Miscegenation and christianity

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Miscegenation and Christianity
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Miscegenation laws have been in existence since the colonial period in America and still affect America today in terms of the legacy they leave behind. Miscegenation laws, and cases to overturn them, are often grounded in the Christian faith. Parties in favor of and against interracial marriage frequently cite the Bible in their arguments. Perhaps one of the most important cases against miscegenation, the overturning of miscegenation laws, and one of the court cases most grounded in Christianity is Loving v. Virginia.

In Christianity, the Bible is God’s Word. There isn’t a single place within all sixty-six books that condemn people from marrying a person of another skin color for racial reasons, only religious reasons. There are figures in the Bible who actually did marry outside their race.The first laws against interracial marriage came about during the colonial period. A colony in Maryland in 1661 passed miscegenation laws because there were many cases of intermarriage between white female servants and African American slaves. The laws came about because people were wondering how to classify and what to do with the offspring from these relationships. Many people were confused with these children’s standing in society. The myth of the white race being pure has been an idea in existence supported by slave societies and thus far it has survived hundreds of years to support the hierarchy that the state of Virginia, in the Loving v. Virginia case tried to maintain. Miscegenation laws had been upheld because they were supposedly based on the “laws of God and the laws of property, morality and social order…[that] have been exercised by all civilized governments in all ages of the world (Sollers 133).” Virginia had declared miscegenation laws valid because they were “natural law which forbids their intermarriage and the social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races is as clearly divine as that which imparted them to different natures (Sollers 133).” Richard Loving, a white man, married Mildred Jeter, part African American and part Native American, in 1958 in Washington D.C. Although they were natives of Virginia, the Lovings were married in Washington D.C., where interracial marriage was legal, in order to escape the miscegenation laws in place in Virginia.

Upon returning to Virginia the couple was arrested and banned from the state for 25 years for violation of the miscegenation laws. If they did enter the state they would be arrested and sentenced to jail for one year. This was problematic because they had family members in the state and wished to visit them. This arrest prompted the Lovings to fight the miscegenation laws, and even fighting the courts and many other’s beliefs of Christianity. They started out by fighting Virginia’s courts with their lawyer, Bernie Cohen, who wanted to work it up to the Supreme Court to increase awareness for the civil rights movement. The first road bump the couple ran into was that that by the time the Lovings got a lawyer they had greatly surpassed the 120 days that were allotted to appeal arrests. On November 6,1963 they first filed the motion to appeal the court case which found them guilty claiming the banishment from the state was a violation of due process of law and that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment. The Judge Bazile Leon Maurice eventually halted the process of the original movement and disposed of due process by saying nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment and the Virginia Constitution touched upon the matter under consideration. He thought interracial dating to be “a most serious crime (Newbeck 46).” Finally, after much battling and debating, the court finally decided that freedom to marriage interracially, is an essential personal right, which cannot be infringed by the state. The final justice who presided over the case when it reached the Supreme Court was Chief Justice Earl Warren. He had many ideas on what was right in marriage, in that it should be between one race only.

On June 12, 1967, Virginia’s miscegenation laws were overturned and the Loving v. Virginia case spurred many other civil rights cases to begin. Many people use the Bible in the case against interracial marriage. One person would be the original judge on the case, Judge Maurice when he said "...Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interferences with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix. The awfulness of the offense is shown by the fact...[that] the code makes the contracting of marriage between a white person and any colored person a felony. Conviction of a felony is a serious matter. You lose your political rights, and only the government has the power to restore them. And as long as you live you will be known as a felon. 'The moving finger writes and moves on and having writ/ Nor all your piety nor all your wit/ Can change one line of it (Irons 277).'” Although he uses it in that regard, the Bible actually leans more the other way. The Old Testament banned interracial marriage for RELIGIOUS reasons. Here are some quotes from the time the Isrealites came out of Egypt.

These are examples of Bible verses against interracial marriage: Exodus 34:16: “‘And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and daughters and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.’”

Deuteronomy' 7:3: “‘Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.’”

God gave this command because when the Israelites moved into Canaan they would be surrounded by neighbors who worshipped other things and not the Lord. Skin color had nothing to do with it. There are even a couple key figures who married interracially: Moses and Solomon. Exodus 2: 21: “Moses agreed to stay with the man who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 1st Kings 11:1-2: “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharoah’s daughter-Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from the nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites ‘You must not marry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.” Let's look at Moses' situation first. Zipporah was a Cushite, a person descended from the area which is now modern-day Sudan. Even Moses’ own siblings, Miriam and Aaron were against his marriage to her and opposed him in Numbers 12. But this is a parallel link to Christianity: God’s love sees past all skin color. He did create people with diverse skin tones. Next, let's go visit Solomon, the 3rd king of Israel. Chapter 11, Verse 3 of 1st Kings says that Solomon had 700 wives! All of them came from across the ancient world. It is likely that the reason Solomon had so many wives was to solidify alliances he made with other nations. Solomon's downfall (1st Kings 11:9-13) was not because of his wives' skin color but because their religious practices.

Although many argue, through Biblical means, that interracial marriage is wrong, the Bible, however, bans interracial marriage for religious reasons, not reasons based on skin color. In Loving v. Virginia, the court made the right decision in overturning the miscegenation laws and in doing so stayed true to the religion the nation was founded on: Christianity.

Sources: Irons, Peter, and Stephanie Guitton. May It Please The Court: The Most Significant Oral Arguments Made Before the Supreme Courth Since 1955. 1st. New York, New York: The New Press, 1993. Print.

Newbeck, Phyl. Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers: Interracial Marriage Bans and the Case of Richard and Mildred Loving. 1st. USA: Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, 2004. Print.

NIV Thinline Bible; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan, 2005.

Porterfield, Ernest. Black and White Mixed Marriages. 1st. Chicago, Illinois: Nelson-Hall, 1978. Print.

Sollors, Werner. Interracialism: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature, and Law. 1st. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.


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