Thursday, March 1, 2018

Deuteronomy 7 and Kinism: A Closer Examination


A common go-to passage for Kinists, in relation to their beliefs against interracial marriage, is Deuteronomy 7:3, which gives a command to the Hebrews in regards to the Canaanites they are about to make war with.
Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.
The argument from Kinists is that the underlying premises here is that ethnic groups and races (or "families" and "kins," hence the very name Kinist) should not intermarry, as that violates God's blueprint for humanity. Kinists apply this command to our modern day by saying that it violates God's design when people of different lineages marry and procreate (for example, an Asian person marrying a white person and having children).

One example of the Kinist interpretation:
The denial of all mercy to Canaanites obviously entails the denial of any intermarriages as well, as Deuteronomy 7:2-3 attests. But remarkably, this marital prohibition not only made all such couplings sinful to enact, but rendered all such unions entirely invalid. Israelite-Canaanite marriages were not truly albeit sinfully formed; rather, they were impossible to form. [...] [T]his prophetic law was evidently ethnic, as it was applied along national lines as such; it cannot be assigned purely religious, non-ancestral grounds. [source]
Another Kinist interpretation:
Fourthly, Scripture contains specific prohibitions on intermarriage between Israel and other nations (e.g., Deut. 7:3). These prohibitions were given specifically to Israel, and not to mankind as a whole, so their citation should not be seen as promoting an absolute ethical forbiddance of all interracial marriage. Further, it is evident that the primary motivation in these commandments was religious, not racial or ethnic; the purpose of avoiding intermarriage was for religious purity (e.g., Ex. 34:16). Yet, it still is significant that the commands were done along ethnic lines. Israel was forbidden from marrying other nations, not just unbelievers in the abstract. In principle, Israelites could not marry some foreigners, even if the foreigners were to be believers. This can have import today: there might be danger in marrying into other ethnic groups, even apart from whether the marriages might be interreligious or not. Race should likewise be a factor of consideration for marriages today, rather than disregarded as insignificant. [source; italics in original]
This interpretation of Deuteronomy 7 has led into questionable Kinist doctrines and beliefs. These include the idea that Rahab the Harlot wasn't a Gentile, or the claim that the Rahab mentioned in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus is some heretofore unknown woman named Rahab (both of which fly in the face of Christian historical orthodoxy, as I discuss here and here). In fact, Kinists conclude from their interpretation of this passage that, if Christ, at His incarnation, had any Gentile DNA in him, then not only would Christ's kingship be null and void, but the Gospel itself would be null and void as well. One quote related to this:
It is impossible to deny the purity of Christ’s pedigree and yet retain any Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. Christ, quite simply, had to be the pure-blood heir apparent in order to be the prophesied Messiah without [racial] spot or blemish. [source]
And another:
...if the genealogies didn’t prove His lawful descent from Jacob and claim to the heritage of David, their inclusion to that end in the text would be a work of sublime futility – undermining the whole of the gospel and, thereby, revelation in general. [...] But the modern challenge to Christ’s genealogy comes, most shockingly, from many who actually claim to follow Him, otherwise known as Alienists. They allege that Rachab of the royal genealogy was no Hebrew, but a Canaanite. [source]
I've touched on Deuteronomy 7:3 in previous blog posts. However, for the sake of organization, as well as a chance to go into greater detail, I thought I would cover the passage here.


Before we begin with Deuteronomy 7, we must travel back to Deuteronomy 6, which continues its flow of thought into the next chapter.

The Ten Commandments had been stated in Deuteronomy 5, and now, in Deuteronomy 6, Moses states that "this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it" (Deu 6:1). The verses which follow emphasis the need of the Israelites to follow and worship only God, and follow His statutes. It is in this section of scripture that the famous Shema states: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one" (Deu 6:4). Then Moses speaks on "when the LORD your God brings you into the land" (Deu 6:10), and reminds the people that they should "not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt" (Deu 6:12). They are commanded:
You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. [Deuteronomy 6:14-15]
The emphasis to follow the Lord, and to teach our children to obey the Lord, is continued on into verse 25, at the very end of the chapter.

Now we reach Deuteronomy 7. The full context around verse 3 can be found in the following section:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. [Deuteronomy 7:1-6]
Moses lists off the names of seven of the major peoples found in the land of Canaan. Some of them (Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, and Girgashites) are descendants of Canaan, while other (Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites) may have been ancillary descendants, or were simply other Gentile tribes in the area. The Hebrews are commanded to "utterly destroy them," and not make a covenant with them, or show them any favors (verse 2).

Now we come to verse 3, where the Hebrews are commanded not to intermarry with the Canaanites. The Kinist interprets this along ethnic and racial lines: that the Hebrews were commanded not to intermarry with the Canaanites because doing so would have violated ethnic ties with one another, and would have produced mixed children with "impure" bloodlines. This is why the Kinist is forced, in the situation of Rahab, to come up with incredible theories, such as the one which says she was descended from Hebrew nomadic tribes, or the one which says that the "Rahab" mentioned in Matthew's Gospel is a heretofore unknown Rahab, and not the one found in the book of Joshua.

The dilemma for the Kinist is that they are pausing in mid-thought, for Moses does not stop here, but continues on to explain why this ban on intermarriage is put in place. We know this because the very next verse begins with "for." A commonly known rule of Biblical reading comprehension is "when we see the word therefore, we should ask what it's there for"; the same rule applies to the word "for." Moses is expanding on the command not to intermarry - he's giving us the why for the ban on intermarriage. The ban is explained with "they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you" (verse 4). In other words, the purpose is entirely theological in nature, and not ethnic or racial. To intermarry with the idolatrous people was to invite the idolatry into the home, and hence draw the children of Israel away from worship of the true God.

This fact was seen early in the Pentateuch, with the parallel passage found in Exodus. In this passage, the idolatrous clause is expressed more clearly:
"Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim - for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God - otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. You shall make for yourself no molten gods." [Exodus 34:11-17]
Why were they banned from intermarrying with the Canaanites? Because their daughters "might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods" (Exo 34:16). The Targum, an early paraphrase of the Bible (written to assist Jewish listeners, who mostly spoke Aramaic by that time, of better understanding the original Hebrew), adds to the command in Deuteronomy 7:3 "whosoever marrieth with them is as if he made marriage with their idols" (source). Again, the reasons given for a ban on intermarriage were of a theological, and not ethnic, nature. It was a defense of true worship, not ethnic bloodlines.

What we find in this section is a continuation of Deuteronomy 6: the Hebrews had been told what to think of idolatry; now they are told how to handle idolatry when they enter Canaan. This is seen especially if we continue reading on through the next two sections of the chapter: the first (verses 12-16), in which the Hebrews are told to obey God's commands, in order to be blessed by Him, and to not serve the gods of the Canaanites, "for that would be a snare to you"; and the second (verses 17-26), in which we find God promising to assist them in the battle against the Canaanites, and a reiteration of the order to destroy their graven images and idols, all of which are "an abomination to the Lord your God." Again, the condemnation of the Canaanites, and the ban to have anything to do with them, marriage or covenant, is grounded upon theological reasons.

This point is especially important as some Kinists attempt to find a way around this whole dilemma by arguing that the ethnic or racial concerns of intermarriage are the secondary concerns of God in the passage. The problem is that, upon reviewing the full context of this section, the emphasis placed by God, and the parallel passage in Exodus, we see no other concern of God. The Kinist is eisegeting another concern where there is none. God is emphasizing and highlighting the need for true worship - any supposed secondary concern is merely speculation. Imagine if someone were to say, "I'm going out to eat, for I'm hungry." Now imagine someone attempting to say that they were going out to eat to get a chance to drive their car. Someone might point out that the person clearly said why they were going out to eat, which was because they were hungry. Now imagine the other person arguing that this was a "secondary reason" for the person going out to eat - would that still make any sense? Not at all. It would be an irrational position to take, and one that would prove the entire position was a superficial one, rather than reasonable. I am certain no Kinist would desire to have someone second-guess ulterior motives behind their actions; why then should we place such a dangerous condition upon the very words of God Himself?

Considerations and Conclusions

The Kinist may contend that there is still mention of ethnicities and races here. After all, why are specific tribal names mentioned? Why are Hebrews told not to intermarry with non-Hebrews, if theology is the only concern? Why the use of races, and not merely religions? A common Kinist contention to this is, "Why would God name specific nations and peoples, rather than merely condemn all idolatry?" I give a two-fold answer:

First, because this deals with a historical event, with historical specifics. The Hebrews were about to enter the land of Canaan, which was a specific inhabited by a specific group of idolaters. The Hebrews were about to make war and pass God's judgment upon these idolatrous people, and, having already condemned all idolatry in the previous chapter, God now explains how to handle idolatry that is found within Canaan. In fact, the Kinist argument could logically be used against itself: if God's concern was the preservation of bloodlines, why didn't He merely condemn all intermixing? In fact, why did God not only mention these specific people, but then go at length to speak only on their idolatry? Why, when God gives the qualifier for the Canaanite ban (the "for" clause we've already spoken on), does it only consist of reasons pertaining to idolatry, and not ethnic lineage?

Second, God mentions peoples and nations because of the connection between peoples and religion at this time. To be a Canaanite was to worship the Canaanite God - the Hebrews were to be a different kind of people. Moses himself explains, in this same section: "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deu 7:6). The true religion of that time was founded largely along ethnic lines, focused upon a specific group of people, and as I've discussed in other posts, religion in general at that time was understood as being tied to nations and peoples. For the sake of brevity, I'll repost what I wrote on the subject in another blog post:
...Rabshakeh mocks the Judean faith in God, he refers to the gods of other lands - each one with their own gods - and asks how YHWH will deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrians' hands (2 Kings 18:33-35). This is likewise seen in the dialogue with Pharaoh, where God is often referred to as "the God of the Hebrews" (Ex 3:18; 5:3; 7:16; 9:1, 13; 10:3), as well as with later references to "the gods of Egypt" (Ex 12:12) and "the gods of the peoples who were around them" (Jdg 2:12). This is seen in other accounts of scripture, such as when the people of Israel are said to worship "the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines" (Jdg 10:6). [source]
Even for Kinists who might admit this, their dilemma is that they attempt to read both the old and new dispensations under the same lens, without realizing the change. Under the old dispensation, God had not chosen any other kin at this time but the kin of Abraham to be a select group of people. The Hebrews were a people descended from their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whose descendants God had promised the land (Deu 6:10). Under the old dispensation, to be a member of the visible church was synonymous with being a Hebrew. (Although there were obviously exceptions to this rule, as seen with Melchizedek, Rahab, Ruth, etc.) The reason that unbelievers (ie., Canaanites) are mentioned in an "evidently ethnic" way is because believers (ie., Hebrews) are spoken of in an "evidently ethnic" way. However, what is the situation now, under the new dispensation? Christians, both Jew and Gentile, are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7); to be in Christ is to be a descendant of Abraham (Gal 3:29). Just as the Hebrews under the old dispensation were God's possession, so now are all Christians, Jew and Gentile, God's possession, sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14).

Herein lies the rub for the Kinist, who demands that we apply this to our modern day: how could it be applied? The closest one might get is with the command by the apostle Paul not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for "what fellowship has light with darkness," and "what harmony has Christ with Belial?" (2 Cor 6:14-15) If we are to be a separated people from the world, and God commands us towards holy worship and away from idolatry, then we must strive to do away with false or blasphemous worship in our midst. We should not intermarry with unbelievers, regardless of race. Our kinship, speaking as Christians, is tied not to nation or ethnic identity, but to Christ. A marriage between a white Christian man and a black Christian woman is much more blessed before God than a marriage between a white Christian man and a white heathen woman. The Old Testament spoke along national lines precisely because the realm of believers was a nation; the New Testament ends any literal national terminology and instead speaks of a Kingdom with citizens across the entire globe.

The Kinist theologian cannot see this, because, triggered by Neo-Marxism and modern racial politics, and fueled by philosophy, they are inclined to look at the conditions around the command (the "shall not") and ignore the purpose and reasoning behind the command (the "for"). While playing the religious aspect minor lip service, they turn the entire situation upside down by emphasizing the minor point as a major, and the major point as a minor, and want us to believe that the sin God is truly concerned about is intermixing. When looked at the full context, we see that the Kinist conclusion cannot be found unless one interprets it based on proof-texting. Indeed, at this time I have not seen a Kinist attempt to do what I have done here, which is go verse by verse and interpret the passage in its fullest context; rather, verses are grabbed, and cavalier statements are made.

All of this confirms what I have said before: Kinism is not a Biblical doctrine, let alone an exegetical one.