I wrote this a long time ago but it’s still relevant in today’s churches.
Originally posted on Go Fish Ministries, Inc:
Unfortunately most churches today are still very segregated. Prejudice towards interracial marriage, even between Christians, is still rampant.Yet, the issue of multiculturalism, prejudice, and racism in the congregations of the Lord are not new ones. Nehemiah 13 tells of a time when Nehemiah rebuked the men of Israel because they had intermarried with women from other cultures. It tells that they had read a passage in the Law of Moses, where God had forbid them to marry an Ammonite or a Moabite because those cultures had cursed Israel rather than helped them. Verse 3 says that when they had read this, they excluded all foreigners from the community. In Deuteronomy 18:9 God had warned the Israelites against following cultural practices that were ungodly.
The exclusion of all foreigners was not what God intended, as can be attested to by Ruth, a Moabite woman who was Christ’s ancestor, but only those foreigners who served other gods and would lead them away from the true God of Israel. In verse 23, Nehemiah discovers that some of the Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Amon, and Moab. About half of their children spoke other languages and could not understand Hebrew. Because of this he cursed the men and beat them and pulled their hair out, forcing an oath on them that they would never again intermarry with foreigners. Nehemiah’s unpleasant reaction was because the Hebrew men had blatantly intermarried with those God had specifically told them not to and that they had failed to teach their children the Hebrew language, which was their means of communication with God at that time, a necessary element for the religious practices of the Hebrews to continue. Nehemiah then used the example of King Solomon, who had married foreign women, and which had encouraged him to follow sinful practices. Solomon had in fact married an Egyptian princess, and then 1000 other foreign wives, who had in his old age turned his heart away from God (I Kings 11:1-2). Joshua 23:12-13 also warned the Hebrew people not to intermarry with the surrounding nations or they would become a snare to them.
The premise throughout all of these passages was that they were not to intermarry with those outside their culture who would lead them into idolatry. It was not necessarily a warning against those of other race, since they were all of similar Semitic ancestry.