Finding the right partner, while not mandatory, is an incredibly important part of our Christian walk, and even though we want to be with a Christian, it is not easy to find one to fall in love with, but is there ever a time when it is okay to marry outside the church?
Before we start, this article is only going to cover one scenario between Christians and non-Christians: Christians who willingly marry, or are thinking of dating/marrying, non-Christians
To be clear, this article is about discussing the Bible’s perspective on these types of relationships, and is in no way designed to cast non-Christians as villains or horrible people–though in reality, the moral standards Christians live by, and/or aspire to, are sometimes different
Simply put, God’s standard of righteousness does not align with the world’s, no matter how anyone chooses to debate it
Also, regardless of the tone of this article, which is spicy, it comes from a place of love and personal experience, as I have spent decades chasing after non-Christian relationships, and have seen this be a very common stumbling block for Christians of all ages
Oh, and by the way, watch that first step, I am coming out of the gate fast on this topic
What Makes Non-Christian Partners So Appealing In The First Place
Okay, first, Christians do not date non-Christians because they are automatically less appealing than Christians, they date them because they are more desirable than the Christian dating opportunities they have available
Well duh right?
Yes, but not how one might think
As obvious as this natural gravitation is, it, sadly, only demonstrates one thing: Christians who date non-Christians value the fulfillment they receive in a worldly, human relationship more than they respect God’s instructions or the benefit they get from walking intimately with him
Well “duh” right?
Oh, the humanity!
Seriously, there are no two ways of looking at this
I mean come on, if someone truly wanted a passionate, life-changing relationship with God, one they could share and experience with their partner as they grew, not to mention share with their children, they would not think twice about having a non-Christian spouse–it would not even be a remote possibility!
Unless someone’s relationship with God is just a hobby they enjoy alone on Sundays and high holidays, it should be what they base their entire life around, not to mention be something they want to share with everyone around them–this is a matter of eternal life, not whether someone likes Chinese more than Italian!
Think about it like this, if we are sincerely leaning on God, the creator of the universe who bought us with his own blood, for strength, guidance, wisdom, etc…, how awkward is it during those inevitable moments where someone goes, “Well, if that is what makes you happy…”
How ridiculous is it to reduce God’s love and sacrifice for us to such a pandering comment?
And what happens when a couple has kids, how does one explain the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the room where one parent has a relationship with God, but the other says they do not believe he exists?
Why in the world would we want our children to believe any other way than the truth?
Not to mention of all the times we get excited when we grow because of an amazing Bible verse, anointed sermon, and when we hear from God, how does one share or talk about that with their partner if they do not believe?
“Oh, but you do not understand, not only do they respect my beliefs, but they love me and make me feel cared for!”
Look, “Rationalized Excuses McGee”, everyone wants to be swept up in a passionate, loving relationship, one that wipes away our sadness, overlooks our faults, erases our past, and makes us feel loved, new, and attractive–but we forget these are all things God wants us to feel, not only with a partner, but with him as well
However, in order for us to find the person God wants us to be with, it usually means growing past those desperate, sensual, insecure, lonely feelings that typically drive us to do, or think things no spiritually minded person would
Mmm hmm, that’s right, I went there…
Simply put, if someone values fulfillment in a human relationship more than their long-term relationship with the one who died for their sins, their priorities are not set on God out of gratitude and spiritual maturity, they are set on themselves for the sake of personal gratification
Before anyone stops reading in favor of expressing their indignation by writing a heated comment, don’t think I have not been there myself!
Seriously, I am speaking from my own, hilariously embarrassing personal experiences, and the collective feedback numerous Christians have provided over the years about why they dated/married non-Christians, ie:
“I was at a low point in my life and was weak”
“But they are really hot!”
“They were willing to accept all of my faults”
“They were way more interesting than the Christian people I knew”
“I like having sex, and Christians are not very passionate”
“I do not like living according to all those rules, and most Christians are rigid when it comes to that sort of thing”
“Christians are not exciting”
“I like to drink and have fun, but Christians are so judgmental”
“They are open to the idea of God, maybe they will become a Christian after we are married”
“If God did not want me to have this relationship, he would not have put it in front of me”
Tragically, these types of reasons all reflect the hearts of people who are not relying on God for strength, purpose, identity, and/or righteous guidance, instead, most of these “reasons” are focused on rationalizing why non-Christian relationships are acceptable in their own eyes, rather than God’s
Of course, there are more reasons/excuses for dating non-Christians than I can actually list, as each person’s exact reasons will vary based on their personality, life goals, relationship with God, how they were raised, life style, how they want to raise kids, etc…, but the blunt truth is, when someone is faced with a choice, the option they place the highest value on will win
For example, when someone places more value on the companionship, loose lifestyle, validation, affection, sexual relationship, etc…, they experience while in a non-Christian relationship more than they value the benefit they receive from their relationship with God, or from obeying the Bible, they will choose a worldly relationship every time
I should know, I did it for decades
Okay, So Just What Does The Bible Say
Whoa whoa whoa, slow down
So Christians are actually supposed to consider what the Bible says before selecting a partner?
That is completely crazy!
I mean, it is not like we trust God to ransom our souls from death and forgive all our sins after having stepped down from his throne to shed his blood on our behalf, so how can God, the creator of the universe, have the nerve to think he knows better than *us* when it comes to who we select as relationship partners?
Honestly, if this is even a remote thought in your head, take off your “are you so dull” hat and show me where you got bruised falling out of the bad idea tree
“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean’”
Seriously, unless someone has not read their Bible, it is pretty clear on the subject of intermingling those who believe in God with those who do not
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people”
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you”
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”
Not exactly a set of unclear statements!
For further context, the Greek word used above for “righteousness” is the same word that is used to describe the righteousness “apart from law” that Jesus died to make possible through his sacrifice, ie: God’s divine influence on the heart of those who put their faith in him, which is what happens when God’s spirit within us guides us toward his righteousness
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe
Based on that, we see Paul is saying:
“The righteous influence from God’s own spirit dwelling within you has *nothing* in common with those who are dead in sin, do not even entertain the idea of marrying someone who is not alive in Christ!”
The reason why Paul was so adamant about this, is because we are spiritually joined with the people we get sexually intimate with, literally becoming one, and Paul did not want anyone to join the spirit of God, that dwells inside of Christians, to someone who is spiritually dead
Jesus discussed this spiritual connection as well
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one”
Think about it like this, why would God join himself to someone who did not believe in him, to someone who was not made pure through their faith in Jesus?
We are the very temple he purified with his own blood, he would never want that!
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God
Paul also made another clear statement about how Christians should not be spiritually joined with non-Christians because of their spiritual condition here, referencing the same “two will become on flesh” line Jesus did (originally from Genesis when God created Adam and Eve):
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body
Before anyone tries to say:
“Yeah, but I am not sleeping with prostitutes, so this does not count”
(The sad thing is, people actually think like this as a way of justifying why their non-Christian relationships are okay)
Note that the word “immorality” used above in the Greek does not refer specifically to prostitutes, it means “illicit sexual intercourse, ie: adultery, fornication (sex outside marriage), homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, etc…”, Paul is just using prostitutes as one example of what is considered not okay in the vast realm of inappropriate sexual interactions
Also, this passage was made in parallel to the one made in 2 Corinthians 6 as noted above, as Paul was very specific about the reasons why we should not be joined to non-Christians, as in both passages he cites the same thing: how awful it is to join the spirit of God, that dwells in our bodies that serve as the very temple of God, to those who do not believe
I have not seen anywhere in Paul’s teachings where he says:
“Everyone, do not join the spirit of God to those who do not believe, you were paid for with the very blood of God! Well, unless they are really hot or they make you really happy, then I guess that is okay, never mind, forget what I said before, game on!”
We Say We Love God, So Why Do We Deny Him With Our Relationship Choices
Rather than focus on legalistic reasons, excuses, etc… for why our particular relationship is “okay”, we should have a mind to please the one who gave us life by seeking after him with our whole hearts, not rationalize why things are permissible in our lives even though they separate us from God
1 Corinthians 6:13
“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything
I understand, from vast personal experience, how powerful the draw is towards non-Christians sometimes, but the reality is, those relationships only serve to take us away from the only one who has the power to heal us and give us life, even if it scares us to death that we might be alone or left unfulfilled without a worldly relationship in our lives
God loves us so much, he rejoices over us with his own songs, and we cannot even begin to fathom the opportunity for intimacy we exchange in our lives when we choose to be with non-Christians, no matter how we might choose to rationalize it in our minds
Sometimes we just have to acknowledge that, despite the powerful emotions and physical attractions, what we find appealing is modeled after the life we have experienced, not necessarily where we want to end up or who we aspire to be, or be with–never forget we came from a life of death and evil desires before we knew Jesus, and those can sometimes have a hold on us in ways we still need to surrender to God’s healing, ignoring all the anxiety, insecurity, and powerful attractions along the way
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing
If we are striving towards something, would we knowingly put something between us that would hinder us from achieving our goal? In order to do so, we would have to see that block as more valuable than the goal we claim to be working to achieve, so we just need to ask ourselves: does being with a non-Christian bring us closer or take us farther away from God?