Several thousand people listened to John Piper's recent "Ask Pastor John" (APJ) podcast on the topic of interracial marriage over the course of just a few days, causing the Desiring God founder to ask why the message is so popular.
"Pondering the meaning that 12,000 folks in four days have listened to APJ on interracial marriage?" Piper said Monday via Twitter.
After thinking it over, Piper told The Christian Post via email Tuesday two reasons why he thinks the message caught on:
"First the title that Tony Reinke gave the APJ was provocative: not vague like 'interracial marriage' but more blunt 'Can a White Woman Marry a Black Man?' That is more personal, more to the point, more specific, and touches the historic nerve of the American legacy of opposition to black-white marriage. That's one possibility of why the APJ caught on.
"Another is this: We probably should never assume that old issues are dead. Resistance to black-white marriage was and probably is one of the most powerful reasons the races do not have as much easy togetherness as they should. If that issue is not settled in people's minds, a dozen other issues remain unsettled and those issues breed distance at best and hostility at worst."
The Bethlehem College and Seminary chancellor addressed the topic after being asked by a white, female listener if it is biblically acceptable for a white woman to date or marry a black man.
Piper, who has previously preached on the topic of race and addressed the issue of interracial marriage in his book, Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian, summarized his view in the podcast: "There are two basic restrictions on marriage in the Bible: Number one, she should marry a man. Number two, he should be a Christian."
The Apostle Paul told Christians to marry other believers, said Piper, citing 1 Corinthians 7:39. When Christ came to earth, Piper later said, he created "a new ethnic group…made up of every other ethnic group," and, according to 1 Peter 2:9, Christian believers now make up "a chosen race" and "a holy nation."
Over the years, Piper says, some have argued that Old Testament restrictions that prohibited Israelites from intermarrying with people of other nations support the idea that interracial marriage isn't biblical. But the core purpose of those rules, he says, wasn't focused on race.
"Those stipulations in the Old Testament were religiously motivated, not racially motivated," said Piper. "In other words, Solomon's foreign wives took his heart away from God, and that was the issue, not that his ethnicity would be corrupted by them."
In the conclusion to his APJ message, Piper told women not to marry a man who is "marginally Christian," but to wait for someone who is genuinely firm in his faith. He also encouraged both men and women to pray that God would lead them to a person who is rooted in their Christian faith.
Several recently posted APJ messages have been listened to between 1,000 and 3,000 times, but his "Can a White Woman Marry a Black Man?" message has been heard more than 15,000 times as of Tuesday morning. Another recent message, "On Cussing," has been heard more than 17,000 times.