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:

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: