Does the Bible really say that I shouldn't marry a non-Christian? I'm involved in a serious relationship with a young lady who isn't a believer. My parents and friends at church have been telling me that it would be a sin to marry this person. Naturally, they use II Corinthians 6:14-"Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers"-to support their arguments. But an in-depth study of this passage has convinced me that it has nothing to do with marriage. The context and the original language-in particular the Greek word heterozugeo-indicate that Paul is writing specifically about the believer's freedom from idolatry. What do you say to that?
You've obviously done your homework. Unfortunately, we can't help feeling that there's a sense in which your findings and conclusions are beside the point. Bear with us while we try to explain.
Let's set aside for a moment the question of whether it would be a sin to marry a non-Christian. Common sense alone suggests that it would be unwise. Why? Because it wouldn't bode well either for the success of the marriage or the health of the believing partner's relationship with Christ.
You're probably right to assert that Paul wasn't thinking primarily of marriage when he wrote, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." But that doesn't mean that the principle contained in this verse can't be given a broader application. It's always important to ask ourselves, in every area of life, what part a believer can have with an unbeliever (II Corinthians 6:15). This is particularly true where marriage is concerned. Remember the call of Christ: "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34). How can you expect to follow a Master who demands absolute allegiance if you choose to become "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24) with a person who disregards His claims?
Naturally, it's not our place to tell you whom you can or cannot marry. The choice of a lifelong mate is a matter of profound importance. It's second only to that of a person's relationship with God. Accordingly, it's a decision that you alone must make for yourself. For that very reason we would urge you to proceed with caution. Be humble and listen carefully to the advice of those who know and love you best. You won't regret it.
If you think it might be helpful to discuss your questions at greater length with a member of our team, Focus on the Family has a staff of pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone. They are available at this number.
The Bible Answer Book (book)
Marriage Alive - The Web site of Dave and Claudia Arp, a husband and wife team who strive to help couples build better marriages and families.
Christian Research Institute - An organization that specializes in refuting aberrations of the Christian faith and assists people in learning the true character of the God described in the Bible.
Insight for Living - Encourages people in the Christian faith and their trust in God.
LeeStrobel.com - An apologetics website.
Red Flags in a Relationship