?

A Yes.  39%
    No.  61%

Q Does your family support your marriage now?

A Yes.  91%
    No.  9%

Q Do people who don’t know you look at you funny or think you’re an odd couple?

A Yes.  16%
    No.  55%
    Only sometimes.  29%

Q What was your most difficult adjustment in marriage? (Check all that apply.)

A Cultural  72%
    Language difference—communication  33%
    Values  31%
    Opposition from family and others  18%

Q Honestly, do you think you as a couple had more to deal with in marriage than other couples? (If so, you may explain in the “Comments.")

A Yes.  11%
    No, not more than anyone else.  27%

“We have had to overcome different ways of thinking and cultural values. We were raised very differently.”

 “A differing imprint during childhood makes it harder to understand and appreciate some of the differences and hard or nearly impossible to overcome.”

“Expectations from both sides. He thought that I should adjust quicker to his country. I thought he should be more understanding. He had studied in college in my home country. I had never even visited his country, and we moved there two weeks after marriage. After a couple of years, he came to appreciate the sacrifices that I had made to move to his country: climate, languages, food, family, etc. He came to realize that it is easier to go from less to more than to go from more to less, and he began to appreciate how much I adjusted to his culture. Now, more than thirty years later, we are rarely out of sync.”

“We were dating long distance for several years. After marriage, many of the traits you learn about someone you date in person, we found out in the first few months of marriage. I had to pray hard during the first few months. Oh, and his parents were asking every single day if we are pregnant!”

“Yes, because we have to deal with different cultural expectations, and I am not living in my home country. The main difficulties are from the cultural expectations of the community, though.”

“Language and cultural barriers are a huge deal. We are still overcoming them after several years of marriage. Your native culture shapes who you are and how you think, and if it's a different culture than how your spouse grew up, you need to be able to talk about the differences and similarities. If it's difficult for you to express those things due to a language barrier, it can cause problems and create an environment of frustration because of misunderstandings. Also, when it comes to parenting, two cultures can clash quickly if you don't talk about what you'll do in a certain situation before the situation arises. There are just certain things the West handles differently than the East and I feel like it's important for us as a cross-cultural couple to create a ‘third culture’ in our home—one that works for our unique family.”

“Only to some extent. Culture does play a role, but we are very different personalities, so that can be an issue even with a spouse from your own culture.”

“Yes, we were brought up so differently. We had to find our own way in terms of parenting and finding our role as a husband and wife.”

“Yes, starting from speaking to each other in our second language to dealing with so many cultural differences, which we don't realize until they actually happen.”

“Even though we are both fluent in English as our first language, our cultural ways of communicating and resolving conflict are very different.”

“Yes! Having his family in a different country and having to travel many hours by plane to get there is a lot. Not having them with us is the most difficult. Culture for his father, who is now in our country, is very difficult, and this makes it difficult for us as well. Taking care of his needs has been a struggle. He thinks differently, and therefore, it is challenging. These types of things can be very hard, but we trust fully on the Lord to guide us.”

“I feel we faced a lot of things before we were married, so that has made our marriage stronger than many between those of the same race/ethnic background.”

“I think it's more of the culture rather than the skin color. Many people of the same skin color have different upbringings. My husband and I may have different skin colors, but we were both raised in good, solid Christian homes, so we had many similarities. Our parents and pastor looked at the character and work ethic of the potential spouse rather than the color of his/her skin. Why should a brown-skinned Mexican marrying a white-skinned American looked at as "not okay" but a white-skinned Norwegian and white-skinned American looked at as "okay." Don't both examples have a mix of cultures?”

“I was raised in the same culture and language as my husband because I was a MK (missionary kid) here, so our adjustment was not as difficult.”

“We had a good premarital counsel and we were prepared for differences, so we were ready and able to work through them.”

“All marriages have issues that need to be worked through, but coming at marriage from two different cultures definitely added to the mix!”

“I am from one ethnic group, and my husband is from another ethnicity. Even though his family has lived in the U. S. for a couple of generations and his parents were saved during his childhood, they retained much of their culture and mindset. The expectations on us, from extended family involvement to food tastes to the definition of honoring your parents came from drastically different mindsets. I do think it posed extra hurdles, and it surprised us, since we hadn't realized how diverse our cultures had really been. We grew up in the same town and church. But, those differences and the skills we learning navigating them have served us well in the life calling God has given us.”

“Different traditions and upbringings mean different ways to view and analyze every situation in life. It is difficult to understand why one of us reacts a certain way to specific situations without understanding the cultural background behind the reaction and how culture influences our lives in drastically different ways.”

“I think the language barrier between my spouse and parents has been an added difficulty in our marriage. While both parties appreciate each other, they have not been able to bond and grow a relationship. I still have to interpret and the conversation feels impersonal and lacks flow. There are lots of awkward silence moments or the opposite. Sometimes I can barely finish translating because they have thought of the next thing to say, which is stressful for me as the interpreter.”

“It's a mixed bag really. We're were both saved and serving in the same denomination of churches before we met, so we had a lot in common where it was most important. We do have to deal with extended family being spread around the world. Language at family gatherings can be an issue.”

“Yes, as I went to live in his country and had to learn the language and customs of his country. Through the years we have learned to give and take, so that both of our languages, cultures, and customs can be entertained.”

Q Do you think the Bible indicates that people from different ethnic groups and skin tones may marry each other? If so, can you give any examples?

A Yes.  39%
    No.  9%
    Examples from the Bible:
Ruth and Boaz: 9 participants mentioned them.
Moses and his Ethiopian wife: 9 mentions
Rahab and her husband: 2 mentions
Esther and Xerxes: 1 mention
Joseph and Asenath: 1 mention

“I believe that as long as both parties are believers and aren't unequally yoked, then marrying into a different ethnic group is not wrong. The main thing is that both man and woman need to be believers.”

 “We are all the same ‘kind.’ God created Adam and Eve, and they were to multiply in the earth. Then, at the tower of Babel, He separated the people and that's when we got different languages. The skin tones/features are a result of the DNA and world climates, etc.”

“God defended Moses and his wife. We are all of ‘one blood.’”

“In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul exhorts believers to only marry believers. The line for God is a religious line, not a racial line. In Galatians 3 and Colossians 3, Paul establishes the equality of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, or social background, since we are all under Christ. The Old Testament prohibitions for the Israelites (like Deuteronomy 7:1-6) are prohibitions against intermarrying between religions/faith, so skin tone is not the issue. Moses’ wife was another race than he, and Aaron and Miriam were punished by God for criticizing it (Numbers 12). The whole story of Ruth exemplifies a foreigner marrying into a Jewish family. (In fact, she is a part of Christ's lineage.) James 2:1-10 indicates that there is no place for favoritism or judgment based on race in the life of a Christian.”

“God said to people to go and multiply, and we are all coming from the same federal head, Adam. And then God said cover the earth, which has lead to all the differences.”

“In Scripture, it's never about different ethnicity in and of itself being a problem, but about the other beliefs, idols, and religions from foreign nations competing with God and turning hearts away from Him.”

“I believe that as saved we are one in Christ, regardless of skin color or cultural difference.”

“An intercultural marriage may have more need for flexibility and communication over ‘little things,’ but if both are children of God, there's a precedent for it being acceptable to God.”

“The human race is one race. Ruth married Boaz who was not from her country. Rahab married into the lineage of king David, but she was from Jericho. Who knows what the descendants of Noah looked like, but they married each other and had children.”

Q How has your marriage enriched your life? (Check all that apply.)

A I have learned about my partner’s way of thinking.  80%
    I have learned to accept everyone as equals.  43%
    I love my partner’s culture and feel that the blend of cultures is positive.  73%
    I love my spouse, and my spouse loves me. It’s wonderful!  82%
    Food! I’ve learned to prepare/enjoy my spouse’s favorites.  68%
    Travel. We’ve visited both countries together.  64%
    Our children appreciate their roots.  48%

Q If you have children, have you found it necessary to explain your multi-ethnic marriage to them?

A Yes.  22%
    No.  78%

This is very interesting, isn’t it! Let’s sum up what we’ve learned from our participants. Remember, they’re all married to someone who’s not from the same ethnicity.
  • No one thinks it’s wrong to marry someone out of his ethnic group.
  • Four participants think it’s against the Bible to marry someone with a different skin tone.
  • The Bible says all men are equals, and it’s important to marry within the same faith—that believers should only marry believers.
  • Everyone seems to agree that marriage takes giving, taking, and an effort to communicate clearly.
  • It seems that cultural and language differences are the biggest hurdles couples had to overcome.
  • It’s interesting that those who’ve been married many years indicate they’ve overcome the barriers, and they actually embrace their differences.

So, what does the Bible say on this subject? Are my guests right, or are they a little bit softer on this subject, since they’re inter-ethnically married themselves?

As my participants said, God blesses the institution of marriage. He defended Moses’ marriage to a black woman from Ethiopia (Numbers 12:1-9) and all other marriages between believers. There are many inter-ethnic marriages in the Bible, including those mentioned by my guests. Some additional ones are: Solomon and the Shulamite (Song of Solomon 1:5-6 describes her as black.); Timothy, whose father was Greek and mother was a Jewish believer; and I’m probably missing someone. (If so, please feel free to comment and enlighten me!) God never seems to take into account any difference in skin color. As the participants said, we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. By Noah’s time, his three sons might have had different skin tones—Ham means “dark” and Japheth means “fair”—and there are more variations today. The Bible says:
  • But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). 
  • For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:11). 
  • But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors (James 2:9).

God’s Word says that marriage should only be for couples of the same faith. 
  • Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14).
  • The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Any good marriage requires teamwork. Spouses must make sure they’re communicating. When they don’t understand each other, they need to talk it out and ensure they’re on the same page. Then, they make decisions based on working together and compromise. This goes for any marriage, especially where spouses are from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection (literally: “yielding”) to your own husbands . . . Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:1, 3-5).
  • Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

There are also complications for children, when they are “mixed race.” (I personally believe in one race, the human race, though there are obvious differences in skin tone.) The challenges are real, and sadly, society doesn’t always judge people the way God does. I believe the key is for parents to be aware, explain when appropriate, and protect if needed. Unfortunately, many people only see skin color and prejudge others by color only. I asked a mother of a “mixed race” child what they had experienced with their child, and they have witnessed a difference in treatment and expectations. Another mom with darker-skinned children withdrew her children from school and decided to homeschool them, because the black kids were literally left behind scholastically. It’s important to have the necessary conversations with our children, school personnel, and sports coaches. Make sure you look out for your children!

Even back in the old days when I was a student, I never filled in the “race” boxes on standardized tests. I felt strongly that it was no one’s business what color my skin was. (It’s freckled, by the way, and my ancestors came from several diverse ethnic groups.) I was always tempted to check “other” and say something like green or purple . . . or Martian!

My husband is from a Northern, German family, and I’m from the South. Both of our children married spouses from a different country. Our kids grew up in Spain, and our daughter married a baseball playing American. Our son’s wife is a wonderful Mexican girl. I understand cross-cultural adjustments and the process of figuring out what we’re really saying to each other. It takes an open mind and a willing heart. It helps that we love our spouse!

Jesus explained marriage this way:

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 (Matthew 19:4-5).