Is It a Sin to Marry a Non-Believer?

Our Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader flat out said this week, “It’s a sin to be married to a non-believer.”  I immediately blanched because I’ve never heard this before.

Being that we discussed marriage and the passages that believers use to assert this assumption last year in BSF’s study of Acts, I was indeed curious.  For this was never mentioned AT ALL.

All we talked about were Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 and not once did anyone say it was a sin to marry or be married to a non-believer.  It was all about IF you were married to one, what do you do?

Resolved to find the answer, I researched.

Again, it all comes down to translation of the Hebrew and Greek words that the Bible was originally written in.

The main passage people use to assert this assumption is 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?”

The key word is yoked.  But this is the NIV translation.  This word is translated differently in other translations.

I’m curious as to what you all think.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a sin.

Remember the definition of sin, which according to Webster’s Dictionary is “a transgression of the law of God”.  Transgression means a violation of a law or command; to go beyond the limits.

According to my bible dictionary (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney) sin is “revolt against the holiness and sovereign will of God.  It is a condition of the heart and the outworking of that condition through one’s words and actions.”

I believe nothing in this world happens without God’s plan.  I believe God puts husbands and wives together for a purpose.  And I think one of these purposes is so you can influence your spouse and even save them through living a Christian life and in turn they turn to Jesus.

We are called to “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1) and I believe it is our example that leads others to Christ.

If you love an unbeliever enough to marry him or her, then God loves them enough for you to save them for Him.  It’s the same for family members.  It is our duty to bring them to God.  To show them God’s love that dwells in us–for them.

I believe it is God’s will.

Now should you go seeking a marriage with an unbeliever?  No.  Should you be wary before you say I do?  Yes.  Is it prudent to marry one?  No.

But it’s God’s will.  Not our own.

I find it hard that Paul who spoke so much about marriage wouldn’t come out and clearly say, “It is a sin to marry an unbeliever so don’t.”  Thus, I just don’t see this as a “law” put forth by God similar to the Ten Commandments.

Again, it’s all interpretation and translation.  And since none of us lived in the first century AD or asked Paul himself what he meant here, we can’t say for certain.

And we all know how languages change (see my spiel on the nature of languages HERE.)  Some words just don’t translate perfectly into other languages.  If you’ve ever studied another language or lived in a country with a different native tongue, you know what I mean.

Even within the same language.  England has many phrases that do not translate into American and vice versa.  Same with Spanish.  The Spanish in Spain is totally different from the Spanish of the Americas and even within the countries of the Americas.  Just ask Chileans and their “modismos”.

To me, love is stronger.  Don’t condemn others because they married an unbeliever.  Leave that to God.  But love them instead.

I do find it hard to believe this wasn’t talked about last year.  I looked up my post from last year when we studied 2 Corinthians and I even said in my conclusions I was disappointed BSF DID NOT talk about this.  View the post HERE

We did discuss 1 Corinthians 7 (HEREand only talked about what to do if you are married to a non-believer.  And no where do I remember the word SIN entering the picture.

Once again, I’m disappointed in BSF.  They probably didn’t want to offend people by bringing up this very important debate (I think) in today’s society.  Because I bet a good majority of people are married to unbelievers.

I want to know.  Is it a sin?  Am I wrong to think it isn’t?  What’s the Scripture that speaks to this besides the ones above?

I attend BSF to get answers to questions I have.  This to me is important.  I need to know this since marriage affects most of the world’s population.  I need to know this for those around me.  For my kids who will one day marry.

Maybe I’m just too much of a “complainer” as some of you think.  Or I expect too much.  Or I question too much.  Or there is obviously something wrong with me….

I just want to be challenged that’s all.  So I can grow and be more like Jesus and change my thinking if needs be.

To me, this is challenging.

END NOTE:  One post I found that proposes it is a sin to marry a non-believer:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/marrying-a-non-christian

Another article that says we should ask instead “Why would you want to marry a non-believer?” but the author also believes it to be a sin:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/bible-answers/marriage/unequallyyoked.html

Advertisements

59 comments on “Is It a Sin to Marry a Non-Believer?

  1. Karen Steans says:

    I remember very clearly our discussion last year about marriage between a believer and nonbeliever. We never discussed it as a sin. However, the believer was a model to a nonbeliever. Your spouse would want what you have eventually. I have witnessed this several times. A nonbeliever becoming a very active Christian after marrying a Christian. They become better witnesses for The Lord. I do not think it is a sin.

  2. Michelle says:

    If you’re a Christian and you’re marrying a non-Christian I would argue that whether or not it is a sin isn’t the issue, it’s just flat out reckless and stupid.

    The Word tells not to be unequally yolked with a non believer. Committing to someone for life is yolking yourself big time! It’s fraught with potential problems. You’ll be going in 2 different directions. Why would one want to? We shouldn’t even date one! I have teenagers, I’ve told this to them since they were tiny! They won’t even consider it now. Why risk having feelings for someone by even entertaining the idea of dating if their whole moral compass and view on life is different. It’s insane.

    The bible is clear about what to do if you’re in that position…to willingly choose that position is just dumb.

    • Надя Янакиева says:

      I support Michelle that it is pointless to call it a sin or not a sin. Marrying a non-believer has been hell for 38 years. I would not recommend it to anyone. Not obeying the Word of God and living with the consequences is the worst possible decision one can make.

  3. Sandra Roberts says:

    I believe that the purpose or function of BSF is for us to question. To look deeper into the bible and find our own answers. This question is a debate which BSF does not allow us to do very well. I leave it to God to decide whether it is a sin or not. For some people it may be a sin and for them it is, like when they were talking about the early church and some taught you must be circumised and James said no. I love your posts and keep on questioning it makes me think. Sandy

  4. Ann says:

    No not sin.

  5. Michelle says:

    Adding, because I can’t stop thinking about this, I grew up with biblical pre-marital counselors as parents. I’ve gone to Christian pre-marital and marital seminars since I was knee high to a turnip. The quote about not being un equally yolked is obviously referring to a yolk that you put on oxen to plow the field. It is such a perfect illustration because it’s imperative that the oxen are of the same size & strength, otherwise a) one of them does all the work or b) the field doesn’t get plowed because the oxen are going in two different directions! They can’t move forward.

    Your comment that if you love a non-believer enough to marry them that therefore it’s “God’s will” in my opinion is…well, true in one sense because you’re in it then so He will help you endure it but kind of wrong if youre suggesting God put them together. Maybe you’re not; but, for anyone to suggest it’s in God’s plan for a believer & unbeliever to marry well, that would be contrary to scripture. God’s spirit never contradicts itself. He would never say in His word to not be unequally yolked and then mystically plan to put two people together into a union of one flesh, two people who differ so dramatically at the core of what is most important. God can redeem it, but so often its a disaster. Usually it is an act of willfulness on the part of the Christian. Then that does become a sin, knowingly moving forward on something we know is contrary to God’s will. Would He forgive us that sin? yes, but it has consequences. Could He work in and through it? sure. Isn’t the Bible full of stories of people who made messes because of moving forward into dangerous territory just because they wanted to, only to realize what a mistake it was? Aren’t we studying the Bible to learn from that and not repeat those same mistakes? Sometimes love is simply not enough. Not even close! Look at Samson. Allowing “feelings” or “attraction” to dictate your choices over wisdom and God’s word is not only stupid and playing with fire as I said above but it is reminiscent of what we’re studying right now, very much in line with what Eve did.

    Can God work in this situation should it occur? Of course. Once two people marry it is His will to make it work & Paul’s comments about how to make it work come into play….but it is His permissive will not His perfect will. The consequences of such a union affect the children, the families, the believer…it’s just so far reaching. For every couple that survives this ill-fated union I could show you 50 that don’t. It’s just flat out a bad idea. What fellowship has light with darkness? none.

    I would even submit to you that one should even consider the level of commitment to ones walk with God, not just whether or not they’re saved when we consider a marriage union. We should be equally yoked there as well. With 70% of marriages ending we don’t need the deck stacked against us before we even walk down the aisle.

    • Michelle says:

      Lastly:
      I think a better question to ask is: who is behind a believers desire to marry a non-believer? I’m quite sure it wouldn’t be God.

      Obviously I feel strongly about this.

      • Michelle says:

        I just saw your end note. It wasn’t on the email notification. Funny, I obviously think that’s a better question too. Shutting up now.

    • JoAnn Genova says:

      SO VERY WELL PUT,IM WITH YOU

  6. Joan says:

    I think to be called dumb and stupid for marrying a non-believer is not helpful, I married a non-believer 26 years ago, we have been to gether for 28 years. Have there been difficult times? Yes. Have I been praying for him all these years. Yes. But somehow God has held us together through storms you can’t imagine. I will continue to hold my husband up in prayer that one day he commits to follow Christ. We have 2 sons, they are both believers. Do I think it is a sin, no. But it holds many more challenges than I could have imagined, but God is good all the time. One day I am hopeful that my husband come to know and have a relationship with Christ.

    • Michelle says:

      Joan, I said to willfully do it when God warned against it was. Not that the person was, big difference. The way you have dealt with it is an honor and a tribute to your faith and your God. It takes incredible strength to do what you’ve done. You’ve needed to live out your faith and your praying for his salvation, that is exactly what God spoke to Paul as how to handle it. I was directing my response to AtoZ’s question of is it a sin in reference to what she would tell her kids about it. I didn’t mean to offend.

    • Richard says:

      Amen Joan.

      God Bless you, your husband and your sons. I would imagine the responsibility of a Believer (when marrying a non-Believer) is very similar to that of a Pastor or teacher of the Word of God. Because of the obvious investment in time and counsel, the task of introducing a non-believer to Christ and the benefits thereof (bringing them with you to Heaven) is so much more important than simply hanging out with other Christians. What good is that? They ALREADY know Christ. It’s our jobs not to be like the Pharisees and Scribes and bring the LOST to Jesus.

      God equips some to take this on, while He doesn’t equip others. Or maybe He DOES equip all of us – and maybe most of us are just too lazy to put in the work! As Believers we must understand and recognize that most (if not all) of Scripture that refers to the people of God marrying a Gentile or Non-Believer, has been taken from the Old Testament and those verses are within the context of judgment according to The Law of Moses or from God Himself telling His people what not to do while conquering the promised land.

      It’s helpful to consider what Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us about love as well as the Epistles of Paul. It’s because of Jesus’ work on the cross that we have the Grace of God with us to partake in “missionary” like work with those we love, in leading them to Christ – by and through example and Faith.

      Continue to do what you’re doing Joan. I believe your husband WILL follow Christ as long as you live the Christian life with your sons.

      Besides, speaking in a “worldly” fashion, a couple of Non-Believers have 0% chance (outside God’s intervening) of knowing Jesus. A couple with one Non-Believer, has at least a 50% chance. In this world, that 50% is enough to change the eternities of all under that household…Isn’t THAT worth it?

      And as for Joan’s husband, he now has a 75% chance of knowing the Lord – in addition to God’s Grace and strength working through Joan and their two sons.

      God the Father knows our hearts and He knows our intentions. If Joan as well as other Christian brothers and sisters like her are married to wonderful, beautiful people that don’t YET know the Lord then as a Church (as the Body of Christ), we should be lifting them up in prayer for doing what the rest of us are too chicken and unqualified to do.

      We are not on earth to only reap the benefits of our Lord and Savior. We should be leading others to take part in those benefits (and to know where those benefits are from). If not, how could we sleep at night knowing there are people out there (those we love) that will NOT step into Heaven with us?

      Fight for them! Be a warrior for Christ! Even if they do reject you at times – you know it’s only for their good, even if they don’t know it yet.

      We were once ignorant. Thinking back, if no one had introduced you to Christ, wouldn’t you look on and WANT and PLEAD someone to talk to you about Jesus Christ?!?

  7. Debbie says:

    This is something I’ve been trying to figure out myself. I am deeply in love with a man I’ve been with for over 4 years. I was going through so much at the time I met him and feel like God has used him for good in my life. We are planning on marrying next year. Now, the issue is, is I don’t believe he is a born again believer…well I can’t judge. When he was a little boy he told me he had a relationship with God and was sincere about it. He told me he struggled with it as he grew up though (he had no one in his life that was a Christian). He then grew away from the idea as he got older. Then he met me. He’s had to do some real soul searching within himself. He told me he believes in God and wants him in his life…but I know he is still trying to figure out who he is and who Jesus is. I know he prays to God but I don’t believe he is at the point of surrendering his life to him. He does get closer and closer to it, but it still is a gray area. He encourages me in my own faith though and relationship with God and going to church and says he supports me in it. But I do see the inside struggle in his heart he has with surrendering his heart. My question is…I met this man after leaving an abusive man who I thought was a Christian and from the church…and I was on my own with two small children. I was lost and afraid and broken. In my opinion God brought him into my life because not only did he help me and my children survive, but he helped build up my strength, independence and confidence. His morals and values are pretty much the exact same as mine and he supports the Christian lifestyle I want to have. We love each other and want to get married. The thing is, is I see God working in his heart and his life everyday. I feel like he is getting closer and closer to surrendering his life to him. Now would I say that every case of marrying a non born again believer is the right thing to do? No, I wouldn’t. I didn’t seek to do this myself. I do see the warnings about how much harder it would be…and I don’t think saying it is “ok” across the board would be the right thing to do. But I do wonder about this. I was a very broken person when I met my fiancé. I loved God but my relationship with him was suffering. I was not in the best place mentally, emotionally or spiritually when I met my fiancé. But now what, after my relationship with God has strengthened and so has my love with my fiancé. We have been together for so many years now…and I struggle with not being married, so we plan on marrying, but now do I struggle with getting married? My struggle mainly comes from what people in the church think. Because I feel like I am at peace with God. I have seen God work in this mans life and we are in love and fully supportive of my walk with God…so is this relationship now supposed to be broken off because he is not quite there yet with God? What about the progress God has made in him? What about the fact that God has used me in his life so he can know more about him and draw closer to him? Even the fact that being with my fiancé has helped me search for more of God in my life. So see, the struggle is, is there really a black and white answer to this? Because to me God can work in any heart and any situation. It may not have started out in a mindful and spiritually strong time in my life, but I do believe God says what be meant for bad God can turn it into something good. I do know many people who’s spouses did not find Christ until later on in their marriage…but that by their spouse being faithful in prayer and living out their faith, helped them find Christ for themselves. Mind you if my fiancé said he wanted nothing to do with God or Christianity in our life, then yes I would say I would break off the relationship, and again I wouldn’t endorse the idea of trying to date someone who is not Christian. But what about situations like mine? I haven’t felt a conviction of breaking off the relationship…although I know in some cases that may happen and God may want you to break off a relationship. So to me it seems like this may be a caution and a word of advice to make your life easier. I think to me this may be a case by case situation because only God knows the heart of each person. God can work anywhere to bring someone to him. Do I believe that it is ok to be yoked with someone who will flat out refuse God and reject him from their life…no. But what about those who do believe in God but are still searching but not yet born again? I think when it comes down to it, each person needs to seek God for direction and answers. He’s the one who sees all outcomes. If we seek him whole heatedly to seek his will, I do believe he will reveal himself and his will for us. Saying this we must be willing to follow what God reveals to us or how he directs us. If there is not good to come of it I do believe God will convict us and give us a new direction. But I do believe there are times that people do come to find Christ and puts the right people in their life at the right time…only he knows. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong. I’m only sharing my position with others. I thank you sincerely for bringing this topic up as it does seem to be a taboo topic. I too am searching for the answers and thank you for allowing us to search for truth. I know I am still on my journey searching, but I know I am not the only one. Best wishes to everyone regardless of what opinion they have on the issue. I do appreciate the advice.

    • atozmom says:

      Debbie,

      I think you answered your own question when you said, “I think when it comes down to it, each person needs to seek God for direction and answers.”

      In your situation, only God knows. Pray and listen. He will NOT lead you astray.

      Thank you for sharing your heart with us. It blessed my day.

    • JoAnn Genova says:

      PERHAPS THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS ALREADY SPOKEN TO YOUR FRIENDS HEART.SOMETIMES WE DO NOT STEP OUT IN FAITH THE FIRST OR SECOND TIME….BUT MAYBE THE NEXT.THANK GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT NEVER GIVES UP!SET CLOSER TO THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH…..ONE STEP INTO THE ISLE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TAKE YOU THE REST OF THE WAY.THE OLDER YOU ARE THE HARDER.BLESSINGS TO YOU BOTH!

  8. Lisa says:

    Did she say it was a sin to be married to a non-believer or a sin for a believer to marry an unbeliever? Did she espouse that staying married to an unbeliever is sin? IMHO this is something you should take up with the TL, not a group like this. This could become a source of great division. Are TL’s infallable? Yes? My husband is one. He is a Godly man and will come home sometimes saying, I don’t know how someone got that out of what I taught, that’s not what I remember saying, and it certainly isn’t what I believe. Ask your GL to put you in contact with the TL so you can have a private conversation.

  9. Kay Womack says:

    We did discuss this last year, and if I recall correctly, came to the agreement that it is not a SIN, but should marry a believer if possible. When you marry a non-believer, one should live for Christ first and set an example for your spouse.

  10. Carol Field says:

    Our Lecture Leader in Redwood City, CA specifically said it wasn’t a sin to marry a non-believer. She went on to say most of the things you said, Atozmom.

  11. Mary Ann says:

    My husband believes there is a God, but he does not believe everything the Bible says. Since I am in BSF, I talk to him about things we are learning in BSF. He doesn’t agree with everything, but he listens and respects my opinions. He is a very analytical man and has been since I married him. I am happy he believes in our God and Jesus, but is he an unbeliever regarding the Bible? I’m not sure, but I am happy he knows there is someone greater than himself. So I really don’t know if I married an unbeliever. What do you all think?

    • atozmom says:

      Does he believe in Jesus, Mary Ann? Muslims believe in God (our same God believe it or not which they call Allah) as do the Jews (Yahweh). As do the Mormons. They believe in our God, but not Jesus. That is what distinguishes Christians (followers of Christ) from others.

      This is the key.

      In my opinion and you’ve been here from the start, Mary Ann, and know I am no expert, I would say this: if he believes in Jesus, he will be saved. This is the crux and what you should be concerned about.

      I would submit to you many Christians have not read the Bible and don’t know everything that’s in it. Still, they will be saved. As those 1000 years ago who couldn’t read or write Latin or Greek but were converted to Christianity are in heaven now.

      If you have Jesus, you have God. Forever. Period.

      • Karen B. says:

        I hope you aren’t saying that Mormons don’t believe in Jesus as their Lord & Savior. It is the 3rd of their 4 spiritual laws. Muslims obviously don’t.

      • Michelle says:

        Karen B,
        It’s not that Mormon’s don’t believe in Jesus, it’s who they believe Jesus to be that is at issue. Most Mormon’s have a differing view of who Christ is than what the bible teaches.

      • Mary Ann says:

        Thank you so much for your reply, atozmom. I know he does believe in Jesus. Your explanation really makes me feel better. I agree that if we have Jesus, we have God. Forever.

        Thank you again for your thoughtful and knowledgeable words, and may God continue to bless you and yours.

  12. Jo Ann Sanders says:

    I think you should ask the TL who said it.

  13. Jo Martin says:

    I frankly do not believe it is a sin to marry a non-believer. There must be something in that persons heart for you to be attracted to that person. Hear is what I read and seems to be reasonable.
    Did James, Jude, or John forbid a Christian to marry a non-Christian? No. Did Peter? No, but he does provide a suggestion for how to win over an unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3:1-6). What about Paul? The brethren at Corinth had asked him some questions about marriage (1 Cor. 7:1), and he answers them without ever saying that it is a sin for a Christian to marry a non-Christian.

    This would be an interesting topic to discuss.

    • Надя Янакиева says:

      Jo Martin, it might not be considered as sin in the sense of disobeying the 10 commandments. In my experience of 38 years being married to a non-believing husband, I believe it is HELL on earth. But God is a merciful father who has his way of encouraging me day after day.

  14. Nancy Ericson says:

    I am unequally yoked. But God brought me to my man and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was His doing. Do I believe it is a sin? No. At times it is quite difficult because his belief system is contrary to mine (Jesus was a good man, but not necessarily God’s Son…and not a Savior, etc). But I moved from Colorado to South Dakota at God’s command and I never would have come here except through the workings of God. I have been with my guy for 6 1/2 yrs now. When I had decided it was not right to be in an unequally yoked relationship I ( and I emphasis the I!) decided to move out. But God showed me a different view. And my love developed even deeper. I was trying to be his Holy Spirit in convicting him..not a good idea! Do I understand the workings of God in this situation? Not really! But I am not God, I am His follower. I know He has a purpose for me in this marriage and I am NOT being drawn away from my faith or desire to rest in Jesus. To the contrary, I am diving deeper and deeper into my faith and reliance on God. Not by my words but by my outward manifestation may my man come to know Jesus as I do! I think I would have had some words for that leader! Thanks for sharing! Nancy Ericson

  15. Lynn says:

    I was in BSF for several years and did not always agree with what the Teaching Leader said.

    • Michelle says:

      We’re all human, even the teaching leader. That’s why we use the word of God as our ultimate authority. It never states that its a sin, it states it isn’t in our best interest and we shouldn’t do it.

      God can work in any situation but when one has a choice, why would we chose to be unequally yolked. I’ve had one of my children nearly die in front of me, to be able to turn to my husband and plead with our Lord on her behalf was one of life’s riches blessings, it strengthened us. When that option is available, why not wait for it? Feelings shouldn’t dictate our choices. Wisdom should.

  16. Nina Brueckner says:

    I personally believe that the telling word here is “unequally” — certainly a Christian should never submit his or her belief to that of the non believer. And if Paul were speaking strictly of marriage in 2nd Corinthians then he has clearly contradicted the statement in 1st Corinthians:

    “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband.”

  17. Jean says:

    If I had listened, really listened to the LORD thru His word, I would not have married the person I married. However, when you do disobey HE will forgive you when you ask. He will also make good come from ANY situation.
    In reference to the scripture:When Israel was preparing to go into the land of Canaan, God warned His people not to take husbands or wives from among the pagans.
    “Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.”
    – Deuteronomy 7:3-4
    The reason Israel was not to mix with other peoples was not because of race or culture, but to prevent Israel from becoming like the nations, and thus profaning the name of the LORD God.

  18. Kay says:

    I do not believe it is a sin. I married an unbeliever 35 years ago. Premarital counseling was unheard of by either of us. We were young, ignorant and deeply in love. I was a young and infant Christian totally unaware of much of God’s word at the time. He is still an unbeliever, but appears to be making progress in the right direction. In the last several years I have studied God’s word with hunger and thirst, learning so much and wanting to learn so much more. I cling to the verses in 1 Peter 3:1-2, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” That does not sound like God is saying marrying an unbeliever is a sin. It does counsel what to do if married to an unbeliever. However, I feel that for a believer who understands God’s word and walks closely with God, as we all should, to marry an unbeliever is not a wise decision. It presents many problems for a couple. It also has the potential to put distance between the believer and God. God should be our first love and greatest consideration, as I have since learned. For a long time, the closer I moved to God, the farther away I was from my husband. A great gulf developed between my husband and me. I have had to focus on those verses and many others, pray and pray for God to change both of us, trust in God to be in control and once and for all stop trying to be in control striving to solve the problem myself. Things are much better now, but the battle for my husbands soul still continues. The difference is that I trust God and submit to His will. I greatly value prayer if any of you are moved to pray for my husband, for me and for our relationship with each other and with God. And there you have the problem with being married to an unbeliever.

  19. Martha says:

    This is a great discussion but has anyone considered the audience and context in which Paul was writing? Isn’t it plausible or even probable that the majority of his audience were new believers in Christ? The Holy Spirit was at work in these converted wives (could have been converted men instead but he doesn’t give as extensive direction to men) and that his instructions were about how to move forward in a union that was already in place?

  20. Mary says:

    I am like Kay and married 43 years ago to a non believer. My husband is finally coming around and attending church and a couples Bible study. I don’t think it is a sin to marry and un believer but it does make the road harder. My son doesn’t have anything to do with church or God and my daughter fell in love and married a Jew. I see these as direct consequences of my husbands lack of spiritual leadership. I Peter 3 has given me comfort in knowing I am not the only woman to go down this path. I pray that the Lord can call my children and grandchildren back to him some day. We were married in a church and I think God has blessed our marriage since it has lasted 43 years when many others have failed. Keep on seeking answers and asking questions. I enjoy your blog.

  21. leslie says:

    A sin against God is anything that displeases HIM, bottom line. We are not fooling anyone but ourselves, if we disagree. We need to seek forgiveness and be covered.

  22. Gene says:

    I believe Paul was giving good advise to the folks that were living in a time that many Jews were trying to exterminate the Christians. He never (as far as I can remember) said anything about it being a “sin”. I know many examples of married couples that help each other find Christ (that likely would not have occrured if the Christian had simply walked away from the relationship).

    It would seem that It could only be a sin if a person believed it to be sinful and did it believing it to be against God’s will. — Intent!

    • JoAnn Genova says:

      GOD HAS KILLED AND HAD MERCY ON THE IGNORANT,THAT IS WHY HE SENT JESUS.WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT FOR THOSE THAT ARE IN CHRIST…ALL OUR SINS ARE ALREADY FORGIVEN! HE DOES LIKE FOR US TO SAY WE ARE SORRY AND REPENT.

  23. Lisa C. says:

    I know this is not at all what the topic is about, but I have been reading and saw the part about Mormons believing in the same God as the Bible. I am an ex-Mormon and now a born again Christian. It was only God’s amazing grace that brought me out of that darkness, but as a witness for truth I have to tell you Mormon’s DO NOT believe in the same God as the Bible. They believe in a God who was once a man. That he is a created god by his own god. That he earned godhood because of righteous living. They also believe that you can become a god too if you earn it. This is a very false religion. It preaches a different Jesus, a different God, and a different gospel. The sad thing is that Mormon’s themselves truly believe that they believe in the Bible. But they have no idea what the Bible is about. They are very lost and need believer’s prayers.

    The other thing on the subject of marriage is that I am married to a non-believer. I was Mormon when I married him, and when I was saved he was not. It is very hard to be married to someone that does not share my passion and love for Jesus. He thinks I am a Jesus freak sometimes and the things that most important in my life- my love for Christ and growing in the Word of God, I can’t share with him. I mean I can, but he really doesn’t want to hear about it and only listens to be polite. When it comes to raising our children, obviously the burden falls on me to train them to be godly children who know the Lord. I pray for my husband every day! I’m trusting that I can be a witness and instrument to lead my husband to Christ. BUT, I wouldn’t wish this on any believer! God had a purpose and a plan for showing me truth when He did and I know that He has a plan for our family. But see, I was a non-believer when I married. So the question is not, is that a sin. Because we were both in sin already. But for a person who is already a believer and choosing who to marry, why would you even consider marrying a non-Christian? That of course would be so, so unwise! But, if your already in that situation, you were a Christian that married a non-Christian is it a sin? At this point it’s a little late to ask that question! What’s done is done! God does not want you to get a divorce. Scripture is clear on that. BTW, I loved how our training leader presented this issue last year. She made it so clear that God can use a believer in a marriage to be a blessing for the non-believer and that divorce is not what God would want. I can’t imagine your training leader saying anything different.

  24. Georgi Parayil says:

    Dear sisters in Christ,

    I stumbled on your blogs while looking for some other topic. I am a born again believer in Christ. I know that as sincere seekers, many of you who have contributed to this discussion and participants in BSF are asking these questions to find Biblical sound principles to embrace and grow in your walk with the Lord.

    I am so encouraged in the Lord that some of you are so well grounded in the Word and steadfast in your convictions.

    Michelle and Lisa C have shared some great thoughts that agree with the Word of God. There is practical truth in their thoughts. There were some other great posts as well.

    May God enlighten all of you to get the true vision of what Paul was expounding in these portions.

    These words were written to new believers who came to the knowledge of God as pagen couples. They were told not to break their marriage if the unbelieving partner is willing to continue their marriage in spite of the other becoming a believer in Christ. Divorce is never an option in the Word of God. But to those believers who are considering marriage, the advice is, “do not marry someone who have not the same faith in Christ as you do”. Because the road ahead will be a huge struggle for the believing partner in that relationship. As it is, life will bring enough of challenges for couples. But equally yoked believing couples can take it to the Lord in prayer and get help. But when they are unequally yoked, there is no unity in prayer, each one will be pulling in different directions or one will be carrying the whole burden.

    Do not enter into a marriage without proper spiritual counsel and when received , heed the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

    I am refreshed by this discussion and will be praying for all of you.

    God Bless!

    Georgi Parayil
    A fellow travel on the pilgrim journey

  25. Sophia says:

    I fell away, got pregnant, wanted to connect with God again and wanted to do the right thing so broke up with him. .Unfortunatly the guys heart got broken and I have suffered. The bible says a child is not holy if their is no marriage so what do I do I have little in common with him but I want to be a family with him

    • atozmom says:

      Sophia,

      Not for sure where it says child is not holy if there is no marriage. I think your marriage has nothing to do with your child’s holiness or not. Can’t really advise. You must pray and follow God’s will.

    • Joan says:

      God says “children are precious in His sight” period. Take your petitions and requests to our Lord and Savior, he will never ever let you down! He cares for you and all your going through!

  26. Sandy Roberts says:

    Children are born in sin like we all are but that does not have anything to do with whether or not you are married. Raise the child up to know and love God and surround yourself and baby with a church family and you will both be blessed, and holy in God’s sight.

  27. esther says:

    I find your post insightful and properly researched. Often readers of the word take the Apostle Paul’s words and give them “command” strength where the man clearly had no intention of communicating such, like when he said women should be quiet in church and ask their husbands what they were unsure about at home. Yet there was Jesus- followed around everywhere by women, teaching them and setting them on fire to evangelise whole towns like the Samaritan bad girl at the well.

    To be yoked means to be joined to, to carry the same burdens with. It is true there are myriad difficulties embedded in a believer being married to an unbeliever, but God would not and HAS not ruled out the entire group of His children who either: married before they got saved but the spouse didn’t, married thinking they alone could win their unbelieving partner, without calculating the work of the Holy Spirit, or married for love or even as part of God’s DIRECT WILL for their life to marry an unbeliever (see Hosea to Gomer, Esther to Xerxes, Prime Minister Joseph to the Egyptian Princess and Moses to his beloved black wife Zipporah). We should learn to speak where the Bible speaks and keep our private conjecture to ourselves where it is silent. The word ‘sin’ is a mighty whopper to go laying around on people where the Word has not expressly said so- Pharisees yoking the people with millstones they cannot carry come to mind. Wise Bible teachers should search the scriptures diligently and the voice of God even more so, especially when teaching others keen to know God’s truth on a matter. P.S. There is nothing wrong with you Atozmom 🙂

    • Shaeen says:

      Hi Esther,

      Although I wrote a (really) long reply to the general topic in the general posts section, I just briefly wanted to reply to your post since one part especially caught my eye.

      You talk about marrying an unbeliever “for love or even as part of God’s DIRECT WILL.” Before I begin, though, I do want to say that you’re right about God not “ruling out” or forsaking any of His children (regardless of their actions). However, that doesn’t change the fact that marrying a non-believer is sin.

      1) Married for love: In the U.S., we have this romanticized notion of love. It’s all about feeling and caring, etc. etc. But the Bible talks about love in action terms: showing patience, showing kindness, etc. etc. (1 Corinthians 13). Love is from God (1 John) so true love will never act in direct opposition to God’s will. Love that rebels against God is not love– it’s selfishness. It’s all about “I need” and “I want” and “I like” and “I feel good around this person,” but it’s not love. Remember, even servants of Satan masquerade as angels of light. (2 Corinthians 11:15). In the same way, sin often masquerades itself as righteousness, kindness, and love.

      2) Hosea, Esther, Joseph, and Moses: I’ll switch the order around a little.
      [a] Moses married Zipporah, a Midianite. Midianites were descendants of Abraham (same as the Israelites) by Abraham’s concubine, Ketturah. Although they were not members of the chosen people of Israel, they seem to still have been followers of God (Zipporah’s dad was a priest).

      [b] Joseph and Esther: First of all, neither were really in any position to refuse. You have both people, as members of a conquered people group, commanded by the king of the conquering people groups to marry a certain person. Based on historical precedence, the choice was probably along the lines of marry or die. Granted, could they have said “no” and trusted themselves to God in spite of the “die” option? Yes. However, think about Rahab. Rahab hid Hebrew spies and then lied about it. She was commended for her faith in God and never rebuked for lying. Does that mean that God condones lies? Should we all follow Rahab’s example and lie? No. The Bible clearly states that God hates lies. In Proverbs 6:16-19, two of the seven sins that God hates relate to lying and deception. So, just because the Bible doesn’t verbally condemn every individual sin committed by each person in the Bible within the confines of that story doesn’t mean we should follow suit.

      [c] In my mind, the only troubling example is really Hosea and Gomer. Although the purpose of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to show the “love of God for the children of Israel” (Hosea 3:1), it doesn’t change the fact that God commanded Hosea to marry Gomer. At the same time, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Issac– even though He is clear about hating child sacrifice– so…? Still, I would be careful about setting a precedent based on one example when the Bible seems to otherwise clearly state we shouldn’t marry non-believers. Does that mean we should dismiss this example? No. But I think we should be careful about the conclusions we draw.

  28. Jarod says:

    Ok here’s my take…Alot so-called professing “believers” act more unholy then some non-believers. Their are non-believers that are so genuwine, kind and loving that would put the average believer to shame. My father was a professing believer and we grew up in a very negative condensending home enviornment. I would of rather grew up with a kind, loving non verbally abusive non-believer home. You wouldn’t know he was a Christian other then he didn’t drink and had a Bible on his desk drawel (thankfully hes changed now). I’m not insinuating they (the person of no/other faith) are saved cause they are Biblically lost, but the point is…let God work how he wants. I don’t advocate marrying a non-believer but you have to look at each situation and the peoples personalities and actions/behaviors. Plus God knows the heart. If they are the type of person to follow you personality/temperment wise then perhaps you would be able to win them to the Living God through your actions and words as God leads you. But if your going to marry a wretch of a non believer or an obviously open and pessimistic athesist/other faith person then by no means marry them.

  29. Shaeen says:

    I think you bring up a lot of good points in your post. I’m so excited to talk about this because this topic is one that is (for lack of a better phrase) very near and dear to my heart. Just to give you a little background, I’m a child of a mixed marriage: my mom’s a Christian and my dad’s an atheist. I have watched their marriage and the marriages of my friends’ parents in similar situations. So, what I say, I say out of great love for people in similar situations.

    With that said, moving on to the post itself. I know I’m going to get confused (so anyone else reading this will definitely be confused) if I just write a blanket paragraph, so I’m going to break it up. And no, I’m not an engineer.

    1) You say that your BSF leader-person said that being married to a non-believer is a sin, yes? Maybe I misunderstood. Anyways, it’s not. Is it a sin to be a believer and marry a non-believer? Yes. Is it a sin to be married to a non-believer? Eh. The lines are a little more grey-ish. You’re right, the verse in 2 Corinthians 6 does talk about being yoked together. So, if you were a non-believer, married another non-believer, and then became a believer after getting married, that’s not a sin. Why? Because you, as a non-believer, were (at the time of marriage) equally yoked. Were you both still living in active rebellion against God and under the wrath of God? Yes, but that’s not the issue at hand. So, non-believer marries non-believer and then becomes believer: not sin. If, though, you were a believer and married a non-believer, that was sin. However, regardless of whether or not you sinned in the past, the deed is done, and 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Peter 3 are pretty clear about what you should do as a believer married to a non-believer.

    The issue surrounding this topic is, then, about what to do if you are a believer and unmarried. Which leads me to a second “issue.”

    2) Sin. There are two different words used in the Bible to describe what we blanketly call “sin”: parabasis (often translated as “transgression” in the NIV) and hamartia (often translated as “sin” in the NIV). Parabasis (transgression) refers to breaking one of God’s commandments. Hamartia refers to “missing the mark in your relationship with God” (paraphrased from Strong’s WordStudy Bible). Hamartia (sin) is a much broader category than parabasis (transgression). The distinction can be clearly seen in Romans 4 and 5. Romans 4:15 says that where there is no law there is no transgression (parabasis). Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:14). As Romans 6:23 says, the wages of hamartia (sin) is death. All this to say, there can be sin even if there is no transgression.

    3) So, the question: is marrying a non-believer a sin? I believe so. 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 talks about not being yoked together with a non-believer. Does “being yoked” directly translate as “marriage”? No. However, given God’s command in Deuteronomy 7:3-4, I think I can safely say that marriage falls under the umbrella of “being yoked” (it may be more extensive than just marriage, but I’m leery to expound without researching it first). Let me explain. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 states, “Do not intermarry with [with people of neighboring nations]. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you” (NIV). Now, God’s not talking about inter-racial marrying here (think of Rahab and Ruth); He’s talking about inter-faith marrying. Rahab and Ruth, in a sense, became Israelites, taking on Israelite culture, customs, and most importantly, religion. They turned to God from idols.

    Going back to “being yoked,” think about what the phrase actually means. Two oxen are put next to each other with a yoke connecting them. They work together to follow the same path and plow the same field. Marriage is very similar. The Bible talks about being married as becoming one flesh, which is a little bit more intense than being simply yoked together. When you, as a believer, marry a non-believer, you create a “one flesh” that is at war with itself. You are a child of God, he is a child of Satan, and you two are not Romeo and Juliet (although, if you think about it, they both die in the end). The only way Juliet was able to be with Romeo was by living in direct rebellion against her father? When you, by analogy, do the same, do you think you’re somehow not acting in rebellion against your Father? Or do you not trust that your Father knows best? Do you not trust that He has a good reason to be at war with Satan, the accuser of your soul? I don’t care how kind your boyfriend/fiance/fill-in-the-blank is, you two could not be more different. You two could not be headed for more different destinations. If you want more proof than 2 Corinthians 6, go to Ephesians two and read the passage. Then make two lists: 1) what you are now; and 2) what your partner is (hint: it’s everything you once were and aren’t anymore). It will probably hurt your heart, though, so grab some tissues first.

    4) Before I end, though, I want to address the issue of trying to save your partner by marrying him. You can’t. There is nothing that you can say or do that will save him. I tried for years to save my dad. I thought if I could only find the right words or the right actions or whatever, he would accept Jesus. And then God showed me 1 Corinthians 1-3, specifically verses 3:6-7. Only God makes things grow. You can plant and water all you want (as the Bible exhorts us to do), but only God can make it grow. When you marry a non-believer in order to “win him to Christ,” you are basically asking Him to bless your sin. And we know that God doesn’t bless sin. He uses it, He disciplines it, and He redeems it, but He never ever blesses it.

    My heart is with you. If you want to talk more, please comment. And sorry that this post is so long; I had a lot I wanted to say.

  30. […] not say marriage nor is he speaking about marriage prior to or after this passage.  See my post HERE with regards to this same […]

  31. gggggg says:

    I do not believe it is a sin, but it might change your beliefs. I do NOT think it is a wise idea to marry an unbeliever!! 😦

  32. Ravi Theaj says:

    All the words written in the BIBLE are inspired by the Holy Spirit and GOD used His servants to make known His words to His people. So whatever is written in the BIBLE are true and it is GOD instructing us what to do and what not to and we are to follow His words. The word of GOD clearly says “do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers”. God does not wants us to be teamed up with unbelievers, as even the strongest and the wisest of men could move away from God due to their unbelieving partners (Samson and Solomon). God doesn’t want us to go away from Him due to this relationship, that’s the reason why He told us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers through His servant, Paul. The word of God also says that disobeying God is also considered as sin. As God has clearly instructed us not to marry an unbeliever or have a relationship with an unbeliever, in spite of this if we are entering into that sort of relationship, it is obviously a sin. Therefore, marrying an unbeliever is also regarded as sin…!!!!

  33. Seonghoon Kim says:

    I agree with the author. The verse never said it was a sin. Paul even said earlier in the chapter about something else that the something else he spoke of was his opinion, not God’s. Paul was human. Yes, the bible is God-breathed, yes it has good advice, but not every advice in it applies to every situation. Rules, yes. But it was advice, not a command.

    Think of it this way- how many people exist in the world because of a Christian marrying a non-Christian and having children? God loves everyone in existence and planned their existence, correct? He wanted these children to be made. If it were not for those marriages, they would not be created. So whether it is a sin or not, it is still doing good for the world by fulfilling God’s plan for creation.

    I do believe the apostle Paul speaks truths in the NT. I also believe he speak opinions at times. In Job, you find many of Job’s friends opinions- does it mean everything they say is true? No! Context, context, context. One of his friends wasn’t telling the truth, to my recollection. But it was still in the bible.

    Also, we need to understand the audience of this verse (who it was written to), and their circumstances. Ancient Greece was full of polytheists- it was a part of their culture. You ever heard of Zeus, or Aphrodite? Two of their many gods, and we know them even today- think of how many more gods they worshiped then! That is why this was such an issue that Paul had to write about it.

    Also, not every marriage is going to work. Just because you married another Christian doesn’t mean the marriage will work out, or that it was God’s intention, or that He blessed it. You can be unequally yoked with a Christian. There is NO perfect marriage. That’s why this verse makes no sense to me. I think everyone’s unequally yoked to a degree- not every Christian is in the same part of their spiritual journey- not every Christian even believes the same things. Everyone interprets the bible differently. No marriage is equally yoked- and I think Paul didn’t realize this when writing this, being that he’d never been married (He writes about this earlier in the chapter to my recollection). He did not explicitly say the command came from God, as he had done in other verses from the book.

    Yes, I do believe everything in the bible was meant to be there. If God didn’t want it in, He wouldn’t have left it in. It wasn’t a command from Paul, so it is not an error- it was an opinion, mostly dealing with the people of that era. Just as when he wrote about eating certain foods with certain people. It applies to things back then. Things have changed. What never changes? God. Paul was writing to the ancient church, not us. Some things in his scripture still stand as truth, and some have changed. For example, if I wrote in the 1800s, that you should be careful to walk on a dirt road because a horse buggy may come and hit you unexpectedly, would that still apply today? No! We use dirt roads for walking now, if even using them at all. It wouldn’t apply.

    Don’t go seeking out a marriage with a non-Christian just to convert them- that never goes well. But if you love them, pray about it. God’s answer may be yes.

    May the peace of Jesus be with you, friends!

    • Shelly says:

      God’s spirit never contradicts His word so therefore I don’t believe God’s answer to whether or not one should marry a non-believer would ever be yes since His word speaks against it. Doing so is going against something that was God breathed in His Word. Can God use it and redeem such a decision? Of Course. He’s God. But there’s a difference between God’s permissive will and His perfect will. Once one marries a non-believer they’ve entered into a covenant under God with someone who doesn’t know Christ and is not reconciled through faith in Christ’s blood sacrifice and resurrection. They’ve become one flesh with someone who is unsaved. Sure some may not be perfectly yoked when they marry a believer but they are for sure unequally yoked when they marry a non-believer. When two oxen are put into the yoke to pull the weight of the load it is important they’re of like size, weight, strength and constitution otherwise the stronger of the two oxen will do all the work and heavy lifting. The same is true in marriage. Of course there are instances where God in His grace has brought about salvation and miracles even when such a decision is made but for every success story that are so many more that have resulted in confused children (as they have no clear faith presented in their home) heartache and loneliness. In the end, to me, splitting hairs over whether or not it is a sin or not a sin looks a lot like people trying to get away with what they want to do and have God condone it even if He has advised against it. My thought is marriage can be so hard, why add to the difficulty? A marriage unified in like faith is a beautiful portrait of Christ and His church. I think that should be our goal more than trying to find a loop hole as to whether or not it’s ok. Just my thoughts.

  34. Kol says:

    It’s interesting to see that most of the people who say it’s not a sin use no scriptural evidence for their conclusions.

    This is why the scripture says:

    ‘My people perish for lack of knowledge!’

    If you are basing your opinions on anything other than the scriptures, you are living as a non Christian and therefore it is no wonder you have no problems in being unequally yoked to one.

    Marriage is the 2nd most important relationship on earth after our relationship to Jesus and you think it is exceptable in the eyes of God to marry a non believer??!! please please go figure.

    I could give you a multitude of scripture to prove to you it is very much a sin. However,I won’t bother because i’ve learnt that usually people who want to do what they want won’t let the clear counsel of God interfere with their desires.

    Ps. I respect the person who left the original post ,because although I believe her conclusion is completely incorrect, she at least is searching the scriptures on the subject. Those who seek (with a pure heart) shall find!

  35. Jazzy says:

    Here’s another angle, two people marry who are ambivilant in faith being equally yoked in a way. 10 years later the marriage is in trouble and the wife starts searching the Bible for answers to help, receiving insights that start changing her, causing an even greater upheaval in the marriage. More years pass and after different small bible studies and fervent prayer that her husband would believe as she does, he is more resistant than ever, they are now unequally yoked. She starts attending BSF and the prayer warrior emerges in earnest. Trusting in the hope that what we have in Christ is true and God is faithful, in His timing, to keep His promises. God answered her prayers and the many who prayed with her on her husband’s behalf, he gave his whole life to Jesus asking to be baptized, delving into reading Gods word and singing His praises. They were now equally yoked until his death after 41 years of marriage. God is in charge, His timing is perfect and He is always for us. The question becomes are we for Him, willing to go the distance in this very messy thing called relationship? The only perfect one and our example, is between Jesus and His Father who was obedient to God’s plan to bring all people into right relationship with Him, after all that was why we were created. So sin where is your sting when we have Christ Jesus to break it’s chains?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s