Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

The Associated Press reports that a Justice of the Peace in Hammond, Louisiana has denied a marriage license to an interracial couple. The Judge says that he is not a racist, but that he has good reason for withholding the license:

“I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house… My main concern is for the children… I don’t do interracial marriages because I don’t want to put children in a situation they didn’t bring on themselves… In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer… I try to treat everyone equally.”

The ACLU is already all over this case, and I think it’s fair to say that there will be legal ramifications for this judge’s stupid decision. What interests me, however, is not so much the law but the morality of the whole affair. There is much that could be said, but let me offer here just a couple of quick thoughts.

The Bible teaches that Christ is reconciling into one body every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 10:34-35; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:16; Col 3:11; Rev 5:9). That means that all the old racial differences that divide the rest of humanity are not supposed to divide Christians. In other words, the Christian gospel obliterates racism of every form. In the current case, the judge’s decision is at best an accommodation to the very racism that the gospel forbids. [See John Piper’s 2005 sermon on interracial marriage for a fuller treatment of this topic.]

One final thing. A prediction, actually. If this story has legs, then you can expect for some people to draw comparisons between it and current debates over the definition of marriage. Critics will argue that the same bigotry driving the case in Louisiana is what motivates people to oppose same-sex “marriage.” The comparison, however, does not hold up. The Bible celebrates the diversity of human races. It does not, however, celebrate homosexual behavior. In fact, it emphatically condemns it (Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10).

I’m certain that we haven’t heard the end of the story in Louisiana. We’ll be paying close attention to this one.

37 Responses to Interracial Couple Denied Marriage License

  1. RK Brumbelow October 16, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    Denny,
    I fully agree with the position that there is noting wrong with interracial marriages, but I expect better exegesis from you than to use a passage concerning the elect being one people in Christ, you might as well have used Colossians 3:11, or Galatians 3:28. Removing the racial boundaries is something that Christ accomplishes and there are no guarantees of that outside of Him.

  2. Matthew Staton October 16, 2009 at 9:38 am #

    So wrong.

    The kids aren’t his worry. There are not two strict races: black and white. There are many racial origins and we are all mingled. Cultures clash in most, if not all, marriages anyway. Someone with a strong Irish background who marries someone with a strong French background will experience a culture clash. For that matter, my mom from L.A. and my dad from Alabama and Missouri created an enormous culture clash! On the flip side, is he this worried about an African marrying a Hawaiian? Or a Japanese marrying a Chinese? I could be wrong but my money is on the fact that this guy doesn’t like white skin marrying dark skin, which would make him a racist pure and simple. A Protestant who marries a Catholic will experience religious clashes.

    The prediction may well come true and it is right for us to point out that it is a bad analogy to homosexual marriage. I do think it is important to make it clear this Justice’s decision was rotten and indefensible. The sermon by Piper was a great statement and I’m glad he made it. Sadly, there are too many people in our churches who don’t get it and are unintentionally racist.

  3. Casey Hough October 16, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Ashamed of my state!

  4. John Holmberg October 16, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    You’re absolutely amazing Denny, absolutely amazing.

  5. Darius T October 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    Denny is pretty cool now that you mention it, John. Thanks for pointing that out. 🙂

  6. John Holmberg October 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm #

    Darius,

    Denny moderates every single one of my posts, evidently b/c of something I did in the past or something (?). Chances are you will never see this one b/c he will delete it. Any time I disagree with him or call him on something, then he just doesn’t send it through. He deleted an earlier post of mine, to which I responded above. Evidently he gets a kick out of only accepting the response I provided him so no other people will have a context.

    It all reflects his character though, that’s for sure. Many of my responses to Denny simply reflect the character of his posts. I guess he just likes that authority & power to moderate out someone who disagrees with him. I suppose he looks at himself as the father to a lot of people; his students, his kids, his wife, & his blog commenters. If he doesn’t get his way or if you don’t agree with him, then his Christendom & Constantinian mindset is like “burn the heretic.” He would have fit well in the 5th-18th centuries.

  7. Darius T October 16, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    You’re just paranoid, John. Some of your posts get treated as spam because this blog just blocks random comments (I’ve had plenty myself). Eventually, when Denny gets the time, he checks them and unblocks them. It’s not like he has time to sit there and wait for every single comment and moderate them as they come in. Get over yourself.

    That said, I’m actually surprised that he hasn’t blocked more of yours, cause some of what you have said in the past is repugnant and ad hominem in nature (actually, most of your comments are ad hominem attacks).

    “If he doesn’t get his way or if you don’t agree with him, then his Christendom & Constantinian mindset is like “burn the heretic.” He would have fit well in the 5th-18th centuries.”

    Could you get a little more vile and slanderous? Oh wait, I know from past experience you can, so don’t see that as an encouragement to do so. You’re amazingly full of yourself… the world doesn’t revolve around you.

  8. John Holmberg October 17, 2009 at 1:34 am #

    Darius,

    I’m sorry you feel so strongly about me. I actually rarely comment around these parts anymore. We’ve both had our moments though. I will at least admit to my part. With you I have noticed an increasing gracious tone more & more, though every now and then the old Darius comes back out.

    And by the way, Denny actually emailed me one time when I confronted him about being moderated and he told me that he did moderate me b/c some of my past remarks were off the mark, so it’s not some random spam filter. He completely deleted my earlier post where I told him I didn’t think it was right to use such a horrific & heartbreaking issue as a platform to press his anti-gay marriage agenda. Like I said, many of my comments simply reflect the tone & character of his posts. If he doesn’t want comments disagreeing with him dogmatically, then he shouldn’t type dogmatic & intolerant posts that are full of straw-men, speculation, and fear-mongering rhetoric.

    By the way, the world revolves around the sun, and I don’t see how me confronting Denny about deleting my post communicates that the world revolves around me. I also don’t see how you still won’t admit that the SEC is the best college football conference in the country, but I digress.

  9. Jada October 18, 2009 at 11:24 am #

    Totally ashamed of my state….from a person who is not all white either. Guess I have an inter-racial marriage, too.

  10. DennyReader October 19, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    I guess he just likes that authority & power to moderate out someone who disagrees with him. I suppose he looks at himself as the father to a lot of people; his students, his kids, his wife, & his blog commenters. If he doesn’t get his way or if you don’t agree with him, then his Christendom & Constantinian mindset is like “burn the heretic.” He would have fit well in the 5th-18th centuries.

    John, your power to leap to conclusion is nothing short of breathtaking. Even if Denny actually blocked some of your comments; that is a far, far cry from being authoritarian or any desire to burn any heretic. I am curious though, are you calling yourself a heretic? I am also curious, is your harsh criticism of Denny based on you pro-gay marriage agenda?

  11. Chris Carter October 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    Yeah… John, we’ve kinda learned to put up the shield when we expect propaganda like that. I do it all the time in disclaimers at the top of unPC posts. Don’t mistake the shield for a sword.

  12. ex-preacher October 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm #

    Denny cites Galatians 3:28 in his argument that the Bible condemns racism. Here is the verse:
    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

    If this verse eliminates racial barriers in marriage, doesn’t it also eliminate gender barriers? “There is neither male nor female.” I love how you guys can “interpret” the Bible!

  13. ex-preacher October 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Ezra 10

    2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. 3 Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. 4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
    5 So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.

  14. DennyReader October 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm #

    I love how you guys can “interpret” the Bible!

    The Galatians passage is a very straight forward passage to interpret, but no amount of religious education can help if one does not have the Spirit of God. Their minds are closed and intent on distorting His clear teaching. 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

  15. DennyReader October 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Ezra 10

    Think covenant and theocracy.

  16. ex-preacher October 20, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    Let’s not forget that interracial marriage was illegal in most of the country until 1948. It was still illegal in 17 states when the Supreme Court overturned those laws in 1967. All those states were in, or bordering, the South – the Bible Belt and stronghold of Southern Baptists in particular. I suspect it would still be illegal in several of those states if the Supreme Court had not intervened.

    I’m curious – what were Baptists doing to try to overturn those unjust laws prior to 1967?

  17. DennyReader October 20, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    I’m curious – what were Baptists doing to try to overturn those unjust laws prior to 1967?

    Don’t you get tired of this same old silly argument? BTW, didn’t Hitler also engage in some sort of ethnic cleansing in his promotion of atheistic Darwinian beliefs? Don’t you just love how convenient it is to be an amoral atheist?

  18. ex-preacher October 20, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    Actually, Hitler was a Catholic.

  19. DennyReader October 20, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    Actually, Hitler was a Catholic.

    Anyone can lie about what they might believe, what is important is does his actions and confessions conform and adhere to the foundation of his claim. You of all people should know what that is like. More importantly to claim that Hitler was Catholic in any authentic sense is just intellectually dishonest or ignorant.

  20. Darius T October 21, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    Hitler was a Catholic? Now that’s ripe. You might want to read up on the subject a bit more. I can’t seem to find it right now, but there is an old article from Time during WWII which described how Hitler persecuted the Church.

  21. Matthew Staton October 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    #19: I’m curious – what were Baptists doing to try to overturn those unjust laws prior to 1967?

    DennyReader calls this an old silly argument but it raises an honest question for me.

    Analogy: I am under the impression that Bob Jones (not a Baptist school) only repealed their interracial dating ban in this decade. It’s good that they changed their policy but the policy was sinful to have ever been in place, so it seems to me. It was in place until recently, making it hypothetically difficult for Bob Jones’ dean to take the moral high ground in criticizing opposition to interracial marriage unless also acknowledging their own mistakes in the recent past.

    Question: is it possible that it could seem awkward for a Southern Baptist dean to criticize someone on this issue, or is it the case that Southern Baptists either did not have any systemic policy sins in this area to deal with or that they have dealt with them adequately? Honest questions.

    (FWIW, to their credit, I believe that Abraham Lincoln was raised in a Baptist home and taught from the beginning that slavery was wrong.)

  22. DennyReader October 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    DennyReader calls this an old silly argument but it raises an honest question for me.

    Michael, you’ve completely missed the point. This is a tired argument because critics of Christianity have been using the actions of certain individual or group to make their case against God. The problem with this silly technique is that Christianity is not predicated on the actions of any individual or group but on the Bible.

  23. John Holmberg October 21, 2009 at 3:19 pm #

    DennyReader,

    We are called to give a defense with meekness and speak the truth in love. Your interactions with exPreacher demonstrate none of the above. Scripture has words that are just as harsh for you as it does for people like exPreacher.

  24. ex-preacher October 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    The funny thing is that while the Bible stays the same, the interpretation changes over the years to fit enlightened sensibilities. For example, hardly any Christians objected to slavery until the Enlightment of the 18th century. Then, Christians suddenly discovered that the Bible was opposed to slavery. The vast majority of conservative Christians were opposed to interracial marriage as unbiblical until very recently, when they discovered that the Bible is okay with it.

    Mark Twain put it best:

    “The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes…. The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession — and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

    “Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…. There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.”

  25. DennyReader October 21, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    For example, hardly any Christians objected to slavery until the Enlightment of the 18th century.

    Right, and where are those great atheists who trumpeted the revolution against slavery? Did it started with their knuckle dragging ancestors crushing the skulls of other primates? Where were these great atheists when Stalin and Mao murdered 80 million people? Where were the atheists who opposed their brand of atheism? Oh, wait they were busy joining the communist party, with atheists like Margaret Sanger who use eugenics to weed out what she considers as the undesirables. Or that great atheist Jean-Paul Sartre who was so enamored with Marxism that he turned a blind eye to atheist atrocities. How about more recently with the great atheist Paul Kurtz who speaks fondly of Marxism even with all the blood dripping through its hands. What about all the atheists like you who stand idly by while the mass murder of the unborn is taking place? Maybe you think it is sufficient to just say this is beyond your pay grade.

    Wait forgive me I forget, atheists are amoral. You have no foundation for a moral compass, any moral foundation that you have are only borrowed from Christians. So please keep your feign morality to your amoral atheists comrades, you have no authority to question anyone else.

  26. ex-preacher October 22, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    I realize that you get your kicks from constructing and tearing down straw men, but is anyone here willing to actually defend the Bible?

  27. DennyReader October 22, 2009 at 1:22 am #

    anyone here willing to actually defend the Bible?

    What makes you think that anyone needs to defend the Bible to a proselytizing atheist who has absolutely no moral authority to question anyone let alone the Bible? You can’t even defend your own atrocities throughout history. Why don’t you figure out how to defend your atheist atrocities before you look beyond your own nose.

  28. Matthew Staton October 22, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    Mark Twain had an amazing ability to express with words. The quote there expresses feeling and uses hyperbole but it sources neither history nor Scripture, accuracy and fair interpretation of the larger picture not being the intent. (For example, isn’t it possible that there were soci-economic intrusions in witch-hunts, with godless people as well church-goers complicit?) It seems fair to point out that there are good and bad choices and representatives of both the church and its haters; it is logically unfair to hang the whole broad historical group on its darkest moments and worst representatives.

    Scripture has always called us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The church, comprised of fallen people, has done terrible, fallen things. Some of these things were done with the certainty that Scripture gave the authority to do so. Jesus himself was killed by religious leaders twisting the Scripture and bent on preserving their status quo. This fact startles me into epistemic and hermeneutic humility.

    Something else Twain is not being fair to is the hermeneutical spiral – those who honestly wish to live by Scripture bring better questions back to the text after trying to live what it says in their culture. On the basis of Scripture, many have defended the poor, the orphans, the widows. Scripture can and does work organically within cultures to improve the culture.

    Here’s a completely unrelated thought but meaningful to me: why did God preserve liturgy and literature that involve cries of pain, even anger, in his seeming absence? If you were God, would you let your scriptures, liturgy included, contain those writings?

    I believe that we all wish for a world with more love, joy, peace, gentleness, respect, so on. I believe that the more we try, the more we fail; yet we find when we turn to him that God enables us to begin a step at a time growing in these things. Why should this be? It makes the story of the Bible make sense to me – that we are fallen creatures, stamped with both dignity and depravity. We, along with the rest of creation, hunger for God’s redemption.

    That’s not a formal proof, just conversation. Take it for what it’s worth.

  29. ex-preacher October 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    Some good thoughts, Matthew. Clearly, it is as absurd to hold all atheists responsible for the bad actions of some atheists as it is to hold all Christians responsible for the bad actions of some Christians. Each person should be judged on their own behavior.

    My greater concern is that the Bible itself plainly endorses behavior that almost everyone today would find repugnant, including slavery, genocide, “holy wars,” witch-hunting, dictatorship, death penalty for homosexuality, second-class treatment of women, and racism.

    When Christians practiced these things, they were actually obeying the Bible, not violating it. What is astounding is the way that Christians explain away these passages as society comes to reject these behaviors as degrading to human dignity.

  30. Darius T October 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    The Bible does NOT endorse slavery, at least, not the type of slavery you’re thinking of. Get your facts straight, EP.

    It also doesn’t endorse genocide. Just because God chose to wipe out some terribly evil tribes of people (they sacrificed their own children) doesn’t mean that it endorses anyone taking it upon themselves to do likewise.

    As for witch-hunting, I think it mentions sorcerers in passing, but doesn’t spend much time on that subject. Women are treated BETTER in the Bible than they ever were in the cultures around them back in ancient times and Christian women are treated better today than non-Christian women. The Bible also preaches AGAINST racism, not for it. It’s amazing how you could be so illiterate in the Bible and yet have been a preacher at one point.

  31. DennyReader October 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Clearly, it is as absurd to hold all atheists responsible for the bad actions of some atheists as it is to hold all Christians responsible for the bad actions of some Christians. Each person should be judged on their own behavior.

    But I seem to remember someone implicating blame on an entire religion from individual behaviors… let me think… oh yes.

    ex-preacher says: I’m curious – what were Baptists doing to try to overturn those unjust laws prior to 1967?

    ex-preacher says: Hitler was a Catholic.

    ex-preacher says: hardly any Christians objected to slavery until the Enlightment of the 18th century

    ex-preacher says: So how do you explain the fact that the abortion rate, teen pregnancy rate, divorce rate and crime rate are all higher in overwhelmingly Christian America than in overwhelmingly secular Europe, Australia and Japan?

    Darius T says : “Those aren’t believers, they’re just a cult who does whatever Fred Phelps says.”
    ex-preacher respond: A perfect example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

    My greater concern is that the Bible itself plainly endorses behavior that almost everyone today would find repugnant

    The nice thing about being an atheist is that we can bury our heads in the sand when it comes to our own atrocities and foundation of our beliefs. So what if a couple of atheists decides to kill 80 million people based on their atheist morality, atheists don’t have a problem with their atheist foundation. Atheists can make morality whatever we want it to be, because there is no absolute moral lawgiver. Man must decide for themselves what morality is for themselves “It’s morality when you have decided yourself, without benefits or threats, that this is the right thing to do.” Someone gave me that quote once. To that I said you are right, even the great atheist Bertrand Russell said:

    That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

    The important thing is that we atheists know who we are, where we come from and the purpose of our existence. .

    Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. – Carl Sagan

    In an atheistic framework there is no difference in the death of a human being from a monkey, snake, catfish or a virus. We are nothing more than a subgroup of catarrhines made of nothing more than the meaningless collection of star dust.

    Does this atheistic framework bother an atheist? Does it give an atheist any legitimacy to question anyone else’s moral values? It doesn’t matter. We are atheists with our heads firmly planted in the sand. We only take it out long enough to attack the Christians.

    2 Peter 2:17-22
    Ephesians 4:17-18

  32. Matthew Staton October 23, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    Sorry, this one is long…

    My greater concern is that the Bible itself plainly endorses behavior that almost everyone today would find repugnant, including slavery, genocide, “holy wars,” witch-hunting, dictatorship, death penalty for homosexuality, second-class treatment of women, and racism.

    My opinion is that there is truth, error, and unfairness in this statement.

    Consider slavery: To be fair to what the Bible legislated and allowed in ancient cultural contexts, you need to consider the cultural context. As analogy, Abraham Lincoln made statements about slavery and Black people that would be repugnant to us as well, yet he worked against forces of his time as appropriate. He is judged by the context of his setting, not ours. The writings of the Bible did not occur in our culture, they occurred in ancient cultures which were often worse than what the Bible allows. Slavery is allowed but tempered in the OT. Much more tempered in the NT. Consider the effect of telling a Roman citizen (normally very superior to slaves) that he is brother and co-heir and co-citizen of Heaven with a slave – that was a powerful and different idea! Slavery as practiced by the theocratic Jews, vis-a-vis other ancient Near East (ANE) represented something better. We are not theocratic Jews surrounded by ANE cultures so we can’t just rip passages that allow slavery at all from that context and judge it by ours.

    Genocide and holy wars: God did send his people to destroy the people of Canaan. This is a hard thought for me. But realize that God explicitly stated that the 400 years of slavery in Egypt was partly God being patient with the people Israel would eventually destroy (Gen 15:16). God gave his people the land of Canaan. They were to take it by warfare – not something different than the land was contemporaneously experiencing, other than now Yahweh was taking charge over the other gods. This was not Nazi-style cruelty with ambitions for conquering world. It was specific and local. It may be small comfort but they respected the bodies of the dead – another difference from some modern and almost all ancient cultures.

    This war had a specific goal. It occurred after God showed 400 years of patience, again in the ANE culture with the theocratic Jews. We now live in a completely different context. There exists no standing decree from the Bible that is anything like holy war or genocide today. In fact, quite the opposite. Sermon on the mount and fruit of the Spirit, for example.

    Dictatorship? ANE cultures had kings. The Israelites wanted a king, even when God didn’t want them to institute one. Where does the Bible prescribe rather than describe kings? Even the word dictator is an unfairly emotionally loaded term against the context of ancient politics. You just threw that one in to spice up the list 🙂

    Racism: Not a fair comparison. Outsiders were allowed to convert in to the Hebrew culture – witness Rahab and Ruth. But again, ANE cultures at war with each other and all that – the racism issue just doesn’t compare to today. Religious, geographical and political realities are completely different.

    I am not an apologist. These are just some of my understandings and opinions. I’m sure there are better responses. Also, the Christian tent is pretty broad. So Webb can write about Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals and have a very different understanding than the majority of those who frequent this blog. Point is, yes there are some hard passages. But at the very least those were often specific occasions, with parameters. The Bible does not plainly endorse genocide, holy wars, witch-hunting, etc.

    In the end, I believe God is loving and just. Even though we don’t always understand him, I think ultimately we will realize he was always willing to go the extra mile for us. I do not believe anyone will find him to have taken unfair advantage but rather find that we as people are constantly guilty of attempting to take unfair advantage of him.

  33. Matthew Staton October 23, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    I don’t mean that to sound argumentative. I have wrestled with some of those questions myself and those are some thoughts I have had about them.

  34. Don Johnson October 23, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    Matthew, very good points, the basic idea is that God works with individuals AND with people groups where they are at and moves them more and more into the Kingdom. It is a process, but ONLY as we let God do it.

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