Should a Christian marry an unbeliever? In a society where people can have hundreds of online friends from all over the world, it can still be difficult to find close, personal relationships in real life. Sometimes it feels like a miracle when we meet someone with whom we really connect—someone who likes us, likes spending time with us, and makes us feel appreciated. When that magic happens, it can be easy to gloss over differences that don't seem to have any bearing on the personal relationship.
Should Christians date or marry non-Christians?
This is a problem being met by more and more Christians who want to marry. Christian culture inundates us with assertions about purity and courting vs. dating, and ignores things like loneliness and even how to talk to a member of the opposite sex. Women fear that if they show interest in a man he'll think she's not the submissive type. Men fear that with one conversation the woman will immediately start picking out china patterns. Marriage and child-bearing have become part of the gospel message instead of tools to spread the gospel message.
Marriage is important, and for those who enter into it, it is the most important human relationship possible. But of all the interactions and relationships we have with members of the opposite sex, very few result in a dating or marital relationship. When male/female relations are presented only within a married or marriage-potential context, the non-sexual companionship God designed for brothers and sisters in Christ is lost (1 Timothy 5:2). The romance-track begins to look like our only option.
So it often happens that good, dutiful Christians find themselves aging and alone. The desire for companionship fights with the desire to remain physically pure. And the church shouts mixed messages—insisting on the sacrament of marriage without providing the marriage partner.
In the middle of the battle, things look murky. Duty gets confused. Loneliness is amplified when friends marry away. Other Christian singles get leery that any sign of interest will be misinterpreted. Very often, it's the non-Christians who step up and have the confidence to say, "I don't know where this will go, but I like you. Do you want to get some dinner?"
Which is why many Christians are tempted to date and marry non-Christians. It is possible to have a loving relationship with an unbeliever. But it is also inevitable that such a close connection will draw the believer away from God (1 Corinthians 15:33). Dating or marrying an unbeliever will solve a lot of issues, including loneliness, the Christian culture's pressure to marry, and the desire to live life with someone else. But the solution comes with a very high cost.
It's easy to blame this tension on the fallen world, but truthfully, a lot of it is the fault of the modern Christian culture. The Bible doesn't insist that everyone must marry. In fact, it says the opposite (1 Corinthians 7:7-8). It doesn't say that Christians best serve the Kingdom by marrying and having children. It says single Christians can devote more time to God. And while God did create men and women to complement and support each other, nowhere does the Bible say they must be married to do so.
When the single life gets hard, and marrying a non-Christian looks like the only choice, it's imperative to decide what is most important. If following Christ and serving Him in any circumstance is paramount, the decision is easy—don't be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14); look forward to what God is accomplishing (Romans 8:28); and trust that God's blessings are better than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Choosing to date or marry a non-Christian is rejecting God as a primary influence. It is clearly declaring "God is not enough." And it may possibly be abandoning God's plan for a godly relationship He has waiting in the wings.
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