One Race Answers with Ken Ham
Have you ever been “people watching” in a shopping mall and noticed how different people look? So many shapes, colors, and sizes! In family photos that include my adopted daughter from China, it’s easy to see some of those differences. They aren’t major but nonetheless visible. My daughter will tell you that my eyes are rounder than hers and my skin is lighter brown. If all people descended from Adam and Eve as the Bible makes clear (Genesis 3:20; 1 Corinthians 15:45), why do we look so different?
The Bible gives us the answers. Although Adam and Eve are often shown to be fair-skinned and blond, this was unlikely. To derive all the different skin shades from one couple, Adam and Eve likely were middle-brown in color. If Adam and Eve had a mixture of “light color” genes and “dark color” genes, then their descendants could have a wide range of skin color from very light to very dark, with most people somewhere between (as seen in the world today). Adam and Eve likely possessed genetic variation for eye shape and other distinguishing characteristics as well.
As people migrated from Babel, different groups became isolated from others and likely married only within their language group. Each group carried a set of physical characteristics as determined by their genes. As they intermarried, certain characteristics would begin to dominate due to the group’s small pool of genes. Over time, different people groups displayed distinct physical characteristics. For example, Asians typically have almond-shaped eyes, dark hair, and middle-brown skin, whereas Europeans have round eyes and fair-colored hair and skin.
The term race is often used to classify people based almost solely on physical characteristics. According to evolutionary ideas, these so-called races descended from different ancestors separated by location and time. However, based on biblical history, the term race must be incorrect. We are all one race (“one blood” in Acts 17:26), the human race, descended from two ancestors, Adam and Eve.
When we stand boldly and confidently on God’s Word, we can correctly understand the unity and diversity of the human race.
Does God frown upon interracial marriages?
Some people insist that the Bible meant for the races to remain pure, therefore prohibiting any kind of interracial marriage. Usually, two biblical texts are drawn upon to support that view. One is the fact that Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. As you recall, Shem received a patriarchal blessing, and an enlargement of that was given to Japheth. Ham, because he looked upon his father’s nakedness, was cursed. “Cursed be Canaan” was the malediction that Noah pronounced on Ham and his descendants. Some have neatly contrived from the three sons of Noah, three survivors of the flood, that this is the historic basis for the three basic generic types of human beings: the Caucasian, the Negroid, and the Mongoloid. They claim that this is the biblical justification for there being a curse put on the black race, and white people should have no intermarriage with them. This was cited, for example, in the early documents of Mormonism, which was a great embarrassment to them when it was made public a few years ago.
Others go back to Creation, where we read that God created everything “after its kind.” People say that this is the divine order of things in creation, that God made things according to their kind, and his intent was that they should stay according to their kind.
In the case of both these arguments, I would say that that is the flimsiest evidence I can think of to support what is ultimately a racist view of the matter. I don’t see anything, even in Scripture, that would prohibit interracial marriage other than the problems people might face in terms of cultural prejudices. Any couple that chooses to get married in a culture that has a high degree of racism is asking for all kinds of tension directed against their marriage. If they are willing to do that, it doesn’t mean that they are sinning by going ahead and entering into a marriage covenant.
I think one of the strongest texts that does relate to this is in the Old Testament, where we read that Moses (who was the mediator of the old covenant) took to himself a wife who was a Cushite. A Cushite was an Ethiopian. All of the evidence that we can construct on Old Testament history indicates that Moses’ wife was black. We also read that his sister, Miriam, became very distressed by the fact that her brother married a Cushite. It was a racist reaction. Miriam got angry and rebuked Moses. Because of Miriam’s response, God judged Miriam and gave her leprosy. So if anything, it would seem to me that God frowns upon those who are racists.
Taken from Now, That’s a Good Question! Copyright © 1996 by R.C. Sproul. Used by permission of Tyndale.
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