Interracial Marriage Banned at Kentucky Church

Interracial marriage is an issue for some . . . but not for God.

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“One blood.” That’s what the Apostle Paul preached in his landmark message in Athens 2,000 years ago. Explaining that all human beings were descended from Adam, accountable to God their Creator, and equally in need of salvation and restoration to God through Jesus Christ—Paul said, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Sadly, as this week’s news suggests, even some Christians can get mixed up in their thinking about this.

In Pike County, Kentucky, a handful of members in a small church voted, at the urging of their retired pastor, to support a resolution stating the church “does not condone interracial marriage. Parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals. All are welcome to our public worship services.” The resolution adds, “This recommendation is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve.” Apparently supporters of the resolution have no objection to mixed couples mourning death together but don’t think they should be serving the Lord together.

What prompted the church to take such an action? According to news reports, last June, a long-time (the article refers to her as “not active”) member of the church—a white woman—and her black fiancé from Zimbabwe, while visiting, did the special music during the Sunday morning service. The church’s pastor at the time, Melvin Thompson, later told the woman’s father Dean Harville that the couple would not be allowed to sing in the church again. Since then, Pastor Thompson has retired. The church’s current pastor, Stacy Stepp, overturned the former pastor’s ruling and said the couple was welcome to come and sing. At this, the retired pastor called for a church vote on the matter. The vote was 9 to 6 in favor of the ban. Harville reported 35–40 had attended the service prior to the vote but many left or chose to abstain. The Harville family has asked the church to reconsider.

Thompson, who believes the resolution will be overturned, says, “I am not racist. I will tell you that. I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil about a race. That's what this is being portrayed as, but it is not.”1 In addition to the church’s current pastor’s opposition to the ban, the Pike County Ministerial Association’s president Randy Johnson says, “It's not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form.” "It sure ain't Christian," Dean Harville adds. "It ain't nothing but the old devil working."

As biblically minded Christians confident the Bible is God’s Word, we acknowledge the Bible as our authority in all matters of faith and practice.

While as Thompson has stated, the matter is an internal affair and therefore subject to the church’s discretion and decision, publicity obliges fellow Christians to share with the watching world what the Bible says. We cannot know the thoughts of those involved, and we suspect by examining the Scriptures the church led by its pastor would arrive at the same conclusions we discuss here. After all, as biblically minded Christians confident the Bible is God’s Word, we acknowledge the Bible as our authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Some people—including some Christians—think the Bible says things it does not say. (In fact, confusing people about what God really says has been the devil’s tactic since he asked Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” as recorded in Genesis 3:1.) For instance, some people claim that, when Noah denounced his son Ham’s behavior and prophesied about his grandson Canaan’s descendants, a so-called “curse of Ham” turned the Hamites into black people. Such a belief is utter nonsense. The Bible says no such thing.

But the Bible does explain how different skin shades (commonly called “colors”) came about. When God confused the people’s languages at the Tower of Babel, they split into many small groups and dispersed. With only a fraction of the gene pool present in each group, certain differences eventually emerged. Today people think of those differences as “racial differences.” Yet all human beings are descended from Adam and Eve. And Adam and Eve had the genetic toolkit in their original genomes to diversify into all the skin tones we see today.

On the other hand, some evolutionists, including Darwin, believing human beings evolved from apelike ancestors, have thought some “racial” groups are more highly evolved than others. While evolution did not create racism—sinful human nature did that—the evolutionary worldview allows for and has been used to support it.

Despite some Christians’ erroneous thoughts to the contrary, however, the Bible does not support separation on the basis of skin color/tones. In fact, lest we get confused about this issue, God’s Word preserves the historical account of a particular incident involving so-called “interracial marriage.” Numbers 12:1 says Moses ”had married an Ethiopian woman.” Miriam and Aaron objected, and God judged them rather harshly, even striking Miriam with leprosy for a time.

Some Christians err by compromising with cultural prejudices and adopt a sort of sanctified separation of people on the basis of skin color. Yet the Bible does not speak of “race.” The Bible speaks of tribes, tongues, people, and nations, as in Revelation 5:9 when we learn that Christ’s blood will redeem people “out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” God is no respecter of skin color. Skin color is determined by varying amounts of skin pigment, and placing divisions between people because they differ in skin color makes no more sense than prohibiting marriage between blonds and redheads. When we remember that Adam and Eve were the first parents of every person ever born (and who were probably middle brown in skin shade), we should have no confusion about the issue of “race” and marriage.

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  1. Dylan Lovan, “Small Ky. Church Against Interracial Marriage,”, November 30, 2011,


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