Other Campuses: Christians, colleges deal with mixing races, cultures

By The Lariat

(U-WIRE) WACO, Texas – The Old Testament prohibited marriage between Jews and gentiles, but according to the associate professor of religious studies, A. Christian van Gorder, the idea wasn’t to prevent marriages between people of different ancestry, but to keep the Jews from worshiping foreign gods.

Van Gorder, who uses the term “intercultural” rather than “interracial,” said Christians who are against intercultural marriage aren’t dealing with a religious issue, but with an issue “that relates mostly to European-American racism.”

He said the Bible doesn’t teach the concept of race, but rather warns against inter-religious marriages in passages such as Deuteronomy 7:3, Exodus 12:48-49 and 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Van Gorder is helping to launch a NAACP chapter at Baylor University, and he wrote a book Three Fifths Theology: Challenging Racism in American Christianity. He said although there are no scriptural passages forbidding intercultural marriage, people often interpret the Bible to confirm whatever they want to believe.

It is hard for most people to imagine a time when it was common to hear interracial marriage condemned from pulpits.

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But it’s not necessary to go far back into our nation’s history to find university campuses with policies against interracial dating.

It wasn’t until 2000 that Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., ended its policy forbidding students to date interracially on campus. The policy ended after President George W. Bush’s visit to the university during his election campaign.

According to its Web site, Bob Jones University’s mission statement says it “exists to grow Christ-like character that is Scripturally discipled, others-serving, God-loving, Christ proclaiming and focused Above.”

According to an article published in Christianity Today on the week of March 6, Bob Jones officials justified its policy by saying God created people to be different for a reason.

Although Baylor didn’t allow black students to enroll until 1964, no records were found showing it ever had policies against interracial dating.

Director of undergraduate studies in the Baylor religion department Dr. Naymond Keathley agreed with van Gorder’s belief that the Old Testament passages were meant to prevent marriages between people of different beliefs, not ethnicities.

He said there are some texts that could be interpreted to mean that interracial marriage is wrong, but that wasn’t the intention behind them.

Keathley said God didn’t want his followers to adopt ideas of worshiping other gods, however, the walls separating Jews and gentiles were broken in the New Testament, ending all racial separation.

– Analiz Gonzalez