There is a striking similarity between the arguments used to justify anti-miscegenation laws and the arguments put forward today against gay marriage. Tradition, a respect for majority opinion, religion, science, sociology — all were invoked with great somberness and much citation of experts and their research. The prejudice that propped up all the arguments — and, for us, invalidates them — was invisible or inevitable to their proponents.
“Evolution on gay marriage?” Oakland Tribune,Jul 20, 2003
Take the quiz, and see for yourself.
Last month was the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924“, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883), and annulling all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.
The reasoning behind such legislation lives on, however.
Arguments against same-sex marriage are nearly identical to those used to condemn “inter-racial” marriage. Discrimination against both have been justified by tradition based on “natural law”, and the opponents of both types of marriage have used the Bible to justify legislated discrimination. Both have attempted to add to the Constitution words governing which types of marriage the state may sanction, yet both claim their efforts to exclude certain types of citizens from marriage are somehow “non-discriminatory”. The parallel is uncomfortably close, as anti-miscegenation laws have only recently been repealed across the United States.
A history of discrimination and persecution of inter-racial marriage.
In the 1660s, Maryland became the first colony to prohibit interracial marriages.By 1750, all the southern colonies as well as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania made interracial marriages illegal. For example, Virginia had a law stating that “All marriages between a white person and a colored person shall be absolutely void without any decree of divorce or other legal process.” (Code Ann. A7 20-57)
In Maryland, when slavery was introduced in 1664, “the law also prohibited marriages between white women and black men…. between 1935 and 1967, the law was extended to forbid marriage between Malaysians with blacks and whites. The law was finally repealed in 1967.”
During the 1950s, half of the states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage.By the early 1960’s at least 41 states had enacted anti-miscegenation statutes.
The apologists for these laws insisted that they were not “discriminatory,” as one Republican congressman from Illinois phrased it, because it “applies equally to men and women.”
Legal arguments used claims that interracial marriage was unnatural and immoral in order to find a way around the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection under the laws.”
How did judges do this? They insisted that because miscegenation laws punished both the black and white partners to an interracial marriage, they affected blacks and whites “equally.” This argument, which is usually called the equal application claim, was hammered out in state supreme courts in the late 1870s, endorsed by the United States Supreme Court in 1882, and would be repeated by judges for the next 85 years.
“Legislation prohibiting racial inter-marriage was justified as unbending tradition rooted in received natural law.”
“Miscegenation violates God’s Law (natural Law) of reproduction, no matter how much Billy Graham and his ilk put their seal of approval on it. This inter-mingling is unknown to all other species. It is only man who interferes with God’s law. It has been proven that if the horse mates with a zebra, it will produce offspring with zebra stripes for generations to come. The lion will not mate with the tiger, unless man forces it to. In many cases of artificial, or forced interbreeding, as between a horse and a donkey, the offspring becomes incapable of reproduction.”
As the New York Times (Feb. 23, 1911, p. 23) phrased it: The “white and black races should live apart. Their hybridization forms a degenerate type; anthropologists declare that some of the most cruel and treacherous specimens of humanity are to be found among “mottled” negroes.”
A Georgia court wrote that such unions are “not only unnatural, but … always productive of deplorable results,” such as increased effeminate behavior in the population. “They are productive of evil, and evil only, without any corresponding good … (in accordance with) the God of nature.”
Similarly, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that:
“…moral or social equality between the different races…does not in fact exist, and never can. The God of nature made it otherwise, and no human law can produce it, and no human tribunal can enforce it. There are gradations and classes throughout the universe. From the tallest archangel in Heaven, down to the meanest reptile on earth, moral and social inequalities exist, and must continue to exist throughout all eternity.”
This type of legal marriage must be forbidden, said a Republican senator from Wisconsin, “simply because natural instinct revolts at it as wrong.”
Attempts to Amend the Constitution
In 1871, Representative Andrew King (D-Missouri) was the first politician in Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to make interracial marriage illegal nation-wide. King proposed this amendment because he feared that the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868 to give equal civil rights to the emancipated ex-slaves (the Freedmen) as part of the process of Reconstruction, would render laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional.
In December 1912 and January 1913, Representative Seaborn Roddenbery (D-Georgia) again introduced a proposal in the United States House of Representatives to insert a prohibition of miscegenation into the US Constitution and thus create a nation-wide ban on interracial marriage.
Mr. Roddenberry’s proposed amendment, in December 1912, stated, ”Intermarriage between Negroes or persons of color and Caucasians . . . is forever prohibited.” He took this action, he said, because some states were permitting marriages that were ”abhorrent and repugnant,” and he aimed to ”exterminate now this debasing, ultrademoralizing, un-American and inhuman leprosy.”
”Let this condition go on if you will,” Mr. Roddenberry warned. ”At some day, perhaps remote, it will be a question always whether or not the solemnizing of matrimony in the North is between two descendants of our Anglo-Saxon fathers and mothers or whether it be of a mixed blood descended from the orangutan-trodden shores of far-off Africa.”
The Bible says it is wrong.
God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends those differences to remain.. Bob Jones University is opposed to intermarriage of the races because it breaks down the barriers God has established. It mixes that which God separated and intends to keep separate. Every effort in world history to bring the world together has demonstrated man’s self-reliance and his unwillingness to remain as God ordains. The attempts at one-worldism have been to devise a system without God and have fostered the promotion of a unity designed to give the world strength so that God is not needed and can be overthrown.
Although there is no verse in the Bible that dogmatically says that races should not intermarry, the whole plan of God as He has dealt with the races down through the ages indicates that interracial marriage is not best for man. We do believe we see principles, not specific verses, to give us direction for the avoidance of it.
The people who built the Tower of Babel were seeking a man-glorifying unity which God has not ordained (Gen. 11:4-6). Much of the agitation for intermarriage among the races today is for the same reason. It is promoted by one-worlders, and we oppose it for the same reason that we oppose religious ecumenism, globalism, one-world economy, one-world police force, unisex, etc. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will establish world unity, but until then, a divided earth seems to be His plan.
After the Fall, what sort of marriages were introduced by men, which were productive of great evil?
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” Gen. 6:1,2.
Not only was there plurality of wives, which in itself is an evil, but the “sons of God,” descending from Seth, married the “daughters of men,” the descendants from the idolatrous line of Cain, and thus corrupted the seed, or church, of God itself. All the barriers against evil thus being broken down, the whole race was soon corrupted, violence filled the earth, and the flood followed.
What restriction did God make respecting marriages in Israel?
“Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry.” Num. 36:6.
What prohibition did God give His chosen people against intermarrying with the heathen nations about them, and why?
“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” Deut. 7:3,4.
Intermarriage with the ungodly was the mistake made by the professed people of God before the flood, and God did not wish Israel to repeat that folly.
What instruction is given in the New Testament regarding marriage with unbelievers?
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God.” 2 Cor. 6:14-16.
This instruction forbids all compromising partnerships. Marriage of believers with unbelievers has ever been a snare by which Satan has captured many earnest souls who thought they could win the unbelieving, but in most cases have themselves drifted away from the moorings of faith into doubt, backsliding, and loss of religion. It was one of Israel’s constant dangers, against which God warned them repeatedly. “Give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace [by such compromise] or their wealth forever.” Ezra 9:12. See also Ex. 34:14-16; Judges 14:1-3. Ezra 9 and 10; and Neh. 13:23-27.
In sum, therefore:
“Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, Malay, and red and placed them on separate continents, and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend the races to mix.”
– Judge Bazile, Caroline County, VA, 1965
They were sincere, but should Christians have seen through this pseudo-Biblical nonsense?
How could Christians 140 years ago, or even 40 years ago, have discerned the truth about these hateful statements and these false Biblical arguments? They could have seen through the hatred if they had only taken to heart the words of the man they call the savior: if they had applied the litmus test of Jesus. Jesus called on his followers to judge whether or not a religious teaching brought “good fruit” or “bad fruit.”
Inter-racial unions were, somehow, a threat to “conventional” marriage.
A U.S. representative from Georgia declared that allowing this type of marriage “necessarily involves (the) degradation” of conventional marriage, an institution that “deserves admiration rather than execration.”
“The next step will be (the demand for) a law allowing them, without restraint, to … have free and unrestrained social intercourse with your unmarried sons and daughters,” warned a Kentucky congressman. “It is bound to come to that. There is no disguising the fact. And the sooner the alarm is given and the people take heed, the better it will be for our civilization.”
These types of marriages are “abominable,” according to Virginia law. If allowed, they would “pollute” America.
Attorneys for the state of Tennessee argued that such unions should be illegal because they are “distasteful to our people and unfit to produce the human race.” The state Supreme Court agreed, declaring these types of marriages would be “a calamity full of the saddest and gloomiest portent to the generations that are to come after us.”
Lawyers for California insisted that a ban on this type of marriage is necessary to prevent “traditional marriage from being contaminated by the recognition of relationships that are physically and mentally inferior,” and entered into by “the dregs of society.”
The times a changin’ slowly
In 1998, a clause that prohibited “marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more Negro blood” was removed South Carolina’s state constitution. According to a Mason-Dixon poll four months before the vote, 22% of South Carolina voters were opposed to the removal of this clause. It had been introduced in 1895.
In Alabama, it took until 2000 to remove these laws. A referendum was passed that removed this article from the Alabama State Constitution:
“The Legislature shall never pass any law to authorize or legalize any marriage between any white person and a Negro, or a descendant of a Negro.” –Alabama State Constitution, Article IV, Section 102
This section was introduced in 1901. According to a poll conducted by the Mobile Register in September of 2000, 19% of voters said that they would not remove section 102. This is comparable to the 22% in South Carolina. However, 64% said that they would vote to remove it. While this is a majority, it is still far from a unanimous vote.
Possible objections to this historical analogy.
1. The Bible really isn’t against inter-racial marriage, even though it was so used for hundreds of years.
2. Same-sex marriages really ARE a threat, somehow, to someone, somewhere.
I am sure readers will volunteer other objections.