I was sitting outside of the local area VA Hospital having a cigarette in the twenty-five degree weather of February when an older gentleman walked up to me and asked to bum an extra smoke. I don’t like to refuse my fellow Vets, so I obliged and handed the old man a cigarette. “You got a light?” The old man asked. I reached back into my pocked and pulled out my Zippo and flicked to life the flame so he could light his cigarette. “Oh, I like those lighters.” He said. I smiled, as I realized that most Veterans liked having Zippos. It was something we all had in the military. “I never was able to have one of my own.” I heard him say.
“You never had a Zippo?” I had to ask. I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly.
“Nope.” He said plainly as he exhaled the smoke from the cigarette I gave him.
I looked around confused to make sure I was at the VA Hospital and then asked him. “Are you a Veteran?”
“ME?” He asked quizzically. “Naw. my brother was in the Marines.” He said matter-of-factly. “I had to bring him here for an appointment.”
The old man then went on to talk about his brother’s service in Vietnam and how he brought home a Vietnamese bride. “Can’t say as I agree with mixin’ races like that.”
“What do you mean?” Being a man who is married to a black woman, I was very curious to hear his response and I was quite sure it would be something racist. However, I’ve heard my share of ignorance over the years and I was ready for anything. Then this man said something that I had not heard from anyone in all the years I had been dealing with folks who had something to say about my marriage…
“I’m a God Fearin’ Man and Deuteronomy 7:3 tells us to marry our own kind. We shouldn’t marry outside of our race. It just ain’t right.” He took his last drag of the cigarette I gave him and then he stubbed it out. I was afraid he would walk away without finishing our conversation, so I offered him another so we could continue.
This man actually intrigued me. On the one hand, I was almost upset that he wasn’t a racist and on the other hand I was pleased because I had just read over this passage in my daily scripture. It was almost as if I was supposed to meet this man and talk with him.
“Actually, Deuteronomy 7:3 was a religious reference, not an ethnic reference.” I did not tell him of my own marital status; however, I did want to correct his thinking. Being a man who loves God and reads the good book, I thought this needed to be explained a little better for him. After lighting up his second cigarette as well as my own, I went on to tell him that the Old Testament Law commanded the Israelites not to engage in interracial marriage however, the reason for this command was not for reasons of ethnicity, but rather religious reasons. God made such a commandment of the Jews because other races were worshippers of false gods and if Israelites intermarried, they would be led away from God. Anyone who read Malachi 2:11 would understand.
The man smiled and stood up straight. “Yer one of them, aren’t ya?” he said with a curious smile on his face.
I wasn’t sure what one of them was, so I just shrugged my shoulders at him. “One of WHOM?” I asked.
“One of them folks who marry those other folks.” I could tell he was being careful choosing his words.
“And what type of folks would that be?” He glanced down at my ring finger and then glanced back up at me.
He thought for a moment and then shook his forefinger at me as he gave a polite chuckle. “Nah. You ain’t gonna do that to me. Lemme ask you this… Is yer wife a white woman?”
I smiled politely and informed him that wife was not a white woman. “And for the record she’s a good Christian woman.”
As if he was pulling from a holster, he drew his next weapon as he said. “In second Corinthians we are told – Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Implying that whites and blacks should not be together.
“No” I said quite simply, implying that he was not just wrong. He was very wrong. He not only misrepresented the scripture, but he didn’t even quote it properly.
“In Second Corinthians 6:14 it is written: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
I explained to the man that God is not talking about Black and White, he is referring to believers and non-believers. Therefore, as long as we have the same beliefs in God, our love can’t be wrong.
The old guy dropped his cigarette into the snow and then reached out his hand to shake my own. After flicking my cigarette into the direction of the water drainage, I reached out and shook the man’s hand and just as he was about to let go I grabbed him tighter and pulled him towards me. He gave me a confused look and I gave him a very firm look as I told him that all men were created from God. We are all descendants from Adam and Eve, which makes us all from one race. “There is no such thing as multiracial or interracial.” I said with a stern look in my eye. “We are all the human race.”. He simply nodded and pulled his hand back and then thanked me. I’m sure he was thanking me for the cigarette, but I’d like to think he was thanking me for a bit more than that.
If someone should ever tell you that the bible says interracial marriage is wrong, you can tell them they have misinterpreted God’s Word. The Bible never says marriage is wrong between races of people. God only wants believers to join together and raise families of faithful believers, no matter what color their skin.