Video courtesy by THE BEAT by Allen Parr

Getting married is one of the most important decisions in life. As a Christian be careful to choose who you will spend the rest of your life. This is important because it will determine if God will be at the center of your marriage.

When it comes to marrying a non-Christian, what does the Bible say? Is it permissible or not recommended?

These questions often come up when a Christian starts dating someone who doesn’t share the same faith.

The attraction is there no doubt. But soon questions about the long-term viability of such a spiritually mismatched relationship usually pop up.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into:

  • What the Bible says about marrying unbelievers
  • The spiritual disharmony it can cause
  • Practical challenges with parenting, worldviews, etc.
  • Advice for Christians romantically involved with non-Christians
  • Key scriptures on this topic
  • Expert thoughts to consider
  • Plus an FAQ section on common related questions

So if you’re wondering whether you should date or marry an unbeliever, or if you’re in such a relationship already, be sure to read on.

The Bible Clearly Warns Against Being “Unequally Yoked”

Strong Foundation In A Christian Marriage

The Bible uses the imagery of two different animals yoked together to illustrate why marrying an unbeliever is unwise.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV), Paul commands:

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The common belief in Scripture is that believers are called to be set apart from the world and its sinful ways just as Christ himself was set apart.

Joining your life with an unbelieving spouse in the sacred vow of marriage goes directly against this principle.

It tries to blend light with darkness by tying together two people walking in opposing spiritual directions.

Such an unequal partnership often ends up hindering the believer’s faith rather than building it up.

You’ll Experience Spiritual Disharmony & Discord

Spiritual disharmony

When you become a believer in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you. Your deepest identity and new life source is now in Christ.

But an unbelieving spouse simply cannot relate to or understand this spiritual reality. They’re still spiritually dead, while you’ve become spiritually alive.

In the words of 2 Corinthians 6:15 (ESV), there is no “accord,” harmony, or concord between Christ and Belial (Satan).

“What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

When your most fundamental beliefs and worldviews don’t line up with your spouse, it can undermine intimacy in the relationship.

Spiritual discord often leads to more relationship conflicts. It may even shipwreck your faith according to the Bible

Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NKJV)

This lack of spiritual harmony and unity will also play out in how you make major life decisions. With no shared spiritual vision or values, couples can often end up clashing over priorities.

Whose career takes precedence? How do you manage money based on differing values of stewardship and generosity? How much time should you devote to church, ministry, evangelism, or volunteering?

This disconnect can ruin your marriage over time.

Parenting & Family Life Also Get Much Harder

Children Suffer When There's Conflict Between Parents

When kids enter the picture, parenting together with such divergent worldviews becomes exponentially more difficult.

  • Whose beliefs will you teach your children – Christianity or the spouse’s beliefs (or lack thereof)?
  • If your spouse is vehemently against Christianity, will they undermine your efforts to bring up the kids as followers of Jesus?
  • Would you have to raise them with conflicting belief systems, confusing them?
  • How would you handle moral training over issues like sex and dating for teens?

In many cases, one spouse ends up making huge compromises just to keep peace at home. 

They may have to downplay their devotion to Christ. Or they cave in letting the kids be raised with false beliefs or none at all.

This leads to inner turmoil and resentment over time. Not to mention concerns over the afterlife destiny of the family you love most.

Added to this is the friction it causes with extended family as grandparents, uncles, and aunts disagree with your choice to marry outside the faith. Family support often diminishes too.

Practical Logistics Also Get Complex

An Unequal Union Brings Its Share Of Obstacles

Even if you try your best to make it work, here are some added practical challenges:

  • Which place of worship (if any) will you attend weekly?
  • How will you navigate different religious holiday traditions?
  • What about dietary preferences, social drinking, entertainment choices, and parenting styles rooted in vastly divergent ideologies?

In short, an unequal union brings its share of obstacles. It takes both spouses compromising core beliefs and values to make it work.

The resulting identity crisis and surrender of religious liberties take a huge toll.

No wonder Scripture cautions against entering into such spiritually mismatched unions!

Wait Upon God For The Right Godly Spouse

Waiting Upon God

Despite romantic feelings for an unbeliever, the wise approach is to pull back. Instead, wait upon God to present you with the right believing candidate in His sovereign timing.

Philippians 4:6 (ESV) encourages about every choice before us:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Christian dating and marriage require you to trust in God’s wisdom and will for your life.

Put God At The Center

Putting God At The Center

Ultimately, even as Christians, the only way to mitigate conflict and resentment is when both spouses put God at the center.

Rather than look to each other primarily for love and fulfillment, Christians rely on intimacy with Christ through the Spirit to meet their deepest emotional and spiritual needs.

Jesus said that whoever drinks the water He gives “will never thirst again” (John 4:14).

By abiding in Christ daily, worldly disappointments or unmet desires cannot shake us. Still, the journey gets much tougher without a believing spouse to support your faith walk.

Overall there’s no guarantee that Christians who marry unbelievers will have a happy marriage. The risks are monumental, and the spiritual disharmony cannot be ignored.

However, for those already in such marriages, all hope isn’t lost either despite the many challenges.

“12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”

1 Corinthians 7:12-13 (NIV)

God can still use the believing spouse powerfully. Though His will is to spare us needless hardship whenever possible.

Key Biblical Perspectives On Marrying Unbelievers

Wedding Rings

Here are some other biblical principles against joining with unbelievers in the covenant bond of marriage:

  • Worldly company ruins morals: 1 Corinthians 15:33 reminds us that the unbelieving world’s influence leads to moral and ethical compromise rather than holy life.
  • You must avoid idolatry: 1 Corinthians 10:14 echoes the same, saying to “flee from idolatry” and the pagan world’s seductive ways. This includes being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
  • You should aim to please God: Romans 8:8 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 explain that as a follower of Christ, you should aim to honor and glorify God in all that you do rather than please your sinful nature. But unbelievers live primarily to gratify themselves.
  • Our role model for evangelism: Though Christ actively evangelized unbelievers, His closest relationships that provided Him with spiritual support and accountability were fellow believers – His spiritual family (Matthew 12:47-49).
  • God wants to guard your heart: In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 Paul reminds believers that being in close partnership with those outside the faith can corrupt their hearts and undermine righteous living. It essentially sabotages your walk with God.
  • You become like those you closely associate with: In the words of 1 Corinthians 15:33, “bad company corrupts good character.”  Staying intimately joined with ungodly people hinders your spiritual growth.

There are many other Bible verses that provide wisdom and warning against binding yourself to unbelievers in relationships like marriage.

But these should help to guide you as to why it’s dangerously risky for you as a Christian to date or marry an unbeliever according to God’s Word.

Final verdict: Can Christians biblically marry outside the faith?

A Young Couple On Their Wedding

Based on the Bible verses and wisdom highlighted here, Christians need to prayerfully avoid getting romantically involved with unbelievers if they want to obey Scripture’s guidelines.

However, the Spirit may lead some to still witness via an existing unequally yoked marriage rather than getting divorced.

In that case, expect and prepare for a tougher road ahead while relying fully on the Spirit’s empowerment.

Let Jesus Satisfy Your Heart First

Let Jesus Satisfy Your Heart First

To conclude, no human can truly satisfy the spiritual thirst God put in all of us to seek after Him first and foremost.

This includes looking for a life partner who encourages your faith rather than suppressing it. Honoring Jesus’ Lordship is primary.

Indeed most marriages go through a “for worse” phase making it vital both partners share a foundational spiritual connection; someone who understands and supports your faith in God during hardship times.

So before saying “I do” ask yourself: Am I willing to have spiritual friction for the rest of my days by marrying someone without a vibrant, mutual Christian faith?

Our sovereign Shepherd has good plans to gift you a strong, godly marriage. But it hinges on obeying His Word and patiently walking in step with His Spirit!

Frequently Asked Questions On Christians Marrying Non-Christians

Here are quick answers to some common questions those dating or engaged to unbelievers often ask:

Q. Is it a sin to marry a non-Christian?

A. Based on the Bible’s warnings, while not directly called a sin, entering an unequally yoked marriage is extremely unwise and risky for one’s faith. It often becomes a stumbling block in one’s spiritual walk.

Q. Can an interfaith marriage really work?

A. It can work to some degree if the partners are very open, tolerant, and willing to compromise their core beliefs and convictions. But wholehearted devotion to Christ rarely blends well with an unbelieving spouse. Conflict is inevitable because of the spiritual disharmony.

Q. How do I convert my non-Christian spouse?

A. You can’t. Only the Holy Spirit can open someone’s heart to respond positively to the gospel. The best you can do to win over your unbelieving spouse is to sincerely live out your faith as an example, pray often for your spouse, and look for opportunities to share Christ’s love. Forcing or arguing the Bible’s stance rarely works.

Q. Should I end a dating relationship over spiritual differences?

A. As tough as it seems, if long-term compatibility matters to you, it may be wise to not get too deeply entangled romantically with a non-believer. Quitting later can be even tougher than ending the relationship now. Pray and listen to God’s Spirit and obey His direction.

Q. What if I’m already married…is there hope?

A. God can still help believers married to unbelievers experience more grace and relational harmony. Keep communicating openly but gently. Continue walking faithfully with God as a powerful witness, while trusting the Spirit to touch your spouse too in His timing. Don’t pressure but pray without ceasing.

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