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John Piper shares his input on "if" and "when" it's appropriate for pastors to marry unbelievers. 



John Piper is founder and teacher of DesiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For over 30 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books, and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.

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Jacob Ricker

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I completely agree with Bro. Piper. I have performed several wedding for non-believers. It is a great out-reach tool. I had a young couple come to me and ask if I would perform their wedding. During our first meeting, I asked them if they were believers. The bride-to-be said she was but the groom-to-be was not. I had the opportunity to share the life changing Message of Jesus Christ with this young man and he saw his need for Christ. He gave his life to Christ and now they are faithfully serving Christ. Does this happen all the time? No, however, but seed have been planted through the counseling. And after all, isn't that what it is all about? Sharing God's Love through teaching of His Word! Thank you for posting this great video!

John E Miller

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Scripture does not give license for a believer to marry an unbeliever. Scripture nowhere suggests that a Christian pastor should sell his services for financial gain. Acts 8 (Simon Magus) would suggest the strongest possible condemnation of such an act. Conducting a marriage ceremony and a burial service are entirely different and cannot be compared, before anyone suggests otherwise. Christianity is not for sale. Our Lord Jesus paid too high a price on the cross for any minister of the gospel to sell his services to unbelievers as a means of salving their consciences or deceiving them that they are Christians because they went through a "Christian religious ceremony of marriage".

Steve Greene

commented on Aug 3, 2011

How about one gets saved in counseling and the other does not? Does John recommend you bow out since they would be unequally yoked?

Jacob Ricker

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Bro. Steve... Was that question directed to me or in general?

Scott Shuffield

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I was eager to hear Piper's take on this question and after considering what he had to say I agree. Jacob, your situation did bring up an entirely different aspect that I think Steve is addressing. What if one is a believer...or one becomes a believer? I think you would have to bow out at that point. But John M., I think you too quickly assumed that it was being done for money. Maybe the right thing to do would be to agree to begin pre-marital counseling with unbelievers but refuse to accept any money for performing the wedding.

Val Garron

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing it has been to meet with couples who want to get married who aren't already a part of the congregation! It is an opportunity to witness to the love of God, to plant seeds, and the church I serve is being revitalized by the young couples who are coming and joining. I never want to be the judge. I'll leave that up to God. In the meantime I'll lean toward grace believing that God will use me to share his love with anyone God puts in my path!

Jacob Ricker

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Scott, for clarification, are saying that I should have bowed out after the young man received Christ as his Savior? Now both are believers and are not unequally yoked. This was the first time I had met them, I didn't know weather or not either one was a believer or not. I was new to the church and did not know them well at all yet. Had nothing changed in the young man's heart, I would more than likely bow out, which they didn't know I would have done. I greatly appreciate everyone input, thank you.

Scott Shuffield

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Jacob, I could not say because I don't know the people or the situation. But I am sure the Bible tells me to not marry a believer with an unbeliever, putting them in an unequally yoked situation. It just gets more confusing when we think about the "what-ifs." I am thrilled to hear that both are believers now, praise God! And what a blessing for you that God let you have a role in that.

Jacob Ricker

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Thanks for your input Scott! I agree with you, we should not put a couple in a position to be un-equally yoked as the Bible teachs. And you are complete right, things get very confusing when you start the "what if" questions. Have a blessed day.

Scott Shuffield

commented on Aug 3, 2011

Jacob, I could not say because I don't know the people or the situation. But I am sure the Bible tells me to not marry a believer with an unbeliever, putting them in an unequally yoked situation. It just gets more confusing when we think about the "what-ifs." I am thrilled to hear that both are believers now, praise God! And what a blessing for you that God let you have a role in that.

Brian La Croix

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I do weddings for non-believers all the time because it gives me the opportunity to tell them of their need for Christ. Will the liberal pastor down the street who doesn't believe you need to be saved tell them that? Nope. Will the Mayor, the boat captain, or the Justice of the Peace (since this is where they will go if you don't do it)? Nope. Their salvation is too important for me to say, "Sorry - but you aren't a Christian, so get married somewhere else. And good luck hearing about salvation and what God has in store for His children..." I get to share Christ as well as discuss the fact that in Christ they can have the kind of marriage God intended in the first place. Nothing in Scripture that forbids non-believers from marrying. So why should a pastor be involved? To help them find Christ. I have turned down weddings when other circumstances were involved, and some have turned down my participation because I require 4-6 sessions of pre-marital counseling. But I usually take every opportunity possible to bring Christ to a young couple.

Dean Haidle

commented on Aug 3, 2011

The issue that I wrestle with the most regarding two unbelievers desiring to get married is, how can I as a pastor God to bless and join together two individuals who have no intention of living their lives to submit to HIM in their own lives let alone their marriage. Biblical marriage recognized by God is a man and a women entering into a covenant relationship with God, first and foremost, to make Christ the center of their marriage (HE'S the GLUE so to speak). If they are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is impossible. I whole heartedly agree that an initial sit down for several hours with the couple who ever they are to share with them the heart of God and His Word regarding marriage and of course the privilege of sharing the GOSPEL with them is so important, but I just don't see how we as pastors ordained by God to be a shepherd the flock(believers) (teaching, guiding, nurturing, protecting, directing) can lead a couple down the road of marriage when they have not made a personal commitment to Christ first in their own lives. That marriage is destined for divorce. If they are not concerned about living their individual lives for Christ how can I ask God to bless their marriage. The Justice of the Peace can do that.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I would like to answer Steve's question, which I believe was directed to me. First, however, I must say that I believe Dean Haidle's position is scriptural and godly. Steve, that was a very good question and if I may I would like to answer it, based I believe on the teaching of God's word. If an unbeliever repents before God, receives Christ as his or her Saviour and is born again, being sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, they have a new life in Christ. His Lordship and God's word become supreme in their life and what was previously important must now be measured in a completely new light. On that basis the believing one would no longer feel that it was right in God's sight to proceed to set up in the unequal yoke of marriage with an unbeliever. A godly pastor would be biblically bound to explain this to both parties. He would encourage the believing one to make it a matter of prayer and to seek God's answer to his or her faith, according to His will. Ministers of Christ's Gospel are not there to give unbelievers the outward respectability of a Christian marriage service. Their responsibility is to explain to unbelieving applicants the only basis on which a Christian ceremony of marriage can be righteously performed.

Ronald Kadlecik

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I agree with Pastor Piper also. The institution (for lack of a better word) of all marriage was ordained by God for all people. Persons marrying enter into an agreement with God (whether they know it or not). Sinners sin against God whether they believe in Him or not! The Church is the place sinners come to learn about God. A good place to start is in the pre-marriage

Eddie Riley

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I have to agree with Bros. Haidle and Miller. Even though it is good to sit down with the unbelieving couple and share Christ with them I see nothing in scripture that gives us "permission" to wed unbelievers. The scripture does tell us to "come out from among them" and commands us to "be ye holy as I am holy", but nothing about permission to marry an unbelieving couple that I know of. I have caught a lot of grief for not marrying couples living together out of wedlock (even some who claim to be believers). My belief is-they cannot be in the will of God and therefore I will not marry them. Same here-a couple who are not believers cannot be in the will of God so why would I knowingly be a part of that?

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I've been thinking it over, and I'd have to say that overall, I think I agree with John Piper's position, at least in the context of the actual question he was asked. Marriage was intended by God for everyone, whether a believer or not. And if a couple is open to receiving Biblical counsel from us in preparation for one of the major events in their lives, perhaps that would open the door for them to be willing to receive Biblical counsel from us in other areas of their lives. Eddie Riley wrote: "[T]hey cannot be in the will of God and therefore I will not marry them....a couple who are not believers cannot be in the will of God so why would I knowingly be a part of that?" I can certainly respect that position, but I would ask us to consider the following: although it is true that an unbelieving couple is living overall outside of God's will, if that couple decides to get married--as opposed to, say, living together--would not they at least in that one area be considered living in the will of God. Whether they realize it or not, it is a step towards coming closer to God's will. That is why I would want to be a part of it--to redeem that moment for them and help them become aware that it is God who is working to draw them closer to him. As someone mentioned earlier, a justice of the peace is not going to be able to do that for them. Now, this is my personal conviction based on how I read the Scriptures. But I will not judge another pastor who has equally prayed and wrestled with this issue and has come away with a different conviction, just as I would hope they would not judge me for the conviction I hold. One more thing: let us never forget that although the discussion here must by necessity be generalized, ultimately we are dealing with individuals. The easy thing would be to say either, "I will never perform a wedding for an unbeliever" or "I will always perform a wedding for an unbeliever." But the wiser course would be to spend significant time with the couple, trying to get to know who they really are, trying to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I'm sure there might be cases where, despite my convictions, I decide that I cannot in good conscience marry this particular couple. Remember that it is not only WHAT we do, but HOW and WHY we do it!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 3, 2011

By the way, John Miller, you wrote the following: "Scripture nowhere suggests that a Christian pastor should sell his services for financial gain. Acts 8 (Simon Magus) would suggest the strongest possible condemnation of such an act." But unless I missed something, there was nothing either in the video or the comment before you that mentioned anything about financial gain. Just out of curiosity, why did you bring that issue up, as it doesn't really have anything to do with this discussion?

Bruce Parsons

commented on Aug 3, 2011

"It is sin" but "God approves" Really!? Since when does God approve of sin? I would respectfully suggest that the use of the expression "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" is misapplied in this circumstance. The statement "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" is in reference to a Christian doing something when they do not have a conviction (faith) that it is not sinful (in the specific context of Rom 14 - eating meat). In that case, eating meat was not a sin - unless you were not sure and did it anyway. The problem being, if you were not sure if it was sinful, and did it anyway, you demonstrated a willingness to sin in the event that the thing in question was in fact sinful. This person did not eat with "faith" that it is ok, hence; "whatsoever is not fo faith is sin."

Barb. Gerhard

commented on Aug 3, 2011

I do not agree with him when he said he would marry everyone who comes to him, what if the couple are both from previous marrages and they are divorced because they met each other and had an affair and now wish to marry, when the original basis for the relationship was adultery? would he then overlook that and marry them anyway? If they got saved as a result of the pasto's counceling they then would have to leave a sinful relationship, Jesus said to the woman coult in adultery, " go your way and sin no more" the woman was at that point not a believer, as penticost had not come, Jesus was still on the earth" so she was not bornagain yet He still told her to leave her life of sin. If in that situation the pastor marries them, then at some point they get saved, God's word would very spesifically say to "leave your life of sin" there no exeptions, scripture elswhere, say " If a man divorces his wife and marries another he commits adultry, even though they are legally married it is still adultry acording to the words of Jesus. So a pastor has to be very careful of who he marries, even amongst believers this happens they just think they can pray a pray for forgiveness and go ahead and marry anyways, but God's word is very clear.

Juanita Gilbo=ricard

commented on Aug 3, 2011

It is right for a pastor to marry two unbelievers. It is better to marry them so they won't live in sin. And the pastor marrying them could lead to them getting saved and they might come to church because the pastor cared enough to marry them. Saying no to marrying two people who are in love could cause them to turn against the church and God. Even if they claim not to be believers, they did come to a pastor to get married. They did not go to a JP, so they must have some respect for what God says about marriage even if they do not realize it. Now if those two people are the same sex, then NO he should not marry them. That would definitely be sin.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 4, 2011

If I may, I would like to answer Fernando's question. Any service a pastor or minister, or indeed any believer in Jesus performs, must be in keeping with the will of God. Where do we find our guide for such a parameter? God's word and God's will can never be divergent. I am sure that is beyond question. Scripture does not permit a believer to marry an unbeliever. Equally, a Christian service for an unbelieving couple performed by a Christian pastor is clearly reversing the divinely appointed order by which human beings can enjoy God's blessing. There is only one way to come into relationship with God, that is the way of repentance and faith in Christ. God's blessings in Christ and His arrangements of grace, including those through the service of other believers can only be enjoyed by those who have first been washed in the blood of Jesus. I believe that to serve God by marrying a couple who have both come to God this way is clearly a service carried out in God's will and according to God's word. Christian marriage is a most solemn and holy matter. Those who enter upon it do so in the deep acknowledgement that their greatest commitment is to Christ and then to one another. Those who are not Christians cannot begin to understand this. A pastor/minister marrying such a couple is really only providing a civil marriage ceremony, masquerading as something that is according to God, but without any reality of such. He is taking money under false pretences, serving mammon rather than God.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Referring to Fernando Villegas' post #16, I would suggest that the final sentence is very unsafe and will not stand up to the standard of God's word. When it comes to the holiness of the believers walk (1 Peter 1:17) or the sinner's ultimate judgement at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:12) it is a man's works or deeds for which he must account. In 2 Samuel 6:6, Uzzah no doubt acted with what he thought was the best of intentions. God thought otherwise!

G. Pryor

commented on Aug 4, 2011

We are free to read and interpret scripture as we will with the leading of the Holy Spirit. I am a firm believer in the authority of scripture in the life of a believer and do not denounce anyone whose belief and understanding are differnet than mine. But it does trouble me to see the lack of love we are commanded to have for all people. I have to believe that I was sent not only to the church I serve but the community in which we reside and therefore have an obligation to the people. Yes, to preach the gospel and lead them to Jesus but also to love them, care for them, weep for and with them. I am invited into a relationship with them through a Savior who loved me and wanted more for my life as he does their's. I routinely marry non-believer's and I guess my thought has been (right or wrong, God is my judge) that if this is one step that I can help this couple take toward God then I am taking the step with them. This world needs all the love and compassion it can get and some things are left to our discretion as the Spirit leads. For me I am willing to do this for the people of my community and understand fully the repercussion and ramifications of my actions.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

To marry an unsaved couple gives me no heartburn. They are not unequally "yoked." A pastor is there best choice. I do not give them a Christian ceremony. Instead, a civil ceremony with Scripture and prayers. May God bless my purest of intentions.

Jerry Thomas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Bruce, thanks for the context, but I think the inference Pastor John was making, "off the cuff," was that there is none, outside of Christ, that acts righteously, therefore, ones non-righteous acts are sin. He was not saying God condoned the act of sin, which is any act of a sinner, but that God condones marriage since he ordained it, and the two are following a God-ordained act, just like sinners going to church. The act in general is right even though this specific act of righteousness in God's eyes is still sin.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

John Miller, I appreciate your response, and I think I get where you're coming from, now. I think what happened is that you assumed that a pastor performing a wedding would be paid for it, but that's not necessarily so. I do not charge anything for weddings. When a couple comes to me asking to be married, I explain to them that my salary is paid by the denomination I work for, and I do not charge anything for performing a wedding. If they decide to give a gift, I will graciously accept it; and generally I then give that gifts as an offering back to the church. That is why for me, on this issue the matter of financial gain is irrelevant.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

John Miller, I stand by my final sentence in post #16, and I believe you may have misunderstood it. I'll take the blame for that because I forgot to add a phrase; the sentence should've read: "Remember that it is not only WHAT we do (that is important), but HOW and WHY we do it!" The part in the parentheses is what I meant to write but didn't. And note what I said: What we do IS important. You mentioned the Biblical texts that state the importantce of our works. However, you failed to take into account Biblical texts that state that the HOW and the WHY is also important. A classic example is 2 Cor 9:7, where Paul states that God loves a cheerful giver. So the "what" of giving, as important as that is, is rendered useless if it is not accompanied by the "how"--cheerfully. Or how about the example that you gave of Uzzah from 2 Sam 6:6. I agree with you, that although his intentions were good, he disobeyed the "what" and was punished accordingly. But if you study that entire narrative carefully, along with its parralel in 2 Chron 13 and 15, you will see that Uzzah would have never been put in the position to disobey the "what" if David had been obedient to the "how". See, it was good that David was bringing back the ark after it had been neglected since the reign of Saul. But God was very specific as to HOW the ark was to transported, and in the "how" David was wrong. Had they transported the ark using the poles and with the men who had been appointed to do so, Uzzah would not have had to touch the ark to keep it from falling. So in this case, the sin of David disobeying the HOW was greater than the sin of Uzzah disobeying the WHAT. I hope this has demonstrated that my sentence does in fact stand up to the standard of God's Word and is safe. I would love to hear your response.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

I think Dr. Kauffman's practice in post #24 is an excellent example of how to work through this issue.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 4, 2011

To expand on what Jerry Thomas said, I think we should give John Piper the benefit of the doubt. I don't know how prepared he is when he answers these questions on these videos. Does he read the questions ahead of time? How carefully does he think through the answers beforehand? But generally, these kinds of situations are "off the cuff," as Mr. Thomas said, and it's probably not a good idea to get hung up on specific words he used. I think the general idea that he was trying to communicate was clear.

Scott Thornton

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Wow - I wonder if the couple that got married where Jesus turned the water into wine were Christians. It sure is a good thing that He was only involved in the beverages and not performing the wedding!

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Scott #30 I am not following you when you say, "and not performing the wedding." Your mind teaser is rather abstract, and I need your help.

Scott Thornton

commented on Aug 4, 2011

Dr. Luke - I liked your response in #24. I guess I was just wondering WWJD? Often Jesus was with sinners and was being criticized for it by the religious establishment. Often, in situations like this I do reflect on the example of our Lord. Maybe something as simple as Acts 10:38 can serve as a guide and model for us. To clarify what you called my mind teaser is simply this - I would sure hate to see us criticizing Jesus for marrying this couple if they we not Christians.

Eddie Riley

commented on Aug 4, 2011

First, let me say that I appreciate everyone keeping civil in this debate. Second, I would mention that several have mentioned that it is a tool to bring people to Christ, even after the marriage has been performed. I can say, in the south where I live (you know-the Bible belt) that most people know enough about the Bible and Christianity to tell you what you want to hear and then afterward do not follow through on their promises. This is one of the reasons that over the last 7 or 8 years of my ministry (14 total as a pastor) that I have learned to take with a grain of salt what I am told. This might be totally different in parts of the country so your experience might be the exact opposite of mine. But I try to follow the Bible (even though I don't profess to know it all and have come up short many times). But there is still one thing that disturbs me about Dr. Piper's statement that God gives us "permission" to marry unbelievers. Can someone point out in the Bible where He does that? If so, I will retract my original post. If not, I will say that we don't need to credit God with saying something that He does not say.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 5, 2011

To teach the Bible on the absence of Bible verses is what the Amish do, and all legalistic teaching is built upon, Eddie. The argument at one time was that we should have no church kitchens because there is no Bible verse that says we may. (Oh, from the South, too).

John E Miller

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Fernando, with the utmost respect I do not see the parallel between giving cheerfully and the subject in hand. It is indeed good to give and much better to do it cheerfully. In that sense to do anything that is in accordance with God's will is right, and to do it with a willing heart shows that I am right in my relations with God. To do something that is not in accordance with the teaching of God's word is entirely different. I believe that a Christian Pastor marrying a couple, one or both of whom are unbelievers is not in keeping with scripture for the reasons that I have already stated. Why or how it might be done is irrelevant. How can it be right to conduct a marriage in the name of the Lord Jesus when one or both persons being married does not accept the Lordship of Christ? Scott Thornton, may I most respectfully comment on your various theories regarding the wedding in Cana of Galilee at which Christ, His disciples and earthly family were guests. This would be a Jewish wedding, conducted by a Rabbi, in accordance with the Mosaic Law and its customs. Christianity in the New Testament biblical sense was not yet known and would not be identified as such until the events recorded in the Acts. Followers of Christ were not called Christians until Acts 11:26. I believe that we must be very careful not to trivialise matters relating to the principles of the house of God and His holiness. I am sure that was not your intention. I also believe that the error of liberal theology can creep in to the profession of Christianity and that it poses a greater threat to the church in the Western World than persecution. It is a dangerous teaching to emphasise a liberallity of outlook in the guise of "love" at the expense of our responsibility to insist that true Christian love is first towards God and His claims upon us.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Dr Luke, your disparaging remarks to Eddie Riley, likening his conviction to the beliefs of the Amish are certainly not worthy of the Dr Luke of the New Testament. The rather frivolous comparison of his argument to some dispute about church kitchens is unwarranted. It is often a tactic of someone who realises that he is on shaky ground to resort to ridicule.

Eddie Riley

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Sorry for the double post. I don't know what I did. Bro. Miller-thanks for the defense. Dr. Luke-it is obvious that you are a learned man and I am not so I won't get into a big debate with you for I would surely lose. I fail to see where what I said is being legalistic. I asked a legitimate question about where in the Bible did God give us "permission" to marry unbelievers as Dr. Piper stated. As you are a learned man you could have simply pointed out where that would be instead of the condescending remarks you managed to write. The Bible is obviously our guide. If the Bible does not speak directly to the question we are discussing, I believe it is wrong to attribute to God what He did not explicitly say. All I am asking for is book, chapter, and verse for where God gives us this permission. If it is there-I will retract what I stated earlier and if it is not there then we should not say that God gave us permission where He remained silent. I stand by that no matter what is slung my way.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

John Miller, my comments about giving cheerfully have nothing to do with the subject at hand, so don't try to find any parallels, because I intended none. My comments about giving cheerfully were in response to your claim that my statement, "It is not only WHAT we do that is important, but HOW and WHY we do it," was very unsafe and would not stand up to the standard of God's word. My comments were intended to prove that you were wrong. Of course God cares about WHAT we do, but of course God also cares about HOW we do it. He not only wants us to give (the "what"), he wants us to give cheerfully (the "how"). I hope that's clear. Since this is off-topic, I don't really care if this part of the conversation ends here. But if you are interested in keeping this going, you can do so by answering me this question: do you really believe that God is not interested in HOW or WHY we do the things he asks us to do? And if so, can you give scriptural support for your position as I have done for mine? Like I said, answer if you're interested, but it's no big deal if you don't. As far as your position on not performing weddings for unbelievers, I'd like to repeat what I said earlier. If you have wrestled with the Sciptures on this issue, and this is the conviction that the Holy Spirit has led you to, then I respect your convictions and encourage you to follow them. By no means am I trying to change anyone's mind here.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Eddie Riley, from my experience the double post happens whenever I refresh the page and don't realize that the text of my original post is still in the box. You might want to see if that's what happened in your case. Also, don't ever be afraid of debating with someone who you believe is more learned than you are (mind you, I said debate, not argue--two very different things!). After all, the only way we learn is by engaging with minds that are larger than our own! I'd like to make a couple of comments in response to your posts, if you don't mind. First of all, remember not to get too hung up on the specific words Mr. Piper used, as his remarks were most likely off-the-cuff. If you have ever listened to his sermons, you know he is generally much more precise with his words when he is preaching; but in this context, he is not preaching, he is answering a question in an informal, unscripted way. So, I'll grant you, he probably shouldn't have said the precise words that we have "biblical permission" to marry unbelievers, or at least not without unpacking in some more detail what he meant by that. And I agree with you that we shouldn't credit God with saying something he didn't say. But don't use that "slip" as an excuse to dismiss his argument completely. Now as far as Dr. Kauffman's comments to you, I think what he was trying to say was simply that just because there is nothing in the Bible that gives us permission to marry unbelievers does not mean we shouldn't do it. The Bible does speak about a believer being "unequally yoked" with an unbeliever, but when it comes two unbelievers getting married, or whether a pastor should be involved in that wedding, the Bible is silent. There is no book, chapter, and verse specifically giving us permission; and there is no book, chapter, and verse specifically prohibiting it. So what we need to do is look at Scriptural principles as a whole and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us to the decision we must make. And I would further argue that we should do this on a case by case basis, rather than as a blanket policy. And since it is an issue in which the Bible is silent, I believe that it is possible for people to arrive at different conclusions, and we should respect each others convictions, even if we don't agree with them.

Bryan Thompson

commented on Aug 5, 2011

#3 isn't a bad question. What would you do if, after agreeing to perform the ceremony, one accepted Christ and the other person did not? "Eh, sorry, I can't do the wedding after all."

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Eddie Riley and John Miller, I've been involved in an extended conversation with Dr. Kauffman on another article. I know that his manner of writing can come across as harsh, but I have come to believe that he is sincere and well-intentioned. Try not to take his tone personally.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Bryan Thompson, I think one way to work through that is by neither agreeing nor not agreeing to perform the wedding from the start. You could say something like, "I appreciate your request for me to be a part of this very special event. I am open to the possibility of performing your wedding; but as you know, I am a Christian pastor, and I have a certain understanding of what marriage means that I want to share with you because I believe it will help to make your marriage last. I'd like to spend some time getting to know the two of you more, listening to you, understanding what you believe marriage means, and sharing with you what I believe marriage means. And as we engage in this conversation, then we can decide if I'm the right person to do this wedding." In this way, you are not locked into a commitment from the start, and you have the opportunity to minister to them for at least a little while. If they say they need a decision immediately, then you can politely suggest that they look for someone else.

Eddie Riley

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Fernando Villegas-thank you for taking the time to write. I think I did refresh the page with the text still open. I appreciate the explanations you gave. I agree with what you said about the Bible being silent and taking things on a case by case basis. Even though we might not agree on this issue, you, Sir, have earned my respect. God bless-Eddie

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 5, 2011

John Miller #36 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? - Who has ever given thee the right to condemn the servant of another man, in things pertaining to his own Master? To his own Master he standeth or falleth. He is to judge him, not thou; thy intermeddling is this business is both rash and uncharitabe. Clarks Translation.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Aug 5, 2011

Eddie Riley, I also appreciate your willingness to give a fair hearing to a different point of view. That's all I ask for! I will pray for God's blessings on your ministry. We pastors need to remember to pray for each other more often! Have a great weekend.

Wendell Ray

commented on Aug 6, 2011

How can one say "It is sin" and then say "it is ok?"

Paul Hull

commented on Aug 7, 2011

I am curious to know where any of us find a scripture that authorizes, commands, enjoins, infers or requests that apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors, elders or deacons perform marriage ceremonies for either believers or non-believers. Is there such a verse? We have adopted a very western convention of "performing weddings", but with no scriptural basis for doing so. The church should be involved in the who of marriage and there can be great blessings in being involved in the what, where and how. I would submit, however, that the scripture is silent on those points for both believer and non-believers. I seems to me that we have projected our western wedding and marriage conventions backward onto scripture and perhaps need to realize that while God may allow us grace in these matters, it may not be becoming to split hairs too finely on this issue.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 7, 2011

Dr Kauffman, that is an interesting scripture (Romans 14:4). It refers to a person who is weak in faith and might be easily stumbled. I would not have classed you as such and would not seek to cause you or any other fellow-believer to be offended or to stumble. My simple desire in #36 was to defend a brother in Christ whom I believed to writing the truth according to God's word. I still believe that and do not withdraw the post. Your motives in making comments that ridiculed Eddie Riley's stance are indeed between you and the Master. Bear in mind that great learning and training does not necessarily give a man superiority in the things of God , it is whether or not he has "been with Jesus".(Acts 4:13)

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 7, 2011

John Miller #48 Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. KJV

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Aug 7, 2011

John Miller, my brother in Christ - - "Be ye angry and sin not." In the love of Christ may I kindly suggest that you get anger management counseling. The gift of Anger is not to be named among the Beloved.

Paul Hull

commented on Aug 7, 2011

I am curious to know where any of us find a scripture that authorizes, commands, enjoins, infers or requests that apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, pastors, elders or deacons perform marriage ceremonies for either believers or non-believers. Is there such a verse? We have adopted a very western convention of "performing weddings", but with no scriptural basis for doing so. The church should be involved in the who of marriage and there can be great blessings in being involved in the what, where and how. I would submit, however, that the scripture is silent on those points for both believer and non-believers. I seems to me that we have projected our western wedding and marriage conventions backward onto scripture and perhaps need to realize that while God may allow us grace in these matters, it may not be becoming to split hairs too finely on this issue.

David Hodgin

commented on Aug 7, 2011

I confess I haven't read all 51 comments, so perhaps this was covered; the believer unbeliever issue set aside; I am feeling resistant to preform State recognized marriages. Point being, if the State diminishes marriage to the sinful union of same sex; should the church/pastor participate with the State in marriage at all?

John E Miller

commented on Aug 8, 2011

Since the learned Doctor has turned his irritation towards me I feel that it would be wise to withdraw from further discussion on this matter, thus avoiding further unpleasantness. I am certainly not angry, but believe that I have the responsibility to defend the truth of God's word and its teaching, as well as defending those who would seek to do the same. The basic issue in this matter is our understanding of the holiness of God, the principles of His house and the fellowship into which we have been called by His grace. 2 Cor.6:14-18 is uncompromising. A servant of the Lord Jesus should be available to point needy sinners to Christ and serve Him in any way that is possible by bringing the knowledge of God through Christ, by example and exhortation into the lives of those in the darkness of unbelief. This is not achieved by having fellowship with them in a pseudo-religious ceremony. I trust that God will graciously bless us all and by giving us a deeper understanding of His word, draw us nearer to Himself.

Storman Glass

commented on Aug 10, 2011

I find it strange that the same people that find it a sin for non-christians to be married in a church whould also keep that couple out of their church for livng together without being married. I do believe that we must be careful that we do not give mixed messages to he world. By the way there is no verse that calls the marriage of two non-Christians sin , this is a man-made doctrine.

David Baeder

commented on Aug 11, 2011

I have joined the discussion late, but have read all the comments. I have in the past, but I no longer perform weddings unless at least one of the persons is a member of our fellowship. Why have I taken this position? I just don't see the point of non-Christians wanting a church wedding. Besides, there are just more problems (such as smoking and drinking) that I'd rather not deal with. Quite frankly, I cannot understand why two unbelievers would even want to get married at all. Without Christ, what would be the point? I also would like to point out that 2 Corinthians 6:14 does not apply only to marriage--believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in any endeavor; marriage is not even in the context. Besides that, isn't marriage supposed to be an equal yoking? The text does not say believers are not to be yoked with unbelievers. It says they are not to be UNEQUALLY yoked to unbelievers.

Graham Webster

commented on Aug 18, 2011

All I can sayabout this matter is that I will do anything legal and moral to get the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus to the lost.

Jb Bryant

commented on Mar 11, 2013

I realize this is an old discussion, but I happened upon it when researching and decide to contribute anyway. I am not a "staff" pastor but more an ordained, tent-making "minister at large." Performing weddings is rare for me. But this weekend I married two non-Christians. When they contacted me, I told them that I would want to ensure it was a distinctly Christian-focused wedding and that I'd need to spend at least 4 hours with them beforehand. They agreed. This young couple (ages 19 and 20) had a 3.5 year old son together and had lived together for 2 years. Neither had any background in Christianity from their upbringing. The man thought Adam had something to do with a flood. They had no bad feelings toward the church, only complete ignorance (and receptivity). At the end of our meetings, I gave them assignments. The first was to read (I gave them an NIV Bible) 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, make a list of the qualities of love, and discuss how those might become challenging in marriage and hypothetical or real situations where each would be tempting to undermine. They heartily and eagerly did this assignment. The second assignment I gave was to read Ephesians 5:21-33 and be prepared to talk with me about it at our next meeting. Of course, it was much more difficult for them to understand, especially since they knew nothing about the Bible or the gospel. So we worked through it together - what "submit to one another" means, what "submit to your husbands as to the Lord" means, and what "love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" means. That, of course, provided an open opportunity for me to share the full gospel message with them(!) as a parallel - and tie it directly back to how this gentleman should love this woman he was to marry, discuss what that would look like in practice, and answer their questions about Christ and the church! Then, at the wedding, I had an opportunity to offer a 5-minute message on marriage. I knew that most (and probably all) attending the wedding were as ignorant about the Bible as these young people were. So my message was directly from Ephesians 5, providing yet another opportunity to preach the gospel - this time to roughly 100 unsaved people! I also knew the audience?s makeup, so I told the gospel message in fuller detail and simpler language than I might to a mixed crowd. Are this young husband and wife Christians now? No. But I've planted many seeds of the gospel, and they have expressed the desire to stay in touch regularly (their suggestion, not mine). I've planted, I may get to water or someone else may, and God may provide the increase. But the key point is this: This opportunity for the gospel to go out among the world would have been completely lost had I sent them to the magistrate to get married, and today they are no longer living together unmarried. What could be wrong with this?

Jim Walker

commented on Apr 6, 2013

Thanks - 57. JB Bryant - you said: "Then, at the wedding, I had an opportunity to offer a 5-minute message on marriage. I knew that most (and probably all) attending the wedding were as ignorant about the Bible as these young people were. So my message was directly from Ephesians 5, providing yet another opportunity to preach the gospel - this time to roughly 100 unsaved people!" I would love to have a copy of your 5 minute message if you are willing to share it - send to jabezz at bigfoot.com - thanks, Jim

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