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Why is this cereal ad so controversial?

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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screen grab from a Cheerios commercial that is part of their Just Checking campaign. The commercial has created a controversy because of its depiction of an interracial family (Credit: Cheerios)

Cheerios has been around since World War II.  Who knew the cereal could spark a controversy?

Their latest ad depicts an adorable little girl asking her mother if Cheerios is good for the heart.  She explains that it is.  The girl then pours Cheerios on her sleeping father’s chest.  What’s the problem?  The mother is Anglo, the father African-American.

Social media response has been “fierce, nasty and unusually racist,” according to USA Today.  The ad has been viewed more than 1.7 million times on YouTube; Cheerios had to disable the comments section.  The company explained: “We are a family brand and not all of the comments were family-friendly.”  However, General Mills has no plans to stop airing the ad or to take it down from YouTube.  One marketing expert applauded: “They can’t bow to this incredible ugliness and underbelly of hatred.  If the father had not been black, it would have been just another spot.”{source}
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John Piper’s ministry has experienced first-hand the passion provoked by interracial marriage.  He recently gave a talk on the question, “Can a White Woman Marry a Black Man?”  His answer: “There are two basic restrictions on marriage in the Bible: Number one, she should marry a man.  Number two, he should be a Christian.”  His podcast has been heard nearly 19,000 times.

What does the Bible say about this apparently-controversial issue?

First, Old Testament prohibitions against intermarriage were based on religion, not race (see Joshua 23:12-13; Ezra 9:12; Nehemiah 10:30; 13:23-30).  For instance, Deuteronomy 7 warned the Jews regarding the Canaanites: “Do not intermarry with them.  Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons” (v. 3).  Here’s why: “for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods” (v. 4).  Moses married a “Cushite” (Numbers 12:1), a person who may have been from modern-day Ethiopia.  When his brother and sister criticized him for marrying her, the Lord defended Moses (vs. 1-9).

Second, racism in all its forms is wrong.  God instructed the Jews: “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born.  Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).  The half-brother of Jesus warned us: “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus, don’t show favoritism” (James 2:1).

What are your thoughts on this controversy?  And remember that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  Who needs your acceptance and support today?