What happens when you stick two committed Christians who are of different color? Joy. Especially when both sides come from families that share the same values. Today I want to share that joy and show you that interracial marriages can and DO work. As believers in Christ, we ought to encourage racial unity and diversity for that is what heaven will be like (Revelation 7:9). And you don’t get as much stigmatism for it than you may think!
D: I have with me Dr. Paul Franks, the Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tyndale University College Seminary who is happily married to Tina Marie Franks. Paul is of Caucasian descent while Tina is Filipino and are parents of two boys.
D: Can you please start by sharing a bit about your own and Tina’s family background?
P: Both our families are very much Protestant, although it wasn’t that way to begin with. Tina’s parents are 1st generation Americans that immigrated from the Philippines while my parents are thoroughly American with some Native American heritage on my mother’s side.
D: How did you meet one another?
P: We met at the church we both attended after moving to Los Angeles to attend Biola University. She was from Sacramento, CA; me from Dallas, TX.
D: Did you and your spouse have any racial preferences prior to dating?
P: I previously dated women of various races (white, Hispanic), but couldn’t say I had a “preference”. Tina Marie, however, has always said she preferred “white guys”.
D: Were there any cultural myths that you’ve seen in Media that were untrue about your spouse?
P: There’s not a lot of media myths about Filipinos, so I can’t think of any that needed to be corrected.
D: When you’re together, do people give you any stares or ridicule?
P: I’ve never really noticed any odd looks, and (thankfully) certainly not any ridicule. This has been true when we visit our families (mine in Oklahoma, hers in California) and also here in Toronto.
D: What about being called a “sell-out” by your own race or being seen as “desperate”?
P: No, but I think it’s because everyone recognizes how hot she is!
D: Did you have any difficulty to choosing which church to go to?
P: No, we met at a church we both attended before getting together and value many of the same things in a church that helped make this pretty straightforward since then. We both come from a Pentecostal background which helps a lot in the marriage.
D: Was there anyone in your family that disapproved of your dating? Marriage?
P: No, and no. Both sides of our families were very supportive.
D: Was it weird when your parents met?
P: Our parents didn’t meet until the wedding day, but they hit it off really well. We were of course, nervous about them getting along but it was obvious from the start that wouldn’t be an issue. What helped was both our families shared the same commitments and common ground. My father was a paint contractor and her father was a postal worker. Both our mom’s are very hospitable as well.
D: Did you exhibit any language barriers with your in-laws and if so how did you deal with them?
P: The only time this has been an issue is with Tina’s grandmother, who sometimes forgets I don’t speak Tagalog. She does speak English fluently though. One day the whole family is together and she’ll just randomly speak Taglog to me. I’ll look at her with a blank stare, to which the rest of the family is quick to remind her for me (which is quite funny, especially since many of the grandchildren don’t speak it either!).
D: Did you or your spouse have any concerns about raising an interracial child? What about your parents?
P: No, and no. I think that because we have so many of the same Christian values it made this less of a concern. It never even crossed our minds.
D: How do you handle the objection that Israelites were special and not marry foreign wives (Deut. 7:3-4)? How about how Israel had to divorce their interracial wives in Ezra to demonstrate repentance?
P: First, Tina’s not a foreign wife, she’s American too! Second, the reason for the ban on interracial wives wasn’t so much the interracial nature of the marriage, but of the various customs that went along with it. Today, it’d be more of a concern to marry a non-believer of the same race than a fellow believer of another race.
D: How have you benefited from marrying someone of a difference race vs. if you had married someone of the same race?
Learning more about my wife’s culture has been a real benefit. It’s more about being married than it is the cultural differences, and it’s taught me more about being patient. Her family all live close to one another and spent nearly every day together. Large family – you can tell there’s a real closeness. Then to hear about her dad, aunts and uncles moving to San Francisco as kids (Her dad and aunt shared a closet as a bedroom inside their small apartment). They’re examples of that American Dream coming true. Through a lot of hard work they came to own their home, have good jobs, and saw their kids go off to university.
D. What’s the favorite part of your spouse’s culture?
P: The close-knit family and the food! I love Chicken Adobo.
Dr. W. Paul Franks
Dr. Franks joined the Tyndale Philosophy faculty in 2008 from the University of Oklahoma, where he completed his dissertation “A Rational Problem of Evil: The Coherence of Christian Doctrine with a Broad Free Will Defense.” He has published articles in Heythrop Journal, Philosophia Christi,Religious Studies and Sophia. He is also the recipient of numerous academic fellowships and awards and is a member of the Society of Christian Philosophers and the Evangelical Philosophical Society.