This post was originally published in October of 2014 in the wake of the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent riots in Ferguson. As I recall those days, they were very dark and trying times for our nation. The heart of every true Christian was aching over the deep ethnic divide that was being revealed in the kingdom of man in which we sojourn. Of recent years this divide, and those who would push for worldly definitions of it and worldly solutions to it, have begun to infiltrate our churches.
Many pastors, with some alarm, are just beginning to take notice of the prevalence of this issue. Others seem to think it just a passing fad. We assure you it is not just a fad. At some point very soon, every church in America will have to deal with this issue. Not only is it not going away, but it is picking up steam. Soon, every pastor in America will start to have members and visitors in their pews using terms like “racial reconciliation,” “white privilege,” and “systemic racism” in their articulation of the gospel. You will be made to care. That said, please consider the following thoughts.
This past week, I had the privilege of teaching the 9-12 year old class at my church. We are going through the Bible, piece by piece, and discussing each section. This week our discussion was on Genesis 6-11. Now, I understand that there are multiple orthodox views on who the sons of God were in Genesis 6. I exposed the kids to three, but only argued for the one I think to be best supported by the text: the godly line of Seth view.
When holding to this view, the question naturally arises, “What was the big deal with the sons of God marrying daughters of men?” A little context goes a long way in understanding how this is a problem. When Moses wrote the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), the people of Israel were on the plains of Moab awaiting their conquest of the land of Canaan (Numbers 22:1). There, God commanded them through Moses not to intermarry with the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
I recall one time at a training exercise in the Army being asked by a guy where the Bible forbids interracial marriage. He wanted to know so that he could discourage his daughter from marrying outside her race. In fact, the Bible nowhere forbids interracial marriage for the sake of keeping people of different skin colors from joining together in matrimony. What it did forbid in Deuteronomy 7:3-4 was interfaith marriage. The Israelites were forbidden from taking foreign wives because they would entice them to follow after false gods.
In my estimation, the best understanding of the sons of God intermarrying with the daughters of men in Genesis 6 is that they were being led away from God by these women. What is interesting is that, when I asked the kids if the Bible anywhere explicitly forbids interracial marriage, they unanimously agreed that it does not. When I asked them why God forbid people in the Bible from marrying foreigners, they agreed that it was because they would entice them to follow false gods.
I bring all this up not to brag on how smart our children are at my church. Rather, I wanted to highlight the fact that the ordinary means of grace are sufficient for helping our churches, and even our the children in our churches, deal with the major issues that the church will face in our culture. The church does not have to resort to conducting a complete reset of its worship service or starting up a multi-culturalist project in order to be the church.
These children came to a right understanding of this deeply important cultural issue by partaking of the ordinary means of grace. They have sat under the preached word week-in and week-out, they have sung psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that promote biblical truth, and we as a church have regularly prayed over their souls for the better part of their lives. What the church needs is to commit itself to the ordinary means of grace and expect that this will be the medium through which God will perform His extraordinary, transformative work in the lives of believers both personally and corporately. What the church does not need is a multi-culturalist agenda pushing for extra-biblical traditions to be added to the means God has ordained for the dispensing of His grace.