[Full disclosure: For those who have seen my family pictures, you have seen my beautiful Bride and our sons. On November 6, we will be celebrating our fifth year of marriage, and next year, Lord willing, we will be welcoming a baby girl into the world. I am a black man, and she is a white woman. And we both have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.]
This morning I read that a justice of the peace in Louisiana has made a personal policy not to marry interracial couples. He had two main reasons for doing so: 1) he observed that interracial marriages do not last very long, and 2) he observed that biracial children are not well-received by the respective ethnic groups.
My family is a living example that both reasons are gross overstatements. My wife and I are, by God’s grace, happier and more in love now than we were before. Our two boys are loved by both blacks and whites, both inside and outside the family. There are two main reasons for this. First, we are committed to having a household that is gospel-centered. I am defined by my culture, and I cannot be considered outside of my context(s), but my identity is in Christ. My life is hidden with Christ on high. So I appreciate my heritage and praise God for how and where and when he created me. But I am first and foremost in Christ. My wife stands with me in Christ, and we are teaching our boys to think about and see all of life under his authority.
Second, we are surrounded by Christians who believe the same. We love the fact that our friends and family are not “colorblind” (one day I’ll write about why I don’t like that term), but who in fact praise the God who created race and ethnicity and beauty and history. They understand that God is the one who has promised to redeem us from our sin through Christ Jesus. They understand that his Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to move beyond our pride and our hatred, so that we can indeed love one another as Christ has loved us. We, then, come from particular cultural backgrounds, but we are now a part of a deeper culture, a culture that finds its being in Christ.
So I have not experienced all that this justice of the peace fears precisely because I have experienced the love of God in Christ through the gospel and through active membership in a local church. I understand (and history testifies) that being a part of a local church does not always rule out bigotry and hatred, but it can and it should because Christ reigns.
I do notice also what Denny Burk notices, that the language in the reports is generic enough that this story could be used for same-sex unions as well. My initial response to the story was, “How dare a justice of the peace discriminate when two people love each other and want to be married.” I fell into the trap rather easily, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. This is where we as Christians should be extra careful to distinguish between what God has endorsed– interracial marriages (ie, Moses and Zipporah, Rahab and Salmon, Ruth and Boaz, etc.)– and what God has clearly called abominable– homosexuality. Nor are we hypocrites for accepting interracial marriages but not homosexuality, for one still adheres to the biblical definition of marriage– one man and one woman– and one does not. One demonstrates God’s grace (Prov. 18:22); one demonstrates God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18, 26-27, 32). One brilliantly images forth the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33); one cannot.
So if the justice of the peace cares about the failure of marriage and the harm done to children, perhaps he needs to see what happens when the gospel is communicated and lived in our churches. And if he wants to preserve marriage and protect children, he need not deny licenses from interracial couples but from homosexual couples. This would be good in the sight of the God of both justice and peace.