When we talk about matters of the heart, love doesn’t have any limits. But for many Christians, deciding whether to marry someone who isn’t a Christian is a big deal. It’s about finding the right balance between love and faith. In this article, we’ll dig deep into this topic to help you understand the things to think about, the difficulties, and the chances when a Christian thinks about marrying someone who isn’t a Christian.
Marrying Someone from a Different Faith
For a Christian to marry a non-Christian isn’t really a good idea if the Christian wants to stay true to their beliefs. It’s somewhat less of a problem for a Christian to date a non-Christian, but it’s still not a wise choice because the main goal of dating is to find a partner for marriage.
The Bible provides some clear advice for Christians thinking about marriage, as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.” Think of it like this: if you put two different animals together to pull a plow on a farm, they’ll just end up working against each other. It’s much better when similar animals are paired up.
The same idea applies to people who are closely connected and working together; they should share similar beliefs and goals. It’s not a good idea to tie yourself to someone who doesn’t share your faith and expect things to go well.
Now, 2 Corinthians 6 doesn’t specifically talk about marriage, but it definitely has implications for it. After all, what’s a closer partnership than marriage? So, for a Christian to knowingly marry someone who doesn’t share their faith is like being “unequally yoked,” as the ESV version puts it. Instead of a perfect match, it’s more like a mismatch. The same passage asks, “What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” So, it’s a pretty clear message.
But what about dating? Dating isn’t the same as being “yoked together,” so 2 Corinthians 6:14 might not apply directly. However, there are other things to consider:
First, it’s not a good idea for a Christian to date a non-Christian because dating is supposed to be a step towards marriage. So, if there’s no chance of a biblical marriage, there’s no good reason for a Christian to date a non-Christian. It’s like fishing without wanting to catch a fish; there’s no point in throwing your line into the water.
Second, matters of the heart can sometimes blind us to other important things. We’ve seen this happen with people like Samson and King Solomon, who, despite their strengths and wisdom, made poor choices in love.
Third, there’s a saying in the Bible that goes, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Even if not all non-Christians are bad company, there’s a basic spiritual principle at play: light and darkness don’t mix. Believers are supposed to live as children of light. Even at the least, a believer and an unbeliever will likely have different views on what dating should be like. Getting too close romantically to an unbeliever can lead to trouble and hinder your relationship with Christ.
Some Christians might consider “missionary dating,” where they date a non-Christian with the hope of leading them to faith in Christ. While evangelism is a good thing, dating isn’t primarily for that purpose. For the three reasons mentioned above, missionary dating isn’t a great idea.
Deciding whether to date or marry someone from a different faith isn’t just a relationship decision; it’s also a spiritual one, involving your unwavering faith. It’s good to build friendships with non-believers, but the most important relationships should be with fellow believers.
Is Interfaith Marriage Always Wrong?
No, interfaith marriage isn’t always a terrible idea. But yes, the biblical principle of avoiding being “unequally yoked” is a wise one. Let’s take a closer look at this question.
The Apostle Paul advised the Christians in Corinth to avoid getting into significant relationships, such as marriage, with non-believers. In other words, don’t marry someone who doesn’t share your core Christian beliefs and practices. The challenges of raising children within the Christian faith become much more difficult when one parent isn’t on the same page. While some spouses manage to bring their partner to faith, it’s a rare outcome.
Genuine interfaith marriage can be quite challenging and isn’t something I would recommend. However, the purpose of marriage has evolved over time, and many Christians have expanded upon Paul’s advice about being “unequally yoked.” Instead of being a simple guideline for an acceptable partner, it has become a graded criterion for an ideal one. This can lead to unrealistic expectations.
Why is this problematic? Well, spiritual maturity isn’t evenly distributed among men and women of marriageable age. Quality survey data indicate that there are only two serious, devout evangelical men for every three comparable women. This means that one out of every three evangelical women may not find a partner who matches their level of faith, let alone takes a leadership role in it.
This elevated standard can be summarized as follows: “Find a man who not only matches your faith but is also kind, virtuous, hardworking, employed, and, if possible, handsome, and make him want to marry you.” That’s quite a tall order. In the modern context, marriage is often seen as voluntary and less economically necessary for both men and women compared to the past.
The pressure to make marriage perfect is higher than ever, and marriage is gradually becoming a privilege reserved for the elite who can afford to wait for the right partner. In such a context, it’s not wise to add additional layers of spiritual requirements for marriage. Marriage is a good thing, but it’s a journey with its challenges and blessings. I wouldn’t want Christians to miss out on it, except by their own choice or vocational calling.
Now, what do we mean by interfaith? I, for example, shifted from one Christian tradition to another, and I’m no less a Christian than before. I’d prefer my children to marry fellow Catholics, but the differences between some Christian traditions are smaller than between entirely different religions.
What I don’t recommend is marrying someone from an entirely different faith, someone who follows a different religion altogether or who actively hinders your Christian growth. The biblical principle of being “unequally yoked” is good advice for Christians. Adding more layers of meaning to it, on the other hand, isn’t helpful.
The Emotional Challenges of Interfaith Marriage
In the United States, intermarriage between people of different faiths is happening at a rapid rate. Approximately 50 percent of Jewish men and women marry outside their faith. Similarly, many young Catholics and Protestants are intermarrying. While this increased tolerance and assimilation have positive aspects, they also create challenges for religious communities and marriages.
Interfaith couples are generally less satisfied in their relationships compared to those in same-faith marriages. This is particularly true for evangelical Christians married to non-evangelicals. About 30 percent of evangelical Christians are in interfaith marriages, and the divorce rate is higher for these marriages.
The challenges in interfaith marriage don’t necessarily revolve around theological disagreements. Rather, it’s the day-to-day practices, rituals, and the influence of faith on various aspects of life that can lead to unhappiness and conflict. When one partner grows up in a different religious or cultural environment, there is less common ground for understanding.
Life after the wedding can bring new challenges, especially when it comes to child-rearing, education, and religious practices. Couples from different faith backgrounds may struggle to make decisions about these matters, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. For instance, the celebration of holidays or religious rituals can become points of contention.
One way to address these challenges is to embrace the rituals and celebrations of both faiths within the marriage. This approach allows children to learn about both parents’ backgrounds and beliefs and make their own choices as they grow up.
While interfaith marriages can succeed, many couples benefit from professional support and counseling to navigate the emotional challenges they may encounter. Support is available from mental health and religious communities to assist these couples in maintaining a healthy and harmonious relationship.
Biblical Insights on Marrying a Non-Christian
Interfaith marriage is a topic that holds significant relevance within Christianity, as it raises questions about aligning one’s faith with the scriptural teachings. In this section, we will delve into key Bible verses and passages that shed light on interfaith unions. These verses serve as foundational guidance for Christians seeking to discern the scriptural perspective on this important matter.
2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” This foundational verse serves as a clear scriptural directive regarding the unequally yoked nature of interfaith unions.
It employs the metaphor of being yoked together like oxen, highlighting the potential conflicts that can arise when two individuals with differing beliefs come together.
1 Corinthians 7:12-14 – “To the rest, I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.” This passage addresses the specific case of a believer married to an unbeliever, urging them to maintain the marriage if the unbelieving spouse is willing.
1 Corinthians 7:39 – “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” This verse emphasizes the importance of marrying someone who shares one’s faith, highlighting the significance of a shared commitment to the Lord.
Christian Teachings on Marriage
Christianity places a strong emphasis on the sanctity of marriage and the family unit. In this section, we will explore the broader Christian teachings on marriage and family, providing a comprehensive understanding of the Christian perspective on these fundamental aspects of life.
The Sanctity of Marriage: Christian teachings emphasize the sacred nature of marriage as a covenant established by God. The marital union is seen as a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the Church, underlining its spiritual significance.
Roles and Responsibilities of Spouses: The Bible outlines specific roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives within a marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33, for instance, discusses the husband’s role as a loving leader and the wife’s role in respecting and submitting to her husband.
The Importance of Faith in the Family: Faith is considered a cornerstone of the Christian family. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 highlights the importance of passing down faith to the next generation through teaching, prayer, and modeling a life of faith within the family.
In the complicated journey of love and faith, the decision of whether a Christian should marry someone who isn’t a Christian is very personal. It’s a choice that you need to think about carefully, talk openly about, and be committed to love and faith. There might be challenges, but love can help bridge the gaps between different beliefs and create a happy union. In the end, the path you choose should reflect your values, beliefs, and the strong connection you have with your partner.
Considering whether a Christian can marry someone who isn’t a Christian? Yes, it’s possible, but it’s crucial to tread carefully and have open conversations about your faith and values. Here’s a closer look at some common questions about mixed-faith marriages:
Can a Christian Marry Someone Who Isn’t a Christian?
Yes, a Christian can marry someone who isn’t a Christian. But it’s important to be very careful about this decision and talk openly about your faith and values.
What Are the Main Challenges in a Mixed-Faith Marriage?
The main difficulties include differences in beliefs, how families get along, and dealing with spiritual matters. These challenges can be overcome by talking openly and being deeply committed to love and faith.
How Can We Keep Things Peaceful in a Mixed-Faith Marriage?
To keep things peaceful in a mixed-faith marriage, you need to find things you both agree on, appreciate your differences, and talk about your faiths. It’s also really important to build a strong foundation for your relationship.
Should I Get Advice Before Marrying Someone Who Isn’t a Christian?
Yes, it’s a great idea to get advice from people you trust who are spiritual leaders and get counseling before marrying someone with different beliefs. It can really help you get ready for a mixed-faith marriage.
Can You Raise Kids with Different Religious Beliefs?
Yes, it’s possible to raise kids in a mixed-faith marriage. You just need to talk openly, respect each other’s beliefs, and create an environment where kids can learn about and choose their own faith.
Can Love Overcome Religious Differences?
Yes, love has the power to bring people together even if they have different beliefs. When both people are really committed to understanding and respecting each other’s faith, it can make their relationship stronger and more harmonious.