Here is a question raised about believers marrying unbelievers:
To: BOL <email@example.com
Sent: Mon, Mar 22, 2010 7:08 pm
Subject: [BOL] Believers Marrying Unbelievers
I preached a sermon yesterday on believers marrying non-believers and the arguments that some use to say that it is a sin. For example please consider...
First, there is an Old Testament argument that is sometimes used and the argument is that the Law of Moses forbade Israel from marrying pagan nations (5
). Since the Law of Moses forbade Israel from marrying pagan nations they like to assume that this is still in effect today and that it is wrong for Christians to marry unbelievers just as it was wrong for Israel of old to marry from those pagan nations.
Second, there is also a new testament argument used and it is from 2 Cor. 6:14 "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" Those that believe that it is a sin for a believer to marry an unbeliever often use what Paul said about not being "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever. Their argument is that verse 14 forbids marriage from occurring with unbelievers.
Third, there is an emotional argument that is often used. The argument is that there are many known cases of Christians that were pulled away from the church because of their marriage to unbelievers, but this argument isn't authority.
With those three arguments being pointed out I would like to get feedback as to what others understand on this subject. Through my studies and discussions with other brethren I find that Scripture strongly discourages a believer not to marry an unbeliever, but does not give an absolute prohibition of the marriage. I understand many try to take 2 Cor. 6 and relate it to strictly just marriage, but we do not see marriage, husband, wife or spouse mentioned anywhere in the context of the entire chapter. However, I do believe that marriage is included in the "unequal yoke" as well as business partnerships and friendships, if you are not going to be the dominating influence in those relationships. I pointed out in my sermon that 1 Pet. 2 and 3 would be a better fit for someone discussing the marriage to unbelievers and seeing exactly what we are to do.
After preaching this sermon I had an individual approach me and tell me that the "unequal yoke" means to "lie down with" in the Hebrew and that there isn't any closer relationship than marriage in order for that term to be used. I haven't been able to find this in any commentary... "Barnes", "Henry" or "Gospel Advocate" or Vines. Therefore they were saying 2 Cor. 6 was and is specific to marriage. Furthermore, they said that one must repent of their sin if they do marry an unbeliever, but what do you do in the event your spouse doesn't convert? Do you continue to live in sin staying married to them? Jesus said there is only one exception for divorce, sexual immorality, having an unbelieving wife or husband is not what He said. In fact Peter says just the opposite in 1 Pet. 3 and so does Paul in 1 Cor. 7 (stay with them).
So, I look at it like this: if God does not consider a couple to be married that scripturally can not be then why would He allow or accept union between a couple to be married if one is a believer and the other an unbeliever. Would He then be saying it is okay to marry in sin and continue in it? Would this mean that all the Christians that have married unbelievers to be not actually be married, but just "shacked up", possibly with a family until the unbeliever becomes a believer? What do they do then? Remarry, or should I say marry for the first time?
The question: is it a sin to marry an unbeliever? I believe it is strongly discouraged because of the consequences in ones marriage and the possibility of being pulled away from the church, not to mention the ramifications on the children and all other facets of marriage. I believe it is unwise, but is it a sin?
I look forward to the feedback.
Your servant in Christ