ur youth group had a sincere and engaging Question & Answer session on Valentine’s Day, a contrast to the standard Thursday evening routine. The young adults were encouraged to ask questions about love, relationships, and marriage to which a panel of counselors would collectively answer. The panel consisted of the senior pastor and his wife, the youth leader joined by his spouse, and a third couple married for about seven years, the youngest pair in the group. My eldest brother, the MC that evening, offered his valuable insight throughout the discussion as well, drawing from his 19+ years of marital experience to his high school sweetheart.
Since the questions were to be written anonymously on index cards and put into a box, it was evident that the adolescents made the most of this special opportunity. So much so that I was taken aback by the honesty of some of the questions presented; however, I was impressed that the youngsters were courageous enough to ask. I was listening to and watching my brother read some valid and even critical questions to the three couples: “What are some advantages and/or disadvantages to being married?” … “If my fiancé and I had sex before marriage, would our marriage be cursed?” … “Should I be worried if I’m not experienced in the bedroom?”
One question in particular struck a chord with me:
“My parents are very against interracial marriages and I want their blessing before I get married. What should I do if I fall in love with someone that is of a different race/ethnic background than me?”
I blinked and suddenly, I saw my brother invite me to leave my familiar seat from amongst the high school and college aged youth and go stand next to him. The youth group cheered me on as I hesitantly walked up to meet him. Once I shakily grabbed a hold of the microphone, I stood there facing the group… and froze. I was expected to answer a serious question that I had the answers to, but the only message I managed to muster up was, “Pray about it.” Talk about an inopportune moment to be at a loss for words. After all, who better to ask than myself, the only white woman – a first generation American born to immigrant parents, and married to a Mexican for close to 7 years – the only couple in our church congregation of our kind? I was extremely embarrassed. Without my husband present to help respond to the question and bounce thoughts between one another (he was being a dedicated father at home with our three young children that evening), I meekly looked to my brother for assistance in providing a more comprehensive answer. Not that praying about the situation was a bad suggestion… I felt it just needed a little more substance. I was extremely thankful he was there for support because he graciously took me, still a “little sister” in his eyes, under his wing and shared how my family came to know David.
I halfheartedly knew that public speaking was not my forte, but that evening made it clear as day. I am much more comfortable typing away on this bright screen than I am standing in front of a crowd about to give my two cents on a conflict involving one’s parents. Once I arrived at home, I asked my husband to share his perspective and thoughts regarding this matter with me. After discussing the subject with him in detail and doing a little bit of research on my own, below is my second attempt at answering a legitimate question, hopefully, a little more thoroughly.
I want to begin by sharing a paragraph I read in an article regarding interracial marriages on Focus on the Family’s website:
“We know of no biblical or moral considerations that would prohibit interracial marriage, and we disagree with those who attempt to use the Bible to condemn it. Every person, regardless of their race and culture, is of equal worth in God’s eyes. Whenever a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another for life and do so with the intent to honor God in their marriage, it should be a cause for celebration. Period.”1
I couldn’t agree more with that passage. ¬Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
There are two things you should consider when reading that Scripture:
1) You are all one in Christ Jesus. When contemplating a potential spouse, determine if he/she is a believer, a born again Christian. Are you serving in the church, and if so, is he/she also? In other words, are you “equally yoked?”
2) We are all the same from God’s perspective. I can’t imagine that God looks at us and sees us as the label given us by our society: Korean, African-American, Canadian, etc. He simply sees us as His beloved children.
Because you want your parents’ blessing, this tells me you honor, love, and respect your parents and value their opinion. You are already ahead. One solution to this dilemma would be easy, but it isn’t so simple. Instead, I have put together a few practical suggestions to bear in mind should this situation become a reality.
1. Pray. If you haven’t done so already, begin praying for your future spouse and for your parents to learn to accept and love him/her, regardless of their race/cultural background. The Bible instructs us to “… love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” 1 John 4:7. Pray for wisdom and discernment regarding a potential relationship and throughout if it progresses.
2. Communicate. And do so often. Be open with your parents about what thoughts you are having and what feelings, if any, may be developing. Tell them where you are going and who you are with. It is beneficial for you to be transparent with your parents from the beginning and throughout as it will build trust and strengthen your bond with each other. Also, introduce your parents to your friend. Frequent exposure and interaction with your parents, family, and friends, can help dissolve, or at least, reduce stereotypes.
3. Behavior & Accountability. You and your friend may be under close scrutiny by your parents. If you have curfew, make sure you are home on time. If your mom asks you to check in, you’d better call. Go where you said you are going. Any mistake could validate your parents’ prejudices and possibly undo any progress made up until that point. Include pastors and mentors, along with your parents, to help equip you during this journey; encourage and pray with you, especially at times of temptation; and celebrate personal victories with you too!
4. Patience. If you are sincerely seeking your parents’ blessing, you will need to be patient. This could be a lengthy process and may (or may not) take more time than you would like. However, the benefit of gaining your parents’ support will be valuable and worthwhile.
I must confess that my husband and I did not follow all of the above suggestions in their entirety, bringing us to cope with some heartache and suffer consequences to some degree. It is with those experiences that I share from the heart and encourage you to pray and fast; communicate with your parents, pastors, and mentors; connect with your accountability partner(s) regularly; and be patient throughout the process. I also cannot guarantee that there will be a change of heart on behalf of your parents, but I believe that these four suggestions could help them gain better insight to cultural and racial differences.
My marriage isn’t perfect, but if we are honest, whose is? We have the Lord in our lives, a committment to each other that is renewed every day, and of course, the support of our families and local church. Last but certainly not the least, these three beautiful and healthy children. And we are still learning every day.
Blessed? Indeed. Happily ever after? Definitely.
Note: These suggestions are only meant to address the challenge of parents who disagree with interracial marriages. This post does not even begin to describe what you, as a couple, must discuss regarding your different cultural backgrounds, etc. A great article to read regarding this topic can be found here: http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26310
1 Huerta, Daniel. “How Do Cultural Differences Affect a
Couple’s Chances of Success in Married Life?” How Do Cultural Differences Affect a Couple’s Chances of Success in Married Life? Focus on the Family, 18 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013. <http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26310>.