By Terry L. Sumerlin
Though I am one who, like Brother William B. Wright, believes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cures-i.e. a Christian is wise in marrying a Christian; I do not concur with his conclusion drawn from passages of scripture on the subject. According to Brother Wrights reasoning on certain passages (though his conclusions on the passages and his conclusion to the article did not harmonize), it is sinful for a Christian to marry a non-Christian. This I do not accept. Thus, lets consider his usage of scripture.
Under his heading “An Important Principle,” we find a number of passages taken from the Old Testament to show that the old patriarchs married “their own.” Also, passages are cited in reference to “mixed marriages”- of the children of Israel and the condemnation of such by Nehemiah. To show the lesson we are supposed to get from this, Rom. 15:4 is given: ” . . . whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. . . .” Yet, I do not believe we are to misuse O.T. passages (or new for that matter) in order to make application where there is not such, as I believe our good brother has honestly done. If one will look closely at Neh. 13:24, he will find the following primary reason given for the condemnation of “mixed marriages” among Israel: “And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod and could not speak in the Jews language, but according to the language of each people.” As I understand it, Nehemiahs condemnation primarily had to do with “mixing of races” so as to provide an impure lineage for Christ (as seems to have been the case with all such O.T. passages); and secondarily with possible spiritual damage as in the case of Solomon, being affected by such a marriage. Yet, the second was not necessitated by the first (consider the marriage of Moses, Num. 12: 1). As to the marriages of the old patriarchs, the fathers also chose wives for their sons. Maybe, this is also “for our learning.”
Moving from this point, though, to the section headed “New Testament Teaching,” lets consider the passage used by Brother Wright in 1 Cor. 9:5. I, too, believe the passage is dealing with a “believing wife,” but I do not agree with the idea that such infers that the unbelieving woman is not an eligible mate for a Christian. Our brothers reasoning on the passage is comparable to saying that because Paul approved eating meats and eating herbs, but said nothing of eating them together, such is sinful! Notice in 1 Cor. 9 Paul says it is approved to be single or marry a Christian. Does the fact that in this place nothing is said about marrying a non Christian, make it wrong? I think not!
Though no specific application is made of 1 Cor. 7:39, I take it that our brother intends to say from this that since widows are to marry Christians (“only in the Lord”), this implies that all Christians are to marry “only in the Lord.” This, I believe. Yet, I do not believe “only in the Lord” means Christian. If such is the meaning of the expression, then children are bound by Eph. 6: 1 to only obeying parents who are Christians, i.e. “in the Lord.” The expression, rather, seems to mean widows are to marry and children are to obey their parents only to the extent that they would not be caused by “obedience” or “marriage” to disobey the Lord. This is a far cry from proving “mixed marriages” wrong.
In connection with what Brother Wright has said on 2 Cor. 6: 14, let me say that if this passage is teaching that marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian is sinful, in itself, one has a serious contradiction between verse 17 of the same chapter (“. . . come out from among them and be ye separate . . .”) and 1 Cor. 7:12-13. The truth of the matter seems to be that the passage is teaching that we should not enter into any agreement, etc., which would give the non Christian the advantage that would cause the Christian to sin. Though such could exist (and often does) in “mixed marriages,” the context seems to indicate that this is not specifically under consideration.
In conclusion I must say that I see something strange in reasoning by which one labors in an article of such length as the one under consideration to prove something in violation of Biblical principles, and then ends it by saying that the individual who marries a non-Christian is to be treated as any other Christian. If I understand the Bible correctly, when one violates Biblical teaching he (she) sins. Yet, the article does not lead one to believe such. Notice: Either the marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian violates Biblical principles and is sin; or such a marriage does not violate Biblical principles. I take the latter! Though a “mixed marriage” might show a lack of judgment; I do not believe it reflects on ones godliness!!!
(Readers are asked to refer to Vol. XVI, No. 46 of Truth Magazine for “The Beginning of Sorrows”)
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 5, pp. 10-1
November 30, 1972