A Loving IdeaBy: Tuvya Zaretsky
Richard M. Weaver is credited with popularizing the phrase “ideas have consequences” (originally published 1948 University of Chicago Press). Others have added, bad ideas have awful consequences. Until 1967, sixteen American states made laws based on the bad idea that interracial marriage was illegal.
In 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were married in Washington D.C. where no laws barred their desire to wed. Mildred’s family was of African American and Native American descent. Richard’s family was of Irish and English lineage. Five weeks later, back in their Virginia hometown, the newlyweds were arrested and charged with violating the state law against interracial marriage. They pled guilty, paid a $1,000 fine and chose banishment from the state for 25 years in lieu of prison time.
Nine years later, they longed for their home community and families in Virginia. Mildred and Richard were inspired by cultural changes taking place in America during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. So, they returned to make a legal challenge of the law against interracial marriage.
Two young Jewish attorneys, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, mounted a legal defense to overturn the Loving’s conviction and to eliminate the law against interracial marriage. In the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia, Judge Leon M. Bazile ruled that since God “separated the races” at creation, He must not have intended for them to “mix.” Judge Bazile’s opinion, based on his terrible theology, opened the door to challenge the Virginia law. In turn, the Lovings and other Americans found relief before the Supreme Court of the United States in June 1967.
Justices of the SCOTUS rendered a unanimous decision on June 12, 1967. They deemed all laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional as in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. Their ruling said, “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state.”
The bad legal regulation, with horrible consequences, was purged. Marriage is a good idea from God with every intention of producing wonderful results. Genesis 2:24 said, a husband should leave his parents’ home and become “one flesh” with his wife. The good creator-God made all human beings of every ethnicity and race in His own image. All equally receive His love. Marriage is God’s idea, and it’s a good one.
The Bible counseled a simple consideration about intermarriage: marry a spouse who will encourage your love for God. God warned Israelites, like King Solomon, against marrying people of other nations, worshipers of false gods who would erode their faith in God and impede spiritual harmony in their home.
What does spiritual harmony look like? The Bible says, the Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law” (Galatians 5:22 and 23). Those are the wonderful effects that come from a very loving idea.