Many people think that love is the most important thing in marriage and yes, love is a very big deal. But too often, marriage tends to be a personal goal, where people marry because of love. But when the feelings attached to love go away, they blame their partner and no longer feel a sense of happiness, which begins to eat away at the marriage, and the relationship crumbles. I would argue that as Christians, choosing Christ is the most important decision you can ever make in your marriage. It’s important that we marry a person who not only shares our faith, but will also allow us to grow in our relationship with Christ so that we will evolve spiritually. When the going gets tough, you both will turn to God because you both know God.
We are told by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that believers should not be yoked together with unbelievers. “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” While this verse is more specifically a warning against idolatry and doesn’t directly mention marriage, it does deal with being yoked, or attached with another person, and that’s what happens when we come together in the union of marriage. A yoke ties two animals together, and they must work together in order to get work done. If they don’t, they will become exhausted, fight and get little accomplished. The same goes for marriage with unbelievers. If two people who marry don’t share a common faith, there will be trouble.
There are many misconceptions that people have around marriage with unbelievers. Many Christians get involved with people who don’t share the same faith with the notion that they will eventually find Christ through them. As Christians, we can understand where this hope comes from. We are told in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” As believers, we are commissioned to bring people to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to work through our lives in this process, and who better than our spouse? But how long can we hope? Are you willing to hope for the next 10, 15, 20 plus years? I’m not saying it’s impossible. We’ve all heard these powerful testimonies that speak of people leading their spouses to Christ. But you shouldn’t go into a life-long relationship with someone with the expectation that you can change that person, and it’s not an expectation that you can build a happy, or healthy marriage on. There are instances where people come to faith in Christ after they get married. What may have started as a marriage between two unbelievers developed into a relationship where one is saved, and the other one isn’t. If you are married to unbeliever, actively witness to your spouse. You still have a responsibility to bring your spouse closer to Christ. While it’s easy to lose hope, pray for your spouse and their salvation.
People often don’t realize or lose sight of the impact faith will have on the family as a unit. What happens when the Bible says one thing, and another religion’s teachings say something else? Things can get complicated when one book says to do one thing, and another book says something else. What choice will you then make? Then, you have to think about your children. What will your children believe? Will they choose your faith or your partner’s faith and what kind of impact will that have on your relationship with your child, and the relationship with your spouse? If your child identifies with one spouse’s faith more than the other’s, they will feel like they’re picking sides. This doesn’t mean that love will be absent from your household, but the potential for confusion, and guilt to loom are possibilities. Many interfaith couples will give their children the freedom to choose their own beliefs. The husband and wife will follow their faiths, and allow the children to decide what makes the most sense from them. The problem with this is that all religions do not share the same core beliefs which can cause discomfort and contention between family members when it comes to those beliefs. As a parent, how comfortable or ok would you be with your child not accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. For we are told by Jesus that “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). One of the most awesome experiences we can have as parents is leading our children to faith in Jesus Christ.
But one of the biggest reasons why Christians shouldn’t marry non-believers concerns oneness in marriage. We are told in Genesis 2:24-25 “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.” Oneness in marriage is biblical, and has more to do with a unified relationship with God than our own pursuits of happiness and enjoyment. It really has to do with God’s calling and purpose. This oneness also requires our focus to be on God. You can’t find spiritual unity with a non-believer. Unless the person you’re with is in Christ, there can be no spiritual oneness.
Marriage is complicated enough as it is. It’s a lot easier when we find a partner who shares the same faith. Turn to someone who will help you grow in your relationship with Christ, not hinder it.