By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
What difference does it make if a believer marries an unbeliever? Does it really matter?
Christians considering marrying non-Christians need to know it’s not God’s will for their lives. 2 Corinthians 6:14 doesn’t pull any punches in explaining why. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
Although it may not seem like a big deal before the wedding, even insignificant differences afterward can cause huge issues in a couple’s relationship.
While somewhat laughable, an ongoing controversy between my husband and myself is how to eat, serve, and store leftover spaghetti. I grew up eating it with the sauce spooned on top of it. My husband grew up with the spaghetti and sauce all mixed together.
For years we have not agreed on how to eat, serve, and save leftovers, whether storing the spaghetti and sauce separately or mixing together.
Whereas an unimportant difference like how to eat spaghetti can cause conflict in marriage, it gives a glimpse of how bigger differing viewpoints have the potential to cause huge divisions.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Foto Pettine
Moving Forward through Differences
Although some may think those of us who write about marriage believe we have all the answers, more likely, like me, most are working through differences in their own marriages and including readers along the way.
Even though it seems like being married to a pastor-chaplain would make it a breeze, at times my husband and I have seriously struggled with differences.
Television shows like, "Wife Swap,” "Married At First Sight," and "90 Day Fiancée,” give a look into the real-life challenges many marriages face, spotlighting how differences in the way we think and live affect our marriages in ways we may not have anticipated.
Because we’re all born in sin, our marriages require us to daily submit to God. Every day we are overcoming a fallen nature through the power of the Holy Spirit, looking to God for help in navigating through our differences and moving forward in our quest to become one.
Navigating Differences in Marriage
"90 Day Fiancée," is a reality series based on American citizens marrying someone from a foreign country. Although on paper my husband and I seemed pretty evenly matched as a couple with both of us coming from Christian homes, growing up in the same area of the country, and in a similar family background, I often relate to the challenges these men and women face in marrying individuals from a completely different culture.
Trying to step into his family’s way of doing things, it felt like I might as well have married a person from across the globe because it seemed very foreign to me. Plus I loved my family and their ways, so the more my husband and his family pressured me to be more like them, the more resistant I became to their challenges.
What ultimately keeps differences from tearing us apart through the years, and is the glue that holds our marriage together, is our shared faith in Jesus Christ.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images
What Matters Most in Marriage
Because our marriage is built on a strong foundation, it has withheld through the storms of life and kept us together over the years. Nothing will withstand all the enemy brings against marriages more than a couple’s commitment to Jesus Christ.
Although many believe good communication is the key to long-lasting marriages, a couple’s commitment to God and following His Word is what motivate husbands and wives to keep their marriage vows to Him and to each other.
Loving God involves believing and following His Word. “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).
Marrying a Non-Believer Puts Children at Risk
Beforehand, Christians may not consider how marrying an unbeliever puts one’s future children at risk of growing up not knowing God. It can cause huge problems with raising godly offspring (Malachi 2:15).
Sadly a Christian parent is often surprised when their children follow the unbelieving spouse’s way of thinking, rejecting Christ and turning away from faith in Him. It seems many Christians married to non-Christians underestimate the influence an unbelieving spouse will most likely have on their children’s lives and their attitudes towards Christianity.
Marrying a non-believing man or woman may seem like the only option to someone in love because they can’t imagine living the rest of his or her life without them, but how do they feel about the possibility of living all eternity without them?
A Christian who married a non-Christian told us after 30 years of marriage, his wife told him, “I would rather go to hell with our four daughters than go to heaven with you.”
Like this marriage, there is no guarantee that a non-believing spouse will ever come to faith in Jesus Christ. And when it comes to raising a family, it matters greatly if the mother or father of your children shares your faith because your future children’s eternity depends on it.
Photo Credit: © Pexels
Choosing God’s Way
When it comes to whom we marry, it's about choosing God’s way over our own way. It’s about submitting in obedience to God’s will over our own will.
Yet many Christians think they are strong enough and smart enough to enjoy dating non-Christians, believing salvation will come in time but if not, they can just walk away from the relationships. In doing so they don’t take into consideration the emotional, physical, and even spiritual ties they are creating with them.
Unfortunately failing to set their dating standards according to God’s Word will most likely lead them astray. Self-determined standards become a trap created by disobedience to God’s Word.
Proverbs 29:6 warns about being trapped by our own sin. It’s not wise to underestimate how skilled the enemy is at spotting weaknesses in us, like not guarding an attraction to unbelievers. When he does, he plots to tempt us with our own sinful allures toward disobedience.
As Ephesians 2:2 explains, the enemy is leading the ways of the world and is the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient to God.
Sadly dating non-Christians has led many believing men and women to marry in disobedience to God’s Word, influencing the course and direction of the rest of their lives.
Still, God calls Christians to resist dating non-Christians, to choose His righteousness over disobedience. Below are five ways to help believers resist.
5 Ways to Resist Dating Unbelievers
1. Ask God to help you resist. First of all, confess your weakness to God and ask for His help. 1 John 1:9 explains, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Psalm 54:4 also assures us, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the One who sustains me.”
2. Let God's word correct your mind and desires to line up with His truth. Read and study God’s word, let it shape and strengthen your beliefs and thinking.
Romans 12:2 urges, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
3. Examine where you’re spending your time and what you’ve been focusing your mind on. Colossians 3:2, urges us to "Set your minds on things above, not earthly things.”
If you’re spending time in places where you're more tempted to becoming romantically involved with non-Christians, choose to make necessary changes to your routine.
4. Don’t set yourself up for temptation. If you already have a weakness towards unbelievers, don’t set yourself up to be tempted to become emotionally and physically involved with them.
James 4:7, explains what gives us the power to resist. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Knowing God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), look for ways to connect the unbelieving guys or girls you meet with Christian groups and friends of the same-sex, giving them an opportunity to be led to Salvation in Jesus Christ.
5. Be honest with unbelievers. Let him or her know why you aren’t open to dating them. It’s okay to explain to them in a compassionate, kind, and gracious manner, letting them know they can have a loving relationship with God, too.
Romans 1:16, describes the stand we can take as Christians. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings Salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/mictian