If you believe in evolution, yes there are 4 different human races that all descended from a common ancestor. But the bible speaks of only one race – the human race. It NEVER speaks of separate races but of separate people groups. Acts 17:26 says all humans are of ‘one blood’.
Some people say there are different races because of the racial characteristics such as hair texture or eye shape. But the truth is that these are minor physical differences. If you take two people from anywhere in the world, their genetic differences would be no more than 0.2%. And the difference in skin color or eye shape, etc. would be 6% of this 0.2%. That amounts to a genetic difference of 0.012% among the various people groups (blacks, whites, Asian, etc.). There is more variation within one people group than there is between people groups. So these racial differences between blacks, whites, Asians, etc. are trivial.
Then why do some of us have dark brown skin, white skin (actually pink skin), or mid-brown skin? Skin color is governed by a lot of individual genes of ours. Let’s assume for the sake of simplicity, that there are just 4 types that govern skin color….A, B, a, b.
Father (black): Mother (white):
A & B have a lot of melanin, which produces very dark skin. a & b have a small amount of melanin, which produces very light “pink” skin. Each person has all 4 of these gene types in them. But in some people, the darker colored genes predominate, while in others the lighter colored ones do. And in some people, neither dark nor light colored genes predominate, producing a mid-brown color.
So, if 2 very dark skinned people marry (AB & AB), they will likely produce very dark skinned children (AABB, the black square). The same would happen for 2 very light colored people (ab & ab = aabb, the white square), while 2 mid-brown people ( Ab or aB & Ab or aB) would probably produce shades of mid-brown children (AAbb or AaBb or AaBb or aaBB). If a dark & light skinned couple marry (ab & AB), their children would probably be a variety of mid-brown colors (AaBb). If a mid-brown person (Ab or Ab) married a light colored person (ab), they would produce somewhat light colored children (Aabb or aaBb). Would there be a small chance of a dark & light skinned couple producing a light skinned baby? Yes, but it would be a small chance.
If you believe in a literal Adam & Eve, you would believe that all these people groups (blacks, whites, etc.) came into existence since Noah’s flood. So Noah and his family were probably mid-brown with genes for both dark & light skin. A mid-brown skin color would be the most suitable. It is dark enough to protect against skin cancer but light enough to allow the sun’s rays to penetrate their skin to produce vitamin D in their body.
After the flood, the people still stuck together in one big group. This produced a lot of different shades of mid-brown colored people. But when God dispersed the people at the Tower of Babel, they separated into smaller groups. In smaller groups, this increased the chance for more extreme skin colors to exist. As these groups migrated away from Babel, they encountered new and different climates. Those dark skinned people who migrated to the colder, northern climates couldn’t produce enough vitamin D in their body. A lack of vitamin D will produce some diseases like rickets. They would be sicker than their light skinned counterparts and would eventually die off or leave for healthier climates. So dark skinned people tend to accumulate around hotter environments, like the equator while lighter skinned people tend to congregate north of the equator as their bodies produce more vitamin D from exposure to the sun’s rays. So natural selection doesn’t produce the skin color but it does act on the color that is there.
There are apparent exceptions to this but these can be easily explained. For example, Alaskan Eskimo’s have mid-brown skin but live in colder climates with little sun. Presumably they have AAbb genes and would not be able to produce lighter skin. So Eskimo’s would suffer from a lack of vitamin D as the less sunlight wouldn’t get thru their skin to produce it. But they haven’t died out because their diet is high in fish, which has vitamin D in it. So the Eskimo’s get enough vitamin D to live in northern, colder climates.
So, in general, you have darker skinned people living closer to the equator while lighter skinned people live north of the equator.
In conclusion, there is NO biblical justification for separating people into different “races”. We are all the same race – the human race. Any differences between people groups are strictly cultural, not genetic.
Some people claim that Cain went into another land where there was another race of people. For our answer to this, see our FAQ “Who was Cain’s wife?” on this website.
What about interracial marriage?
In Ephesians 5, it says when a man and woman marry, they become one flesh. Human marriage symbolizes Christ’ relationship to the church (Ephesians 5:31, 32). 2nd Corinthians 6:14 says that Christians should only marry other Christians. But nowhere does it say anything about not marrying someone with a different amount of melanin in their skin than you. Sadly, some parents are more concerned with their children marrying someone of a different “race” than whether or not they’re Christian.
It’s true that God told the Israelites not to marry people from the surrounding nations. But that was because they were pagans, not because they were of a different “race” (which they weren’t). Malachi 2:15 says one of the purposes of marriage is to produce godly children, who then will also produce godly children and so on.
In summary then:
1) Christians should only marry other Christians
2) There is no biblical justification for claiming people from different “races” should not marry.
Christians should be leading the way in refuting the false idea that there are different races. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said we should judge people not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. Anything else is sin.
For His Kingdom,