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?

Should the Man Be Head of the Family?

Few things get liberal minded people upset more than the topic of wives submitting to their husbands.  While this thought is attacked as being outdated and unenlightened, it is anything but this.  Submission is an idea that is greatly misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike.

While most people take the submission of wives out of context, Paul writes much more than what is commonly repeated in Ephesians 5:22-25.

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Many people fear that submission means that the wife quietly does as the husband says and has no say in the affairs of marriage or the family.  This could not be further from the truth however.  Lost in the repulsive idea of women submitting is verse 25 that calls for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

It is a far greater task for a husband to display the love of Christ than it is for a woman to submit to her husband.  This is far more than saying “I love you” and displaying some affection for one’s wife.  Christ gave all He had for the church, even to the point of sacrificing His life.  This is the kind of love that husband are told to have for their wives.

This means that a husband is not self seeking in anything that he asks of his wife.  Instead, everything that he does is for the good of his wife.  He sacrifices his own preferences, pleasure, and even well being for his wife’s benefit.

With this is mind, the idea of submission does not sound nearly as bad.  A truly loving husband is not going to request anything of his wife that will harm her in any way.  Instead, what he requests is for his wife’s benefit.

When a husband has consistently shown that he is looking out for his wife, what he requests will not be hard to follow.  Submission is easy when a wife trusts her husband and knows that it is for her good.

Is it ok to Break an Engagement?

Breaking up is difficult.  It’s supposed to be that way because there should be some sort of bond in a relationship or else it wasn’t much of a relationship to begin with.  So obviously breaking an engagement is a hundred times more difficult.

It is not only ok to break an engagement, it is often a smart and necessary thing to do.  And it happens far more often than most people realize.  Approximately 20% of all engagements are broken before the wedding.  Judging by the 50% divorce rate, many more engagements should have been broken.

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she was engaged to be married to Joseph.  At that time an engagement was a binding contract and to break the engagement Joseph would have had to divorce her as he contemplated doing before Gabriel spoke to him.  There is no such binding agreement with an engagement today.

Even if a couple has had sex in anticipation that they would be married, this should not be reason to get married.  While sex before marriage is a mistake, it should not be compounded by going into a bad marriage that will likely end in divorce.

Breaking off an engagement should not be taken lightly.  It becomes increasingly complicated as wedding plans are made.  But if there are problems in a relationship before marriage, those problems will not be solved by getting married.  Instead those problems will only become amplified as a couple shares every aspect of their lives together.

Every effort should be made to reconcile problems in a relationship before breaking off an engagement.  If you are able resolve your issues you’ll learn valuable problem solving skills that will help you in your marriage.  Every relationship will have problems, so just because there is a disagreement in your relationship, it doesn’t mean that your future marriage is doomed.  But you should never ignore problems and just assume that they’ll go away.  They won’t.

No relationship is perfect but if things can’t be reconciled, the worst mistake that can be made is to drag those problems into a marriage.  Breaking off an engagement is a difficult thing to do but it will save a lot more heartache in the future.

Is it ok to Live Together First?

A growing trend is for people to live together before getting married.  This almost always implies that a couple is having sex before they are married.  There are good, moral reasons to wait to have sex.  But even ignoring the moral implications of sex before marriage, there are also practical reasons to not live together before marriage.

The reason often given for living together is that it is a trial to find out if the couple can live with one another.  The justification is that it is better to find out before they are married than have to go through a divorce.  While this would sound practical, evidence does not back up this theory.

Instead of having a lower divorce rate for couples who live together first, it is noticeably higher than average.  Different studies have found that couples who live together before marriage have a divorce rate between 70-80%.  Considering the average divorce rate is 50%, couples who live together first are 50% more likely than average to get divorced.

While there may be numerous reasons for this problem, two stand out.  First is that nothing changes with marriage.  The couple can file their taxes together and that is about it.  Everything else is the same.  The question becomes, “Why did they get married?”

The second reason is closely related to the first.  While living together, the couple did not act like a married couple.  They were simply trying things out, seeing if they would work.  If it turned out it didn’t then it proved it was a good idea to live together first and the relationship is broken off.  There is no reason to work through problems because the relationship is ultimately disposable.  The purpose of living together was to find problems, not try to solve them.

The same lax attitude that takes place while living together gets carried over into the marriage.  Because nothing has changed, the couple still acts the same as they did when they weren’t married.  When problems arise, they do not know how to handle them.  Because the relationship wasn’t as serious when they were living together, it isn’t serious as a married couple.  These couples are unable or unwilling to solve their problems and often end up going their separate ways.

Why Did God Create Marriage?

Genesis 2:18-24

18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.


As God looks down on Adam, He notes that it is not good for him to be alone.  Then species after species of animal paraded past Adam and he named them.  As Adam saw all of the animals it dawned upon him that he was the only one of his kind.  All other creatures had a mate but there was none that was suitable for Adam.

One of the reasons God gave Eve to Adam – and thereby beginning marriage – was as a helper and companion.  God did not want man to live his life alone and so He created someone who was compatible for Adam.

Solomon writes about the benefits of having another person as a companion in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Another purpose of marriage is procreation.  Obviously marriage is not required in order to have children.  However it is God’s will that two people be married before having children.  For more on this, see the article “Why Should I Wait Until Marriage for Sex?”

We are told to be fruitful and multiply.  This applies in a physical sense but also in a spiritual sense.  Parents pass on their wisdom, morals, and faith to their children.  This is done most effectively within a close knit family.


I happen to like gardening.  I can’t pretend that I’ve been very successful with it outside of planting some flowers but there is something about growing your own food that is appealing to me.  There are tons of gardening principles that apply to the Christian life.  A remember a few years ago I even thought about writing something regarding the similarities between gardening and our Christian walk.

I can’t guarantee that I’ll ever get around to writing all that I had planned on writing regarding gardening and Christianity but the topic of pruning has crossed my mind recently.  I’m working fervently on updating not just this website but many of the sites that I operate across the Spreading Light Network.  This has been a time consuming process to say the least.

Part of my updating has involved letting some things go.  At one point I believe that I was operating 40 or more websites.  Not all of these were a part of the Spreading Light Network but nevertheless there were a ton of sites.  And I owned the names to probably twice as many as were designed.  A lot never got built.  But there are some sites that I put considerable time into that I decided to let go.  The main reason is that they no longer fit the focus of my online ministry.  Or in several cases I’ve been able to combine them into other sites and reorganize things.

My point in all of this is that there will be times that we need to cut things out of our life in order to make room for new and better things.  We all have a limited amount of time, space in our house, friends we can keep in contact with, etc.  I had to carefully take stock of where I was at, what was working for me, and what could be let go of.  In my instance, letting go was literally a lot of work.

Pruning things out of our life shouldn’t be painless.  Cutting things out isn’t without its costs.  Spending more time with your family could mean getting passed over for a promotion.  Devoting yourself to studying the Bible more might mean less time in front of the television.  But what we need to remember is that we are pruning, we aren’t cutting down.

When you prune a plant there are typically two reasons.  The first is like one might do to a bush.  It has grown to a size a shape that you are pleased with and anything more than that is too much, so you cut it back and remove the excessive growth.  The other time to prune is to promote more growth.  On many kinds of plants there will develop what are sometimes called “sucker” limbs.  These are limbs that shoot off from the main trunk but nothing good will come from them.  They won’t bear fruit or they won’t leave the bush looking as nice.  The bigger issue, aside from just not being productive, is that these sucker branches steal valuable nutrients away from the rest of the plant.  But if you cut them off, the plant can spend that much more energy into growing bigger fruit or more flowers.

We all have some sucker branches in our life.  They are things that steal away our energy from doing something more productive.  And cutting these things out won’t necessarily be easy or painless.  But rather than thinking of it as cutting something out, consider it making room for something greater.  If you did something relatively simple such as cut out an hour of tv, think of it as an hour that you could spend exercising  reading a book, praying, or even catching up on sleep.  When you cut something out it means that you have room for something new.

I encourage everyone to take a look at their life and determine what could use pruning.  But before you start to cut that out, decide what you want to fill that area with.  This will give you motivation as you struggle with the loss of whatever you’re cutting out.  Remember, it’s all to strengthen another area of your life and improve it.

Welcome to Spreading Light Ministries

Welcome to the new, and hopefully improved, Spreading Light Ministries website.  Aside from a new look and a design that is hopefully easier to maintain on our end, the website is clearly broken up into five distinct sections.  In addition to this main section, you’ll also find sections on Bible study, sermons, prophecy, and theology.  We have also branched out into an audio format with our own podcast.  You can listen to our podcast, Spright, on our website, on youtube, or through iTunes.

This new format is easily searchable – just use the box at the upper left corner.  In addition, you can see how articles have been tagged so you can quickly find something that focuses on a particular topic of interest.

This section houses some of our oldest articles regarding issues that the church often debates about but aren’t necessarily thought of as theology.  You’ll find them under the category heading “church issues.”  You’ll also find answers to some common Bible questions.  These were previously on another site and have been moved here.  Feel free to ask us any burning Bible questions that you may have by contacting us or by leaving a comment on any page.

One of the great things about this new format is that it provides a place to learn what is going on in Spreading Light Ministries across its network of sites.  This is your first stop to find out what’s new.  Of course you can really stay on top of things by following our Facebook page.  This will have a post anytime there is something new to report.

What’s even better, at least in our opinion, is that this site is now a showcase for what was once a separate site in A Pastor’s Thoughts.  Now, right on our homepage, you’ll get updates from Pastor Mike regarding what is going on in his mind and what his take is on things.  You’ll get a view from the pulpit, hopefully without feeling like you’re being preached at.

Whatever your reason for stopping by today, we hope that you are blessed and that you come back and visit us again.  And if you are blessed, the best way that you can help us, aside from your prayer support, is by telling your friends to check out the site as well.  Go ahead and click one of the share buttons below.  It’s just like ringing the bell on your way out of the restaurant if you got great service. 🙂

Spreading Light through the years

On New Year’s Day 1999 I vaguely recall being on the computer, using an old dial up modem while staying at my grandmother’s house for reasons that now escape me.  I couldn’t begin to tell you why I remember any of this but I’m kind of glad I do because it marks the beginning of Spreading Light Ministries in my mind.  I distinctly remember working on the first Spreading Light website then although I can’t be certain if that was when I was still on geocities or if I had just purchased this domain.  Whatever the case, January 1, 1999 marks the unofficial beginning of the site and something that has grown far beyond my imagination.

I have long since lost count of how many page views I’ve had over the years.  I only know that it numbers in the millions now.  Honestly, I don’t even know how many domains I’m operating now without looking it up.  The only thing I am certain of is that my current plans call for about twenty more sites and I’m confident that I’ll have several more unplanned sites before all of those are finished.

I am currently in the process of the largest overhaul of Spreading Light since I moved it to its own server.  And back then, moving six pages can hardly be considered an overhaul.  Now I have over 300 on this domain alone that I have to manually update (which is why I’m making the change, so that hopefully I’ll have have to do this again.)  On top of the major overhaul of the main site, I am working on my biggest project, or technically set of projects, since launching in 1999.

So while I take a few minutes off from switching and updating files that I’ve been doing for the last eight hours or so – with no end in site – I decided to reminisce a bit and look at my old site designs.  Some look rather quaint, but do remember that computers and the internet were a different thing 14 years ago.  On the other hand, some I still like to this day and kind of miss.  So while I am greatly looking forward to the future and praying that God would take this ministry even further beyond my imagination in the next 14 years, here’s a look back at Spreading Light from years ago.

light This was the original logo from the site.  I have maintained the same tagline all of these years.  The name Spreading Light didn’t mean anything when I registered it.  I don’t remember what names I tried to register first but they weren’t available.  Spreading Light was the best sounding thing at the time.  Knowing what I now know about search engines I probably wouldn’t have ever picked Spreading Light and instead bought something like but I don’t regret it.  Spreading Light has become a part of who I am now and I can’t imagine that it would be the same with a name chosen for other purposes.

test3This logo actually looked better with the rest of the site than it does by itself, I swear.  My file is dated as September 2000 which seems about right in my mind.  I really don’t know why I ever went with a brown color.  In all honesty, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another brown site in my life.  By this point I had expanded beyond my original controversial issues into theology thanks to my Bible college training.  Theology continues to be one of the biggest areas on the site.

blackmovesigAt one point Spreading Light had a message board.  This was one of the signatures that I used.  I’m think that this had to be in 2001 or 2002 but I can’t be certain.


This is my favorite of all of the site designs.  I really like the colors in this.  I’m not 100% certain why I moved away from this site design but I believe that it was because the pages were black with white lettering.  Either I realized that this was hard to read or I discovered through research that people didn’t like it.  Of course this was still better than my terrible yellow lettering on black background that I had.  Yes, you’re right that it was just as terrible as it sounds.  But the internet was an ugly thing in the early 2000’s I promise.



In 2003 I was back to ugly brown colors.  Heartwarmers marked the first branching out of the ministry.  This collection of stories became  In 2003 I also launched Spreading Light School.  This never became quite what I had hoped but it transformed into


slm logo2

This is one of my latest designs.  The picture of Jesus was taken from my home church.  This ran for probably 5 years from 2005 – 2010.  Even the current version isn’t changed much from this.  It still contains stained glass images from my home church and this if what I use as my facebook page profile.

In 2007 I started launching several sites a year. was the first to start this but after that, there was a new site almost every month for a while.  In 2011 I was given over two dozen Bible studies by my mentor Bob Conway.  Currently only five of these have been made into their own sites.  I do have a good reason however: most of these Bible studies are over 100,000 words and the total word count is over 3 million.

In 2012 I started shutting down a few sites.  In short, I had spread some things out too far and there were too many sites to link to.  I’m still in the process of compiling the pages into new locations.  95% of the pages are remaining up, some will just be on a new site that better fits their themes.

2013 will be my 15th year doing websites and I hope to have some huge releases.  Keep an eye on this site and follow the facebook page for all of the latest updates as they come out in 2013.

2013: The Year of Jubilee

This is the time of year when people often reflect back upon the past year and look forward to the upcoming year.  I’m choosing not to dwell on the past year.  I’ve had worse years but 2012 certainly doesn’t rank among my best.  I’ve had some personal disappointments, some financial frustrations, and one of my cats even had to have surgery that cost me over $2000 because she ate a thread that got stuck and caused her intestines to rupture.  Nevertheless, God is still good and I’m choosing not to complain.

I have decreed the year of 2013 as a year of jubilee in my life.  God gave the Israelites an order to celebrate a jubilee every 50 years and while I still have a ways to go to reach that milestone I have decided to make 2013 a year of celebration.

I partly got this idea from a friend of mine (who incidentally I’m working on a web project with so you might be hearing him soon.)  Every year he would decree the forthcoming year as “the year of …” as an indication of what he expected or what he hoped to work on for the year.  Past themes for my friend were the year of breaking free, the year of accomplishment, and the year of transition.

I have declared 2013 to be the year of jubilee partly based on plan and partly based on premonition.  I have a ton of projects that I plan on rolling out in 2013 that I’m really excited about.  I always have projects in the works but I believe that a couple of these projects could end up being the biggest since I first started my website over a decade ago.  So I’m really excited about that and I’m praying that God would bless those projects beyond my wildest imagination.  And of course I’d appreciate your prayers as well.

The other reason I have declared 2013 to be the year of jubilee is because I really believe that God is going to bless the year for me.  As I have endured some frustrations over the past year I’ve been reminded repeatedly that God would reward my endurance.  I don’t want to make it sound as if God owes me anything because I’ve had a less than stellar year.  God owes me nothing and this isn’t a matter of correcting a cosmic balance sheet that is out of balance.

Instead, this is a matter of holding onto the promises that God has made.  God has plans for each of our lives. It’s not a guarantee that we won’t get sick and it is no promise that we’ll be wealthy.  What I’m confident about however is that God isn’t through with me.  This means that I have work to do and God has more work to do through me.

So that’s what this year jubilee is really about.  I’m asking that God would bless what He yet has in store for me.  I’m asking for wisdom to know how best to use the gifts that He’s already given me.  And I’m asking for empowerment to use those gifts in great and wonderful ways to touch people in ways that I haven’t even thought of yet.  And since I’m confident that God will do these things, I can already begin to celebrate what I know God will accomplish in 2013.

Into the Light

It hasn’t been quite as long as it would appear since I last posted.  I actually had a post in May discussing how difficult it is to actually apply the theology we know to be true when we encounter the worst that life gives us.  Unfortunately that post was lost because of problems I had with the site.  **Scratch all of that, thanks to Google’s cache system, I was able to retrieve my lost post.** Fortunately that was all that was lost because I saved my old backup.  I also used this as an opportunity to update the look of this section.  Eventually the entire Spreadinglight site will look like this but at the rate I’m going it might take another year.

This has been a rough year as I had alluded to in my now lost post.  It hasn’t gotten any better in the last three months.  Like all times there have been peaks and valleys but this year has been more valleys than peaks.  As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I can even recall a peak from this year.

Last week was the worst punch to the gut yet.  It was completely unrelated to any of the other difficulties this past year but it was personal in a way the other problems weren’t.  It left me angry and depressed and probably feeling a range of other negative emotions.

Now, before I get any further into this post and start to make you depressed or you think that this is a “woe is me” post, it’s not.  The point of this is just the opposite.  We’ve probably all been at a point in our life where we just didn’t want to hear any sympathy from anyone else, even if it was well intentioned and Biblical.  Well, what do you do if you have a friend who is going through such a problem?  You have to pray.  The only thing that you can possibly do is pray.

I’m not going to say that I was at a place where I wasn’t going to listen to anyone.  The truth of the matter is that I didn’t feel like I needed to listen to anyone.  As a pastor I know all of the “answers.”  God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  God has a plan for even this setback.  Everything is according to God’s timetable.  I don’t believe that I even wavered in my belief of any of those things but frankly there are times when those thoughts just don’t resonate with where you are at.  In those times, all you can do is wait for God to lift you back up.

Fortunately I know that I have a lot of people praying for me.  This past week, I don’t think that it was by coincidence that I spoke on spiritual warfare and the targets that all Christians, but especially pastors, have on their backs.  I won’t pretend to be over the hurt that I experienced last week in particular but I know that I am feeling better only because of prayer.  But I also know that things are looking better right now than they did a week ago.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  I won’t pretend that I’ve reached the level that Paul did and am capable of being content in all circumstances.  But I do believe that there were probably times in Paul’s life that he struggled with frustration from people not listening to him or while he sat in jail.  And I have to believe that part of Paul’s secret of contentment was knowing that when no other words would help him, God would still lift him up on his darkest days.