Summary: Reasons why a believer should not marry a non believer
David Slagle, a minister at a small church in Atlanta, tells the story of a woman in her late 20’s. The woman had befriended a man living in her apartment complex. Slagle and his wife asked whether the two were dating. The man in question was a known atheist. The young woman answered, “No, I’m not going to date him. He’s just a good friend. We’re just hanging out. I could never date someone who didn’t value what I value.” A few months later, she announced that they were dating, but she would not get engaged to him “unless he becomes a Christian.” A few months after that, Slagle says, she “did an about face on that one too.”
This story is hardly uncommon. According to a survey in 2010 of 2,500 married Americans, about 42% of marriages today are between people from two different faiths. This is an all time high. While this shows much tolerance and assimilation in American society, this has created problems for churches and for marriages. Unequally yoked marriages are generally less satisfying than those in marriages where both partners are Christians.
Interestingly enough, in this survey, we find that unequally yoked marriages argue very little about religion and doctrine. Now they disagree on many issues like schedules and money and child rearing. The problem is that the practices and rituals of our different faiths affect our day to day lives and therefore our marriages. Our faith dictates how we spend our time, how we spend our money, where we decide to live, and how we raise our children. Disagreements over such issues can lead to unhappiness and maybe even divorce. But like Slagle’s young friend, many of us are less and less “intentional” about whom we marry.
The two become one- not only physically but spiritually as well. The Bible affirms the marriage bond when it states that a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is still a marriage. That’s why Paul and Peter command believers to stay with their unbelieving spouses. In our day, many spend more and more time away from their family of origin and from a religious community like the church. Later on these people desire to return to the faith of their youth or find some kind of religious faith. Going over apologetics material with Lee Strobel. Lee’s wife became a Christian and Lee was an atheist. That is not what I am talking about tonight. I am talking about a Christian seeking to marry a non Christian.
Unequally yoked is a term used to describe many detrimental relationships between Christians and non Christians but especially the marriage of a Christian to a non Christian. When Matthew and Mark write about man and woman “joined” by God in marriage (Matthew 19:6- Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.), they use a Greek word with “yoke” as its root. This root is the same as the one used in 2 Corinthians 6:14- “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” In other words, the verbs in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and 2 Corinthians 6 are all related. God has “yoked” man and woman together into a one flesh relationship. The NT tells us that such relationships are the business of the church.