Judgmentalism is huge in legalistic churches, and as a result, many Christians find themselves inflicting hurt without knowing it. How? Through their attitudes, their abrasive actions and thoughtless words. In the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult that I came out of, they frowned heavily upon black people and inter-racial dating. Usually, the only black people you would see were the bus kids that were brought in each week from around the city. However, if they were picking up too many, then the bus captain would be asked to cut back the number. At one church I attended, the bus route was dissolved because there were too many black children being brought to church! Cheri’s story is important because it touches on a very important topic. That of inter-racial marriage. Many Christians are never taught about Moses marrying an Ethiopian woman in Numbers Chapter 12. When Miriam and Aaron complained about it, God struck Miriam with leprosy. He could not strike Aaron because he was High Priest and it would have defiled the Priesthood…nonetheless, it shows us a very important fact: God did not have a problem with Moses marrying a black woman. Why are Christians in legalistic sects taught that it is wrong? That God is against it? I don’t know the answer to that. But I did want readers to see how it affects the individuals involved.
I’m glad my husband and I are no longer at First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana! I’m glad we didn’t listen to all the critics who said we should not be together because of the color of my skin. Pastor Jack Hyles said if we lived in California he would marry us because Interracial marriages are accepted there but, the people of First Baptist Church of Hammond would not accept it. He gave our marriage a 5% chance of making it. But, he said I was pretty and if I went to Hyles Anderson College, he would hire me to work for him. He said that if we had kids, people would tease them and call them Mulattoes. We faithfully continued to attend despite my feelings for the pastor and some of his followers. I asked my husband all the time while we were there, “Tell me again why we attend this church?” He would always respond, “We don’t attend for the people but for the Word of God.” This is true, but unfortunately, quite a few people of FBC made it very clear that Interracial dating is unacceptable and they were not shy in their views.
Slowly I began breaking down inside. I found myself crying through the sermons as I sat through the services. My smile slowly became fake as I tried to become more of what they wanted. We were not on speaking terms with my in-laws for a few years and they did not attend our wedding; I was was crushed. How can Christians be so cruel? So judgmental? I finally succeeded, and in time, I won some people over and became the ‘token black girl.’ I taught 3rd grade Sunday School, became a leader in Blue Denim in Lace and was even given my own Women’s Missionary Circle… yep, you guess it, ‘The Africa Circle.’ My husband became quite busy as well with choir , singing groups, teaching Sunday School and chapels in the inter-city. Needless to say, we dug our heels in and became “FBCers.” They even asked us to be in the promo video for the new building. But, they cut my husband out of that clip. My guess was that they didn’t want to promote Interracial Marriages. I wish they knew how much PAIN they caused me and my family. We sucked it up, but those scars are still there. Many people of First Baptist Church have issues with judging and they cause a lot of pain to many Christians. Again I say I’m glad we are no longer there and this past August Tom and I celebrated our 13th year of marriage.
What Cheri and her husband experienced was emotional and spiritual abuse. This type of abuse should not be taking place in churches. Teaching that God is against it, is wrong. It is a lie. Teaching that you are sinning by marrying a black person, is wrong. It is a lie. God does not show us in scripture at all, that he is against it. As a matter of fact, through the story of Moses, we learn that God is for it! We are all God’s children. We are all loved by Him. Prejudice based on ethnicity or skin color is wrong and we as Christians need to extend nothing but love and grace to those couples that inter-racially marry.