Summary: Couples. Pt. 6
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR (1 KINGS 16:29-33; 21)
A young lady I have lost contact with for many years asked for my e-mail when we met at a wedding banquet and. Before too long, she e-mailed and called me. She was pretty, talented, quiet, helpful and sweet, the ideal spouse, mother, daughter or daughter-in-law material. A church musician and an active believer, she shocked me with her pending engagement to a Middle Easterner, a Muslim colleague at work, dismaying her Christian family members. She had dated her fair share of Christians but they did not work out. She liked him, but not loved him. Nobody at church had the slightest clue she was dating, never mind marrying a Muslim. Further, the young Muslim man had visa problems and marriage would solve the issue.
After living in a Muslim country for close to thirty years, I cautioned her against marrying a Muslim. Muslims are barred from conversion by law. They have to give up their property and belongings to the government upon their conversion to another faith. Children of interfaith marriage are required to be raised Muslim by law.
The young lady nicely explained that upon marriage they will live in the States and not return to live in the Middle East, where the pressure to convert to Islam is unbearable. The young man assured her she could remain Christian, just as he could remain a Muslim, and that she could freely live the Western way, not the Islamic way.
I bumped into the person a few years after that talk. The two were engaged but not married and were on better terms with each other, but the lady’s strained relationship at home got worse and church friends were kept in the dark for many years till they were married.
Marriage is life’s “big business,” as the Chinese say. The Chinese say, “Marry a chicken, follow the chicken; marry a dog, follow the dog.” The decision is irreversible, the damage is irreparable and both destinies are intertwined.
Israel was split into two kingdoms after the death of Solomon. Solomon’s descendants reigned over the longer lasting southern kingdom of Judah, but the tumultuous northern kingdom of Israel was ruled by nine dynasties until its fall to the Assyrians. King Ahab of the northern kingdom was the son of the third dynasty’s founding king. He was famous for his marriage alliances with other nations to prevent a war and to consolidate his throne, but it brought more danger, instability and chaos to the country. The introduction of the heathen Jezebel, however, affected so many lives and turned his family, the northern and southern kingdoms upside down. The reason why the southern kingdom turned idolatrous was because Ahab’s daughter Athaliah was given to marriage to the southern kingdom and she was as idolatrous as her mother who brought her up. Ahab and Jezebel were more powerful than any president and first lady in office, more vicious and more anti-God than any of the kings and queens before them.
What is God’s blueprint for marriage? Why is breaking off a romance with an unbeliever easier said than done? Why is interfaith marriage against God’s will, an act of disobedience and a marriage that is troubled from the start?
Two Lives are Incompatible and Inseparable
29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:29-33)
This is not my first time addressing interfaith marriage issues. After speaking on Ezra’s strong opposition to interfaith marriage, as recorded in Ezra 9, a member came up to me and said, “Pastor, I don’t agree with your stand against interfaith marriage. If I have not married my spouse, the person would not have the opportunity to attend church and accept Christ later.” I said, “Your spouse’s salvation is an act of God’s grace and mercy. God could have saved the person in other ways. Marriage is not the only way.”
A lot of people confuse the words “because” and “despite.” In interfaith marriage, God could intervene and save an unbelieving spouse not because of a believing spouse’s disobedience, but despite of his or her disobedience. Some have taken evangelistic work to an exasperating extreme, thinking they can convert an unbelieving date in courtship or an unbelieving wife after marriage. Missionary dating or proselyte dating in the hope of converting an unbeliever is unwise, unrealistic and unbelief. It often leads to a loss of faith, regular absence from church and a clash of schedule, priorities and interests. Marrying an unbeliever is not an opportunity issue, but an obedience issue.