Must A Christian Marry A Christian?

Kenneth E. Thomas
Bradenton, Florida

I recently received this question in the mail from a sister in Christ and I thought your readers might enjoy studying this question also.

Question: "Dear brother Thomas. Must a Christian marry a Christian? I have been told they must. What do you believe the Bible to teach on this?"

Answer: A Christian does not sin when he marries a non-Christian! Now having said that, to advise a Christian to date or to marry a non-Christian, an alien sinner, is about the worst advice I could give a person for several reasons.

The following is why I say it is not sinful to marry a non-Christian:

Paul told some of the brethren in Corinth to remain with their mates who were not Christians (1 Cor. 7:10-17). It follows that anyone may enter into any relationship in which another Christian is advised to remain. If it is a sin for a Christian to marry a non-Christian, how does one go about repenting of said sin? Must they divorce without a scriptural cause (Mt. 19:1-9; Rom. 7:1-4)? Two wrongs do not make one right!

Many times because we know it is very unwise and in probably the majority of cases causes untold grief and loss of well-being from a spiritual point of view, some have misused some Scriptures in an attempt to get brethren not to marry alien sinners.

"Only In The Lord."

One such argument runs like this: Since the widow is admonished to marry "only in the Lord" and this means one who is a Christian, then surely one entering into marriage the first time should likewise marry a Christian. Sounds good and insofar as advice goes, is good advice. The problem comes when one binds this as the teaching of the word of Christ. "Only in the Lord" means simply in keeping with all the Lord has said on the subject of marriage. Also the context must be considered, the present distress. If it means only to marry a Christian, then "only in the Lord" means for children to only obey their parents if they are Christians for Paul said, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord . . ." (Eph. 6:1; 1 Cor. 7:39).

Another passage misused by over zealous Christians to teach that it is sinful for a Christian to marry an alien is 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Here Paul speaks of not participating in things with those who would be of different view than we in such a way as to bid godspeed or to fellowship said error. Later in the same context he said, come out from their midst. (v. 17). This would require divorce without cause also if marriage was under consideration, but such advice would contradict the teachings of Jesus! So marriage isn't what is under consideration in this text.

My opinion is this: A faithful Christian will think very seriously before he begins to date an alien sinner because dating leads to marriage. A faithful Christian will therefore rarely end up falling in love with an alien sinner. Now if both are alien sinners and one is later converted, obviously you have a Christian married to an alien sinner and they must go from there. There must have been some who were married to aliens or Paul would not have given the advice we have already mentioned from 1 Corinthians 7. Also Peter tells the godly woman how, if she is to win her husband to Christ, she must conduct herself (1 Pet. 3:1-6). Some say that in all cases mentioned in the Scriptures, they were married before the one was converted. That cannot be proved. It is an assumption and a dangerous one! It is a fact that some of the most active and the most dedicated Christians we have known were converted by their mates after they were married for a time; the statistics, however, show that usually we see the Christian led into unfaithfulness to Christ when he marries a non-Christian.

Some Things To Consider

Is the one you love interested in spiritual matters? Is he willing to attend services with you? Does he try to get you to miss services to go places and do things from time to time? If they will not show an interest now while you are dating and they are trying to impress you and win your hand in marriage, what makes you think they will suddenly become interested after your marriage? All things considered, a faithful Christian will seek to marry a faithful Christian usually. Someone said if you marry an alien sinner, you have Satan as your father-in-law! That may be too strong, but it is food for thought because an alien sinner regardless of your love for him/her is a child of the devil (Rom. 6:16). It is difficult when both are of the same and like precious faith. How much more difficult it must be for one married to the average alien sinner! Now there are exceptions to this general rule I'm sure. Some who profess to be Christians hinder their mates from faithful service to the Lord more than some alien sinners. In fact I have known some Christians over the years who were married to alien sinners who would do everything within their power to assist them in getting to services and even to gospel meetings at other congregations in the area. Others I have known who were married to "Christians" were not able to do this! There is a great difference between someone who has just been "dunked" in water and someone who is truly dedicated and converted to Christ.

Imagine being deeply in love with your mate who isn't a Christian and being unable to share the most precious thing in your life, your spiritual interest! When you attempt to talk about spiritual matters with him you cannot do so from the same vantage point, for he does not share the same relationship with Jesus that you do. Even if he understands what you are saying, he has no scriptural right to rejoice with you.

Just imagine also what may happen when you plan your giving to the Lord each Lord's day especially if you are a woman, and especially if he is the only one working and bringing in an income! Need I say more? It usually poses a problem even if the wife has her own income, for what is brought into the home is considered "jointly" owned. Guess what else? An alien sinner (a child of the devil) becomes the head of the house over the child of God. One is now placed in a terrible position of having to disobey her husband in such a case as we are looking at when his desires and wishes run counter to the will of Christ. She can submit and obey him as Ephesians 5:22 teaches "only in the Lord" or in other words when what he wants and demands isn't contrary to the will of Christ (Eph. 6:1; Acts 5:29). Many women aren't strong enough in the faith to stand up against a man she loves, and so her service to Christ suffers many times. Women, ask your sister in Christ who is married to the alien sinner and, unless it is one of those rare cases, you will hear drawbacks and heartaches that you could avoid by marrying a faithful Christian!

Parents who are Christians do not give sufficient time and effort to instructing their children as to the kind of associations a Christian should seek. It is as true today as it was over nineteen hundred years ago, that "evil associations corrupt good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33). If we encourage our children to date people who at least have a spiritual attitude, and are Bible believers even if they aren't New Testament Christians, perhaps they will attend services with our children and we can assist in their conversion before marriage. The ideal would be for our children to date some faithful Christian, but this becomes quite difficult if not next to impossible sometimes. Sometimes our children aren't Christians at this point in life.

People's attitude toward the things herein presented is affected to a great extent by just how much our relationship to Christ really means to us (Luke 14:26-33). We must give up self! Are we willing to give up everything for Christ if need be to live faithfully for Him? He willingly gave up everything for us you know (Heb. 2:9; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:5-11). See Mark 10:28-30!

Guardian of Truth XXX: 23, pp. 705, 727
December 4, 1986