Gary North discusses Rushdoony’s views on Hybridization/interracial marriage in Appendix H of North’s book Boundaries and Dominion, An Economic Commentary of Leviticus. (The HTML version of the book is here, and Appendix H is here.)
Massive quotes of Appendix H following:
RUSHDOONY ON “HYBRIDIZATION”:
FROM GENETIC SEPARATION TO RACIAL SEPARATION
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:11-13).
The New Covenant announces the restoration of the original judicial unity of covenant-keeping mankind. Under the New Covenant, the Mosaic barriers between Jew and Greek are erased forever (Acts 10). The unity of Trinitarian confession erases the judicial relevance of all other cultural and racial diversities among covenant-keepers. The unity of Trinitarian confession is the fundamental unity of the redeemed in history, for it will be their fundamental unity in eternity.
There is a great divide separating men: conflicting confessions. Men are either covenant-keepers or covenant-breakers. This division extends into eternity. All other disunities are secondary to this one: rival confessions regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Men seek other forms of unity besides Trinitarian confession. There are rival confessions regarding religion, politics, language, and culture. But the most powerful of all rival unities through the ages is racial unity. This unity is declared as primary again and again in history. Skin of different colors, hair of different types, eyes differently shaped: here are the building blocks of racialist social theories. Even the attraction between the sexes — a powerful biological drive — is said to be secondary to the importance of race. Interracial marriages are called “mongrelization,” as if men were animals.(1)
Christianity subordinates sexual bonding to confession. Racism subordinates sexual bonding to race. The Christian insists that a confusion of parental confessions places the children in eternal jeopardy. The racialist insists that a confusion of parental races places the children outside the bounds of acceptable society: the half-breed as cultural nomad. The Christian announces a confessional covenant. The racialist announces a blood covenant. The Christian denies the legitimacy of a blood covenant, save one: the judicial covenant based on Christ’s shed blood. The racialist may hedge his language in an attempt to make his blood covenant sound acceptable in a world of confessional covenants, or more important in modern times, political covenants. But the appeal of the racialist’s blood covenant continues through the ages, while other covenants rise and fall, save one variety: confessional covenants.
It is strategically crucial today for Reconstructionists to affirm this principle of confessional covenantalism because of Reconstructionism’s commitment to biblical law.
Either God’s Law-Word is superior to your DNA, or your DNA is superior to God’s Law-Word.
Darwninans can bow down to the deity they can see, touch, measure, like any good materialist would. Christians must choose otherwise.
The other movement similarly committed to biblical law is the Identity-Destiny-British Israel movement. These groups believe that white Anglo-Americans are the biological heirs of the ten lost tribes of Israel, and this supposedly genetic covenant is still binding: the judicial basis for honoring biblical law today. Thus, these groups are tied to the idea of a blood covenant. In the more radical Identity groups, such as the white supremacist Aryans, this blood covenantalism can turn violent against members of other races, especially Jews and blacks. In the first major academic study of the Identity movement, Michael Barkun correctly separates Reconstruction from Identity, but then offers a warning:
The theme of Bible-centered law cannot be left before examining one final element: the striking resemblance between the concept of Bible-centered law in British-Israelism and Christian Identity, on the one hand, and its counterpart among some contemporary evangelicals, on the other. These so-called “Reconstructionists” are part of the dominion theology movement that urges the reconstruction of society on Christian lines prior to the Second Coming. The Reconstructionists, including such figures as Rousas John Rushdoony, David Chilton, and Gary DeMar, consider biblical law binding and wish to see American law recast in biblical terms. There is, however, no evidence of any connection between the small but influential Reconstructionist movement and the British-Israel or Identity groups considered here. Indeed, there is no evidence that either is even aware of the other.(2) Where British-Israelism drew legal inferences from its claim of Israelite ancestry, Reconstructionism reflects a quite different Calvinist tradition transmitted through Dutch Reformed scholars and institutions. Nonetheless, should Reconstructionism expand beyond its currently small coterie, it may create a climate of opinion from which similar Christian Identity doctrines will inadvertently benefit. Since Reconstructionist leaders are trained intellectuals (something Identity figures are certainly not), the rigor of their approach may confer a halo of respectability on all ideas of Bible-centered law, including Identity’s, despite the latter’s completely separate origins.(3)
I take this warning very seriously. All traces of racist blood covenantalism in Christian Reconstruction must be forthrightly rejected on the basis of confessional covenantalism. This is my goal in this essay.
You can’t serve two masters.
Either God comes first, or Blood comes first.
“[Rushdoony] elevated hybridization in society to the status of covenantal evil, making its eradication a foundational principle in his social theory. In doing so, he moved from covenantalism to racism, as we shall see.”Gary North, Appendix H, Boundaries and Dominion
Old racists — now seeking to dump the literal sterility of atheistic Darwinism — rises, zombielike, to feed on the Living Church.
Ain’t nobody got time for those old failures!
Leviticus 19:19: Case Law of Separation
In Chapter 17, I provided an explanation of the case law against the interbreeding of cattle, mixing seeds in the same field, and not wearing clothing made of a linen-wool mixture (Lev. 19:19). I identified the underlying principle: temporary separation. I explained the first two prohibitions in terms of the mandatory separation of the tribes in Israel, and the third prohibition in terms of separating priestly status from non-priestly status. There had to be a policy of active separation of cattle breeds because of the normal tendency for cattle to interbreed. This means that the law had nothing to do with eliminating hybrids. The offspring of two breeds of cattle are not sterile. This was the reason why they had to be separated.
Rushdoony explains Leviticus 19:19 in terms of a biblical principle that there must be no hybrids in society. He discusses this verse in a section he titles “Hybridization and Law.”(6) He concludes the section with this assertion: “Third, hybridization and unequal yoking involve a fundamental disrespect for God’s handiwork which leads to futile experimentation, such as organ transplants, which represent sterile and limited gains in some areas, and a basic loss of moral perspective in every area.”(7) Given the fact that Greg Bahnsen so far has been given at least an extra decade and a half of life and productivity because of a pig’s valve that was sown into his heart, this conclusion by Rushdoony certainly needs exegetical evidence.(8) In this section, we shall examine the quality of his suggested evidence.
I like North’s practicality regarding the definitively unclean animal, the pig. No double-standards for him!
With respect to mixed fabrics, Rushdoony says, “To bring diverse things together in an unnatural union is to despise the order of God’s creation.”(9) This principle of interpretation — unnatural union — does not stem from Leviticus 19:19, nor is applicable to the passage. Such an interpretation reverses the meaning of the prohibition against the mixing of the seeds. What is normal within a local species is genetic mixing. Genetic separation within a species is abnormal: the result of environmental separation. In the case of the prohibition against mixing breeds of cattle or mixing crops in a field, the primary issue in Leviticus 19:19 was symbolic of the mandatory but unnatural preservation of the separate tribes of Israel until Shiloh came, the promised Seed. This is why this temporary prohibition ended when the promised Seed came, overcoming the judicial separation among Israel’s tribes, and also between Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female (Gal. 3:28). Within the confessional covenant of Trinitarianism, such separation is no longer mandated by God.
Say it with me:
“Hybridization is natural. Genetic purity is unnatural.”
The white slavemasters of the South definitely understood this, when it came to powerful white man and enslaved black women. They only hated it when it came to any black man with any white women, regardless of the power-relationships.
It’s not about racial purity. It’s about racial pride.
Now, take careful note in how Rushdoony shifts his categories, to put in God’s mouth the opinion of Men: “The races must be kept separate!”
The Lure of Racism
Rushdoony’s mistake regarding the importance of a law against “hybridization” is not some minor exegetical slip, nor is the application he makes with it. His identification of Leviticus 19:19 as a law prohibiting genetic intermixtures can produce serious theological and judicial consequences. It can lead directly to racism. Rushdoony’s analysis and subsequent applications of Leviticus 19:19 are sufficient proof.
When applied to humanity, Rushdoony’s argument is the once-familiar segregationist argument against racial mixing — “the mongrelization of the white race,” as it is sometimes described.(16) Rushdoony does not resort to such crass language, but his interpretation of Leviticus 19:19 insists that genetic separateness within a species is both normal in nature and universally required by biblical law. The man-imposed exceptions to this supposedly normal and normative process of sexual separation have been outlawed by God, he insists. Man supposedly must not attempt to produce hybrids — a creation ordinance that is permanent in history.
Rushdoony does not hesitate to apply this exclusionary principle to inter-racial marriages. First, he writes that “St. Paul referred to the broader meaning of these laws against hybridization, and against yoking an ox and an ass to a plow (Deut. 22:10), in II Corinthians 6:14.”(17) Broader meaning of the seed laws, yes; judicial specifics, no. Paul wrote: “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” The issue here is faith. Christian faith overcomes all other divisions, including the Mosaic seed laws. (Note: Deuteronomy 22:10 immediately precedes a parallel verse to Leviticus 19:19c — no mixing of wool and linen — indicating that Leviticus 19:19c refers to covenantal-confessional separation, not tribal separation.) Second, Rushdoony writes: “But Deuteronomy 22:10 not only forbids unequal religious yoking by inference, and as a case law, but also unequal yoking generally. . . . The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.”(18) Note his asserted equivalents: inter-religious marriages and inter-racial or inter-cultural marriages. He is not speaking here merely of civil law; he is speaking of biblical law in general.
The shift in his argument is both subtle and significant. He is not arguing that inter-racial marriages do not produce children. Such unions are not biologically sterile. Then are inter-cultural marriages genetically sterile? He does not argue that they are. So what has “hybridization” got to do with either type of marriage? Genetically speaking, not a thing. Rushdoony has shifted his argument from genetics to race and culture. He has moved from a case law of the Bible regarding cattle, planting, and clothing to a racial-cultural application. He has invented a legal category of “hybridization” in order to apply it to inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages. What he is saying is that such marriages are covenantally sterile. The problem is, this is a denial of the New Testament doctrine of the gospel’s power to break down the wall separating Jew from Greek, bond from free. His theology of sterility has mixed a false interpretation of a case law with traditional hostility to “inferior races.”
The standard of unequal covenantal yoking unquestionably applies to marriage. Rushdoony is correct on this point: Paul makes this clear in II Corinthians 6:14. This Pauline prohibition is universally believed by orthodox Bible commentators to apply to marriage covenant. Almost all commentators believe that it also applies to the church government, although expositors in the Erastian, State church tradition may choose to downplay this. Christian Reconstruction teaches that this biblical principle of covenantal separation must also apply to civil government: not in Christians’ dropping out of political life (pietism’s recommended solution to the “unequally yoked” dilemma in civil government), but in the eventual exclusion of non-Christians from the franchise and from all public offices, after a nation is overwhelmingly Christian in its public confession. (Late in his career, Rushdoony began to deny in public the obvious civil application of the “no unequal yoking” covenantal principle, preferring instead to defend traditional political pluralism’s anti-Trinitarian U.S. Constitutional settlement.)(19)
The judicial standard involved in the biblical concept of “yoking” is exclusively covenantal: public confession of Trinitarian faith, local church membership, the regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and public obedience to God’s law. For a Christian to deny salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is apostasy. To refuse to join the local church is an assertion of one’s judicial autonomy. To refuse to celebrate the Lord’s Supper is self-excommunication. To deny the law of God is antinomian. A Christian should not marry anyone who is remiss in any of these four areas. To be remiss in any of them is to break covenant with God. But marrying a Christian from another race or another culture is not covenant-breaking.
Now, North points out that the humanist goal of “keeping the races separate” tends inevitably to subvert the entirety of Biblical Law, hollowing it out, turning it by the power of “expert reinterpretation” into (once again!) nothing more than some baptized version of the will of men.
“You leave the commandment of God
and hold to the tradition of men.”
— Jesus Christ, in Mark 7:8 (English Standard Version)
We have been through this with the Rabbi’s, with the Catholic priesthood, with the seminaries, and now the kinists. I wonder when the Muslims will start horning into this loathsome business.
Compulsory Segregation vs. Biblical Law
He began writing Institutes of Biblical Law in the late 1960’s, when the civil rights movement in the United States was in its radical phase. The word “integration” at that time had a very specific frame of reference: racial. Federal courts and troops had been forcing the racially segregated South to integrate its public institutions from the late 1950’s through the 1960’s.
Rushdoony broadly defines “enforced integration” as any attempt by a higher judicial agency to overrule local community preferences. He writes: “Unequal yoking means more than marriage. In society at large it means the enforced integration of various elements which are not congenial.”(24) To say that southern white segregationists and black integrationists were uncongenial in the 1960’s is putting it mildly. Lynching(25) of blacks by white mobs of varying sizes and motivations had been a familiar practice in the South for over a century: imposing the negative sanction of death apart from a civil trial. Prior to the Civil War, abolitionists had been lynched, sometimes in Northern states. In New York City’s week of anti-draft riots (July 13-17, 1863), at least eleven blacks were murdered out of at least 105 people who died.(26) After the Civil War, lynchings took place in the Midwest and West, though rarely in the Northeast; over 80 percent of the victims were white.(27) The largest percentage of lynchings took place in the South; by 1900, the phenomenon was confined to the South. Far more black males were lynched in the South than before the Civil War. Before the war, most blacks were owned and came under legal protection. Lynching became a socially acceptable community practice in the post-Civil War South. One estimate places the number of lynchings in the South, 1880-1930, at almost 4,000: over 700 whites and over 3,200 blacks.(28) In 1880, 32 percent of the victims were white; in 1930, only 9 percent were.(29) Sometimes accompanying lynchings were acts of torture, burning, and even dismemberment, especially when mobs were large.(30) Lynchings were rituals.(31) Judicially, there were few risks. Trials for people accused of lynching blacks were rare in the South; convictions were virtually nonexistent. While the “strange fruit”(32) of black men hanging on trees steadily disappeared after the 1930’s and was almost gone by the 1950’s, the lynching mentality still existed among the die-hard white segregationists.
The fact is, on racial matters (as on slavery matters prior to 1865), the South’s community standards for civil justice for blacks were radically unbiblical: 1) denying the legal basis of slave marriages; 2) denying legal protection for the slave; and 3) no system of guaranteed redemption.(33) Thus, Rushdoony’s critical comment on slavery in general applies to Southern slavery: “Modern man seeks to avoid the yokes of community life in Christ, and he falls under the heavy yoke of the state.”(34) In this case, the State in question was local; neither state governments nor the national government had the means of enforcing justice in the American South prior to 1930. Local police forces and sheriffs enforced the law.(35) The local institutions of civil government in the South were sometimes tyrannical toward freed blacks after 1865. The most blatant judicial forms of this local tyranny were abolished by the U. S. Supreme Court and Federal marshals and Federal troops, 1954-70. When Southern blacks once again got the right to vote,(36) local politicians in the South “felt the heat,” and therefore “saw the light.” They changed. When Southern blacks imposed the sanction of the vote, they were not trying to make Southern politicians better people; they were merely making them more responsive to a significant new political pressure group. The underlying covenantal issue was political sanctions, not political salvation, although the rhetoric of salvation was commonly employed by civil rights reformers.
I am generally a localist — County Rights, not State’s Rights — but higher/appellate courts MUST act on matters of rampant tyranny and clear injustice.
If the higher courts choose not to act, God will.
Let us get this point clear: civil government-enforced racial segregation is biblically illegitimate. The State should not dictate to anyone that he must not marry someone, except in cases of incest or a previous marriage. A higher court must declare as invalid any local law that forbids marriages on the basis of race. This is a biblically mandatory restriction on any local community’s authority to legislate laws governing the racial aspects of marriage. This is not a civil vote for or against inter-racial marriages; it is a civil vote of “no confidence” with respect to the State’s authority to compel decisions in this area of life.
The issue here is covenantal. Rushdoony knows this, and this fact led him to modify his doctrine of community preferences to this extent: “The effects of integration have too often been studied only by proponents and opponents of integration. Unfortunately, both believe that enforced integration is possible. From the days of the Assyrians, who moved nations and peoples about to homogenize their empire, to the 20th century, such attempts have been failures. People do not inter-marry unless a common faith, culture, and standard brings them together. Then, they cannot be kept apart.”(39) But if this is true of marriage, then there can be no valid civil or ecclesiastical law against inter-racial marriages if the partners share the same confession of faith, no matter what local community standards happen to be — the opposite of what he argues in the Institutes of Biblical Law.
There is a fundamental schizophrenia in Rushdoony’s doctrine of the marriage covenant specifically and covenantalism generally. This schizophrenia stems in part from an incorrect interpretation of the Mosaic laws prohibiting genetic mixing. This has led him to elevate community racial standards over biblical law in the name of a creation ordinance that never was.
“…community racial standards over biblical law…”
The Will of Man, over and above the Will of God.
Humanism with a Christian face.
Rushdoony’s defense of a non-existent creation ordinance is a classic example of what Van Til identified as circular reasoning. Rushdoony’s discussion of hybridization begins with a presupposition: that genetic sterility is morally evil and therefore biblically prohibited. The Bible says nothing about this aspect of animal or plant breeding. It prohibits the mixing of seeds in one field, but it does not identify sterility as the reason for the prohibition. To make his case, Rushdoony has to ignore the fact that Israel brought mules — genetically sterile — into the land after the exile.
Then he moves from genetic sterility, which he calls hybridization, to social sterility. His argument implicitly assumes that certain practices he disapproves of are socially “sterile.” These practices include inter-racial marriages between “inferior” and “superior” races, as defined by local community standards. He also rejects all organ transplants.(49) To make this case, he invents a creation ordinance that never existed — a law against hybridization — and then he transplants this theological construct to practices he does not personally approve of. He is implying that the supposed creational prohibition against biological mixtures is the symbol of a prohibition against certain kinds of inter-racial marriages, among other practices. Such marriages must await community approval before they can become covenantally valid. He thereby subordinates the marriage covenant to community opinion. This is humanism, pure and simple. It is John Dewey disguised as John Calvin: community over confession. If taken seriously, it could all too easily become Martin Bormann disguised as Martin Luther: race over reformation.
This kind of biblical exposition is, as Rushdoony has derisively called it elsewhere, eisegesis: reading into the text of Scripture things which the expositor dearly wants the text to say, despite the fact that the text says nothing of the kind. It is surely not exegesis: deriving from the text the message God wishes to communicate. That there are racial differences among men is obvious, an aspect of the worldwide division of labor (Gen. 11; I Cor. 12). But there is only one difference that matters covenantally in church, family, or State: theological confession. Here is the great dividing line. Rushdoony’s discussions of biological hybrids and race relations have obscured this covenantal line of demarcation.
There was never a creation ordinance against hybrids. There was a temporary Mosaic seed law that symbolized the prohibition against marriages that crossed tribal boundaries inside Mosaic Israel. This law ended forever with the coming of the New Covenant and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. There was no tribal inheritance to be preserved in Israel once the promised Seed had come. There was no tribal system in Israel after A.D. 70.
Rushdoony disgraces himself, exalts the Will of Man over the Will of God, and undercuts the case for Biblical Law (and thus, undercuts the entire Kingdom of God!), when he twists God’s words to ban inter-racial marriages.
If the pope, or a prophet, or a great leader departs from the Lord at any point, then at that point we must hold to God, and depart from the company of that man.
And as all men save Christ are sinners, it is quite likely that there will be some point, some area, where they will fail.
Certainly that was true of the adulterer & plagiarist Martin Luther King Jr.: he who strongly backed the Biblical legal principle of equality under the law, when the solid majority of White Biblical Christians would prefer to ignore, even directly defy, the explicit commandment of God.
And so it also proves to be true for Rousas John Rushdoony, who led the way for the restoration of Christ’s rule over all things.
But, despite the resistance of Rushdoony, the power of Biblical Law & Logic eventually reveals and brings to public disgrace all our idols. Including the prideful idol of racial purity.
In both cases — indeed, when dealing with all men — take was is good, and toss into the fire what is evil.