Relationships/Family Identity

Why I Married a Black Woman

The Witness

In 2012, Steven James Dixon, relationship expert and author, wrote a short piece titled, “Why I Married a Black Woman” for Essence. In it Dixon, a black man, lists a string of reasons why he “had to have me a sister”, most of which pointed to cultural similarities. He wants to marry “someone who understands that Thanksgiving means collard greens, cornbread, peach cobbler and honey ham” or his need to have “somebody to watch Love Jones with me.”

The article was most helpful towards the end, in its exhortation to black men and our relationships with black women. Dixon tells black men, “when you attack the Black woman, you attack yourself. When you look at her, you should see your mother, your sister, your aunt, your niece, your likeness.”

But I thought what preceded this conclusion painted a monolithic picture of black women and black men, for that matter. It assumed cultural preferences and unintentionally defines what being black means.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating black love or even preferring a black spouse. People who claim not to have preferences are as comical as people who claim color-blindness.  Yet the Christian’s preference must never trump godliness or degrade the beauty and value of other ethnicities. Ethnic and culture similarity are fine preferences, but it takes so much more to make a marriage last.

 White Women Only

When my wife and I announced our engagement, I received several comments applauding the fact that my soon-to-be bride was black. Certain friends rejoiced because two committed black Christians, both living cross-cultural lives, were tying the knot.

To provide context, some who watched my life from a distance simply assumed I wanted to marry a non-black girl. Despite my explanations, I was found guilty by the public court of opinion of favoring white women over black women. Therefore, our engagement shocked some. Why did some think I wanted to marry a white girl?

During my teen years, I dated only black girls because my context consisted of only black girls. It wasn’t until college that I entered the multi-ethnic world and this was one of the factors changed my dating habits.

Throughout college, the women I dated were mostly white. Eventually, this led to statements such as “He’s not trying to keep it real” or “Why is he so obsessed with marrying outside his race?” Frankly, this led to irritation on my part.

The accusations came from blacks and whites alike. Some black women assumed I wasn’t interested in them because they were black and that I would only date white girls. When an interethnic relationship didn’t work out, some whites were puzzled about why I didn’t simply date a black girl, as if it’s really that simple.

Don’t misunderstand me, there is a time to explore whether someone is obsessed with pursuing those of other ethnicities. I’ve encountered many who have a fetish for other ethnic groups, refusing to even consider someone in their own. Indeed, this is a problem we must address. Nevertheless, my point is we shouldn’t jump to this conclusion. Other factors are at work.

Context, Context, Context

A pattern of ignoring other factors tends to overemphasize a difference in ethnicity. Ignoring context, preferences and theological convictions is unhelpful and dangerous.

To understand why some make the decisions that they make in choosing a spouse, context is key. For example, for nearly a decade I lived in a majority white context. I enrolled into a mostly white Christian college, joined a majority white church, and later enrolled in a majority white seminary. The girls I spent the most time with were white because whites were the majority.

I pursued young women I did life with. The odds of me finding a black woman in this context were slim, though not impossible. But frankly, I wasn’t exclusively looking for a black woman. I refused to limit myself to one ethnicity because ethnicity is a small factor when it comes to marriage.

Another factor ignored was my preference. I’m not referring to ethnic preference, though I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. Preference becomes sinful when it marries a demand that is motivated by ethnic supremacy.

This thought pattern, which ignores preference, assumed if I met a black woman who was Christian, I would want to pursue her. Black people aren’t attracted to black people simply because they’re black.

There are a number of elements involved in why someone chooses or refuses to pursue someone of the opposite sex. The solution of only pursuing relationships within one’s own ethnicity trivializes a much bigger issue.

Same Ethnicity, Different Cultures

It’s often assumed people of the same ethnicity also have the same culture. One of the most used arguments against interethnic marriage is that since the couple comes from different backgrounds, the marriage will be too hard. Therefore, we should avoid interethnic marriages.

My wife and I are both black but our backgrounds couldn’t be more different. I grew up in rural Pickens, MS but she grew up in the suburbs of Houston, TX. I grew up in a single parent home, she grew up with both her parents. I was raised with one older sibling (who left home when I was 11), my wife was raised with eight younger siblings. My wife was raised in a cross-cultural context, I was raised in an all black context. Needless to say, the wife and I come from very different backgrounds. Just place our family in the same room and it would be obvious.

Distinct from Dixon

I can understand Mr. Dixon’s desire to marry someone who shares cultural similarities. I can even appreciate celebrating black love and join the celebration. My wife and I share tastes in music, literature and television from black culture and we’re always thankful for depictions of solid black families. We love it because it reflects the image of God in all ethnicities. However, ethnicity or culture are not the primary reasons I married my wife.

While my wife and I have similar interests, there is much we have grown to appreciate about the other that we didn’t before.

I had to have Jasmine. She gets me. She’s patient with me. She sees me for all that the Lord can do in me and yet she loves me where I am. She compliments and challenges me in ways I couldn’t have imagine.

We struggle together. We have fun together. We cry together. We pray together. We live life in light of one common goal: Glorify God in all that he ordains. And the list goes on and on…

My wife is more than just a “sister”. In fact, she’s more than just a Christian. There are a bunch of sisters and many Christian women, but only one Jasmine Linette Holmes.

She chose me and I chose her. She’s beautifully made and specifically chosen by God as my wife. At the end of the day, her blackness will never trump her love for Jesus, yet her love for Jesus does not disregard her uniqueness. I married a black woman because she’s Jasmine.

Celebrate black love, but never feel that you’re less than black if you choose to marry someone who is not black. Choose your spouse because they’re biblically qualified to fulfill that role and you love the unique person God has created. Ethnicity becomes somewhat trivial once you’re married, but willingness to die to self is imperative.

19 thoughts on “Why I Married a Black Woman

  1. John Jeffery

    Sorry folks miseducation is part of Anglo-Saxon American culture it’s alive and well. There is no black or white in the Bible, but a status, and I see Pink And Brown people. God bless.

  2. Just Curious

    Red, you don’t vote separating your religious views and your skin color. No one else is going to either. You are dreaming. Have fun!

  3. Just Curious

    This (above) was a response to Shelby MacFarlane. Also, please excuse the typos.

  4. Just Curious

    Why do white women constantly stalk blog posts and video channels pertaining to black love topics? I’m sorry to seem “rude” but this is a “phenomenon” I’ve started taking notice of recently when the rapper P Diddy was attacked by many white women when he simply said hello to black women on social media. That wasn’t the only time that happened.

    As a white woman, what is your interested in whether or not black women and men are getting married, and their relationship dynamics? You said you were white and married to a white man. So…what does this topic have to do with you? I’m super interested to know because I don’t Asian women or Latina, or any other races of women commenting or so “interested ” in the relationships of black women and their men (which are black men).

    Is your white husband doing the same thing you’re doing ? I mean, does he follow black women’s posts talking about their relationships with black men? I’m just curious, not trying to sound rude. I just see so many white women (and ONLY white women) that are interested in who black men are marrying. It’s just odd.

  5. lynweingarth

    Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any helpful hints for novice blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  6. Stokley

    Wow! Just wow!

    I think it’s unbelievably rude to direct your own personal judgement on someone who chose to open up and share his personal experiences and how he came to realize what qualities he was looking for in a wife. Instead of sharing your opinion on the subject you decided to run off topic and do so by critizing some of the details regarding his past and how he chose to tell his story, or as you said “how we talk about our past sinfulness”, which honestly makes no sense considering he wasn’t glorifying any of his past choices regarding dating nor did he say who he did and didn’t have intimate relationships with, so I suppose you fell he should have lied about his past or bottle it and hide it?

    I may be wrong but It’s easy for one to come to a conclusion your comment was less about him and more about you trying to impress people by trying to come off educated on the subject. I’ve been to many churches and have had the opportunity to meet and listen to some incredibe teachers and pastors and I’ve got to say I’ve never heard anyone ever interpret the bibles view on dating the way you did. Again he never spoke on who and who he wasn’t intimate so I just can’t get where you’re coming from

  7. enock asante

    black girl are my happy thank u

  8. MON

    Thank you for the article. I found it and the video at the end interesting. It is an old debate and topic in the black community. I’d love to know what other people think. I’ve definite been turned down because I was amazing he said, but he really wanted to be with an Asian or Latina. He has every right to date what he likes, but the fact that he told me I had everything he was looking for besides the right skin color, “good hair”, and exotic feel. This was coming from a black man by the way. I don’t count him as a loss at all, I dodged an immature man for sure, but It’s something I’ve seen in other men too. Its discouraging. Thanks for responding! Feel free to add your thoughts. Curious as to what other people think.

  9. bbnks

    I know that your question is directed to the author, but while there are some men who may have fetishes for women in ethnic groups other than their own I wonder how many men do. Concerning African American men, this posting is interesting:

  10. Mon

    Just out of curiosity do you ever think the subject of men who do have a fetish for other ethnic groups even ignoring good potentials who share the same ethnicity as them will be addressed on a post on RAAN one day? It is something I see in a lot of people.

  11. Shelby MacFarlane

    You got to the essence of the matter. I am married to a white man and I am white also. However, I did not marry him because of his color. I married him because of his character, his personality, his “wicked” sense of humor, his loving tenderness. When our children began college and brought friends of all ethnic backgrounds home, we discussed this. I advised them to look for the qualities I mentioned above – period. God may guide us to one who is like us or He may lead us to someone of a different ethnicity or color. The important issue is that we follow His guidance in this crucial choice of our lives.

  12. Anna

    Love this, Phil! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Taylor Barrett

    Congratulations on finding a wife! … However, because you nonchalantly mention your long list of ex-girlfriends, I must ask: Is “dating” biblical? I do not think so. We should be very careful about the way we talk about our past lives of sinfulness. It is not good for children of God to go about recreational dating, creating intimate romantic relationships with different people. We should only begin an intimate romantic relationship when we are certain that the person is the one we want to marry. Now, I am not blameless, my past is filled with sexual immorality before I became a Christian and occasionally I do fall into sin now that I am born-again, however I would not go around talking about my past sins in a flippant manner. You may not even realize it, but the intimate romantic relationships you create when “dating” are going to result in life long spiritual repercussions and will prevent you from having as excellent marriage as otherwise possible.

  14. Red18

    While I appreciate this article I question, who did you vote for? You married your wife for who she is, but did you vote, as a Christian, or as a black man? Because quite honestly, many blacks voted for the POTUS regardless of his highly liberal views, specifically abortion. Also many black preachers voted for him knowing his views and that he sat in an anti Christian +church for 20 years. You might say this doesn’t relate here but the question becomes, at least for me, who and what comes first, Christ or skin color?

  15. Jeff

    I’m hardly qualified to comment here. It can be challenging to define why ones spouse feels like home. I share Mr. Dixon’s affinity for my spouses cultural identity, and how it has shaped her worldview. No doubt her ethnicity played a part in that. I can no more say that her ethnicity was my exclusive reason for being with her any more than I could her geographic origin, her family, her faith, her education, etc. All of those things shaped her, and I love them all, but no one of them is the reason I married her. That said, it would be easy for me to write an article titled “why I married a nurse” and elaborate on that subject. But reading that article, it would be irrational to assume that nursing was the sole qualification I sought in a partner. No complaints about this response, it was beautifully written and a wonderful tribute to the relationship of the author’s wife and the faith they share. I just wanted to point out that the seeming criticism in this article, may be as narrow as the Essence article was perceived to be.

  16. ren

    Congratulations on your marriage – so exciting to be starting a life of service to Jesus Christ and His Eternal Kingdom with your God-made help by your side. As saints of the Most High God the colour of our skin is of absolutely no consequence as I am sure I have heard Pastor Baucham say in many a sermon (to my edification). In fact race and racial politics infiltrating the Church of Jesus Christ must be resisted at all costs that His Church would flourish in His identity solely and His ordained purposes.

    To this end why is there this network. Bring down the barriers and exalt Christ that His dominion would be made manifest in the love of the Brethren.

  17. Libby Kabachia

    “I married a black woman because she’s Jasmine.” My absolute favorite sentence because of its simplicity and truth.

  18. Lori alexander

    I love reading a man’s love for his wife no matter what color they both are! However, since so many black children are born to single mothers and the devastation this has brought to black communities, it does especially warm my heart to see and hear of strong black families knowing they will raise godly offspring! Bless you.

  19. Becky Morecraft

    Hi, Phillip. We haven’t met yet, but I look forward to the time that the Lord will cause our pathways to intersect. You have met my daughter Mercy. I don’t usually post comments on blogs, mostly because of the time factor involved. In fact logically, this is one of the worst weekends for me to take time to post a comment or even make one! My precious father’s funeral is this weekend. But, after reading this post, I feel compelled to take the time to applaud you for your beautifully expressed biblical perspective. I believe you are exactly right on all counts, and it thrills me to see any Christian man speak out for a biblical basis for marriage rather than the superfivial onesvthat are popular. Thank you so much! Give Jasmine a hug for me and Mercy.

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