Informer Home

Can A Christian Marry Outside Of The Church?

Can A Christian Marry Outside Of The Church?

by Kevin Hayhurst

Published in
The Christian Informer
December, 2002

What's New?
Daily Reading
Send Mail


Subscription to this publication

Last updated:
December 7, 2002.

WE HAVE MANY young folks who are now dating, and also many more who will be reaching that time in their lives when they are going to start looking for someone to spend the rest of their lives with. This is a very critical time for a young adult Christian, one that should be approached with much thought and consideration before doing so. If I may, I would like to share with you some Scripture and some thoughts centered on the question, "Can I marry outside the church?"

I would like to begin by saying that this is a very important decision that you will make in your life. The most important decision you will ever make, obviously, is the decision to obey the gospel, to become a Christian. The second greatest decision you make will determine whom you will spend your life with.

I would like to discuss with you, that there is a whole lot at stake in making this decision. And, if not approached carefully and scripturally, it could lead to a lifetime of misery and spiritual destruction.

(Read Genesis 6:1-6) We find here that God was grieved because of the increased wickedness, which had spread across the face of the earth. This wickedness was a result of the "sons of God going in unto the daughters of men." This reasoning also continued in Genesis 27:46 which says, "And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?" In Genesis 24:1-4, Abraham tells his trusted servant that he is to go back to the land of his fathers and find a wife for his son, Isaac. And a generation later we find Isaac and Rebekah with the same problem. Rebekah comes to the conclusion that if her son marries outside the people of God, she would regard her life as becoming useless. In Genesis 28:1, Isaac called and blessed Jacob saying unto him, "Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan." Now in these passages from the book of Genesis we are clearly able to see the attitude these folks had concerning who God expected them to marry. And, according to these patriarchs, God's people were to marry God's people!

Moving on, we are now going to examine God's feelings toward this subject in the second dispensation, or the Mosaical law.

(Read Deuteronomy 7:1-6) In relation to us today, the same thing still applies. We today are a chosen people of God and we are a specia1 people; we are the Lord's. And because of this, there are certain requirements that He expects of us. He teaches us that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, or those who are outside the kingdom of God. In verse 4 He states that if these parents allow their sons to marry the daughters of other people, and likewise their daughters to marry the sons of other people, they will then begin to worship strange gods. Obviously, we can learn from these Scriptures that when the children of God marry those outside the family of God, they are led away to serve other gods. Now there are except1ons to this. There are those who are in the church today because of the influence of a spouse, and I am one of them. But we need to understand that marriage cannot be used as a way to convert someone we care for, because it is too risky and there is too much at stake.

(Read Ezra 9:1-4) Ezra was approached with the news that even the leaders of Israel had not separated themselves from the strange women of heathen lands. Ezra got so upset that he tore his clothes, pulled the hair out of his head, and yanked the beard from his face. Why was he so upset? He heard that God's people were marrying outside the family of God - a "trespass." Now concerning the priests of God under the law of Moses, Ezekiel 44:22 says, "Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before." The priests were required to marry a virgin of their own people. They could not even marry a widow unless she was the widow of a priest. And according to Revelation 1:5,6, today, we are all priests-the royal priesthood. And from this passage along with the others we have studied thus far, the Scriptures plainly support the idea that people of God are commanded to marry the people of God.

(Read 2 Cor. 6: 14-18) Christians are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This Scripture, I believe, can be applied to many aspects in our lives, but one of the most important applications it has is the marriage vow. Who is it that we spend the most of our time with? Is it not our mate? Paul argues that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers!

In 1 Corinthians 9 we find Paul being scrutinized. Folks were saying that he was different from Peter and the other apostles. So, in verse 5, he mentions one of the differences was that he was a single man. But Paul says that he has a right to have a sister, a wife. Now you might be wondering what exactly is he saying here? Well, the N.I.V. states it this way, "Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?" The American Standard Version translates this way: "Have we not right to lead about a wife that is a sister?" There are two key words that can be taken from these translations - "Believing sister." Paul doesn't simply say he has a right to be married, but he restricts himself in saying, "I have the right to be married to a sister." I feel that it is important that our young people be made aware of this subject. After all, our young people are the future of the Lord's church. And when your young folks start off on the wrong foot, the church will suffer in the end. I would like to stress the point to you this morning that it is not wrong to date outside of the church, but will emphasize that it is very dangerous!

I would like to say to our young folks that there are warning signs that you can look for when dating outside the church and for that matter, signs that you can look for when dating within the church. Take time to evaluate your relationship "before" it gets too serious. Question yourself, "Will this boy or this girl help me get to heaven?" And if you cannot answer this question with an honest "Yes," you need to stop this relationship immediately. One thing for sure, and that is if you cannot talk about scriptural things while dating, don't fool yourself into believing that this will get any better after you are married. There might be exceptions to this, but the odds are definitely not in your favor. Marriage is supposed to be a lifetime commitment and when there are spiritual differences, most likely, you wil1 be ,n for a lifetime of misery, and you wil1 suffer spiritually because of it.

I would like to remind our teenagers that at one time all of us experienced what you are going through. This time in your life can be awkward, and you might be wondering if you will ever find that right person. Well, my advice to you is, please be patient, and above all, go to God in prayer about your feelings.

Do your homework on the individual you are interested in. We are living in a time and age with so many marriages ending in divorce. Far too often a young person places the majority of their importance on the outward beauty rather than the inward beauty of the heart. We know this to be a fact, because the apostle Peter warns women In 1 Peter 3:3-5 not to trust in their outward beauty or adornment to hold a husband. He says of the Christian woman, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, In that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands."

There is a word that I believe describes marriage very well. That word is "commitment." I would like to remind our young people who are single, unless you are willing to make a disciplined commitment to another person's welfare, you have no right and you nave no business being married, because there will be times in your marriage when your opinions will differ. There will be times in your marriage when things do not go your way. These are going to be trying times for you! These are the times when a disciplined commitment to your mate's well being, along with your prayers to God, are the only two things that will see you through.

You need to prepare yourselves by understanding that marriage will not always be easy. And I stress the word "discipline" because you need to understand that you might not always get to do what you want to do, spend as much as you would like to spend, or get to go where you would like to go. And because of these things you need to discipline yourselves, and consider the welfare of others in your home.

In conclusion, I would like to make one final comment to you young people, please give serious consideration to the decisions you are faced with, because marriage is a lifetime commitment that will bring lifetime consequences.

  3856 Mud Creek Rd
  Adger, AL 35006-1702