The Use of Old Testament Scripture (VIII)

The Danger of Marring Unbelievers

Billy W. Moore
Butler, Missouri

"And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." (Genesis 2:18) The first woman was made and presented to man, and Adam said . . . "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Bible students recognize that marriage is a divine institution, and that "marriage is honorable in all" (Heb. 13:4). Not only has God made the first marriage, but also men of God continue to advise marriage. "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house ... (1 Tim. 5:14). Marriage was designed for the good of man, "To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Cor. 7:2), and is commended by the Lord: "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord." (Prov. 18:22) Those who marry must be sure that their marriage is "in the Lord," or in keeping with the Lords will. (Cf. 1 Cor. 7:39)

While I know of no passage of scripture that would condemn a believer who marries an unbeliever, and I know of no group of brethren who make it a practice to disfellowship the believer who marries an unbeliever, yet such a practice may have disastrous results and all should be forewarned of these dangers. One use of the Old Testament scripture is to show the danger of marrying unbelievers. (Note: The Law of Moses commanded those of Israel to marry an Israelite. In fact they were to marry within their own tribe so that the inheritance would not be moved from tribe to tribe (Cf. Num. 36:612 1. They were forbidden by law to marry those of other nations (Deut. 7:3-41, a command that was later repeated (Ezra 9:12; Neh. 10:30; 13:23-30). However, this does not alter -the effectiveness of our lesson, but merely emphasizes the reason for not marrying unbelievers.)

Possible Results of Marriage To An Unbeliever

In his wisdom God knew what would be best for man. Those who believe in God should recognize this and be willing to live in harmony with Gods will for us. God seeks for us our own eternal well being. His word warns of the possible results of the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever. We note these under three headings:

1. May turn away ones heart from God.

2. May turn one to a false religion.

3. May keep one from doing Gods will.

Of course there is some overlapping of these three things, but any one of them would be destructive to the soul.

Examples From Old Testament

1. Sons of God took wives of the daughters of men. (Genesis 6:2) While we cannot be sure as to the meaning of this statement, it is evident that a contrast is made between the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men." Adam Clarke suggests that some believe the "sons of God" are the descendants of Seth, while the "daughters of men" are the descendants of Cain, who had rebelled against God and turned unto his own ways. Whether that be so I do not know, but none the less the marriage of "the sons of God" unto the "daughters of men" led unto the destruction of all mankind, save eight souls, for God saw that "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth," and he determined to destroy him because of his sin. (See Genesis 6) Notice that the marriage of the sons of God unto the daughters of men is mentioned specifically in connection with mans turning from God and failing to do Gods will.

2. Solomon. When Solomon became king of Israel, lie was given the right to ask anything his heart desired. He asked for "an understanding heart" to judge the people of Israel. His request pleased God, and besides being made the wisest man who had ever lived, God gave him riches and honor. (1 Kings 3:5-15) In his wisdom he did not see the danger of being married to foreign women. He took the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, as a wife. (1 Kings 3: 1- 3) Later he loved many strange women, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, Hittities, notwithstanding the fact that God had commanded Israel not to take wives of the women of these nations. (Cf. 1 Kings 11:1-3) These women were from the very nations whom the Israelites had to fight in years past. One would think that in all of his wisdom Solomon would avoid entanglements that would pull him away from God, but he did not. When he was old his wives "turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father." He began to worship Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, and Milcorn the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord. Later he built high places for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Molecb, the abomination of the children of Ammon. (See I Kings 11:4-8) Who would have thought that Solomon would have turned away from the God of Israel? Would any have suspected that he would someday bow down unto idols? Surely not. Even though the true and living God had twice appeared unto him and commanded him not to go after other gods, he found himself worshipping idols. Solomons heart was turned away from God. He turned unto a false religion. He did not do the will of the God of Israel. These are the dangers of marrying an unbeliever. If Solomon in all his wisdom was susceptible unto these dangers, how much more are we.

3. Ahab, king of Israel, Ahab took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of the king of the Zidonians, "and went and served Baal and worshipped him." (1Kings 16:31) He built a house of Baal in Samaria and reared up an altar for Baal, and made a grove. The people of Israel followed Ahab and Jezebel in their idolatry, so much that Elijah the prophet of God who lived at that time thought be was the only one who bad not bowed the knee unto Baal, but be was wrong. However, this illustrates bow widespread idolatry was in Israel at this time.

4. The Jewish men. In the days of Nehemiah many Of the Jews had "married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab." The situation was such that their children could not speak the language of the Jews, but spake half in the speech of Ashdod. Nehemiah contended with them, cursed (reviled) them, smote certain of them, and made them swear by God, saying, "Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: Nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in- marrying strange wives." (Neh. 12:23-29)

These examples are sufficient to show the danger in a believer marrying an unbeliever. Again I state that the New Testament does not forbid a believer being married to an unbeliever, but presupposes that such a situation will exist and teaches the believer bow to conduct him under such circumstances. (See 1 Cor. 7:10-16) However, since those things which were written aforetime were written for our learning, we should surely learn of the great dangers involved when a believer is so united in marriage to one who does not believe. Let us teach these things unto our children and stress the importance of a mutual faith in the Lord, and how such faith enhances opportunities for happiness and success in marriage.

People of God will continue to marry, for this is Gods will. For those who are contemplating marriage we urge you to consider these things:

1. Be sure you have a right to marry and that the one you plan to marry has a right to marry. You can be sure of this if you marry one who has not been married, or one who has been married but whose companion is dead. To be married to one who has been married, he must have been divorced because of fornication. If divorced for some other reason, then you become an adulterer when you marry him. (See Matt. 19:9)

"Determine to cleave to each other until death you do part. Remember, a man is to leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife.

3. Marry one who is a believer. This will give greater foundation to your relationship. It will give you a mutual faith to share, and a source of authority to turn unto in time of trouble, as well as a source of strength and comfort in time of tribulation or sorrow. And you avoid the dangers involved in marrying an unbeliever.

December 21, 1972