Can I Marry an Unbeliever?

Paul offers a blunt assessment of marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

Paul does not go as far as to call it sin, but nevertheless this could be considered a command not to do so.  The reason is simple –  a Christian and non-Christian do not have much in common.  They may share similar interests, family backgrounds, and even philosophies on raising children, but their faith in Christ should be first and foremost.

Marriage to an unbeliever is like playing with fire and the believer will get burned.  Although Paul stops short of calling this sin, he knows that it will lead to compromises within the marriage and that will cause sin.  He has the entire history of Israel to back up his thoughts.

As the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were told to rid the land of all of the foreigners because of their idolatry.  This sounds cruel and barbaric but God knew what the outcome would be if they remained.  Instead, the Israelites signed peace treaties with some of the people.  Soon the Israelites had intermarried with them and some had begun to worship their idols.

Solomon, the wisest man ever, fell victim to the allure of idols because of his foreign wives.  Even though he constructed the magnificent temple of God, he built temples to foreign gods that his wives worshipped.  They led him astray and despite his wisdom, he couldn’t tell them no.

Nehemiah reacts violently when he hears of intermarriage among the Israelites and reminds them of Solomon’s troubles.  Nehemiah 13:25-27 tells the story.

25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: “You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. 26 Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. 27 Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?”

Nehemiah took what was going on very seriously. So should every Christian.  Marriage to an unbeliever is asking for trouble.  They may seem kind and there may be hope of winning them to Christ but it should be avoided.

The issue of marriage to an unbeliever comes down to love.  Will the love for God be most important in a Christian’s life, or will the love for an unbeliever be most important?