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Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Selective Hermeneutic

Living in the South, especially South Carolina, one encounters both explicit and implicit racism particularly towards Black Americans.

One of the most common ways it is lightly expressed is when someone is telling you a story, and they always make sure that if one of the participants in the story is black, they make it clear to you.

Some of it is innocent (I am in no way dismissing it), but they sincerely do not mean anything by it. However, often times they do.

Race relations have a long way to go in the south.

From time to time I will apply some Scriptural point to race relations. For example when I addressed marriage from 2 Corinthians 6.14 I make the point that the only prohibition made when considering a spouse is that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. I will go on to make the point that interracial marriages are not forbidden.

I have been challenged to my face on this particular issue. Often the person will say, Jason you have two daughters, would you be pleased if they married two black men? My response is usually twofold. First, I say that if the young black man loves Jesus and is following after him, then I have no objections. Second, I say that hypothetically if I did have a problem, it would be my issue and not my daughter's or the young man's.

The usual arguments given by those against interracial marriages goes as following:

1. Some will say it will be too difficult because both partners will feel the stress of bringing two different cultures together. Furthermore, it is argued that you are placing a burden on the children of a mixed marriage.

More and more the stresses of the children are not legitimate in cities where children of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds are growing up together, and the issue is really a non-issue. However in rural areas and small towns, the problem is not the children born from mixed marriages but the racist attitudes in children who come from racist homes.

2. Less frequently is the so called biblical argument that races should not mix. This arises from texts where Israel was prohibited from marrying Canaanites (Deut 7:3).

It is generally agreed though that the biblical prohibition put upon Israel against marrying foreigners has nothing to do with their skin color or ethnicity, but has everything to do with the God they worshipped (see Deut 7:4). This principle clearly comes out in the New Testament as well as I have already referenced above.

Nevertheless, there are some in the church who will still make this argument from the Old Testament.

What really frustrates me is when some of these very ones who argue from the OT against interracial marriage will argue that the standard for tithing is the NT. While I agree that we should look to the NT's teaching concerning tithing, the OT should not be neglected in the pursuit of finding God's will on the issue.

I find it convenient when people in the church use this kind of selective hermeneutic to get from the Bible exactly what they want.

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