Written by Evi Idoghor
In a conversation with my cousin the other day, she asked—why can’t a Christian woman marry a non-Christian? After all, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7:13-14(NKJV), “…a woman who has a husband, who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife,” if this is the case, then why are we told that it isn’t right for a believer to marry an unbeliever?
Young Christian women grow anxious with each passing day, pondering if there are young men out there who truly love Christ, and would want to be in a committed relationship with them. Some are part of churches and Christian communities, however, these communities are replete with women, and even if men are present, most of them don’t even look the women’s way. So women are left with the men who don’t take God seriously, knocking on their doorposts, asking for their hand in marriage. And if a passage like 1 Corinthians 7:13, gives you a hall pass, why would you pass up an opportunity of a lifetime?
When Paul was speaking in this passage of scripture, he was probably referring to a group of people, who were already married to non-believing spouses. He wasn’t encouraging those who were single to marry those who don’t believe—both male and female. In fact, if you keep reading from verse 13, you will discover that Paul even hints that it is better to remain single because apart from marriage coming with its own brand of wahala (trouble), a single person was more concerned about pleasing God.
So to him, it was better to remain unmarried. But for those (Christians) who desire to be married, there are reasons why you shouldn’t join your lives with those who don’t believe in Jesus.
1) For the sake of your future kids: let’s say you are secure in your faith, and you believe with all your heart that Jesus is the only way to God, that means you desire to raise your kids to have those same beliefs; it’s a no-brainer. Even if your spouse agrees for you to take them to church and teach them the ways of the Lord, you run the risk of them deciding at an early age that they want to sit out church and the things of God, just like their father.
Possible confusion also sets in about whose God or what to believe, and some kids eventually choose not to believe in anything or anyone, which is a place no believing parent wants their children to be. And in some stringent cases, the unbelieving spouse takes their unbelief seriously, and as such wouldn’t want their kids to be part of what you believe. That is a difficult spot to find oneself in, especially if prior conversations weren’t had.
2) For the sake of biblical support and sharpening one's belief: we can all agree to the fact that this life isn’t a walk in the park. We all experience heartaches, disappointments, grief, loss, and whatever else that has been designed to steal our joy. As believers, when we go through dark seasons in life, we often turn to the word of God as our only anchor. However, there are times when we can’t face such seasons alone. We desire to share our burdens with other believers so they can uplift us, and who better to walk through despondency with, if not life partners?
How then can your unbelieving spouse speak words of hope and encouragement to you to lift your spirits, if they don’t believe in the only One who can set you free? How then can they pray with or for you, if they don’t believe in the God you pray to? That means the spiritual aspect of your lives will rest heavily on you, as the woman, and when you don’t have the strength to keep going, who will stand in the gap? Think about it. The bible says as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.
I remember when I was talking to some guy who did not believe in God. One day he came to me with a problem and needed my advice. In all honesty, all I could tell him was—if it were me, I would pray about it. To which he replied—don't talk to me about prayer! But, God was the only solution I could offer him, and if we ended up getting married irrespective of our belief systems, then we were bound to have enormous issues in our marriage. It is beneficial when your partner in life is also a believer, that way, you can learn, grow and walk through things together.
3) For intimacy's sake: intimacy in marriages doesn’t only have to do with sex, intimacy is also built when you communicate with each other, when you do the things you love to do together, and when you spend time in God’s word. If God is the most important Person to you (the believer), and you love Him with all that is within you, wouldn’t you like to have conversations about Him, especially with the person you love?
If so, how can you share what you are thinking aa it pertains to God, or what your worries are, or what you think He is possibly leading you to do? To the one who doesn’t believe, there is a high chance that they might simply “not get it.” This can then lead to you building relationships with others where you can freely talk about the things of God and your spouse missing out on that unique aspect of you.
4) For the sake of your relationship with God: in Deuteronomy 7:2-3, God warned the Israelites not to intermarry with a group of people. “You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods.”
Oftentimes than not, when a Christian is in a relationship with a non-Christian, especially if the Christian is female, they tend to compromise on their beliefs and values. All of a sudden church becomes a chore, and they begin to indulge in certain practices that they should have no business with. This is the reason why God commanded his people not to intermarry with those who did not know Him, because the issue about being led away from Christ, by an unbelieving partner still rings true till this day.
Women need Christ-like men who will lead the home; the way God intended it. Such men, will apply biblical principles as to how things are handled around the house and especially in the marriage. You need two people who believe in the same God (Christ) coming together, so things can run smoothly at the home front. If one person wants to head south, and the other person, north, you both will butt heads.
Marriage is not an easy fit, most people say, and I believe that if you add a layer such as unbelief to your marriage, then you will have a lot on your plate to tackle—from relentlessly praying for your spouse’s salvation to walking on eggshells about the issues you don’t see eye-to-eye on, to being discouraged when it seems like no change is happening. So, if you are not yet married, it is better for you to partner with someone who believes in God (not through their words only, but by their actions), it will make your life easier.
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