Don’t Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever

Over the course of our ministry, the most common pastoral issue that Tim and I have confronted is probably marriages—either actual or proposed—between Christians and non-Christians. I have often thought how much simpler it would be if I could remove myself from the conversation and invite those already married to unbelievers do the talking to singles who are desperately trying to find a loophole that would allow them to marry someone who does not share their faith.

That way, I could skip all the Bible passages that urge singles only to “marry in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39) and not “be unequally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and the Old Testament proscriptions against marrying the foreigner, a worshiper of a god other than the God of Israel (see Numbers 12 where Moses marries a woman of another race but the same faith). You can find those passages in abundance, but when someone has already allowed his or her heart to become engaged with a person outside the faith, I find that the Bible has already been devalued as the non-negotiable rule of faith and practice.

Instead, variants of the serpent’s question to Eve—“Did God really say?” are floated, as if somehow this case might be eligible for an exemption, considering how much they love each other, how the unbeliever supports and understands the Christian’s faith, how they are soul-mates despite the absence of a shared soul-faith.

Having grown weary and impatient, I want to snap and say, “It won’t work, not in the long run. Marriage is hard enough when you have two believers who are completely in harmony spiritually. Just spare yourself the heartache and get over it.” Yet such harshness is neither in line with the gentleness of Christ, nor convincing.

Sadder and Wiser

If only I could pair those sadder and wiser women—and men—who have found themselves in unequal marriages (either by their own foolishness or due to one person finding Christ after the marriage had already occurred) with the blithely optimistic singles who are convinced that their passion and commitment will overcome all obstacles. Even the obstacle of bald disobedience need not apply to them. Only ten minutes of conversation—one minute if the person is really succinct–would be necessary. In the words of one woman who was married to a perfectly nice man who did not share her faith: “If you think you are lonely before you get married, it’s nothing compared to how lonely you can be AFTER you are married!”

Really, this might be the only effective pastoral approach: to find a man or woman who is willing to talk honestly about the difficulties of the situation and invite them into a counseling ministry with the about-to-make-a-big-mistake unequal couple. As an alternative, perhaps some creative filmmaker would be willing to run around the country, filming individuals who are living with the pain of being married to an unbeliever, and create a montage of 40 or 50 short (< 5 minutes) first-hand accounts. The collective weight of their stories would be powerful in a way that no second-hand lecture ever would be.

Three True Outcomes

For the moment, though, here goes: There are only three ways an unequal marriage can turn out, (and by unequal I am willing to stretch a point and include genuine, warm Christians who want to marry an in-name-only Christian, or someone very, very far behind them in Christian experience and growth):

  1. In order to be more in sync with your spouse, the Christian will have to push Christ to the margins of his or her life. This may not involve actually repudiating the faith, but in matters such as devotional life, hospitality to believers (small group meetings, emergency hosting of people in need), missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers—those things will have to be minimized or avoided in order to preserve peace in the home.
  2. Alternatively, if the believer in the marriage holds on to a robust Christian life and practice, the non-believing PARTNER will have to be marginalized. If he or she can’t understand the point of Bible study and prayer, or missions trips, or hospitality, then he or she can’t or won’t participate alongside the believing spouse in those activities. The deep unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person’s most important commitments.
  3. So either the marriage experiences stress and breaks up; or it experiences stress and stays together, achieving some kind of truce that involves one spouse or the other capitulating in some areas, but which leaves both parties feeling lonely and unhappy.

Does this sound like the kind of marriage you want? One that strangles your growth in Christ or strangles your growth as a couple, or does both? Think back to that off-cited passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being “unequally yoked.” Most of us no longer live in an agrarian culture, but try to visualize what would happen if a farmer yoked together, say, an ox and a donkey. The heavy wooden yoke, designed to harness the strength of the team, would be askew, as the animals are of different heights, weights, walk at different speeds and with different gaits. The yoke, instead of harnessing the power of the team to complete the task, would rub and chafe BOTH animals, since the load would be distributed unequally. An unequal marriage is not just unwise for the Christian, it is also unfair to the non-Christian, and will end up being a trial for them both.

Our Experience

Full disclosure: One of our sons began spending time a few years back with a secular woman from a Jewish background. He heard us talk about the sorrows (and disobedience) of being married to a non-Christian for years, so he knew it wasn’t an option (something we reminded him of quite forcefully). Nevertheless, their friendship grew and developed into something more. To his credit, our son told her: “I can’t marry you unless you are a Christian, and you can’t become a Christian just to marry me. I’ll sit with you in church, but if you are serious about exploring Christianity you will have to do it on your own—find your own small group, read books, talk to people other than me.”

Fortunately, she is a woman of great integrity and grit, and she set herself to looking into the truth claims of the Bible. As she grew closer to saving faith, to our surprise our son began growing in his faith in order to keep up with her! She said to me one day, “You know, your son should never have been seeing me!”

She did come to faith, and he held the water when she was baptized. The next week he proposed, and they have been married for two and a half years, both growing, both struggling, both repenting. We love them both and are so grateful that she is both in our family and also in the body of Christ.

I only mention the above personal history because so many of our friends in the ministry have seen different outcomes—children who marry outside the faith. The takeaway lesson for me is that even in pastoral homes, where the things of God are taught and discussed, and where children have a pretty good window on seeing their parents counsel broken marriages, believing children toy with relationships that grow deeper than they expect, ending in marriages that don’t always have happy endings. If this is true in the families of Christian leaders, what of the flock?

We need to hear the voices of men and women who are in unequal marriages and know to their sorrow why it is not merely a disobedient choice, but an unwise one.

  • Steve Cornell

    I cannot say loudly enough how EXCELLENT this article is! I will be sharing it widely. The insights are so well (and graciously) stated that the points must be taken seriously (at least, I pray they will be widely received). With the median age for marriage in the 27 range and large numbers of frustrated singles who want to do God’s will but feel their options are limited, and with a rapidly growing number of “single again” people — who through the crisis of divorce have turned to Christ— this is just a much needed, well-stated word of compassionate truth-telling!

    For two decades, I’ve taught a class of mostly University students on how to make the marriage decision one of your best decisions. I keep a miniature yoke in my office and hold it up before the class and say, “This is what marriage is.” The multitude layers of need for cooperation and togetherness in marriage are not adequately understood and take most couples by a bit of surprise. Conversely, the preservation of uniqueness and individuality for two to become a better one is not easily accomplished. Without a common attachment to the Savior, what should one expect? Great! Great! counsel here. Many thanks!

    • Walt

      I read this and thought of your class, Pastor Steve. Then, lo and behold, you are a commenter! Ah, the memories…

      Amy and I are doing well. :)

      • Steve Cornell

        Great to hear Walt! It feels like many years ago that the two of you took my class. What a privilege it has been to teach it to so many special people like you and Amy! I am so grateful for the willingness of Mrs. Keller to speak difficult but important words of grace and truth.

    • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

      Wow!If only you prideful folks realized the anti-Christian usage and meaning of the bastardized word, “belief,” you might begin recognizing the insanity and danger of religious exclusivity. And not just yours, but all religions. My take on Jesus is he never meant to divide the people as your thoughtless and disdainful comments here clearly indicates.
      Make no mis-take, all your beliefs since time immemorial, never made one truth. And Jesus’s words of “the truth is only within” goes unheeded. Hence the desperate need to create the bastardized replacement, “belief.” Dare you consider the two, belief vs truth? Warning! You’ll need to think for yourselves.

      • BTH

        So let me get this straight. In your apparently New Age view, Jesus blesses being one in flesh with someone who rejects him as Lord, someone who will undermine you in your own walk (prayer life, Bible study, fasting, church activity, etc.), undermine raising your children up to know the Lord so they can make their own decision for Christ, someone who will clash with you on issues like tithing to your church and going on missions that might take you away from the home?

        It has nothing to do with exclusivity, Donny. The concerns expressed by the Word of God are rooted in both spiritual and practical realities.

        Someone who is a discerning disciple of the Lord Jesus; someone who is totally sold out for Christ, is yoked with an unbeliever with an abiding sense of sorrow. If you think it worth your time, and in a true demonstration of how much more enlightened you seem to be than the rest of us, why don’t you scroll through the witness of the many MATURE Christians here who are yoked with unbelievers and deeply lament it, however much they love and continue to be devoted to their spouse.

    • Jeffrey Parsons

      My GOD would never keep two people who are in love apart. Even regardless of their gender. The Bible is supposedly the word of GOD which states in Leviticus “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” So does that mean it’s ok for a woman to have sexual relations with another woman.” GOD did not forbid it.

  • tricia

    Being married to a non-Christian is a nightmare of epic surrender, your walk with God becomes a limp, you constantly juggle feeling of guilt,remorse,hopelessness and doubt, not to mention the fact that your spouse has know concept of what God wants and expects from the marriage,the list of negatives is endless, take heed of this article.

    • beth

      hi thats right marrying an unbeliever adds to too much stress in the marriage in everything so really best to follow the way of the Lord and NOT be yoked by the unbeliever. difficult but possible.

    • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

      Amazing! Even in your imagination your prejudice shows. A “true” Christian through and through. Jesus would be proud I’m sure. You know of course that along with belief comes doubt?

  • Jamie

    Point number 1 is my life. Lonely is right.
    No true fellowship in our marriage.

    • Michelle

      I agree 100%. I married my husband thinking it would be fine and my faith in God would lead him since he was starting to at least show interest in joining me every now and then. I am much more lonely than I thought I’d ever be being married.

  • Heather

    Well, I had this wonderful Sunday School teacher as a teen
    (when I was a teen). Edith her name was
    She was probably one of the most beautiful Amazing Christians that I ever had the opportunity to meet.
    Her first husband died in a car crash
    Her second husband beat her (they met in church)
    She swore she would never remarry
    But one Sunday
    She came to class with a story about man that she had met at work.
    (She was at work, he was a patron)
    Edith was not 68 years old.
    Anyway. The man she met was Kurt Schilsher
    And he LOVED Edith. LOVED her so much.
    Was SOOO good to her… so good
    They were like teenagers…
    Beautiful and giggly.
    They whispered to each other like teenagers, and smiled at eaach other like teenagers.
    He had three masters degrees, two BA and 2 Doctorates.
    (he had a lot of money…made his fortune early)
    He was 77.
    BUT.he was NOT a Christian. Matter a fact
    he questioned the existance of God or any higher power
    He did it gently and was amused when Edith would drag him to church
    and she prayed for him … all the time.
    We prayed in Sunday School too
    She was so Happy, it was like she was 20 + years younger.
    He was happy too. But he was not a Christian.
    We all loved Kurt.
    He was an amazing man.
    Kurt died 5 years ago.
    2 months before he passed ( he passed unexpectedly, in his sleep) He confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savoir. He was baptized and joined the church
    He said, it was because Edith showed him how wonderful it was to be loved by God and through her he saw God and how wonderful He was. He told us that he could only imagine that if such love was in Edith, he had to know God’s love.
    When I die, I will be able to chat with Kurt.
    And I will be able to hug Edith
    Cause they will be together, for eternity
    Because Edith chose to love Kurt
    Instead of shunning him because he didn’t know God’s love.
    There are no absolutes.
    Articles like this preach absolutes to children. Especially when they are young and pliable.
    What about all the Kurts and Ediths?

    • James

      For all the Kurts & Ediths there are probably just as many or even more stories of the “Three True Outcomes” outlined in the article. Scripture is clear in this area. Trotting out these examples is merely a variant of the serpent’s question to Eve – “Did God really say?”

      In the case of Kurt and Edith, we can say that God was gracious in this situation with Kurt coming to saving faith. We cannot be presumptious and think that we can manipulate God into saving an unbeliever after a Christian decides to marry one.

    • Phil

      Heather: The comment by James (above) was exactly what I was going to write. Your write: “There are no absolutes. Articles like this preach absolutes to children.” Yes, that is correct, these are absolutes. They’re called God’s commandments, binding absolutely on our lives as His children. In the sad case you site, God worked His grace in spite of human sin and rebellion. But Romans 6:1 is clear that we are not to sin so that grace may abound more.

      While I understand how you were — in the end — happy for Edith & Kurt, the rebellion and error underpinning your post is just that. You really and truly need to stand back and ask yourself how it is that you have managed to convince yourself that God’s repeated clear commands on this issue can be set aside.

    • tricia

      Heather: sorry to disagree but there are Absolutes, the Bible is full of them, enjoyed reading the story of Kurt and Edith, but that is the exception.

    • Anthony

      This is a nice story, but not one for people to gamble on. There are too many prospective marriages that take stories like this and think that they themselves can work through anything. As a recently married man (1 year) I can honestly say any agreements/disagreements you have before marriage are compounded during marriage. Christianity is a huge part of a true believer’s life, and to marry someone who is even neutral to it can be diasasterous. I’m not saying people can’t become saved after marriage, but as a life long institution, it’s not worth putting your chips on that hope.

    • Al

      “There are no absolutes.” Are you absolutely sure?

    • FRO

      Speaking of absolutes, has anyone read 1 Cor 6:7 lately? That is an absolute that you have all largely ignored. Keep pulling other scriptures out of context to support your beliefs, though. I applaud the Christian who marries a non-believer, because that Christian must live the gospel every moment of their lives, that Christian understands and breathes God’s passion for the non-believer with every breath. The rest of us are content to be “equally yoked” even if that means standing motionless, surrounded by a field of non-believers during the harvest.

      • Collin Hansen

        So you’re advocating marriage for the sake of evangelism?

        • FRO

          Would you go to dinner with a non-believer? Would you go on a weekend retreat with a non-believer? Would you invite your non-believer friend to a Bible study for a full year? What is the arbitrary level of commitment that you are unwilling to make for a non-believer? No matter how perfect or imperfect your marriage becomes, it is still temporary and should be treated as such. Only the Kingdom of God is eternal. I’m not advocating marriage for the sake of evangelism – I’m just advocating evangelism above any temporary pursuits, and I think that the church has elevated marriage far above it’s station. We would be better prepared for the Kingdom of God if we focused on how to love our neighbors, not how to marry our neighbors.

          • Collin Hansen

            Those are interesting thoughts, but they don’t simply don’t square with anything Scripture teaches about marriage or our relationship to believers. If we throw out the Bible’s teaching, we can justify pretty much anything for the sake of evangelism.

            • FRO

              Well, if you throw out 1 Cor 6:7, which IS what the Scriptures teach about marriage, then you can justify pretty much any marriage to a believer.

            • Collin Hansen

              Are you referring to a different verse, because the one you cited pertains to lawsuits among believers.

            • FRO

              Whoops, that’s gonna damage my credibility. 1 Cor 7:8.

            • Collin Hansen

              Okay, I think I know where you’re coming from now. You had me confused there for a while. Yes, we should take seriously the example and teaching of both Paul and Jesus, who were single. At the same time, I don’t think that example negates the Bible’s other teaching about marriage, which warns believers against marrying unbelievers. As we’ve seen in this article and many of the comments, believers should not be applauded if they entered into such union voluntarily as Christians. If they became Christians after marriage, we ought to pray for them and seek ways to support them with the hope that the unbelieving spouse might believe. “For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16)

          • Jon

            I don’t know if the non-christian woman I married will be saved, but I do know that by bringing her and her 5 year old daughter into my life has changed their world and I will share God’s love with them for the rest of my life while showing them what it’s like to live in his kingdom.

            I am not concerned with their salvation – I’m going to leave that up to God and do my best to serve and love them unconditionally without judging them.

    • Rochella

      Heather, I completely agree with you. I can tell you many stories like that, one including a pastor who he himself was not a Christian but his wife was and almost 30 years later they are still married and he is now a pastor and teaches at a christian school. So I am 100% with you girl! A similar situation happened to me, I am a christian and my boyfriend was a non practicing catholic. I never thought in a millions years that I would date someone of a different faith, but he has now chosen to follow the Lord, which was his choice only. He respected my beliefs and morals and in turn he has completely chosen to live a life with Christ. Forgive me because I cannot remember the chapter that talks about this, but there is a verse that does talk about women married to non-believer husbands. I would be interested to see what people thought of that. I will say this, for the most part I do believe that christians should stray away from dating someone not of their faith, but like in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. I do not believe that every one dating a non believer is a “missionary dater”, you cannot help your feelings sometimes, that’s when you pray and ask God for his guidance and council. That’s what I did and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

      • Rochella

        By the way, I just found the chapter that speaks on what I was talking about. It is pertaining to Christian women married to non-Christian men. 1 Peter 3

      • Anonymous

        Rochella, Praise God that your husband was saved! But, the fact that God, in His Mercy, saw fit to save your husband does not mean the decision to follow your feelings over what God says in His Word was a good decision. I have learned the hard way that the guidance and counsel we receive from God comes from His written Word, not from our feelings. I did the same thing (followed my feelings) when I married a non-believer, and it was outright rebellion against God (SIN). We need to call it what it is – comic treason against our Holy God that put Christ on the cross. Thank God for the forgiveness that is ours in Christ Jesus, who lived the perfectly obedient life in our place, died the death we deserved to die, carrying all our guilt and shame! The result for all who place our trust in Jesus is that we are now reconciled to God, having been declared righteous in His sight, and free to walk in newness of life! This is Good News, and it is ALL God’s work, not anything we have ever done or could ever do. While the Lord may work through our conduct, as we live out the Gospel in our homes, so that our husbands “may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1), it is the GOSPEL that is the “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). I think we need to be careful not to be deceived into thinking that any decision to rebel against God has contributed to any good outcome, especially salvation. Anything good that happens to any of us is by Grace, and because He is Merciful, Loving and Compassionate, and it is entirely HIS WORK, not ours, IN SPITE OF US. And, yes, He says in His Word, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) – but this means He will work through all things to sanctify His children – not that they will always turn out the way we want them to, but instead, that He will use them all to conform us to the image of His Son – for our eternal glory – and sometimes it can be very painful, as in the consequences that come because of our sin. Praise God for His Mercies that are new every morning!
        Peace and Grace to you, sister!

        • Rochella

          Anonymous, of course I would not advocate rebellion against God and none of what I did was based on “feelings”. Like I said in my reply, I do not advocate marrying a non-believer, but what I was saying is that you cannot say for sure that it will not work every time. I do not believe that you should marry someone so that they can become Christians, that would be loony. But I wanted to point out the instances in the Bible that did speak about couples who were married to non-christians. Meaning it is possible that it can work, but of course I am not saying that every believer should go out and fined an unbeliever to marry. It goes to show though that God can work through any situation. Your situation did not turn out like mine or the woman Heather was talking about in her story. That is where it definitely did not work, but everyone has their own stories. God bless and I pray you have a great rest of the week. Peace and Grace to you as we,, brother.

        • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

          HMMMMMMMM! So for those who don’t “believe” are we not God’s children? And why are you anonymous? Are you hiding from God?…from your peers? Sounds like a doubt of faith to me.

          • Mike Sung Im

            Donny Rothbardt said:
            HMMMMMMMM! So for those who don’t “believe” are we not God’s children? And why are you anonymous? Are you hiding from God?…from your peers? Sounds like a doubt of faith to me.


            “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:11-13

            Christianity teaches that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are unequivocally not children of God. Humans can only become the children of God through adoption and not by birthright as God has only one eternally begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

            Your assumption that humans have some innate birthright to be considered children of God is misinformed.

            • Natasha

              Donny, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to accomplish here… If God really is a “fairy-tale” or a “made-up character” in your mind, why are you taking so much time talking about it? I’m pretty sure that your remarks are not going to be swaying anyone either to or away from God. I would suggest to everyone on here not to comment any further.

              “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.””

              “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.”

              Let’s love on those who don’t love us. For if we only love those who love us in return, how are we any different than the world?

    • believeinlove

      I hoped my marriage would turn out like Edith and Kurt’s. I met him maybe a year or so after my return to faith and first bible studies as an adult. I was in my late 30s and we married just shy of my 40th. My women’s bible study members warned me, and I struggled and rationalized, hoping that he would come to faith in time. I went to church Sundays and participated in some studies but didn’t continue with my former group. I read the bible on my own, prayed, talked to God.

      After 11 years of marriage he abandoned our marriage, decided he wasn’t happy, his complaint was that we didn’t go to sleep (not to bed mind you) at the same time. He left me and later filed for divorce, couldn’t get one at first as he had no grounds, but was able to from another state.

      I found out much later he had been unfaithful. His anger and attitude toward me had to do with his rationalization about his guilt.

      In hind-sight, in addition to not turning out as I hoped, I think it was a dis-service to us both.

      I was certainly not as solid in my faith as Edith, so I can’t speak for her discernment in wedding her husband, but I certainly thought mine had integrity and character. His parents were married, mine divorced. I thought my eyes were open, but I was really still ‘drinking milk’.

      The consequences of dis-obedience are not always immediately apparent. Adam and Eve were not struck dead after that first bite, but the consequences… death in the world. Only overcome centuries later by God’s love for us.

      I have none of what I hoped for in marriage (making my hubs happy, flourishing, a partner in life, children, grow old together etc) and much of what I feared.

      It’s taken me years just to get through the pain, to pray for a heart that forgives, I still have love for my ex. The odds of my finding a spouse at all at my age are not good, but God has given me a peace with that. I have been blessed with God’s grace and people put into my life to support, especially through my active return to a study group.

      God can turn all to good, and He has been healing my hurt. And can use all my experience for His purpose, but I do think I may have been better off in study and obedience in His word from childhood, I do certainly believe that!

    • JC

      Great story! 1 Peter 3 talks about ways wives can minister to unbelieving husbands, and praise God for working through her to save a man’s soul.

      And as you said, on the flipside, many Christian marriages are just awful. I wouldn’t trade places with most married Christian men.

  • Steve, Winnipeg, Canada

    Heather, my in-laws are similar to what you describe. She was a Christian, he hated God, they were dating and in love, he was radically converted, the got married, been in ministry ever since.

    But…they would never say to follow their example. I know many young women (women especially) who date or even marry an unbeliever hoping and believing he will be converted. It is a bad idea to get married hoping that someone will convert later.

  • Jabari Jefferson

    I agree with this 100%. I think that when a Christian marries a non-Christian he or she is being very selfish because you’re preventing your children from being raised in the religion of Christianity and receiving Christ Jesus at a young age.

    • elizabeth

      Actually, both of my children are being raised as Christians and both received Christ at a young age. Both are growing in faith and in the depth of their relationship with God and are very active in the life of the church. That being said, all three of us experience some of the loneliness described in the article as we do not experience complete fellowship with my husband, their father, as he is not, nor has he ever been, a follower of Christ. He is a very moral, loving father and husband, but he is the one who has been marginalized more as he has encouraged me in my faith. But, we do not have that true intimacy of a Christian marriage, as he just doesn’t understand nor is he always interested in that which is most dear in my life…the Triune God I love and who loves me beyond measure. It is hard. I have counseled friends and relatives not to walk this path. It is hard for everyone.

      • Jabari Jefferson

        Elizabeth, the fact that your children are saved today is because of the grace of God. He’s been known for showing that sort of grace even when we, His adopted children, act foolishly. However, the fact that your husband isn’t a Christian, is very disheartening because the Husband is to be the head of the Household and when he’s not a Christian, there’s no spiritual leadership at all.

  • Leslie Jebaraj


    Thanks for this post. I married a woman who gave me the impression that she was a believer. However, on the very first night, she started physically and verbally abusing me. She was never repentant. This gave me a clue that she was never a believer. Her abuse began to increase, and when I lost my job and could not land a job quickly, she asked me to leave. I left, and have now filed for divorce. It is in the last stages.

    Oh, the horrible sin of marrying a non-Christian. Now, I do not assume anyone to be a Christian quickly. There are many fakes in the church that we need to be really, really careful.

    The other day, I was counseling my cousin to be careful while marrying. He has recently come to Christ.

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      “I married a woman who gave me the impression that she was a believer. However, on the very first night, she started physically and verbally abusing me. She was never repentant. This gave me a clue that she was never a believer. Her abuse began to increase, and when I lost my job and could not land a job quickly, she asked me to leave. I left, and have now filed for divorce. It is in the last stages.”

      Oh man. This is painful just reading your account. It must be even more painful for you. I’m so sorry for you.

      I hope and pray for the peace of Christ for both you and your wife.

      • mary

        I’ve lived a similar life. I, my parents, and the pastor who married us never dreamed my husband is not the believer he presented himself as being. My children and I live under his emotional abuse and neglect. Most people, even in the church, can’t see past his outward charm. There is no accountability for his behavior, and my children and I are advised by the church to simply respect the position he holds as leader of our family. I know God has a plan, but I also know our lives are a nightmare.

        • daniel

          @mary: you need to separate for a short while from your husband as SOON AS POSSIBLE. That will allow you the space to evaluate the relationship properly and to see whether he is abusive and in what way, and maybe also explain it to him.
          It will also send a strong signal to those around that all is NOT well in the household, and will expose his manipulations.
          Wives are NOT required to submit to abuse. That is utterly unbiblical, and your pastor is a coward for saying that (he doesn’t want to confront your husband).
          My sister was in a similar marriage, and it almost destroyed her.
          Please, take action while you still can.

          • Phil

            ^^^^ What Daniel said (above) ^^^^^^

        • Ali J Griffiths

          Mary. Your church is wrong to tell you to put up with what is going on. Is there anyone outside your church who is also a mature Christian you can talk this over with? For the sake of your children as well as yourself please do not let this continue but be careful how you proceed. Gather supportive people around you. Praying for your wisdom and courage.

        • Susan

          Mary, I am nearly in tears to read what you’ve said. I lived the SAME nightmare (with the same false understanding of who my husband was when we married). There was MUCH emotional/verbal abuse. Over time I began to seriously doubt that my husband was a believer. Twenty years into our marriage (three children) asked God to help me know if he was a believer or not. God answered that prayer–making it clear that he was not. I asked God to help me know what to do. While in a restaurant one morning I felt God say, “Now”. I told my husband (regular church attender) that I doubted that he was a true believer. This got his attention because I’d never said it before. He was resistant and wanted to turn it back on me, but because we were in a restaurant he didn’t walk away which allowed me to explain why I had reason to doubt his faith. I told him that I’d never seen him walk under the lordship of Christ and that the fruit of the Spirit was absent in his life.

          From that day on my husband struggled before God with this question. He admitted to me that he lacked peace. He would sometimes ask me questions and we would have the only theological discussions he’d ever been interested in in our entire married life. He hated it when I listened to Christian radio preachers, but one day I turned on the radio just as James MacDonald started a series on false conversion. My husband was in the room and was all ears, since he’d been wrestling with this for a couple of months by then. We listened to the second half of the series the next day. That night my husband told me that he felt deep conviction, so I knew that the Holy Spirit was at work.

          It wasn’t until months later when he heard Matt. 7 preached (The wise man vs. the foolish man) and Jesus’ words: “Blessed are you if you obey these words of mine” that my husband came under total conviction because he knew that he was not living a life of obedience to Him. A week later my husband told me that he had something to tell me….that he had finally given his life completely to Jesus. It was an incredibly surreal moment for me. I thought of all of the years (21) of intense pain I had been through and that their might finally be an end to it. A deep peace washed slowly over me, so much so that I laid down and fell asleep.

          Immediately after that my husband showed a veracious appetite for scripture. He said that he had a lot of years to make up for and he would spend many hour a week reading and studying the Word. He has been a believer now for 3 1/2 years. It is a blessing to see the old habits breaking down and being replaced with new understanding and repentance. There were years of disfunction to unravel, but that has been taking place.

          My husband had responded to an alter call at an evangelistic concert four years before me met. He told me recently that he went forward because he was scared to death to go to hell. My diagnosis is that he was not under the conviction of the Holy Spirit over his sinfulness. A person can not come to true faith in Christ if they don’t recognize their sinfulness and understand that Jesus has shed his blood to pay the penalty that we all deserve–thus trusting Jesus alone for forgiveness.

          Bottom line: Do NOT marry a nonbeliever. God has ultimately used this to bring my husband to Himself, but that is in no way a justification to disobey Christ. In my case I was deceived (by the enemy) into believing that my husband was saved. It was evident immediately after our wedding that my husband was NOT who I’d seen him to be before marrying. EVALUATE the fruit of your prospective mate’s life over a period of time before marrying. Ask a godly person to spend time with them and question them in order to help you discern whether the person is a genuine believer. I saw my first hints of a different man while we were engaged, but by then I was so in love and the wedding plans were underway. It’s not too late to call off the wedding if such uncertainty arrises!

  • http://AWell-WateredGarden Annette

    My husband and I were 18 and 19 when we married. I had been raised in church, had accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was a child, but had wandered away during the teenage years. In my foolish thinking I had thought I could be a Christian and yet do what I wanted. My husband was not a Christian when we married, although he went to church with me during the early years of our marriage. He accepted Jesus as his Savior 4 years after we married. We had 2 sons. From the very beginning we all went to church most Sundays. My husband became active in the audio ministry at church. I don’t share my story to show “it can work.” God has been very gracious to us and we have been blessed immeasurably.

  • R. Hoogsteen

    I just heard a very good sermon on this.

  • Phil

    I’m going to go a step further: I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen a (true) Christian marry a non-Christian. ::thud:: Yup. I’ve been around the Christian singles scene for about 13 years, spent time in singles ministry at a large church, etc. To be frank with y’all, every so-called “Christian” that hooked up with a non-Christian was not themselves a Christian to begin with. Indeed, in these cases they were not true regenerate Christians, but rather had merely added “God” as a spiritual accessory. Things like hunger for the Word, sorrow for sin, yearning to know and love Christ deeper and such were all lacking in their lives. They were, as they’d be the first to tell you, “good” happy fun people. These are your Osteen and “Eat, Pray, Love” types. They were the moralistic therapeutic deists that today’s “personal success” churches have raised up.

    So here’s how I counsel/warn them: “Look, [name], it’s like this: As a non-Christian, he lives in rebellion to God; he does not and cannot have a prayer life, repent of sin, nor love God through His Son whom he rejects; he will not and cannot pray with you or share your ‘first love’, who should be Christ; he cannot support you in fulfilling the great commission, etc. So, if you still feel that such a man is attractive to you, then it’s not because there’s so much of Christ in him, but rather you have so little — if any — of Christ in you. FACT: If a man whose life is unchanged by Christ is such a good fit for your life, it’s because your life is unchanged by Christ.” This truth confrontation infuriates the rebellious so-called believer. Which is sad because attraction to a non-Christian should be a huge wake-up call. But I’ll say it again: I’ve never seen anyone with true passion for Christ and strong evidence of regeneration and work of the Holy Spirit in their life actually end up attracted to a non-Christian (beyond physical lust) for any substantive length of time. Instead, what I run into are those whose words merely reveal (Matt 12:34) the true underpinnings of their beliefs and non-commitment to God and His Word. Instead of living as God’s missionaries to a dying world, these types are the world’s dead missionaries to the Church; their “Did God really say?” line of serpent questions should tell us as much. Like I said, anyone who finds the unregenerate life of a non-believer to be a fit for their life is likely unregenerate themselves. We owe it to Christ, our witness and our hearers (1 Tim. 4:16) to say as much.

    • BTH

      You absolutely knocked it out of the park with this one. Thank you! I hope those who are being cavalier about this grave issue are convicted by this correction and seek God in directing their path on it.

    • Jeff H.

      Wow. Really? Youre going to go there? Well, allow me to retort:

      The insinuation you’re making is that there is no “true” believer who falls into the sin of marrying an unbeliever, because the fact they committed the sin proves their lack of faith and therefore the insincerity of their conversion.. Okay, what sin have you committed in your life since you’ve turned to Christ? None? According to your standard, committing a sin proves your lack of faith, so I guess you’ve been perfect since your conversion. Or do you rate certain sins above others? Marrying an unbelieving spouse is proof of a lack of faith, but theft or lying, or covetousness or laziness is not? And how about those “so-called Christians that hooked up with non-Christians”? The ones you catagoricly decare were not “true regenerate Christians?” Did you look into their hearts and see if Christ was there? You are dangerously close to violating the “judge not” edict. On second thought, you’re not “close”, In fact, you crossed that line by a pretty wide margin. I doubt God would have Paul warn us about being unequally yoked if “true” Christians were not in danger of it. Your suggestion is that no true Christian is in danger of being unequally yoked because being so would prove that they are not a true believer to begin with. So if only “so-called believers” would make the mistake of marrying a non-believer, why does God bother with the warning? Your self righteous little diatribe here is as close to calling God a liar as you can get without quite doing so.

      Here’s my favorite:

      “FACT: If a man who’s life is unchanged by Christ is so attractive to you, it is because your life is unchanged by Christ” Wow. Once again you proove your astounding ability to look into the hearts of men, where only God Himself has looked before. We should all strive to attain this heretofore unknown gift of the Spirit. What a legalistic, Pharasitical, self-righteous, hypocritical statement. And I like how you follow that statement up with “this ‘truth confrontation’ infuriates the rebelious so-called believer”. Nice rhetorical trap. Now anyone who dares disagree with you is automaticly a rebelious sinner who’s sincerity of faith is in question.

      Someone does not become Christlike and perfect the day they accept Him as their Lord and savior. (Except you, apparently) In a lifetime, they will never get there. They do not know, until they grow in faith and closeness to Christ, how to line up their priorities with God’s. They do not know, until they grow, how to trust Him to provide them a suitable mate. They are therefore susceptible to temptation. They do not go out on day one and recruit a whole new batch of church-approved friends and acquaintances from which to choose a spouse, either. And the last thing an immature believer needs is a modern day Pharissee condemning them and calling their salvation into question when they make a mistake that is a big enough burden on their spiritual growth in and of itself without being made to feel like not only a failure, but a unregenerate, lost and damned soul who apparently doesn’t know the meaning of faith. Where you see “moralistic, therapeutic desists” who lack true faith, I see immature believers who lack growth and understanding.

      Yes, we are called to “know a tree by it’s fruits”, and I’m sure that’s what you think you are doing, but discerning a man’s SIN is a FAR CRY from judging a man’s HEART. You opened your comment by saying “I’m going to go a step further”… Well let me suggest, brother, that you watch your step, because that’s God’s territory you’re walking on over there.

      I think you need to look in a mirror before you start looking into the hearts of men.

      • Phil

        Jeff H: What you’ve posed is yet another long-winded, snark-tastic rebuke-a-thon to berate a believer (me) who merely points out the idea that certain fruits demonstrates certain things. We ignore fruits — in our lives and that of others — to our peril, of course. As in all these discussions, there’s always some bloviating member of what I call the “Love Police” (usually from the “Discernment Prohibition Enforcement Division”) who just can’t resist slathering the comment thread with the typical caps-laden screaming denouncements and judgements against (what else?) those judge. What you don’t get — or don’t want to get — is that many Scriptures warn us that our fruit and life choices should serve as strong indicators to us, and those same Scriptures are loaded with the “…or you may not be a true Christian” sort of implications that I’ve woven through my comment. AS you can see by several others, they, too, have acknowledged what I said. In the Bible, whenever God’s men chased after foreign (i.e., unbelieving) women it’s because their hearts has long since abandoned chasing God. Paul merely re-affirms this concept and the corollary restrictions. And yes, to obey these command we do have to judged (er, uh, “discern”) the spiritual status of others.

        • Jeff H.

          My point is not to berate you,Phil. But yes, it is a rebuke. (Snark-tastic and long winded, though it may be) if you are offended at the harshness of it, well, tough. Rebukes are supposed to be harsh. But no harsher than your condemnations of fellow believers (I’m sorry, I guess that’s “so-called” believers according to you) who have apparently exposed their unregenerate nature by marrying the wrong person. If this makes me a “bloviating member of the Love Police from the Discernment Prohibition Enforcement Division”, well then I guess I’m issuing you a citation.

          I agree with you that certain fruits demonstrate certain things and we ignore this to our peril, but there is a well defined difference between lovingly correcting a less mature believer and denouncing them as an unregenerate sinner bound for hell, which is the basic effect of the comment you made. And I am not ignoring the scriptures which are loaded with the “…or you may not be a true Christian” implications. But I am saying that they are there for the believer to sort out between him/herself and God. Not for believers to sort out other believers by implying that their failures prove that they are insincere and on their way to hell.

          What you don’t seem to get, or don’t want to get, is Luke 6:37: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven”. Pretty straightforward. That is how Christ calls us to deal with the issue of judging the hearts, intentions and spiritual status of others.

          All the “… or you may not be a true Christian” warnings in the Scripture are there as a call for individual believers to personally take stock of OUR OWN spiritual status, not the spiritual status of others. We are to discern the BEHAVIOR of others, not their standing before God. That judgement is for Him alone. And by the defensive and “snark-tastic” tone of your rebuttal, I might suggest that you lack that introspective ability, which may stem from an issue of pride. But then I guess that would be a judgement… or is it a discernment of the “fruits” of your own writing? (it’s the latter)

          And by the way, I was not “slathering the comment thread with caps-laden screaming denouncements”. First of all, this is the only conversation I’ve had on this comment thread, and secondly, I use caps sparingly and for emphasis, not volume, because I don’t have the option to use italics. So there.

          • Jeff H.

            PS: I am not advocating for unequally yoked marriages. It is still disobedience even if all the Christian men you meet are jerks and the only nice guys you meet are non-believers. (which was one of the stories posted here) What I am advocating for is Christians to show grace, compassion and love rather than judgment and condemnation to those who have made this mistake.

        • Susan

          Phil, your initial comments here are a bitter pill that I cannot swallow. Jeff is not out of line to give you some serious push-back. READ MT STORY ABOVE (about our marriage). I was indeed a true believer when I married my husband, but my husband was self-decieved and I was thus deceived. He had ‘received Christ’ at an alter call. He was working as a leader in the church youth group when I met him, and he was interested in taking theology classes at the time.

          The first 21 years of our marriage were about the enemy USING my husband to attack me and tear me down. NOT FUN.

          • Phil

            Susan: You’re missing something critical here…. I was not addressing people who *thought* they were marrying a believer. In spite of how my words have been twisted, that’s not what I was addressing. What I was addressing, specifically, was when a believer *knowingly* pursues marriage to a unbeliever.

            There’s no sin in being deceived by a deceptive unbeliever; that happens, of course. But there *is* sin in knowingly hooking up with a non-believer for marriage.

            Jeff’s push-back was wrong on a number of levels, but it’s I don’t need to take the flame war bait. A post laden with as much Scripture twisting as Jeff’s rarely get’s worked out productively in an internet comment thread.

            • Susan

              Phil, thanks for clarification. I didn’t read much of Jeff’s response so I won’t quibble with the discussion between the two of you.

    • Marcus Ivy

      Under the general premise that all have fallen short and probably will continue to fall short even after they have been regenerated, I have to side with Jeff’s stance here.

      I’m not sure what that makes me, but it has to be said: Christians make mistakes. Marrying a nonbeliever is obviously a decision that is hard to reverse. I might even grant the “true Christian” judgement assuming I had other data points. I wouldn’t label them that on this alone.

      Whichever the case, marrying an unbeliever is not listed as an unforgivable sin. How can you call them unregenerated based on this misstep alone?

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  • Alfred Randall

    Hi Kathy,
    I might be misunderstanding some of what you are saying here, but if I do understand what you are saying, then it seems to me the reasoning here is unbiblical. NOT because you are saying it would be wrong to become married to an unbeliever, which is obviously wrong because it says not to do so in scripture, but for a few other reasons I think are important.

    First, I think you have miscatergorized wisdom. For instance you said

    “We need to hear the voices of men and women who are in unequal marriages and know to their sorrow why it is not merely a disobedient choice, but an unwise one.”

    There is no such thing as wisdom without obedience. Proverbs tells us that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. If you refuse to do obey the Lord, then you don’t fear him and are not in awe of his superior understanding and knowledge. You have removed yourself from the grace of his knowledge. That is a far greater sin than marrying an unbeliever. In fact, the real sin is the disobedience and failure to believe the Lord. Getting married to an unbeliever is simply the outward action of the evil in the heart. In addition, without faith it is impossible to please the Lord. Even if these couples hear someone who is in the position of already having gone through the agony of something like that, assuming it was agony for them, they are still only changing an outward action and not fixing the real problem which is the lack of faith it takes to obey. Even if they were to split up before getting married and were obedient and went find a believer to be equally yoked with, they would not be pleasing the Lord because it was done in spite of a lack of faith in what the Lord had said. Anyway, the point here is not that they need to worry about more than “mere” disobedience and look to wisdom, but that they need to learn to start with obeying the Lord and fearing him, which is the beginning of wisdom, and then perhaps look for why the Lord says it is better to stay away from being unequally yoked. Scripture already tells them what any couple could tell them.

    Secondly, the premise that second hand information is somehow less convincing than first hand information is at best puzzling. If second hand information is not as good as first hand information, that what God has to say is already of less worth than what any couple who had been through it could say. God has never once been married or has ever been through the same situation. He is the best example of someone who has never been through something yet has something to say to those who have been or could be, more so than anyone. Paul, as far as can be told, is the same way. As far as we can tell he wasn’t married, yet he fleshed out a lot of the reasoning about why one should or should not get married and divorced. A person who thinks that wisdom can only come from someone who has been there is being really prideful. There are all kinds of things that an unmarried person can say to a married person who married an unbeliever. Otherwise pastors like Timothy (Paul’s timothy :)) wouldn’t be able to comment on anything having to do with marriage to the congregation. Since scripture tells us the consequences of being unequally yoked, and gave us the example of Solomon, anyone who is respected as a member of the body of Christ should be able to counsel them. Again, it is simply a lack of faith in how Christ set up the church, and an act of disobedience to refuse to listen no matter who it is who offers good advice.

    Lastly, I think that the story you tell about your son, and stories like it, will undermine the whole intent of bringing in someone who has been through the same problem or situation a couple who is unequally yoked and planning to get married will endure. If the only thing that ever happened in the life of an unequally yoked couple was that they failed and the marriage didn’t work out, then there would be some weight to the idea that this is going to help most people. But when you divorce it from the idea that the real problem is disobedience and lack of faith in God, and you compound it with the fact that the couple considering marriage probably doesn’t have faith in the fact that when things DO work out in sinful situations, it is in spite of what ought to happen and is only the grace of God,what you are left with is what seems wise to the couple. And if God has been left behind, they will grasp at whatever makes the situation they WANT to go through wise in their own eyes. If they see it worked out for anyone, including your son, then they will more than likely use that as an excuse to say “see, it worked for them, so it is possible, and we can do it too. Those other people must have just been unwise.” That is what happens when you are wise in your own eyes instead of seeing God as the wise one.
    I am not saying that we shouldn’t listen to others who have gone through the same thing, and that this is not valuable. I just think the great value of it only comes into play when the person listening already has faith in God. Otherwise they are already set up to be wise in their own eyes, and even if they listen to what is being said, they will be acting without faith in God as the supreme decider of what is right or wrong, and they won’t please him no matter what they do. They will simply be changing a behaviour. I think the most important thing is whether or not they are obeying through faith. That is where true wisdom lies. Otherwise they are as unwise as a kid who has to touch a burner to believe it is hot.
    I don’t know what tone you would have said your impatient reply in, but I do believe Jesus would have said much the same thing to the couple. When people came and repented, he forgave them and simply told them to stop sinning, and to do so immediately. And then, in his sermons told them that if they didn’t obey and produce fruit, he would cut them out of the vine and throw them in hell. I can easily see him saying the much less harsh “get over it” sort of thing. Just a thought.
    May the Lord bless you and keep you,

    • Hannah


      Thoughtful reply. I can’t speak for Kathy, but in the case of your first contest, I would have to agree and disagree. Indeed, there is no wisdom without obedience. But I also know there are unequally yoked couples in which the Christian spouse deeply repents of their sin in marrying the non-Christian, however, to continue in obedience, they remain married to the unbeliever (see 1 Cor. 7:12-16). I know they would have great wisdom to give to those considering marriage to an unbeliever. To say a Christian married to an unbeliever cannot have wisdom or live in obedience is to deny the grace and forgiveness God gives each of us – regardless of our marital status.

      In His Grace,
      Hannah :-)

    • Peter S.

      Hannah is right. Though it might be wrong or unwise for a Christian to marry an unbeliever, once it is made, the marriage itself is holy: 1 Cor. 7:13-14.

      “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

      I believe this shows that the families created by marriage are holy even if not all persons included in them are believers.

      • Cora

        I think this verse is referring to couples where one partner becomes a Christian after being married. That is the case in my marriage. I became a Christian 8 years after I was married and I can tell you from experience, some days it’s hell. I cannot go on mission trips, I can’t tell family members about Jesus under the threat of divorce, I can’t tithe, I can only give five dollars to “that bunch”, when I come home from church, I have to downplay my joy and excitement in the Lord, I can’t come home “preaching” to him, I can’t have Christian friends over, can’t help people in the Church who need it. I get made fun of for reading the bible, my church is made fun of and accused of being money hungry, I am ridiculed when I buy a Christian book. I feel like I have to hide my Christian life. My son and I hide our prayers and devotions when no one else is around. I have been left out of family events. When I do see Christian couples at church, my heart aches for what they have. True longing and heart aching for what they have in the Lord. They can pray together, have devotions together, go on mission trips. Enjoy the love of the Lord together. It is a big heartache being married to an unbeliever!! I cry alot over it. Take it from me, it is not worth the chance of marrying an unbeliever hopeing that they would convert. But I would never give up my relationship with Jesus for anyone! Not for him, not for anyone.

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  • mel

    I know someone that became a Christian while married. She stayed and loved her alcoholic husband even though she couldn’t do any of the things she loved because he wanted her home with him. Each day he got so drunk sitting in the same chair that he couldn’t be left alone because he might fall on the way to bed. He died from his alcoholism after retirement. They were married forty years approximately. Within a few years of his death she met an active man that coached his grandchildren in her neighborhood. They fell in love. She married him and moved out of state. They are very active in their church. They travel to see his extended family out of the country. Over ten years later it’s like she is a teenager freshly in love at the age of 80. I asked her about it. She told me that she had prayed for twenty years that God would give her a godly man to walk side by side with. Sometimes God doesn’t answer quickly or the way we expect but I believe that He fills a faithful heart more than we can hope.

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  • Dee Dee

    I’ve been married to a believer for 25 years. It is not easy but worth it. I’d like to add another caution. Those who are believers who marry another who thinks they are a believer. Serious caution must take place for I’ve seen marriages end, one has an affair etc. Do they have fruit/evidence of true salvation? Don’t go by what they SAY and how they make you feel but rather who they are in Christ. Make sure they are not a broken cistern/well but rather they are truly filled with the Holy Spirit.

    • Dee Dee

      PS: There is a statistic that goes half of ALL marriages end in divorce BUT the couple who prays together daily the general stat is 1 out of 1025 end in divorce. Pray together. Is an unsaved spouse able to pray with you?

  • zee

    You’re absolutey right, and this is a great post!

    There are some times, unfortunately, when people can just be so stubborn, and they have to find out for themselves.

    And bump their head so to speak.

  • Dina

    I was saved when I was a little girl but lived my own life as a teenager, wanting to party. I got married to a fellow partier, who got saved (fire insurance) before we married. We had fun for some years together, and then we wanted to have a child. I thought we agreed that we would stop this lifestyle to raise our child, but I did and he didn’t. My son is 13 years old. I am separate from my husband for a year, he is a functioning alcoholic, and now says “he used to believe what I believe but doesn’t anymore.” He calls me a “Jesus freak.” I am happier alone now as I was under a lot of oppression because of his addiction. I love my son so much, but if I could go back, I would not marry someone who doesn’t love Jesus. I am very close to the Lord now. If my husband files for divorce, and the Lord leads me to someone else, that person has to love Jesus as much as I do, and even more than he loves me. That’s the only way to go. Believe me, I know.

  • Sheri

    I find it arrogant to be so presumptuous that marrying unequally yoked is a responsible, or even a mature decisIon, because it just is not. I love young people and respect their zest for life, but to not listen when being warned is quite foolish indeed. Unfortunately, I know those who did not listen and went outside their faith and church to marry according to …. Get this now….. Their ‘own belief’s.’ As if they will make a new ‘belief’ system that will accomodate this disobidient act. Sad endings are the result of such decisions. I do not find this a way to learn a valuable lesson either. Disobidience to God begins with disobidience to parents. The sooner we correct the latter, the better for the future.

  • Pat

    Not always so. Faith can grow in marriage and by example of each other’s love. The main issue is respecting each other and putting each other before yourself.

    Christ does amazing things, and you should be incredibly careful how this could come across as judging to the one who is not a Christian.

    Go long on love, not judgement.

    God may have caused an unbeliever to fall in love with a believer to bring him or her to Him.

    My husband was not a strong believer before we were married.

    Thank God I didn’t follow this advice; I have the most amazing marriage now and he is such an amazing Man of God.

    If I would have done what you did, I would have missed out on having this beautiful marriage (over 12 years now, so hardly newlyweds!)

  • Megan

    As I read the entire passage on unequal yoking, it’s not clear to me from the context that it refers to marriage. Even if it does, surely the same standard would apply to the church’s unequal yoking with the GOP as well. It seems unfair to hold young Christians to a higher standard than what we hold the Bride of Christ to!

    • Laura

      Other people sin without apparent consequences; we should be allowed to sin, too!

      Is that a fair summary?

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  • Anonymous

    I have been in an unequally yoked marriage for many years. (I married very young, and now am not even completely sure I was saved when we married, even though I would have said I was at the time). I wish I could sit down and talk to Christian women who are considering marrying an unbeliever. While God’s Grace has been sufficient, it has NEVER been easy, and it has caused deep pain in every area of my life, especially in raising our children.

    But, I think it has to be even harder for my non-believing husband in some ways, who doesn’t understand, and I know he often feels like an “outsider”. When I was in my early 30s, I was invited to a bible study, which became a pivotal point in my life – my life began to change drastically because of the work the Lord was doing in my heart, as He revealed Himself to me in His Word. This drew great hostility from my husband. He felt that he was “losing” me. It was so sad and probably the most difficult time in our marriage….Thankfully, over a period of time (by God’s Grace), he began to accept who I was becoming, and has settled into accepting my changed life. I have to be honest and say that my husband has, at times, been more gracious to me than I have to him…BUT, it is an incredibly lonely place to be in a marriage – there is no praying together or worshipping together, of course; no sharing my excitement about the Gospel that continues to turn my world upside down(!); no sharing about what God revealed to me today in His Word; what happened at bible study today; how I am seeing God at work in my life and the lives of others; how I am trusting God with our adult children – we live together with two completely different world views, and it has affected EVERYTHING – money, child-rearing, how we spend our time and energy, who we associate with, who we help, you name it… BUT, I am thankful to God that, while our marriage is broken, it is not hopeless; and I am not lonely, because I have a relationship with my living, Risen Savior! And, my husband still may be saved (with God all things are possible!) And He has surrounded me with many incredible Christian women who support me and pray for me (which I have need so desperately)…AND because God continues to deepen my understanding of the Gospel, I am finding myself loving my husband in a way that I haven’t before, and it is changing the dynamics of our marriage….So, yes, God is gracious IN SPITE OF us…BUT, THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES -sometimes LIFETIME CONSEQUENCES (and He has been very gracious to me – things are often alot worse than my situation)! So, for anyone who is seriously considering going down this road, please hear me: When He – the Sovereign God of the Universe – says, “DO NOT be unequally yoked with an unbeliever”…DON’T! It’s for our own good…

    • Mary

      Couldn’t agree with you more. My 20 yr marriage has been equally trying and now broken. I pray for my husband and grown children daily. The effects of living in a home where morals and values are continually compromised or questioned has truely had a great toll on my family. This trial has grown my relationship to chirst and now I lean on him alone. I know now that this brokenness was not the will of God for my life life, but a result of my own compromise. I thank God that he can take our broken lives and transform them because HE is God of restoration.

  • MzEllen

    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1)

    @Megan – you’re right, it’s not clear from the context that the 1 Cor. passage refers to marriage in particular. It refers to LIFE. How many choices to we make that are as serious as when we choose our life mate? Not many.

    Do we really want to make that choice based on the idea that God will make things okay IN SPITE of our disobedience?

    “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound”

    In the unequally yoked marriages that I have known (including mine – having married a man who professed Christ without the heart change behind the profession) much of the time, the more serious the Christian becomes, the more rebellious the unbeliever becomes. This downward spiral is a miserable place to be.

    I believe that if a person chooses worldly pleasures (a marriage to an unbeliever) ahead of obedience to God, go ahead…the choice has already been made.

  • MzEllen

    > Go long on love, not judgement.

    Love…does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

    How often does Scripture give us a loophole for direct disobedience.

    A simple “we’re not a good match” will do the trick, no “judgement” (discernment) required.

  • Suzanne M

    so.. what is a single mid forties women (never married) to do when women outnumber men in church and the ones that are there do not step up and pursue women? I am desirous of a relationship and struggle with temptation of those all around me that are with someone. Yes… single women have hormones too. I am not from a believing family and work in a non-believing world where living with someone is quite acceptable. I am quite tired of being alone. And yes, I serve and am actively involved in a bible believing church. I am actually serving a lot and go to a HBC in Chicagoland. It does not negate that I would like life partner. I am not content in the single life. It actually is not anything I would wish on someone to be single and in church. I sit in church alone (sometime with a friend) and see couples together holding hands, serving together, hugging and long for such. It is wrong to want this? Does not the bible say it is not good for man to be alone? well.. this female has trouble with it too. Yes.. Christ is sufficient and I have not yet fallen. It is a struggle. I grieve that loss in my life of never having family or children. It is a good article yet I think Gods gives grace to those who sin. I have seen many a Christian marriage end in divorce or one of the partners treat the other extremely poorly. Please pray for the singles in your church.. that they would have Godly marriages.

    • Natasha

      Suzanne, I completely understand your desires. I also understand your struggles. We ALL struggle against sin, in one form or another. We all are constantly in that battle of choosing what’s right over what is evil. However, I believe that there are some connections that are missing in your beliefs.

      God is the one who tells us not to marry an unbeliever. No matter how many people tell you that it is okay, it is still not right in the Lord’s eyes. No amount of convincing can change that. We don’t get to bargain with the Lord. He tells us the way and we follow it. He is not a mean God with a list of do’s and don’ts. He tells us the things He does for our own good, not for His. If a child is playing with safety pins, an adult will take them away. The child will believe that the adult is mean for this, but the adult only does it for the child’s protection. In the same way, the Lord warns us of things so we don’t get hurt. We may view him as mean for it, but his only intentions are to protect us. There is a lot of heart-ache that comes with a marriage to an unbeliever. One person has to give and I think most often it ends up being the believer. I’ve already walked the footsteps of an unequally yoked marriage (see my post below) and it is NO fun. Honestly, I would rather have stayed single than endure the heart-ache that it caused.

      Secondly, God tells us that if we search first for His kingdom, He will add all the rest unto us. God is the one causing you to breathe right now. He’s causing your heart to beat. He is feeding all the animals of the world. He is keeping the Earth in its orbit. He is the One who holds EVERYTHING together in this world. He is the only one not subject to the limitations and boundaries of reality. He can both walk on and command water, He can command the weather, He can resurrect the dead, and cause the blind man to see. By all means, God is fully-capable of providing a man in your life.

      You MUST trust that God’s plans are for your own benefit, whether or not it feels that way. He has plans for you, Suzanne. Plans to prosper you, plans to give you a hope, plans for a future. You MUST trust Him and know that he had your days numbered before you were ever even born. He will direct you and guide you if you allow Him. He will give you a purpose much greater than you could ever have even planned for yourself, if you allow Him.

      Every time that your heart aches for a man to call your own, with all seriousness, ask God to be that man for you. Call out to Him and plead for Him to fill those areas of your heart. Ask Him to lie with you as you sleep. I guarantee you feel more at peace. Tell Him that He is enough for you, for all your days. Say that you will honor and obey him for all time and that you trust that He will give you what you need, when you need it.

      Our lives are so short here. Seriously, there is no offense intended here, but you are already half way through it. The bible says that our life is but a vapor. Imagine an actual timeline of eternity. This lifetime would be a speck so small, that it could not even be seen. Don’t hold too much to this world or this life, there is so much more waiting ahead for you. I don’t believe that God would ask it, but even if we had to suffer for 100 years, what is that in comparison to the never-ending days of eternity? If that were the price to be obedient to Him, so be it.

      Please know, also, that He loves you dearly. He sees your tears and has even counted them. He says to rejoice in your struggles, for He is keeping track. He has great rewards in store. He walks with the broken-hearted. He hears the weak, the feeble, and the lonely. He is not distant. He is beside you holding your hand. He cares about how you feel and He cries with you. He is jealous for your attention and weeps also for that reason. He will comfort you, He will protect you, He will provide for you, He will mend your heart and be all you need… just ask.

      • Suzanne M

        Thanks for the comments. I am not currently with someone but am out there and praying. Whether he is a believer or not, I will leave that up to the Lord.. Yes.. the best is for a believer. People make this to be one of those unforgivable sins which I disagree. A good friend of mine is getting a divorced as a Christian with no ground and treating his wife like crap. Sin.. it surrounds me and is in me. I live for the Lord, knowing I do sin.. yet seek not to. I do not have this ‘Gift” of singleness. Its for the birds.. I give it back God. I am serving actively in a body, praying, going on outdoor events with nonbelievers. I believe Paul Washers wife was not saved. I am open to what God has..a good of integrity. I am sorry to say.. it is lacking in a lot of Christian relationships that I have been around. I am not alone in my thinking. Many Christian singles think the same.. no one ever asks us. We are the unseen at church. I am tired of being the outsider, who does not belong. I am going to bring this outsider issue up in the 2 minutes I get to speak in a small group. A few minutes a week is not sufficient. Lord.. this gift.. I am not so fond of it.

        So friend.. are there rotten marriages.. yes for sure. in both believing and unbelieving households.Do they take work.. Yes. they do.. I understand this… Do I sin yes? Will I sin in this area? I hope not, but if I do. I know then it is Gods will. I heard on Moody. Once you are married.. then it is God will to stay.
        Pray for Godly marriages in your single friends. I am.

    • Ali J Griffiths

      It’s not wrong to want to be with someone Suzanne and I am sorry that those of us who are married can be so extraordinarily tactless around other folk.
      I think it’s important to realise though that there is great loneliness in marriage even to a believing spouse at times. Marriage is very difficult for many people to live in and yes, it can also be wonderful but those wonderful marriages will take a lot of hard work to maintain. To marry someone who does not share your faith is to make a covenant for life with a person who does not understand the most significant part of you. This is not a good basis for a relationship that requires you to give yourself to another. It is also grossly unfair on the person you are marrying – they simply will not (they cannot) understand what it is that makes you ‘tick’. Forever there will be a part of you that they will not know. The unequal yoking referred to is not only to protect you as a child of God it is also to protect the unbeliever from deep disappointment and frustration.
      I realise that it is ridiculous for me to advise you – I have been married a long time now so I can barely recall my single days – but please persevere in finding your fulfilment in Christ and not in a relationship that will turn sour eventually. In a long term marriage I also have had to come to terms with the fact that my fulfilment has to be in Christ not my marriage and family. It’s not a criticism of them at all but a realisation that there is in me a hole that can only be filled by Jesus. I’ve probably said all the wrong things here and for that I apologise. I have just read a book ‘Lost in the Middle’ by Paul Tripp who often blogs on the TGC. He talks about the grace of disappointment in midlife – I have found it very helpful and I recommend it to you. Blessings

      • Suzanne M

        Paul Tripp.. just spoke at Rolling Meadows. I must say I disagree with some of his teaching. Its okay though. Yes.. you are not supposed to get you happiness and worth from you spouse. He would not be in ministry though except for the wife of his youth. I see husbands that are basketcaskes without their wives if they are gone for even a few days.. yet.. for me. I am supposed to be content in my aloneness. I understand you can be alone in both as a single and married. I most say.. non-believing partners are getting thrashed here. Not all are alcoholics, addicts or beat there wives. Will they pray with their wives? No.. Neither do I have anyone to pray with. Will they be there when they are sick, need protection, need a strong arms to hold them, hopefully…yes. Will they do things together as husband and wife? I assume so. Go to church.. probably not. Not all unsaved husbands as evil. Do you know what it is like to always be alone.. you don’t have a clue. Go to the emergency room alone? Constantly go to church alone? Make all decisions on your own? Be afraid and want a protector? Nope.. someone just to eat a meal with? nope

        thanks for caring though brother. you mean well!

        • Jane

          I’m 32 and never married. Being a single woman of a certain age at church can feel like having a very rare form of cancer that no one really understands or knows what to say about. Most people do put their feet in their mouths.

          But I have a Christian friend who is 41 and never married, and I don’t want to have her attitude about it. She is very bitter and thinks of everything in terms of whether it will help her find a husband.

          Everyone has disappointment in this life. I’m allowed to have one pity-party per day, for about five minutes. And then I count my blessings.

          God has given me so much. He has blessed me so abundantly. He shows me people in His word every day who suffered far more than I ever have. Anna, for example…she was only married for seven years! And then she waited patiently for decades, never remarrying, finding contentedness in the promise God made her that she would live to see the messiah. He made me the same promise–that I will see Him in heaven. Is my life so much harder than Anna’s? She didn’t even have any friends who believed the same thing she did.

          I never go to the emergency room alone, or go to church alone, or make my decisions on my own…Jesus Christ dwells in me; He is always with me, He comforts me and advises me and is my protector.

          He is a father to the fatherless, He puts the lonely in families. He has done that for me, and I do not have a Christian family (I was adopted into an atheist family). I so desire a family of my own and children whom I could tell about Him, and always have, but He has provided me with such a beautiful church family who cares for me so much, and He has given me good health and work I love and for which I am well-suited (I am a teacher).

          How could I disobey Him and marry someone who didn’t love Him as I do? And how could I let the good desire He gave me for a husband and a family poison all the blessings He gives me every day? He told me I would have troubles in this world; He never promised me a husband but rather peace that surpasses all understanding and an eternal home with Him.

          When I am tempted to feel forgotten and left out, I seek comfort and peace in His bosom and read His word. I urge you to do the same. I know how hard it is. It sucks. In another decade, when it starts to become clear that I really won’t be able to have children of my own and will never know anyone who is biologically related to me, it will really suck. But I hope in the Lord; He renews my strength. He helps me run and not be weary. He loves all of us so much…He is the ultimate spouse.

    • Odette

      Suzanne M _ Your plea really touched me, particularly when you said “I sit alone in church” – because I share that same pain for quite the opposite reason.

      I too sit alone in church – while my husband and our two children stay home. This is a whole new level of loneliness which the author of this article (not to mention God!) it cautioning you against.

      It is a struggle to be single in church – but you must trust that this is not it for you – God has a plan for you. He did not mean for us to be alone – Adam and Eve. I can’t promise you will find Mr Right, but I believe being without Mr Almost Right would, at least, allow you the peace that come through following Christ’s teachings rather than the life of doubt, second guessing and the ‘crawl to Christ’ one of the earlier posters mentioned.

      I will gladly pray for you :) Somewhere, may God be preparing a partner for you.

      • Michelle H

        I also sit alone in church(my son is in the nursery as he is one year old), while my husband is off playing basketball or home. My son is one year old, so whether I’m tired or not, he comes with me to church – no exceptions. I am terrified of what he will grow to desire in attending church with me. Marrying an unbeliever 2 years ago is something that is constantly on my mind with guilt and at times regret. I would never wish for a life without my son, so I can’t hope to change the past. But I was given counsel against being with this man for a long time and I chose to reason with myself, saying god will still love me. Yes. His grace is an ocean. But I still ask for forgiveness constantly. I look at other marriages daily and can’t help but think “what if?”.
        I must say, I felt so alone in this until I came across this article. It would be nice to connect with some other women who are in the same situation and pray with and for one another. Thankfully, I’ve never met in person someone who is on the brink of making the same decision I made. But if there ever came such a woman (or man) I would desperately implore them to think twice. This is NOT a dream marriage. Granted, many IN church marriages may not be either, but at least both would believe in prayer. While I love every Sunday (and Wednesday), I hate coming home alone and to an empty home or someone that can’t share my excitement and love for God.
        If someone out there is thinking about this for themselves and you are reading this before making the commitment, PLEASE DO NOT go through with it. At least wait, and ask God to show you why you should not marry them. If you were ever lonely in your life, an unequally yoked marriage is ten times more lonely.

    • Marcus Ivy


      You’ve touched on something here that few are willing to verbalize or admit: that over a certain age it is difficult to be a single woman in church.

      I don’t know if this is a theological problem or not. I’m sure there are those here who will oppose me if I do say as much. But certainly, when the pressure to marry falls on women more than men, and that pressure comes from society and church in equal measure, the absence of available god-fearing suitors is a practical problem that few people are prepared for. You’re not prepared; and in most cases, neither is the church body around you. Oh, you’re over forty and you’re not married? What does the bible have to say about that? What does the bible say about single women at all? Relatively little. Just stop reading the Book of Ruth; and read that verse about Mary anointing Jesus’ feet over and over again.

      I wish I had answers, Suzanne. And I’m definitely not suggesting you just marry anyone to fulfill your sense of longing. But I did want to show you that there are others who recognize the validity of your complaint and aren’t afraid to admit it.

      • Suzanne M.

        Thanks Marcus.

        • Ali J Griffiths

          I think the way in which churches focus on couples and family life is not biblical and really ridiculous when you consider that the founder of our faith was single himself. Those who established Christianity such as Paul and Peter hardly had what you would call ‘normal’ family lives either!
          I don’t think it’s a theological problem rather it is a cultural one and the more often we challenge it the better. Churches are supposed to be made up of different parts yet we are so often expected to conform to particular roles within them. Suzanne – you have so much to offer the family of God just by being you. I pray that you find the encouragement of friendship very soon (within or outside marriage) and the courage to challenge the church’s culture of overlooking/sidelining singles. You are just as much part of the church family as anyone. Blessings.

  • Rob

    Thanks Mrs. Keller for the article.

    Question to all:
    So can an evangelical pastor perform a wedding ceremony for 2 unregenerate people? My sister just got engaged; both her and her fiancé are not Christians but have recently mentioned that they’d like me to lead their wedding ceremony.
    Is this ok?

    • Phil

      Your question reminded me of a portion of prose in a book by Jay E. Adams, “Shepherding God’s Flock: A Handbook on Pastoral Ministry, Counseling, and Leadership.” (Sadly, many Christians don’t know who Jay Adams is, in spite of his voluminous and outstanding works, but many pastors have heard of him.) Chapter 7 of “Shepherding God’s Flock” is about premarital counseling. Of course it covers a lot of ground, but the situation you reference is covered here as well. On page 242 and following he covers the three possible relationships: 1.) Two believers; 2) Two unbelievers; 3) a believer and an unbeliever. Regarding the role of a pastor and the second combination, Dr. Adams writes:
      “Let us now turn to relationship number 2. The contemplated marriage of two unbelievers. Here conservative pastors are widely divided over the practical question. There is little or no disagreement over the fact that the marriage of unbelievers to one another is proper, desirable and recognized by God. Is that a satisfactory basis, however, for the participation of a Christian minister in the wedding ceremony? Some say “yes.” They maintain that since the practice is proper, the minister’s participation is also. Others distinguish between the minister as an agent of the state in performing marriages and an agent of Jesus Christ in ministering the word, and insist that it is purely as the former that he officiates in such cases.
      Against these views, several things may be said. First, the Christian minister is requested to perform the wedding as a minister and not merely as an agent of the state. (When have you ever known anyone to request that you act only in the latter capacity?) That is why his services — rather than those of a justice of the peace — were sought. Because of superstition, sentimentality, or whatever, the church wedding frequently is chosen over the purely civil one. Moreover, the pastor may be able to make precise theoretical distinctions in his own mind, but the persons present at the ceremony will not. To think that a minister conducting a wedding ceremony can adequately convey to participants or to the assembled gathering that he is acting solely as an agent of the state in a merely civil capacity is (to say the least) self deceptive.
      But of greater importance is the fact that a Christian wedding — with vows taken before God, with the reading of scriptural portions that refer to Christians only, exhortation that pertain to believers alone, the pronouncing of the blessing of the triune God upon the man and his wife together with His benediction — all of these constitute far more than a civil ceremony! Indeed, it constitutes so much more that it may be said to be nothing less than a Christian worship service. It is the performance of a sham, or of a mock Christian wedding, by persons who are not Christians. When a Christian minister assists non-Christians in taking vows before a God whom they do not know, he participates in hypocrisy and encourages and aids them in the perpetration of a lie. And, as a final thought it is necessary to ask: why should a Christian minister care to function merely as an agent of the state anyway — particularly when he runs a such a great risk of being misunderstood?
      What does one do when he finds that the persons who have come to the first [premarital counselling] session do not qualify? First, he tells them so in loving, clear terms and explains why. Whenever there is reason to do so, he holds forth realistic hope. (“Let’s meet several times and discuss the Gospel.”) That is to say, the unsaved persons (or person) may be evangelized. Upon a genuine profession of faith followed by acceptance into the membership of a discipling church, the qualifications for marriage change. Moreover, a Christian — unqualified because of past matters yet unsettled — may by God’s grace deal with these and thus remove his disqualifications.
      Ministers who turned unsaved persons away with no attempt to evangelize them missed an important opportunity. At this crucial turning point in life, it is sometimes true that God in His providence chooses to work powerfully to bring about the conversion of His elect people and to restore wayfaring Christians to repentance. The opportunities for such ministry must not be lost. Disqualified persons ought not to be simply turned away. Postponements, opportunity to counsel fully about what stands in the way, aid in assisting the perspective man and wife in clearing up past problems, ought to be suggested and pursued.” (Shepherding God’s Flock, pgs 243-244)
      Note that the above was transcribed with voice dictation software… I hope I got it right!

  • Steve Cornell

    The idea of putting a video out of individuals who are living with the pain of being married to an unbeliever has been done quite effectively regarding divorce. It’s titled: “Choosing Wisely before you divorce.”

    You might find these articles helpful:

    One requirement for who God wants you to marry

    Answering the first question about marriage

  • tatenda ncube

    the Word is always truth hey, regardless of how we feel or what we want. I am learning that God is just, i may not know all things but i trust Him, His plans are to prosper me and not for harm. If He did not spare Jesus but gave him as a ransom for my sins, then i trust that a good mate comes only from Him

  • Alan Taylor

    The original article is so balanced and reassuring for those of us meeting this Christian-with-Unbeliever relationship in the church. There is the pastoral problem too when your church expects the pastor to marry the couple in question. Dr Keller, do you refuse to marry this couple in your church?

    • Phil


      I cannot, of course, speak for Dr. Keller. However, on his church’s website, the “Getting Married by a Redeemer Pastor” page links to their PDF with more information. One of the things they try to ascertain is the status of the faith of each person (see Redeemer’s PDF at that link for more). I would my grandkids’ lunch money that no Redeemer pastor (nor any pastor publishing on the TGC website) would officiate at a wedding knowing that it the couple was unequally yoked. In doing so, they would be sinning and helping the believing would-be spouse sin and would be sinning by helping the nonbeliever pretend to be a part of something which they should be a part. While this article has been plagued with a rash of immature commenters who do not take this matter seriously, I assure you from everything I’ve ever heard and read from Dr. Keller that he takes marital spirituality very seriously.

  • Rachel Morelli

    I know what you are saying because I am in a marriage and it is not as easy as it seems. Also maybe if they could talk to couples that are in them kind of marriages then it would help. I had no guidance after I got saved. It was only 2 years when I was saved (a new babe in Christ and no one mentored me at all. People were very rough about it and said that they had to be saved but never explained to me why.

  • Natasha

    I DID marry an unbeliever and I was very young in my own faith as well. It became a nightmare quickly. We would fight about going to church. Every Sunday an argument would start so he had an excuse not to go. If we argued he would curse me and my God. He cheated on me within the first six months of marriage. It actually got to the point that he was becoming physical with me. He eventually moved out and pursued many other women while still married to me. While he was gone I felt as though I was supposed to pray for him. I prayed that God would change his heart. I prayed that God would do WHATEVER it took, so long as my husband knew him. I prayed that God would give him the whole world if my husband needed to see how sour it really was. I prayed that he would put him on his death bed if that would open his eyes. I just prayed that God would not allow him to take his last breathe without knowing Him. At times I even felt called to take him dinner and then leave, all while he was out sinning against me, our children, and our marriage. Whether or not God brought him home was irrelevant to me. Life was actually much more peaceful without him in it, but I wanted him to know peace for himself. I wanted him to have the joy that I had. I didn’t want him to burn in hell, and I wanted our children to have a father who followed the Lord. He did eventually come to the Lord and I let him back in the house only after I knew he was walking uprightly. He is now a strong leader and growing deeper and deeper in his faith… but the road to get here was long, hard, and full of pain. I would not advise it or wish it upon anyone.

  • Leanne

    good topic. I, too, married an unbeliever. I had just come to Christ a couple of weeks before we were to be married, and although I was counseled to wait, I chose to ignore the advice. Marriage was fine, until I started growing in my faith, then it all changed. A great divide took place. I never saw it coming. He stayed with me, however, honoring his vow of “till death do we part”. He went to church with me, gave to the offering every month, opened our home to a small group Bible study (which he also attended)…all the while refusing to believe or acknowledge that God even existed. Two and a half years later, on the final day of a marriage retreat, when I had all but given up on Him, to everyone’s surprise, he went forward to declare his faith in Christ, tears streaming down his cheeks (he had always told me that IF he ever became a Christian, it would be in his own quiet way, and NEVER going forward after an alter call in front of others ;)). I share this story to say, first of all, that God gets all the glory for bringing two sinners to salvation. Next, I will counsel my children to not follow in my footsteps. Also, I know I was saved and truly a believer when I married my husband, but was not mature enough in my faith, and so I ignorantly chose to follow my heart. This would not be the case today, and not just because I’ve lived through it, but because I now have a much greater understanding of the Scriptures and desire to obey, no matter what the cost. Finally, I’d like to say that, even if you are married to a believer, you can still be unequally yoked. With the divorce rate in the Christian community being almost equal, these days, to that of the secular world, it shows that there are probably a lot of “unequally yoked” marriages out there: people who are not equally growing closer to God, and so they are failing to grow closer to each other. Scripture is right, a believer should never marry an unbeliever, period, and I will be the first to stand up and argue for all the reasons why. Yet, God is gracious. He is sovereign over all things. He works in mysterious ways. Man cannot thwart His plans, no matter how hard we try. I believe that, although I violated God’s moral will in marrying my husband, because I could not violate His sovereign will, I did not “marry the wrong person”. In God’s sovereignty, he used my husband to draw me closer to Him, grow my faith, and teach me to trust in His Ways, no matter what the outcome. Yes, I should have listened to all of the people who were telling me to wait. Perhaps I would have married someone else. Yet, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has “worked all of it for good” because I love Him and have been called by Him. In summary, I wouldn’t advise a believer to marry an unbeliever. If you do, realize that when you violate God’s moral will, there are always consequences. If you are in an unequally yoked marriage, turn to God, where you will find strength, guidance, forgiveness, mercy, and hope. In the end, obedience to Him brings peace, joy, and contentment, and will sustain you in every situation.

  • Julie

    Anonymous who commented on 1/23 evening said it all right from my heart. I have been married almost 20 years…neither a believer when we said our vows. God in His grace saw fit to save me 7 years into the marriage…before children. We are happily married but such a huge chunk of life is missing because we don’t share faith. I praise the Lord daily that my husband allows us to go to church twice a week and raise the children according to Truth. I even homeschool with a biblical basis. He is all good with that. BUT…EVERYTHING is affected by being unequally yoked. I find challenges arising daily that I didn’t expect as the children get older. O how I would welcome the opportunity to counsel with someone contemplating voluntarily becoming unequally yoked!!!

    • Phil

      Julie: As you probably know, one of the best things you can make of your situation in your ministry outside the home is to loudly and clearly sound the proverbial wake-up call as you’ve done here.

      Sadly, as you can see in the comments here, there are *many* professing Christians (represented by women by about 10:1) that still peddle the idea that unequally yoked is a workable marriage option for the truly-in-love. You can, in return, love your sisters by speaking out in Bible truth and Godly witness and you can trust the Holy Spirit will use your faithfulness to convict them of the destructiveness of opposing Scripture in this critical matter.

      • Ali J Griffiths

        @Phil: Are we reading the same comments? If you read the comments properly (ie from start to finish) you will find that the vast majority are saying ‘Don’t do as I did’ and ‘Thank God because He is gracious even though I did wrong’.
        Declaring the reality of God’s grace and strength in a difficult situation is a far cry from peddling the idea that unequally yoked is to be commended.


    I have a friend who is married to an unbeliever. She will tell you now, to her sorrow, that it was a horrible choice. As others have said, she made it because she was immature and because he was kind to her, and because he seemed at least neutral to her faith.

    However, once they had kids, and as she grew in her faith, he grew further away. Now, with the kids all teenagers (or close), he ridicules their beliefs. He teases them for believing fairy tales. He runs down his wife, and many a Sunday begins with an argument as she readies the children for church. She must talk to them about God during the day (she home schools) when he is out of the house.

    While at the beginning he was “neutral,” he no longer felt that way as she grew in her faith and as she taught their children her faith.

    They are still together, and she still loves him and prays for him daily. But, she will tell you in no uncertain terms that marrying a non-believer is NOT the thing to do.

    She still hopes for his conversion (in fact, we all pray for it), but, even should that happen, there have been many years of sorrow in between.

  • Les

    Thanks for posting this article. I’m 48 and never married but I almost married an unbeliever when I was in my 20s. I thought I was a Christian then but now realize I wasn’t. However the passages from 1 Corinthians still gave me pause and I broke it off. Sometimes I’ve regretted this. I googled his name a few weeks ago to see where he went and how he is. He is successful and has lived his life with great integrity. Unfortunately I started dreaming about him again and regretting breaking the relationship up. This article has come at the right time. Thank you!

    Phil’s comments about unbelievers masquerading as Christians wanting to marry someone who obviously isn’t born again are spot on. It was true of me. I shared many values with the man I wanted to marry including religious nominalism. Fortunately I also knew enough scripture to recognize our differences.

    • Jeff H.

      It may have been true for you, but not of all unequally yoked believers. In many (in fact, I’d say most) cases it is due to backsliding, lack of maturity, lack of self esteem, lack of surrender or all of the above, but not at all a lack of love for, or faith in the Lord. I found Phil’s comments pretty legalistic and judgmental. We can and will make mistakes. BIG ones. Even AFTER coming to true faith in Christ. Don’t make the mistake of condemning yourself or others because of a bad decision. Even a decision as consequential as marriage.

      BTW: The fact that you knew and HEEDED the Scriptures should be a clue that you maybe weren’t as lost as you think you were.

      • Les

        I have only head knowledge. I am not truly born from above. There is more to the assessment of my faith than one relationship twenty years ago.

  • Laurene Wells

    Too many comments to read all of them. You may never read my comment either. But I am a Christian who has been married to an unbeliever for 21 years. I knew what the Bible said, but I had dated 4 Christians who used me and treated me badly before I met my husband. When we were dating, my husband treated me with love and kindness. (And he is still a good husband and a good father. This is one issue that has been a trouble for me, is the automatic assumption that all non-believers are abusive. It just is not true. But even a good marriage can be terribly difficult when the partners disagree on fundamental issues.) This really clouded my understanding of what the Bible meant. I also had this idea that if I could just shine the Light of Christ bright enough, he would come to believe, and then we wouldn’t be unequally yoked any more. I was young and stupid.

    I understand now. I could write a Masters Thesis on what it means to be unequally yoked. I have in fact written an essay to my children for when they seek a spouse. But, as my oldest son has said, they have grown up in this home. They understand too. Thankfully, all four of my children have accepted the Lord. This is not always true for the children of mismatched marriages. But God has been faithful and gracious to me and my family.

    For this post, I will say, it is lonely. It is unlike any loneliness anyone has ever imagined before. When you go through trials – and you will – you can never ask your spouse to pray with you. When you get sick, and you will eventually get sick, possibly VERY sick, your spouse will mock you if you ask him/her to pray for you. You can not ask. When you want to discuss the scientific discovery of soft tissue in a dinosaur bone and how it validates the literal interpretation of Genesis, you can not bring up the subject without an ugly fight that ends in hurtful words, and often broken hearts. You can’t talk about your faith with the one person in the world who is supposed to be your best friend. You find yourself an enemy of the one person who is supposed to be your strongest ally on issues that are of the deepest importance to your emotional and spiritual concern. Even marriages that both partners are believers have disagreements on how the children should be raised. But if your spouse doesn’t believe, you can not use the Bible as an argument for your ideas of how to train the children. This causes tremendous conflict. As the years go by, you start to experience the reality of what it means to be unequally yoked. It means that every single area of your life that is of greatest importance to you is in direct conflict with your mate’s belief system, and therefore in conflict with you. And yet, you have entered a covenant relationship with this person – AND GOD – and promised to love them for better or for worse for the rest of your life. You will learn how to love like you have never known before. And you will learn commitment on a level that you never wanted to know. And you will cry a lot. And you will learn to allow God to be the primary source of love for you, because your mate will not know how to love you like God intended, because your mate doesn’t know how to go to God to have their love tank refilled when they run empty. You will learn to express love to your mate, because God tells you to, even when you don’t feel like this was the marriage you signed up for, because it IS the marriage you have entered into.

    There is more than this. Much more. But not all of it is appropriate for a public post, and more importantly, I am running out of time. I have to leave to take my kids to Shakespeare rehearsal now.

    God is still good. All the time. But I think your life experience is probably better when you marry someone who shares your faith.

    God bless you.

    • BTH


      I read every word of your testimony and have shared it with friends. Thank you for being open enough to share your experiences with us. I’m praying for your family and praying that your testimony will bless others who are on the precipice of making a potentially disastrous decision in this critical area of their life.

  • Sister in Christ

    Thank you for writing this article Kathy. I would like to point out the following which God has been teaching me as a Christian wife in this situation. In spite of the stress and pain that can rear its head in the relationship due to the issues you point out above:

    1. Being married to an unbeliever gives the believer no license to treat the other without respect/love – Ephesians 5:33 is an act of obedience towards God and not contingent on the other spouse.

    2. Just because the stress and pain of not being able to pray, read the Bible or fellowship in Christ is present doesn’t mean that there isn’t any friendship or fun going on in the relationship. My husband is still the same guy I fell in love with, that will never change and the reasons I fell in love with him are still there. As with any marriage love is a decision and a commitment.

    3. Being married to an unbeliever does not give the believer the license to “give up” on a) the marriage and/or b) your pursuit of God.

    4. I think the article when directed towards single Christians is good advice, however I feel like there shouldn’t be an “all hope is lost” portrait painted of couples in an unequally yoked situation. Some people end up in an unequally yoked situation because one of the spouses came to Christ later in life or sometimes because one of the spouses backslid in their walk Christ. Even if they blatantly as a Christian married an unbeliever God’s grace is sufficient and with Christ all things are possible! Even pursuing God and being transformed into a godly spouse in spite of the situation. Our hope and joy in Christ is not dependent on our situation – give thanks in all circumstances and offer up your prayers unceasingly to God our Father.

    5. God gives hope to the believing spouse in 1 Peter 3:1 saying that their spouse may be won over not by discussion but by their godly life. An important thing to notice here is that this verse turns your eyes off your spouse and makes your life not about nagging or dragging them into church but about pursuing God because when it comes to being godly well there is always room for great surrender to and transformation by the Holy Spirit. Again, loving and respecting your spouse should not be contingent on whether or not they believe but as an act of obedience toward God.

    6. That being said there are the downsides – not being able to pray or read the Bible together and them not wanting to get involved with church etc which can cause pain and strife. However God commands the believer not to take part in arguments because they lead to quarrelling and to answer their opponents with gentleness and courtesy in the hope that the unbeliever will be saved, 2 Timothy 2:23-25. See how God again makes it about you and becoming more like Jesus instead of being about how to change the other person?

    7. Just because someone is married to an unbeliever gives the church or other Christians no right to pass judgment because the only one out there with the right to judge is Christ since he lived a sinless life and He chooses to have grace. In fact the only response the church/Christians should have towards people already in a unequally yoked marriage should be love, acceptance, compassion and support for BOTH spouses (believer and unbeliever) as Christ would. How else will the unbelieving spouse see Christ? If the husband hears from his wife how awesome God is but then is made out to be the villain, judged, criticized and/or snubbed by God’s people, then what?

    8. Sometimes the lack of mercy and compassion my husband receives from other Christians makes me upset. It hurts because in spite of the pain that I do feel in my marriage due to being unequally yoked, I still love my husband! However I know that God calls me to forgive my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who do pass judgment or who are unmerciful because Christ forgives me for my shortcomings and that I should pray for them and be unhindered in my pursuit of being a godly wife.

    • Laurene

      Number 7 and number 8 on your list are tremendous! YES!! I actually quit going to church for a while after I got married because I got SOOO WEARY Of the interrogation about why I was at church alone which ultimately ended up in “Oh, you poor abused thing. How awful it must be to be married to such a horrible man! We’ll pray for you.” HE IS NOT HORRIBLE!!! I love him. And he loves me – more than any of the Christian men I ever dated before I met him. Just like every single Christian was before they found Christ, he is a person who happens to be lost. And I hate it when they treat him like an outside, or sometimes even like he’s a different species – not even human. Because it hurts me too when they treat him that way. The church I go to now does not treat him like that, so I’m ok now. But there were years when I tried various churches and just eventually quit going. I wholeheartedly agree, Christians need to be supportive, loving and encouraging to other people. If they are married, support the marriage! Period. The bond is formed. It’s in God’s hands now. And God does NOT give us permission to leave our mate just on the grounds of unbelief, quite the opposite. It says if your unbelieving spouse is willing to stay with you, then you must stay with them and show them God’s love. As Christians we are commanded by God to be faithful to our spouse and to love them. These are not optional. Thankfully, God supplies us with sufficient love to be able to do this. His grace is sufficient for me.

      God bless you all.

    • Stef

      Sister in Christ: Love this! Thank you. The support was needed.

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  • Lori

    I was equally yoked when I married – almost 30 years ago. We were both unbelievers. After 17 years of marriage God saved me. 2 years ago God saved my husband. The years in between were tremendously difficult and the years that have followed have been equally if not more difficult. I rest in the Providence of God. There are no plan b’s. God has had a purpose and a plan that for reasons beyond me, included all of this. God is redeeming and God is putting back together what has unraveled as a result and it is very comforting for me to know that we did not “catch God off guard”. He has ordained from beginning to end our comings and goings. His grace is always bigger than our “messes”.

  • daelee

    will this apply to both christians but belonging to different denomination? e.g protestants and catholics? what do you think?

    • Laurene

      Yes. It does matter. I think it’s easier if you are both from a Bible believing faith, but there will still be conflicts. There will still be foundational issues of faith where you will end up fighting over a theological point, rather than supporting and encouraging one another. Is praying to Mary idol worship? Are the books in the Apocrypha really scripture that is God Breathed? If so, then why aren’t they in the Protestant Bible? This will be an article of contention between you; especially when your children come to you and ask questions like “How come Daddy never comes to our church Mommy? Why does he go to a different church?” or “How come we can’t just go to the church where my friend goes, why do we have to go to two churches?” and if you do choose the dual church attendance route (I have a friend who was Protestant and married a Mormon) eventually the strain on your time and energy will break the resolve of one of you. You will stop going to one church and just go to the other one, or possibly not go at all, and your spirit will starve for spiritual nourishment. (My friend abandoned her charismatic faith and joined the Mormon church, and all her children have been baptized into the Mormon church now.) You may think it doesn’t really matter as long as you both believe the Bible, but there are some fundamental differences and at some point you will discover those differences are more important than you thought they would be. You should both read the book “So, what’s the Difference?” (or one like it) that reviews several of the world’s prominent religions and denominations. This will give you a little bit of an understanding of exactly how your views are going to conflict as you get into foundational discussions that effect your daily decisions based on your value system. What if one of you suddenly feels called to go on a Mission overseas? Will your spouse go with you? What about the children? Will that be compatible with a mismatched relationship?

      It all matters. Love covers over a multitude of sins. But it sure is easier if you can at least agree on the foundation.

      • daelee

        @laurene: thank you so much for taking the time out to reply to my query…it makes sense. i am currently in a situation and deciding on whether to pursue a friendly (getting romantic) relationship with a person who has so many things in common with me apart from religion…It’s crucial and your points here will help me weigh things wisely. Thank you and God bless!

        • Laurene

          You’re welcome. See if they will read through a few books like that with you. Study the doctrinal differences between your faiths together. Study some deep apologetics books together like C.S. Lewis “The Case for Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain”, and Frank Turek & Geisler’s book “I don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” which is long but very thorough. And on the topic of, the biggest difference between Catholics and Protestants (sola scriptura), read the book “Scripture Alone” by James R. White. If you go to the website you can read some detailed articles about the differences between Protestants and other faiths, including Catholics. Hope this helps. God bless you.


  • daelee

    ***protestants married to catholics…

  • Obiauju

    Truly this is a btter truth that has to be said.thanks Tim and kruter

  • adesakin

    Pls ,where can I get the book u wrote underneath the article? I am a Nigerian.Thank u and God bless you.

  • Obianuju

    God is Good

  • Paul

    I can’t agree more with what is said here. My wife and I got married as unbelievers, then I got saved. The strain of being ‘unequally yoked’ has been tremendous both on our marriage and on my Christian life. Of course the story has not ended yet, but God doesn’t guarantee the outcome I’d like.

    So once again, don’t even consider marrying an unbeliever. :-)

  • Victoria

    I think the article is good and I am glad to read it. I just wish it talked about the reasons why so many christians would even marry a non-believer to begin with. I don’t think any christian goes into marriage thinking ” oh.. I always wanted to married a non-christian”. All the ppl. I know who have married/dated non-christian did it because they had this sense of hopelessness of finding a christian mate. I think the fact that most churches are slowly being filled with 30 plus single women and men who look at each other and don’t think being a faithful christian is good enough. In fact its chrsitian++ mentality ( christian in addition to a bunch of other things like beauty, education, greate personality, money etc) Oh well.. better to be single than be married to a christian who wants Christian+++ . Cause there is this expectation that a christian marriage is an upgrade to a marriage 2.0 (cause their spouse is going be a wife 2.0 or husband 2.0 or something like that:P ). Telling people all the doctrinal reasons why they shouldn’t marry a non-christian doesn’t seem to take away the growing hopelessness thats happens in many single fellowships. Instead, I get to spend time with a bunch of single women who repeat the phrases that they have to be patience on God’s timing, but doesn’t seem to have any joy in being single. In fact, I see a lot of single people who hop from one church to another in order to get away from feeling hopeless in finding someone there. And basically.. I see christian guys just drop out and not even bother anymore about getting married. And christian women who are just joyless and waiting for something to happen.. geesh.. better to be happy doing my own thing with God than hanging out with christian singles. The chruch meat market is just depressing. And thus… you will see single christians hanging out with non-christians singles faced with this issue. No wonder why my christian indian friends don’t have these kind of issues.. atleast they have churches and family who aren’t wimps about setting up single christians within their community.

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  • Stephen

    Great article. The only problem I have is that it appears Kathy Keller’s son is the exception to the rule. On the surface it sounds like the Jewish girl converted for him. I would have left that story out of the article. I’m sure he did the right thing in real life- just sounds a little suspect…

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  • Sara

    My husband and I married right out of college. Although we were both “believers”, we were not really followers of Christ until about 8 years into our marriage. I feel so fortunate that God worked in our hearts at the exact same time. Our marriage is stronger and better than ever. The other day I was talking to my 6 year old about the future and she asked me, What if I fall in love with someone that doesn’t have Jesus in his heart? It was the first time I had really considered the possibility (she’s only 6!!!) and we had a long talk about it. After reading this article, I am going to be deliberate about talking to all my kids about this (talking through scripture, discussing how they want to bring Him glory as a grown-up, etc) from an early age. Thanks!

  • SarahTV

    I don’t agree…the 4th outcome is they live happily ever after…which we are. Mature adults can find a middle ground, where BOTH couples give equally and value the others religious belief (OR lack thereof) If two people cannot compromise on FAITH, chances are that they cannot compromise on much else in their marriage. Instead of pushing your believers to marry within their faith, perhaps push them to marry people of compassion and substance.

    Such closed minds…you do little service to your people.

    • Angel

      How can you compromise on Faith? You either believe God’s Word or you don’t. A compromised Faith is no faith at all. A compromised faith incorporates doubt and is not of God

  • Jason D

    This is in response to some of the comments made by Phil:

    Paul is clearly giving advice and not a commandment in 2 Corinthians 6:11-18. I guess according to your interpretation of these scripture verses that a “true Christian” is not supposed to have any non-Christian friends either. Perhaps you should gather up all the “true Christians” together and move to a ranch in Montana. Paul addresses this fallacy in 1 Corinthians 5:10. In essential beliefs we have unity and non-essential beliefs we have liberty. (Romans 14:1-22). Which ministry are you under? The ministry of condemnation or the ministry of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 3:7-11)

    The verses of 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 also aren’t speaking specifically about marriage. It’s advice that you would want to receive in every part of your life. I know of Christians who befriend partying non-Christians. This leads them to eventually making a habit of drinking and partying themselves. I know myself the dangers of hanging around with the wrong crowd when I was younger. Show me your friends and I will show you your future. (Proverbs 13:20.) If you reference back to 1 Corinthians 5:10 then you can’t just have close relationships or chose to marry a person because they have Christian as their Facebook status. The actions, beliefs and behaviors of the people you fellowship with matter just as much as whether they call themselves a Christian.

    However, both books of Corinthians need to be read in context to actually decipher the purpose. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that his Corinthian letters are for edification and not condemnation. If you put Corinth in context, it was the modern day equivalent of Las Vegas. Then added to that it was also a mecca of idol worship. That would be like adding every modern religious cult into one city. That would be the equivalent of Corinth today. It was a very immoral city. To take from that context and apply 2 Corinthians 6:11-18 as an acid test of the validity of a believer’s faith smacks a little bit of arrogance to me. From my experience, in matters of dating there is a big difference whether a person has a pre-existing spiritual belief or doesn’t have one at all.

    It was interesting reading your comments that say a believer either see things from your viewpoint or you’re not a “real Christian”. That intolerant, closed-minded attitude is the core of why so many nonbelievers don’t want to have anything to do with the church today. I’m sure for every person you bring to Christ there are another five that you offend with this line of thinking. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Just in case you weren’t aware what the definition of sectarianism is: 1. A member of a sect 2. One characterized by bigoted adherence to a factual viewpoint.

    I’ve read a number of additional comments from this article and I think what most people miss is God does not take away our free will in these types of issues. As the Apostle Paul mentions believers are under the law of liberty when it comes to matters of conscience. God has some binding laws, which we have no choice to obey. I have no freedom of conscience if I want to go stab someone. (Thou shall not murder.) However, in matters of conscience God leaves the decision making up to us. The Apostle Paul mentions many times that we are all given consciences to decipher good from evil.

    We also have to be sensitive that people come from a variety of different backgrounds and diversities. In issues relating to another man’s conscience, who are you to judge? (Matthew 7:1-5) It’s great if you want to positively encourage others to see the truth as you see it. But once pride enters into your heart and you start judging who are the “real Christians”, that is just going to cause divisiveness like that in the Church of Corinth. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Let’s encourage believers to grow in their decision making rather then tear them down. I think we can all agree that marrying a non-believer without coming to some sort of unity on spiritual matters well before marriage is a recipe for disaster. Obviously a lot of people have experienced pain and suffering over this issue so it would be foolish to ignore. However, let’s be a little less judgmental and a little more loving how we approach this topic.

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  • MzEllen

    @Jason D

    “Paul is clearly giving advice and not a commandment”

    What part of “do not” sounds like “advice”? God’s law has been consistent – His people should not marry those who are not a part of His people. This is not a “Pauline advice” issue – it’s a Biblical issue.

    • Jason D

      2 Corinthians 6:11-13

  • MzEllen

    @Jason D

    “Perhaps you should gather up all the “true Christians” together and move to a ranch in Montana…”

    “Which ministry are you under? ”

    “That intolerant, closed-minded attitude…”

    “I’m sure for every person you bring to Christ there are another five that you offend with this line of thinking..”

    “bigoted adherence…”

    “But once pride enters into your heart…”

    “However, let’s be a little less judgmental and a little more loving how we approach this topic.”

    As far as” I’m sure for every person you bring to Christ there are another five that you offend with this line of thinking.” – Jesus had a worse track record – thousands fled His teachings of truth.

    I believe that Dinesh D’souza said (rough paraphrase) that we can either be Christ’s missionaries to the world – or the world’s missionaries to the church.

    SarahTV said, “If two people cannot compromise on FAITH”

    WHY would I want to compromise on my faith, when the bloody body of Christ on the cross tells us that He would not compromise for anything.

    • Jason D

      You should go back and read Corinthians thoroughly from beginning to end. Maybe take the weekend. Especially 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 where Paul said that a closed minded bigoted adherence to a view point is sin. Meditate on that.

      I’m nothing special. Just a humble believer who knows I need Jesus. I’m under the ministry of righteousness. If you feel that you are compromising your faith by being around unbelievers then don’t. That’s a decision between you and your conscience. But to dictate to and judge others is wrong. Romans 14:1-22

      • Jason D

        I hope for your sake that you’re not saying the goal of evangelism is to offend people with the gospel. You are to speak the truth. A lot of people don’t like that. But you are to do it from a heart of love.

        I believe God’s ideal for a church is like in the Book of Acts. A group of committed,authentic, genuine believers in unity who show fruit in their lives. Not religious, judgmental and legalistic. Jesus actually was very critical of those people. Compare this with the church in Corinth. Every person had their own way of doing things. There was constant fighting and strife. I know which church I would want to be a part of.

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  • Marts

    I am a catholic man married to a woman in the Uniting church. I read the article and found it utterly disturbing. To what end does anyone have the right to make this kind of judgement about others like this? As a teacher in a catholic school, I am charged with educating a generation of students who don’t see the church as an important aspect in their life and I would NEVER stand in front of a group and claim that the bible teaches this type of bigotry. Open your minds for a minute and have a look at the world you live in. Has anyone heard the line “treat others as you would like to be treated”? Pretty interesting that followers of Jesus can be so unchristian…

    • Ali J Griffiths

      If the church doesn’t form an important aspect of your life then fine – marry who you like. BUT – and it’s a bug BUT – if following Jesus is the major and defining part of your life then what Kathy Keller is saying is make sure you marry someone who shares this focus. To marry someone who doesn’t share your faith can be a recipe for disaster. This is not rocket science.
      It is also ridiculous to call such behaviour ‘unchristian’. Following Jesus is not about doing what you want. If you don’t ‘get’ that then it’s just as well you aren’t married to someone who thinks differently than you do on this.

  • MzEllen

    > It is also ridiculous to call such behaviour ‘unchristian’. Following Jesus is not about doing what you want.

    What “behavior” are you talking about not calling “unchristian”?

    Are you saying that it’s ridiculous to call marrying an unbeliever unchristian (in the face of a Biblical mandate to not be unequally yoked) “unchristian”

    Or are you saying that it’s ridiculous to call discerning the truth about it “unchristian”

    • Ali J Griffiths

      @ MzEllen: I am replying to Mart’s comment and it’s in that context you should read my reply. Sorry but I can’t quite see how your questions relate to my point.

    • Jason D

      You are ignorant on this issue. I would re-read both Corinthians in full before making a statement like that.

      • Ali J Griffiths

        Thanks Jason for that mightily instructive comment.
        So illuminating – about you.

  • MzEllen

    I was asking for clarification.

    You’re agreeing with Keller, that marrying an unbeliever is a recipe for disaster, BUT also say that calling it[marrying an unbeliever] “unchristian” is ridiculous?

    “Following Jesus is not about doing what you want.” – but go ahead and do what you want, because what you want in this case[marrying an unbeliever] should not be called “unchristian”

    • Ali J Griffiths

      I can’t see what your problem is – my position is very clear but the sake of attempting to clarify the issue for you….
      Matt calls Keller’s stance ‘unchristian’ – her stance being that you should not marry an unbeliever. I am assuming from what Matt says that he believes Jesus would not hold such a view hence he terms it ‘unchristian’. I am challenging that assertion and yes, it is ridiculous to call something ‘unchristian’ simply because it does not conform with what you may want to do ie marry an unbeliever. I say it again: following Jesus is about following him not your own desires, it’s not about doing what you want to do.
      I hope that clarifies it sufficiently for you.

      • MzEllen

        I am so sorry that asking for clarification of what direction you’re coming from is seen as a “problem”

        • Ali J Griffiths

          I don’t have a problem offering clarification to someone. Maybe it was the tone of your asking coupled with the way you have responded to other comments that made me sound a little irritated – I thought you were nitpicking and looking for a row. So I apologise for sounding irritated – that’s the trouble with the internet – it’s difficult to engage properly and there is a tendency to make assumptions about motives. Sorry!

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  • http://AWell-WateredGarden Annette

    There have certainly been a lot of comments and some quite strong in this topic.
    I believe that if a person is a mature Christian then they would not be interested in marrying someone who is not a believer in Jesus. They have grown enough in their walk with Christ that they would not develop any strong attachments to a person that is not a believer. So the problem would lie with an immature believer. I had commented much earlier in the discussion–I married at 18 and my husband was 19. I was a babe not only in Christ but mentally, emotionally and even physically. My goal or focus was to marry a boy that was my friend, loved me, listened to me, and did not abuse me. Even though I was brought up from day 1 going to church and Sunday morning bible classes; I lived in an abusive home. But, about the time I got married I started listening to Christian radio, then reading my Bible again, the growth began and it continues. My husband became a Christian several years after we married. Yes, our marriage has had many, many struggles most because of the home environment we both grew up in, and my husbands unbelief. I had faith, not necessarily in my husband—no, but in Jesus and that no matter what happened He would guide and direct me to what I should do. As it was, God blessed us graciously. We’ve been married over 29 years. This was how God worked in our life, but it may not necessarily be how He works in another’s. Was it the right choice for me to marry an unbeliever? Of course not. Yet, God was gracious to us both despite our sin—that’s grace.

  • Mathew

    I dont get it.If God’s advice is to marry only believers then what on earth is 1 Cor. 7:12-16 referring to ?

  • Mathew

    1 Cor. 7:12-16 – surely it means that he allows for exceptions with a rider that if you do choose that exceptional path it will be a struggle in comparison to two believers in matrimony.So yeah there isn’t an absolute.

    • Jason D

      People just want absolutes these days. It’s a sign of the times. Part of our fast food culture. They don’t take the time to truly gain understanding on a matter and are kept in the bondage of religion. Matthew 12:42. They just want a set of rules so they don’t have to critically think through issues in their life.

    • Collin Hansen

      From the context it’s apparent in 1 Corinthians 7 that Paul assumes the marriage between Christian and non-Christian is a present reality. Therefore it does not relate to the question of whether a Christian should choose to marry a non-Christians.

    • Ali J Griffiths

      Paul is giving advice to those who are already married in 1 Cor 7. Keller’s article is addressed to those people who are yet to be married. A different matter entirely.

  • Jason D

    And another point is that a man has been appointed by God as the spiritual leader of a woman. I know that may offend those in the women’s rights movement but it is a spiritual truth.

    There is a difference between a man and a woman dating an unbeliever. I’m not trying to be sexist but it’s hard to ignore that the majority of the negative comments are from woman. I see a woman trying to convert a non-believer as an extremely uphill battle, especially if the man has a pre-existing religious belief. Men have been appointed spiritual leaders of women and not the other way around.

  • http://AWell-WateredGarden Annette

    I agree with your point Jason. But, if the man/husband/father will not be the spiritual leader then the woman should be. Especially where there are children. An example would be taking the children to church even if the father does not go. The woman that is the Christian or even the man if he is a Christian and his spouse is not, should follow through with being the leader in taking children to church including themselves.

    • Jason D

      Yes I think a lot of men out there need to step it up as leaders! Myself included. I’m glad that you step up like that. Also, encourage your spouse to do the same. I’m a realist and understand that can be easier said then done :)

  • http://AWell-WateredGarden Annette

    Yes, and the spouse that does go to church, alone, is easily tempted to stop going because they feel uncomfortable sitting by their self. I taught a Sunday morning Bible class for women that’s husbands did not go to church or rarely. They felt a bond with one another because they understand each other.
    My husband and I regularly go to church. We pray together. But the one thing that he has such a difficult time with is reading (even the Bible), it is a stumbling block period. He has a learning disability. I also think that he just has let that be a thorn in his side that need not be. But I’m getting off on another subject I guess. He sees that I read and study the Bible and he listens to what I’ve learned, but can’t bring himself to read. But, he has been invited by our preacher to a Titus men’s group, pray he’ll go!

    • Les

      Maybe your husband could use an audio Bible. I have the New Testament, New King James Version narrated by Eric Martin on CD and I love it. You can also purchase MP3 players that have been loaded with the Bible. I also enjoy listening to J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible program that can be downloaded for free from He has an excellent, down-to-earth teaching style. I’ve actually downloaded some of his teaching onto my MP3 player so I can listen to them again.

  • MzEllen

    ” People just want absolutes these days. It’s a sign of the times. Part of our fast food culture. They don’t take the time to truly gain understanding on a matter and are kept in the bondage of religion. Matthew 12:42. They just want a set of rules so they don’t have to critically think through issues in their life.”

    Jason, so what you’re saying that if we read Scripture and see a “do not” and believe that it is a “do not” and we don’t agree with you, then we obviously haven’t put in due diligence and study. Because we come to a different conclusion about “do not” than you do, we’re in bondage of religion?


  • Jason D

    Ya but as I pointed out earlier there are verses which preceed the do not where it’s clear that he is talking to the Corinthians conscience. That’s not on the same level as the 10 commandments. Also, when both books are read fully you can understand that Paul’s teachings are for edification or for us to grow into Christ. Does an oak tree grow strong over night? Godly growth doesn’t happen instantly.

    One of the things I’m learning is to go back to the original Greek and Hebrew writings to have a fuller understanding of the truth because we are limited in our understanding by our translations to English. There is a world of meaning and understanding that we are totally missing. Sometimes the translations are so bad that you can get a totally different meaning. I just seek the truth of God and follow wherever it takes me. If I have made a factual mistake or am incorrect you are more then welcome to correct me. But I believe God has blessed me with the ability to think critically and look at issues. So I will use that gift.

  • MzEllen

    Tell me, please

    What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

    Apparently, for some…enough.

  • Jason D

    To me this speaks of people who are following Satan through idolatry and false religion. They think they are serving God but are being deceived. I would put a mormon, jehovah’s witness and atheist in that category. I would not ever consider dating or marrying a girl who belonged to one of these groups. To me, this New Age nonsense and extreme Christian cults would have to go in there as well. I’ve heard of Christians dating these cult groups who felt they were sorta Christian with horrible results. I think in Kathy’s example, they worked because the two religions have many similarities except the Jewish girl doesn’t recognize Jesus as her Messiah. We have to remember that Jesus was a Jew :)Also, I don’t put a girl who has no religious beliefs or practices in the same category. In my experience, I’ve met a lot of women non-believers who are much more moral and Christ-like in their behavior then their Christian counterparts. I’m not one to judge a book by it’s cover.

    Others will bring up the Old Testament. Let’s look at Deuteronomy 7:1-4. It’s talking about not inter marrying with other tribes who already have allegences to other gods, which are in fact demons. Corinth was the mecca for these groups. How could a household survive when each person is following a completely different God?

    • Phil


      “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” [Matt. 12:30 & Luke 11:23]

      This “you’re in or you’re out” sort of language… exclusivistic, bold, challengingly divisive to most ears, and 100% authentic Jesus.

      Our Savior did not allow anyone to remain neutral.  There are two teams: those who have bowed to King Jesus, and everyone else regardless of what religion (or non-religion) they have.  Wheat and chaff. Sheep and goats.  Jesus repeatedly used such dual-proposition terms to make it clear that no one is spiritually neutral — no one.  They’re alive in Christ or dead in sin.  Slaves to righteousness as redeemed followers, or slaves to sin as rebels against God.  It’s true, God is near to all; near to some in grace, near to the rest in wrath.  Unpopular, but entirely Biblical.

      So your idea — that blatantly pagan is not OK, but agnostic or nonreligious is somehow OK — not based on a Christ-centered, Biblical understanding of the only two possibilities of human spiritual condition.

      • Jason D

        Yes Phil. I am aware that a non believer does not have an authentic relationship with Jesus, is liable for their sins and will eventually be damned to hell. For the record I am currently dating an unbeliever. If we were to break up I would ideally try to find another authentic Christian to date and eventually marry. I have had the opportunity to preach the gospel to her and feel she is close to accepting it. That is my prayer everyday. I didn’t come to Jesus instantly and most people need time to make that type of life altering decision. Her decisions on God will be the main factor if I decide to marry her. I’m very glad that I came across this article because it has given me the opportunity to put a lot of thought to this issue.

        You are correct that the unbeliever is unknowingly being influenced by Satan. There’s a difference between that and actively following in false religious teachings. I feel the majority of the churches where I live are unhealthy and that the level of false teaching is at an all-time high. I choose to worship in spirit and truth. John 4:24 I find truth to be greatly lacking today in the typical modern church.

        At first in our relationship I committed the sin of idolatry and put her first before God. I have since repented of that and have made it clear that God is first in my heart and she will have to accept that fact. If you have to marginalize your faith to be in a dating relationship then you should avoid that relationship. But that would apply to any other relationship as well. How many Christians do you know you sell out their beliefs to fit in with the secular world? I know lots. To me that is the essence of what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 6:11-18. Idolatry is about physical images but more importantly where your heart belongs.

        • Phil

          Hi Jason,

          First, thank you for coming clean with us here. While the comment thread has died out, our concern for you has not. Some of us here are friends and in discussing this thread we suspected this. I’ve been a guy a long time now and done my share of nuanced, parsed, cherry-picked readings and rationalizations to defend the indefensible in the face of all wisdom and wise teachers. There’s just a certain way, a certain tone, that’s recognizable in these cases.

          I’ve spent much of the morning writing this to you. I hope and pray that you receive this from a brother on the journey next to you.

          So let’s level with each other as men, m’kay? When men devise a path of sin — as we see in Adam, throughout Scripture, and in our own lives — men usually have two questions in mind: 1. Can I get away with it? 2. Can I get out of it if caught? In other words: can I hide it, and if uncovered what’s my most plausible excuse? For some men, it’s a milestone in maturation to even admit this pattern (I don’t know you well enough to know if this is you), while others admit the life-long temptation to manage sin through this pattern. If I’m honest with you, I’ve probably been through this cycle a half dozen times on major issues — yes, including the one you’re doing. When we lovingly but firmly confront other men, there’s this tense and critical point where the us dudes *know* the gig is up and that Plan A has unraveled and Plan B (the excuse) is already expected before we can even try it and it isn’t going to work. The man then knows that he’s surrounded by men who also have made a life of playing the same cards in the same order, and the gig is up — and further groaning and excuse-making is just boyish and embarrassing.

          Jason, as to your unbelieving girlfriend, I’m sure you’re aware that all wisdom indicates that you never should have started with her in this way and that you need to break things off with her. The LORD has blessed us with many wise men in our pulpits and on this matter their guidance is remarkably consistent: You need to confess to her that you sinned (both personally and in your witness to her) by dating her and you need to break thing off with her. Your Plan C (“…unless she becomes a Christian”) is no more wise a gamble than dating her was in the first place. You have a woman’s pliable and tender heart in your grasp and now you’re throwing down the gauntlet: Accept Jesus or I’ll drop your heart. That’s manipulative in the extreme; just wicked. I know that you know that God knows and see this, too. Frankly, that approach is just an extension of Plan B — you’ve made your mistake and now you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too, and wrapping the whole thing in a plausible sounding spiritual goal. The gig is up, and it was up with God long ago. That’s why in God providence you and I are having this conversation. It sounds like you’re no more ready to be a husband to her than she is ready to be a wife to you. If you walk away from each other, and if you both (independently!) come to God and recommit/commit and repent, then after a suitable period of reflection and restoration then perhaps you can be together. But the fact that you’ve you still got her heart in your hand in a heart-rending Plan C maneuver tell me what a grip this situation has on your life, your witness, and your decision-making process. Know this, too: Every woman I’ve met that came to Christ after dating a believer (i..e., your situation) said later that “You know, you shouldn’t have stayed with me! You were just playing games!” and they lost a bit of respect for their husband’s/boyfriend’s character and witness for his unfaithfulness to God by staying with her when he shouldn’t have. If — and that’s big “if” — she becomes a Christian, even your actions now will require further confession and repentance to her.

          Jason, there’s a portion of Scripture I want to visit with you. As I look back at where I am in life and the many cycles of Plan A/B/C type of sin management I’ve engaged in, there’s portion of Proverbs 5 that now stings long and deep. Proverbs 5:5-14 gives a picture of a man who spurns and goes a way that seems right unto him and hooks up with a woman that are not fit for our King’s men. While Prov. 5 also speaks of adultery, I need not explain to you the obvious: an adulteress is hardly the only type of woman forbidden to God’s men, right? Right. Seeing no need to play games dancing around that obvious point, let’s hear from the LORD:

          5 Her feet go down to death;
          her WAYS WANDER, and she DOES NOT KNOW IT.
          7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
          and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
          and do not go near the door of her house,
          9 lest you give your honor to others
          and your years to the merciless,
          10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
          and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
          11 and at the end of your life you groan,
          when your flesh and body are consumed,
          12 and you say, “How I HATED DISCIPLINE,
          14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
          in the assembled congregation.”

          Clearly here God is speaking of a woman who “does not ponder the path of life” and is quite literally following the “path to Sheol” (death, hell, destruction). That description of the woman in view of Prov. 5 should arrest your heart, as no better description could be made of a Christ-rejecting unbeliever. Prov. 5 speaks of a woman that is obviously enticing to the man, as your unsaved girlfriend is to you.

          Then again, you can ignore all this, Jason. You can render as vain my efforts and prayers here, and you can bet your life on it that by doing so you, too, will some day — maybe decades from now — be sitting somewhere silently wailing the laments echoed in vvs. 12-14. But my hope and efforts here are my attempt to reach you to repent fully, completely and seek restoration and correction before that happens.

          I really hope and pray that this all gives you cause for more than just “relfection” (as you say) but action. You know what you need to do, and the harder it is to do it just speaks all the louder. But you know what you need to do, bro. Since Christ gave up the throne He deserves to come to earth to die for us, we have no other Christ-honoring option than to give up our idols can cast off every hindrance to follow Him. Go, Jason, do what you know you need to do, and know that we here love you and are praying for you, as Christ is interceding for the saints.

        • Donny Coach

          Jason D…
          To me there’s a world of difference in “believing” one has an authentic relationship with Jesus and HAVING an authentic relationship with Jesus, of course MINUS the childish and “miraculous” biblical accounts of him which must include the Christian beliefs and dogma.
          And so I claim I do have an authentic relationship with Jesus because of what he said. And instead of “believing” his words and story…I THINK he was most correct and glorified by his instruction as to finding God within each of us.’s not an opinion, it’s an EXPERIENCE which is mine alone.
          Lastly…In the words of the brilliant Ken Wilber…”To “believe” that God is within us, is to miss the point entirely!”
          DonnyR (Life Coach)

  • MzEllen

    Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

  • Jason D

    The church of Corinth was made up of ex-fornicators, ex-idolaters, ex-adulterers, ex-homosexuals, ex-thieves, and ex-drunkards. I think the lesson we can take away from Corinth is that it’s BEST if we marry another genuine godly person. Those people can be extremely rare. Especially when you factor in other issues of compatibility as well.

    Here’s an example for you. I live in an extremely small village. There is only 5 other single girls available. I don’t have the internet so can’t do internet dating. There is one Jewish girl, one non believer girl, one Christian girl, one atheist girl and one mormon girl. The Christian girl is completely incompatible with me on a number of levels. Are you telling me that I am biblical prohibited from considering dating the jewish girl or the non-believer? Am I bound to only marry the Christian girl or face the torments of hell. Please enlighten me…

    • Odette

      FYI – “Mormom” = Christian. People called “Mormon” belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Book of Mormon, from which the nickname “Mormon” is taken, if fully entitled “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ”. As you can see, a “Mormon’s” faith centers on Christ, therefore they are also Christian. The only difference I see between ‘Mormon” christians and other faith Christians is that Mormons believe that God (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy ghost are three separate beings, but are one in purpose).

      For what it’s worth, the Mormon girl would only consider marrying other Christians if they agreed to Baptism and temple marriage, for “time and all eternity”, not “until death do us part”. (Oh, and there are many ‘branches’ of Mormonism, just like other Christian churches. The ‘popular’ belief that they practice plural marriage is only actually practised by some ‘excommunicated’ branches. The largest ‘Mormon’ church does not practice polygamy – we are God fearing Christians and, for the record, agree that marrying non-Christians (in fact we go further and say non-Mormon Christians) is a difficult path to travel. Choosing to do so means you cannot marry in the temple and, though you can marry, you can only marry ’til death do you part’. So, you can understand that the agency to marry outside of the church is not removed, however the blessings of obedience are not able to be enjoyed.

      • MzEllen

        “The only difference I see between ‘Mormon” christians and other faith Christians is that Mormons believe that God (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy ghost are three separate beings, but are one in purpose).”

        Okay, you deny the doctrine of the Trinity.

        what about there only being one God?

        (“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people in it.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, pg 308.)

        That the Father is a spirit?

        (D & C 130:22 “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also.”)

        That Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers?

        That Jesus’ father was Adam?

        • BTH

          Thank you.

          By the way, it’s not a value judgment to say Mormons aren’t Christians. It’s merely a factual statement. I know many Mormons, almost all of them hard-working, upright people. That doesn’t make them Christians.

          • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

            Exactly what Jesus would say, right BTH? By the way, was Jesus a Christian? I heard he was a Jew! Imagine that! I guess it’s just that New Age nonsense, right?

        • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

          That’s absolutely astounding! Where in the world do you get this stuff?

  • Jason D

    If we aren’t even supposed to consider dating an unbeliever wouldn’t have Paul attached an addition to 1 Cor. 7:12-16 that says we shouldn’t have done it in the first place? On the contrary it says, For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.

    • MzEllen

      This has gone to the ridiculous.

  • Jason D

    I’m actually very familiar with Mormonism. Grew up with many of them. Nice people but greatly in error when it comes to God and truth. Mormonism completely redefines the bible according to the prophecy of a teenager, which came 1,800 years after the bible. The key word in your description is “another”. You can read from from the New Testament many times that the bible was complete as is. Nothing is to be added or taken away and not to listen to any “prophet” who speaks contrary to that. The bible speaks about not listening to ANYONE, angel or human, who preach anything contrary to the sound doctrine of the bible. Take a closer look at Galatians 1:6-9 and ask yourself who Joseph Smith was really receiving prophecy from. If you even do basic research, and compare the truth of the bible vs. Mormonism it can be clearly seen to be a counterfeit. I’m sorry to be so harsh but I suggest you stay away from that church. There is no salvation to be found there…

  • Anonymous

    Jason D… as in Jason D’Souza?

    • Anonymous

      The fact that you did not answer the question, but still commented elsewhere would lead me to believe the answer is yes. In that case, I DO NOT think that you should be talking about how women should submit or about how a Christian should conduct themselves when you have gone around threatening the lives of Christian women and have shown no remorse. This man has literally left messages threatening to “do what he has to do, even if it means going to jail forever” to try to use aggression as a means of forcing a woman into marriage.

      • Phil

        Um… Do you NOT see the irony of posting as “Anonymous” and then demanding someone’s real name?!?! I wouldn’t answer you either!

        Besides, I’m sure there are zillions of Internet users named “Jason” with a last name beginning with “D.”

        Take a chill pill.

        • Anonymous

          I read through the comments and from the things he has said about his childhood and other comments, it sounds very similar to the man that I am referring to. If it is the man that I am referring to, he has, on numerous occasions, shown up at the home of a single Christian woman who has no protection uninvited. He has left voicemails yelling at the answering machine threatening to do whatever he has to do. It’s really demented because he grew up as a missionary and she trusted that he was walking with the Lord, only to find out that he had done time in jail and was not afraid to go back. He acted like a man of God in front of the church, but as soon as he stepped out of the door, he had NO boundaries and, rather than protecting women, tried to aggressively corner them when he did not get his way. If you were me, you would be anonymous too… just in case it was him.

  • Robert

    I’m a Methodist preacher, my wife is a devout Muslim; we’ve been married for sixteen years. I couldn’t disagree more; faith is about a relationship with God, not one with a religious tradition. It’s the same God. Obviously, we have specific differences, but there are enormous areas we agree on. We have as many rows as anyone else, but there’s one thing we’ve never needed to quarrel over; religion. That’s not because we’re lukewarm either. Obviously, whether it’s going to work or not depends on the individuals involved. If they’ve got the sense to respect their differences, and recognise that under all that, they have very similar understandings of God – I can only spreak for Christianity and Islam here – then there shouldn’t be a problem.

    • BTH

      Being that you’re a Methodist preacher, I’m going to assume, for the sake of argument at least, that you’re mature in your Walk with Christ, the incarnate Word, the Redeemer of mankind. That being the case, how is it that you can rationalize being yoked for life with someone who has totally rejected the divinity of Christ and has also rejected the New Covenant for which the Son of Man paid a price that as humans we can’t even begin to fully comprehend? It’s one thing to have differences over peripheral points of theology and what in many cases amount to squabbling over the man-made ballast of religion, but there are some differences so elemental that they simply cannot be papered over or reconciled for someone who is totally sold out for Christ, and this would definitely be one of them.

      You’re married to whom you’re married, and no one would suggest that you should leave your wife because she has rejected Christ for who He is: God himself. What I find stunning rather is, unlike others who made this potentially and often times ruinous mistake in rebellion against the Word of God, you’re seemingly abetting those who are on the precipice of falling into the spiritual abyss of being yoked with an unbeliever for life. Especially coming from a Christian minister, I find it utterly astonishing.

      • Robert

        Maybe you do, but having experienced it, I don’t. Your understanding of the faith is doubtless rather different from mine, and I wouldn’t swap places. I was somewhere around where you probably are once, a quarter of a century ago, but conservative Protestant religion didn’t work for me, so I moved on. I got to know people from other cultures and faiths, discovered that the differences were much less than I’d been told, and the things we had in common were much greater. All it really takes is the will to make it work, and a lot of persistance.

        I don’t see that as being so different from any other marriage. Many Christians are married to unbelievers, and make a go of it anyway. I’m married to a believer, of a slightly different sort, that’s all.

        • Les

          Slight differences?
          Koran, Shakir translation:
          sura The Woman v 157 “And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.”

          sura The Woman v171 “O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.”

          • Phil

            Folks, please quit taking Robert’s flame war bait, m’kay? His post and claims were outlandish enough to be obvious on the face of it. Not all polemics are a worthwhile pursuit. [2 Timothy 2:23]. Let it go.

      • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

        The spiritual abyss? Don’t you mean the “religious” abyss (aka, the mythical fear of hell that you folks employ) and completely against was Jesus stood for.
        I don’t need to be a Christian to know who Jesus was BTH. Too bad you don’t! All you got is beliefs, beliefs, beliefs! No beliefs or superstitions…no Christianity! But no truth for sure!

    • A Concerned Atheist

      Thank you for this post, Robert. This is precisely what I am talking about. Something as logical as your statement has gathered a riot of ridiculous, chest puffing tantrums. With most Christians, it’s their war or the highway. If you don’t marry someone of the same sect of religion as you, someone who will throw money at the same church, well it’s off to hell with you, damn you. Christians seeks for the destruction of the individual.

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  • Scott

    There is a profound difference between marrying someone you think is a fellow sheep and who turns out to be a goat (or even a wolf!) and consciously marrying someone who does not profess your faith. We’re all vulnerable to being deceived, and those marriages are indeed heartbreaking. But consciously entered into arrangements are in no ways similar.

    In the former example, yes the Christian is called to stay in the marriage as long as the other spouse is willing. But it’s clearly not an optimal marriage state.

    In the latter example, if 2 Corinthians 6:14 has any meaning at all but doesn’t prohibit knowing believer and non-believer marital union, then what meaning does it have?

  • Jane

    Three men have proposed to me over the last ten years. All three were unbelievers. I used to have quite an active (and somewhat heedless) dating life!

    My dating was pretty innocent and guided by my understanding of the bible, so it wasn’t like there was a ton of sin involved (no fornication or sleepover parties), but I got to know men who did not share my beliefs because I didn’t want to be “bigoted” and they were fun, active guys with whom I had a lot in common–just not church stuff.

    With all three, we had a great year or two together but my church friends counseled me against the relationships. When the men proposed I had the same sort of heartrending drama three times. I turned each of them down because I couldn’t see spending a life with someone who didn’t believe in God. I come from an atheist family and already know very well how it is to be the only one who believes–and how it is to be made fun of for one’s beliefs.

    Fast-forward to today, two years after the last proposal. After the last one, I decided I didn’t want to date someone who wasn’t Christian. Single Christian men are few and far between at my age, so my dating life has slowed substantially! But my three decisions have proven to be the right ones. I have kept up with all three men periodically. The first one is an unhappy alcoholic/workoholic (he is ten years older than me). The second is $130,000 in debt for student loans (he never finished his degree) and credit card debt. He’s unemployed. The third is in prison.

    Oh, Lord. I’ve dated some lulus, huh? They seemed nice at the time…if it wasn’t for my dear church family I would be in a terribly unhappy marriage now. As it is, I’m single and not thrilled about it, but it’s a darn sight better than what might have been. God’s word protects us from ourselves! There’s a good chance I just have truly awful discernment and only attract weirdos and neerdowells. But at least I’m not married to any of them, and am totally free to serve in my church and in the world just as God leads me.

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  • BereanP

    My dad always told us kids ” it’s just as easy to fall in love with a Believer as it is an unbeliever, don’t date unbelievers, because you never know who you are going to fall in love with.” Wise words. Marriage between two Believers is hard enough; I cannot imagine dealing with sicknesses, raising our children in the ways of the Lord, or any of the other millions of things that come along within marriage, without a spouse whom I know seeks God first, prays for/ with me, understands true forgiveness..etc. I have so many friends and one sibling who’s struggle this now is, being unequally yoked. It is heartbreaking to watch, and endure with them. It is especially hard when you bring children into the mix. I agree with Kathy Keller’s thoughts on this. It is so sad to watch people being torn between/ away from what should be their first love ( Jesus)to that which is suppose to be their second. (spouse) @ Odette, Mormonism does not = Christianity. It is a cult, and pretty much denies/ changes all tenets of the Christian faith. Check out @Robert the Methodist pastor, seriously? The same God? Allah is not the same God of the Christian faith. That is just heresy

  • Raine

    Thank you for posting this. I have been married to an unbeliever for over 10 years now and it it lonely and heartbreaking. The irony is I was warned – I took a sociology of marriage course in a secular university and one of the biggest risk factors he gave for divorce or unhappiness was a marriage of mixed religious faiths.

    I should have taken that into account, and the verses about being unequally yoked, but we were already living together when I was converted and felt like it was “better” to hurry up and marry since we were already living like it. Realistically, I should have moved out and waited until I found a faithful Christian man to marry.

    For people out there considering marrying an unbeliever or thinking it will be different – don’t kid yourself, it won’t. You cannot have a happy, fulfilled marriage and spiritual life when the two most important people in your life (God a& your spouse ) are in direct conflict. It is horrible not being able to share spiritual things with my husband, and not being able to pray with him or ask him for prayer and spiritual support, and I am still waiting to see how it will affect my son to grow up without that support and guidance from his dad.

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  • Cam

    Granted, there are more women in church than men (makes me wonder why Kathy Keller’s son felt it necessary to look outside the church, I guess the unsaved women are a little more alluring)so I understand that some Christian women must remain single to obey Christ’s command. What churches are not addressing is the number of believing men in churches who are single and it’s not for the sake of the gospel, but just because they are too lazy to be bothered with a wife and family (especially the family). With most Christian counseling and Bible teachers today saying that masturbation is ok as long as it’s not compulsive, men who would otherwise have married in earlier generations are now finding enough physical relief alone to shirk their responsibilities to their sisters in Christ, God and society. Just my thoughts.

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  • The Space Pope

    It’s sad that people would ruin a good relationship because one of them believes in a fairy tale for which there is no evidence and which is based on a book full of contradictions and evil done in the name of and by the command of a lunatic deity.

    • BTH


      I hope no one is silly enough to take this flame bait.

      • The Space Pope

        Flame bait perhaps, but relevant nonetheless. This is one of the many instances in which faith is demonstrated to be harmful. Two people, who are otherwise very happy together, are divided because one of them clings to a wholly irrational belief. It’s sad that people are imprisoned by such irrationality, and sad that others enforce that irrationality.

      • http://n/a Donny Rothbardt

        Yawn! Yes, exactly! That’s exactly what Jesus’ followers were doing when he tried to show them truth…that God was “within” them. But like you, they’d rather BELIEVE that God’s “out there.” And they killed him for it. And you “followers” keep on killing “The Christ.” And I’m not talking about Jesus btw. Jesus is dead! Do you have any idea what or who “The Christ” means? I’d really love to know?…yawn included!

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  • Chris

    I must say I find this article quite offensive….Love is not bound by faith or beliefs, love is blind and absolute. No one should be able to tell someone who they can or cannot love. My wife is Catholic and I am Agnostic(I was raised Catholic). I do not deny her, her faith and we are raising our children as Catholic.

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  • James Payton

    Thank you very much for this piece; it is simple but extremely important. Having grown up in Africa before moving to North America, I was surprised by the thin line between the Christianity practiced in North America and the media culture of the West. That was never a problem in Africa (well, until now that the same media culture is taking over the continent) and there was a clear difference between a Christian and a non-Christian.

    I believe most Christians here run into trouble because they never quite understood the principles behind the “cities of refuge” in the old testament(Joshua 20). If a Christian chooses to stay within the safety of a true Christian marriage, there is a lot of safety in knowing that there is a voice that brings silence when the storms hit. The only assurance about marriage is that the storms will come. Your fate depends on who you have in the boat with you!

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  • rick

    My wife and I have been married for over 17 years. She has advanced in her Christian life and I have fallen behind. I am afraid that she is going to leave me. I don’t know if I can catch up to her. What do I do?

    • The Space Pope

      Either start catching up, or realize the falsehood of Christianity, which may then just leave you with a wife that is more mature than you are, assuming the ways in which she has advanced are generally accepted as good things. At least if you both realize this, then the pressure on her to find a more spiritually advanced man will diminish, or her dissatisfaction with her spiritually inferior husband will diminish, and your love for each other may be enough, as it should be. Or she may actually be more mature than you and decide that free of the pressure to remain in a failed marriage(if it is failed in a sense), she CAN now leave, instead of being forced by her faith to stay.

      Either way, it’s up to you to do whatever it takes to make it work, if that’s what you want. For some reason, you have resisted change of a spiritual kind. It’s likely because you know the belief system is not true. People tend not to act in accordance with things they don’t think are true. It’s up to you to figure out why you haven’t changed, whether it be a lack of genuine belief, or anything else. Whatever it is, no one knows any better than you do what it may be. Once you know why, only then will you know how to fix it, or if it even needs fixing.

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  • Ping

    I often wonder what Eve was thinking when the serpent tempted her. She had everything a woman could ever dream of and yet the one thing that God asked her not to do, she did. Hence, the fall of man.

    This is similar to our marriages. God does know what is best for us. So if He tells us in the Bible that we should “not be yolked with non-believers,” then why do we challenge Him and actually marry them. I did and I am suffering.

    We have been married for 7 years with two amazing children (4 yo- daughter, 6 yo- son). We co-habitat on good days and co-exist for the sake of the children. I can’t say that we are devoid of love because that would be too extreme. The love of Jesus that I hold on so dearly is only one way. If I do something wrong or not to his liking, then I never get forgiveness or love in return. As a non-believer he doesn’t not have the grace of God to love unconditionally nor to forgive as the Lord forgave us. So it is a one-sided battle. As Christians we are constantly loving and forgiving each other because we know that we are sinners and fall short. But my husband is very intelligent and has little tolerance for stupidity or laziness. I am neither of the two, but am often left to feel that way.

    Needless to say, at this point, if I died I will not have thought that my husband “loved” me.

    I am raising the children as Christians and they are strong believers in their faith. They constantly are praying and are interested in learning about Jesus. They cry when they think that their dad might not go to heaven, they fear the idea of Revelations. They believe in heaven and want all of us to go there. They are so kind and good-hearted.

    Back to my marriage, I have a lot of people praying with me, fasting and praying with me, and sharing the gospel with my husband. I only have my faith and will continue on this journey, but it is not easy.

    Marriage is not easy, I know. But if you marry a Christian, then you are marrying a partner and maybe even a friend. My husband tells me that he did not marry me because I was the one he loved or the most beautiful to him or the best personality for him, but because I would make a good mother.

    For those of you considering marrying a non-believer, I highly recommend to wait. Wait until they choose to believe and accept Jesus into their hearts. Marriage is about love and forgiveness, how can we have either of the two without Jesus?

    • BTH

      Thanks for sharing your personal journey and your insights. You’ve provided many people with something critical to consider. In that regard, people grappling with this issue are richly blessed through your counsel. I’m praying for you.

    • Donny Rothbardt

      Ping, if your marriage is so stressful and lacking of love, why do you stay? As a professional Life Coach, i’d ask you what was it that had you marry this particular person? And why are you putting up with it now?
      Are you going to (irresponsibly) stay in a marrige that’s without love? With all due respect to you as a worthy human being, Christian or not,…are you being a martyr?
      I humbly suggest you stop complaining, take responsibility (not blame or fault) for your life and take a resolute action of love.

  • sambo

    It’s amazing how you are full of yourself…it looks like you on direct line with God…
    maybe a bit of humility it will be Christian…don’t you think so!
    poor God having to be misinterpreted and misquoted by people like you…by the way have you ever disclosed what’s your mission’s monthly income…generating pretending that you are the all knowing righteous interpreter of God…
    let’s just say that we are lucky the God has more humility and gentleness than you have

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  • Dilemma

    I am in a relationship with a wonderful man but only to realize that he is a “Christian” from a different doctrine sect. The most wonderful and morally good man I have ever met (actually even more respectful and honest than any Christian brothers I have known). I am in a dilemma, should I proceed with our relationship (Oh, we started our relationship with the intent to get married). He is still searching and looking for truth, and I don’t want to mention which sect he is from but let’s say he is a born-in to a mind-controlling cult.
    Should I just dump him because of that? I was really in a dilemma but I made a prayer to God. That He has to intervene in our relationship, I won’t break up with my boyfriend but since He knows the heart of men, He will do something so that we’ll break-up in a peaceful ways. If no such thing happen, the marriage is on…
    This maybe my own folly but I do believe that God WILL do something despite my folly and “disobedience”.


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  • a believer

    It was nice reading your post…Now, my story is quite different.I am an Indian from a conservative Hindu family and I’m the only daughter for my parents.I have been in a relationship with a good Christian person for many years and he was instrumental in my salvation.After knowing him and accepting Christ, I was a secret Christian.When my parents saw a Hindu guy for me, I told them about my affair and confessed my faith in Christ to them. Ever since then, things at home have never been the same (In India, arranged marriages are widely practiced and love marriages are still looked down upon).My mom doesn’t speak to me and dad is also depressed. My dad doesn’t want me to marry him for the main reason-he is not a Hindu.He says my mind has been brainwashed and that’s why I have faith in Christianity.It has been nearly 2 years since the situation is continuing. Though his family supported our relationship mainly because of my faith, now they have come to the conclusion my dad wont get us married and have started searching a bride for him.I’m praying to God, He should change my parents’ hearts and bring them to salvation. But the problem in my affair is also taking a toll on my prayer life.My parents have been threatening me that if I marry him they will cut off their contact with me. But we too dont want to marry without our parents blessings and that was the main reason we were waiting for nearly 2 years expecting a mind change from their side. I am really scared to marry an unbeliever as I dont want to affect my spiritual life. I truly want to grow in Christ and live in a true Christian family. But my parents opposition is preventing this and I am also fed up of not being able to practice my faith freely and being in a house where I am not even allowed to pray to Christ openly.Also, I am forced to follow their beliefs many times which is so suffocating and hurting. I thought after my marriage to him I can lead a good spiritual life but he is also facing pressure from his family to marry another girl as it has been quite a long wait for me and his age is also advancing like mine.I really dont know what to do and my parents hardheartedness is pulling me down.

    • BTH

      a believer:

      Despite the adversity you’re facing, I thank God that through your relationship with this man, the light of Christ has reached your eyes and the Holy Spirit has put on your heart the truth of your Creator. No matter what happens with this man, you’ve already been redeemed for eternity by the mercy and grace God has bestowed upon you as a believer in right-standing with Him.

      As far as your current situation, I’m sure you’re praying for God to reveal His will for you and to order your steps. Please continue in that vein of prayer and take your petitions to Him as well. Maybe it is the will of God for you to be with this man or maybe it isn’t. I pray that God will make things clearer for you with time.

      As far as acceding to you parents’ desires to marry a Hindu (or any non-believer), pray that the Holy Spirit imbue you with the strength and wisdom to resist this seemingly easy way out of your predicament. It is a sure recipe for disaster and may bring you even more heartache than having a strained relationship with your parents. Read the counsel of many Christians here who have went down this dark path and have suffered immensely for disregarding God’s wisdom on this issue. As a believer, you’re commanded to honor your mother and father, but your first allegiance is to the one who created you and the world you live in. If you’re not in right-standing with the Creator, it doesn’t matter what your parents think or feel.

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  • ike

    I made a huge mistake and married a non christian. I deeply regret it as I’ve lost my walk with the Lord. I no longer pray, nor tithe nor go to church. I’ve become an alcoholic, and I need help on what to do. We have 1 kid together and I just wish we could divorce so I can find my way with the Lord, but then again God hates divorce which means Im stuck in this marriage. Please help with advice if you can, dont know where to turn to. thank you

  • Janne

    Dear All,

    After 12 long lonely years I married an unbeliever in April last year. It is the worst thing I could have done. Please don’t let desperation and loneliness rob you of you ability to discern. You are a child of the most high God. He desires only the best for you. Is an unbeliever God’s best? It doesn’t matter how nice or eligible the unbeliever is in the eyes of the world, they are NOT God’s best. Please allow the Holy Spirit to be the security guard at the door of your heart. If the name of the person you wish to enter into a marriage covenant with does not appear in the lamb’s book of life – do not let them in! My life now is full of misery. The man I married HATES God, the bible and church with a disturbingly ferocious passion. I cry most days mostly because I cannot believe what a ridiculous thing I’ve done. My husband and I sit in silence most evenings because we have nothing to talk about. We have nothing in common. I love God and he hates God. I haven’t been to church in such a long time but I really need Christian fellowship. My husband hid his hatred of God so well for the 2 years we were together before we married. Please don’t marry in the hope that the unbelieving person will get saved soon afterwards – it is too silly a gamble to take. I wouldn’t wish what I’m going through on anyone. Please take God seriously. When the word of God says that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, it is not a suggestion – it is a COMMANDMENT of love to keep us from pain and misery. May God bless you in the name of Jesus.

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  • Joe Bigliogo

    It never ceases to maze me the Christians who profess love of others are the very people demonstrating intolerance for those who believe differently. There is nothing more divisive and destructive of human relationships than religion. Most atheists would never be so dogmatic and odious to care about religious belief in a marital relationship. But since the dogma of religion will not tolerate dissent, it’s followers will be the ones who cannot stand having their partners believe something different than they.

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  • 041se7en

    Hi all,

    I just made a difficult decision to part with the man i love. He loves me for who I am – Christian and all. I love him for who he is – his flaws, his strengths. Yet, we both understand. that we love each other – we do not want to change anything about the other. I did not want him to convert for my sake. He does not want me to “be stuck” with him – and spending 3 or 4 years of my youth on him; and not marry cos he is an unbeliever.

    It was a difficult choice. Between my love for Jesus and my love for this wonderful man. Up till now, I am frankly – still pondering if it was right of me; to send away the man i so deeply loved.

  • Alexandra Adkins

    It *is* lonely at times–yet, I find no lonelier than my friends with “equally yoked” husbands. The Lord brought me to faith after marriage to a secular Jew–and though most in my very reformed church circle look at me askance, and quite fearfully (which is unbelievably more painful than any spiritual distance in my home) — I trust that the Lord’s timing indicates my sweet husband’s name is also in the Book of Life, he just doesn’t know it yet. He is, through trial and tribulation, in grace and mercy, the human embodiment of Christlike love. I am thankful that the Lord works in and through a diversity of circumstances–just as your own son’s balking was used to bring another daughter into the Kingdom. That is the mystery and beauty of our powerful God at work.

  • Lois

    My daughter is marrying a non-Christian in September.She saw how I struggled over 20 years with her dad who is not a Christian(he left because of me being to religious)I am heart-sick and don’t want to go to the wedding.Please…..tell me why I should bless something I feel is wrong!!!!

    • Kay

      My mother was saved at thirteen, but didn’t have much in the way of follow-up. As a result she wandered away for years. She met and married my father during that time. He was unsaved.

      When I was a little tyke, mom started taking me to church and she got things right. There was a lot of tension in the home because of it. Eventually, our pastor succeeded in winning my dad to the Lord.

      But even though my dad was saved, he was an immature Christian and has always lagged behind my mom in spiritual things. I watched my mom struggle for years, torn up because she felt all alone spiritually. Wishing, praying that my Dad would take up the spiritual leadership of the home. He never did.

      It’s a mixed bag. I don’t regret my dad being around. Even though my parents marriage hasn’t been storybook, they’ve still stuck together and get along and I love spending time with them. I know it wasn’t the best it could have been, but I’m glad my parents are my parents.

      Now I find myself involved with a religious man of another faith. It just kinda happened. We started off as friends and became more. Up until this point, I’ve been content to remain single. Now I’m rarin’ to go. I want to get on with it. But I’m *this* close to breaking it off and taking my chances. I don’t know if I’ll ever find another one like this guy. He’s simply awesome. But having seen my mom struggle for years with just a weaker Christian, I don’t think I want that for myself.

  • JC

    I’ve been raised in the church, quit going for many years but I LOVE the Lord and am ecstatic about his word–for those very reasons, I struggle to evaluate being a part of churches (anymore) which conveniently ignore virtually everything the Bible says about how the body of Christ is meant to interact which is found all over the New Testament. I enjoy interactions with people on an individual basis–including believers of course. I stand up for my faith and God’s word be it Christians whose respect for the word is questionable or all-out atheists. My faith is here to stay.

    I am rather interested in being married but my problem is that Christian subculture (again, its congruence with scripture is questionable in many, many ways) is manhater central. I think women seriously take for granted that, at the very least, these cultures care about their interests: an abusive husband? They’ll jump on top of him. Fantastic! But what if I’m stuck with a “contentious woman” whom Proverbs warns about *four separate times* that would make me wish I went out to the desert? If anything, I’ll expect that they’ll heap guilt on me in a situation like that–that’s the tune of Western culture. I see SO little in terms of women being held accountable for how they treat a man compared to the reverse. I don’t think God wants me to act in self-destruction. Yes, if it weren’t for that “unequally yoked” rule I’d take off to the East or certain parts of this side of the world and marry a woman who I thought was feminine and capable of being loving and respectful. A lot of Christian men say they’re happy in their marriages, I think they’ve been emasculated by their wives and feel guns at their heads to tell the world how happy they are.

    And really . . . the prevalent “gimme-gimme-gimme” attitude towards husbands these days probably says a lot about such women’s true attitude towards God regardless (the Body of Christ’s husband), so how “Christian” such women actually are, I’m not so sure. Call me crazy but I’ve met attractive women (and I don’t mean simply physically, but lovely mannerisms, like “quiet and gentle spirit” of 1 Peter 3) whose qualities seem naturally feminine compared to this place. I don’t think I’m all that hard to impress in the larger scope of the world.

    Sorry to sound cynical. I don’t mean to be obnoxious as I am genuinely DEEPLY distressed at the thought of being stuck within the Christian subculture and it makes me think that I’m much better off doing without altogether. I’ve grown up in churches but maybe there are parts of Christian culture that fare better–and I’d expect that they’d acknowledge the kinds of things that I observe (a VERY rare few really do).

  • Lina Aziz

    My name is Lina. I am a christian women who married non-Christian man.
    My children and I live in horror and abuse. I was forced to deny the Christ in public among many other things. but by God help I got out of this marriage. my five children and I claimed Jesus as our savior. I wrote my story in a book called Frozen Tears. I wish every man and woman would read it before they jeopardize their true faith.

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  • A Concerned Atheist

    I am really confused. Does this woman absolutely disregard 1 Corinthians 7:12-14? And is it not in the giving and taking of marriage that we grow stronger in ourselves? We are made to back up and strengthen our beliefs. If we can’t hold up to those beliefs, then are they really that important to us in the first place? Those who are swayed from their belief by a spouse, no matter how big or small, never really gave their all to that belief. If a Christian is allowing an atheist (or even more disappointing, vice versa) to change them of what should be core beliefs, then that person is weak willed and shouldn’t waste their time worrying about “should I marry a Christian since it’s goof for my soul”, because they have bigger problems than that.

  • Lonely Wife

    I stupidly put aside my Christianity at age 22 and decided that since my boyfriend believed in God, that was enough. We married and have three adult children now. He allowed me to take our children to church, and sometimes joined us on Christmas and Easter. All three children accepted Jesus at young ages. My husband has gone from agnostic to atheist within the past 3-4 years or so. He has mocked Christianity and posed so many of his skeptical questions in front of the kids that they all now reject God and say they don’t believe in Him either. This breaks my heart! Last Christmas, he and the kids stayed outside in the parking lot while I joined my brother and his wife for a Christmas Eve service. They are now unwilling to spend religious holidays with us. My husband looked up his high school girlfriend through Facebook last winter and had an emotional affair with her via texting and phone calls, and maybe even more that I don’t know about. He also just happened to run into another ex at a cemetery and met her there the following week with flowers, all while I was out of town working trade shows. He no longer wants sex, and has told me that he doesn’t want to hug or kiss either. I am incredibly lonely and only have my faith to hold onto. The pain is so bad that sometimes I think I’ll just shut off my desire to be close to him and just live my own life but stay married. I feel guilty because I know I don’t pray for him enough, but I have cried out to God many times, and get discouraged. It’s been 30 LONG years and he is further from God than ever. It’s been very hard to follow Jesus, so at times during our marriage, I did put my faith off to the side. I currently attend church, attend Bible studies and I read “Jesus Calling” devotionals just about every morning. However, I have not read the entire Bible and need to get into God’s Word more. I’m so discouraged! I hope that my story convinces those considering marrying a non-Christian that it is a HUGE mistake. I worry about my husband’s eternity all the time, and now I worry that my children are not really saved. I have never had the experience of praying with my husband… sad is that? IT IS NOT WORTH IT!!!!! Don’t even start a relationship with a non-believer. You will develop feelings for them that you cannot just turn off, and you’ll end up like me. I’ve had cancer twice and do you think that makes my husband get serious about eternity? NO!! He will need his own personal tragedy to bring him to his knees, if it ever happens at all. It’s pretty sad that I hope I die first, so I don’t have to live with the knowledge (and guilt) that he went to hell.

  • John

    It’s interesting, because the bible also says that its OK to marry a non-believer.

    1 Corinthians 7:12-14
    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: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

    And people say the bible doesn’t contradict itself….

    • Collin Hansen

      That passage says it’s okay to be married to an unbeliever, not to marry an unbeliever. You must account for situations where one spouse becomes a Christian after the wedding.

      • BT Haile

        Thank you, Collin. It’s saying you don’t abandon a spouse you’re already married to just because they’re an unbeliever. It doesn’t, however, condone entering such an ill-fated union to begin with!

      • Donny Coach

        Sounds like a contradiction to me. How is it ok to BE MARRIED to an unbeliever, if they weren’t a non-believer in the first place?

  • Andy Netherwood

    I was an unbeliever when I married my Christian wife. Through her love, example and prayer I came to faith.

    I’m so glad she ignored those well meaning, but actually rather pharasaic and unloving people who tried to stand in the way of both God’s plan for our lives.

    • Jeff Parsons

      Andy your comment doesn’t make sense. You were an unbeliever so weren’t those parasitic and unloving people just trying to get her to follow God’s word? Which according to my friends she ignored and thus sinned in order to marry you.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it worked out for you both, but it seems like your logic is flawed.

  • Donny

    Andy Netherwood…
    I’m happy for you that your marriage is going well. However, you sound a bit arrogant and smug in regards to those “pharasaic and unloving people who tried to stand in your way.”
    Really..Is that your new found Christian faith speaking?
    Donny (Life Coach)

  • Andy Netherwood

    Jeff, Donny, thank you for your comments. Forgive me if I offended you or came across as arrogant or smug. I certainly don’t feel arrogant, actually rather hurt at the assertion that my marriage – the second most important relationship in my life – is based on sin. I don’t agree with that interpretation of scripture but I don’t imagine we will agree on that in this life. Perhaps the only useful contribution I can make to this debate is to assure you that, by God’s grace, some marriages to unbelievers end happily.

  • Alida Gookin

    The website has a Bible Story about being unequally yoked. It is the story of Abigail and her marriage to Nabal. Please visit the website and enjoy the story, and the lesson associated with it.

  • Donny Coach

    Dear Alita Johnson,

    I just viewed your bible story web site. With all due respect to your religious beliefs,as long as it brings you peacefulness, after 81 years, I think organized religion is mankind’s greatest mis-take.

    Except for what Jesus said as to where to find God, within, (and I am not a Christian) it appears to me that religious beliefs, dogma and childish superstitions does just as much damage as good.

    To me Spirituality is the way. It includes all, while religions exclude.

    Nothing personal!

    Donny Rothbardt (Life Coach)
    Abington, PA

  • Jeremy

    I haven’t found any stories about christian men marrying non-christian women anywhere on the internet. Whether this is due to things working out, or this being a rare occurrence, I don’t know, but I’m going to share my dilemma and ask for advice.

    Let me start off by saying that I have never been a strong christian. Even though my whole family is made up of devout Christians, and despite my upbringing in a strong christian home, I have always been distant from the Lord; I have always been tempted by material sinful things. I have struggled with drug and pornography abuse for the past four years and was living a life full of sin. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and suppressed my guilt. Even now I am spiritually weak, and could barely call myself a christian.

    I am 18 and so is my girlfriend. We have been dating for a year and a couple months. We are so incredibly in love! She is the perfect girl: loving, caring, compassionate, gracious, respectful, she loves me for who I am and we never argue; basically the perfect wife in my eyes. The only problem is that she is a non-believer. We have had premarital sex, but that was not her fault, I was weak and desired it. She is extremely supportive and accepting of my beliefs Up until now, I brushed it aside, telling myself that things will be fine if we get married, that we can sort out any problems (raising kids, financial matters, etc…) by talking about them now and making a plan for our future. Just last week I told her I would marry her one day….. probably within 1 to 2 years from now (when we’re done college).

    Yesterday, after having a talk with my parents about my possible marriage to my girlfriend, it dawned on my that my salvation, and that of my future kids, might be compromised because of this. Even if we live together without fighting ever, or disagreeing on things, and even if by God’s grace my kids follow God, it would bring me great pain to see my beloved wife die without knowing God.

    I know the right thing to do is to just leave her now and not marry her, but I cannot bring myself to do it, nor do I want to. I love her with every fiber of my body and would love nothing more than to be with her. My Dad raised the point that even though I am weak now, that one day 5 or 10 years down the road, I might experience a spiritual revival that would ruin our marriage. I am torn between this girl I love so much, and my God that I have neglected.

    I know I will never find a christian girl like her. Yes I might find one that is close to God, but I will never find one that I am attracted to as much as I am to her, and that is what scares me; that I am leaving the (almost) perfect girl for a sub-almost perfect girl. I feel like I will be alone forever if I leave her now. We talked about this and it leaves her feeling inadequate, like she is worthless and not worth it, but I know she is.

    I know what I should do, but I would love to hear more from christian men that married non-christian women

    TLDR:I’m a christian guy, possibly marrying a non christian and would love to hear more stories of people in my situation, or that have gone through with the marriage.

    Thanks, Jeremy

    • BTH

      “My Dad raised the point that even though I am weak now, that one day 5 or 10 years down the road, I might experience a spiritual revival that would ruin our marriage.”

      Your father is a wise man. Take it from those who have been there and done that, this is NOT a road you want to go down. You’re 18, but if God gives you the years, you will realize what a mirage being “madly in love” is. It is an illusion, and it does not endure. Critical life decisions like who you marry should never be based on such fleeting sentiments, unless you want to bear a lifetime of regret, pain, and disappointment.

      Could she end up coming to know the Lord through her relationship with you and you yourself mature in your walk? Sure. The Lord has fashioned great instruments for His glory out of the people we would last imagine He would use. But that’s not to say you test God by doing that which His Word has commanded us not to do (becoming unequally yoked). That command isn’t for the purpose of robbing you of happiness but rather rooted in practical considerations that will actually spare you alot of agony later.

      “I know the right thing to do is to just leave her now and not marry her, but I cannot bring myself to do it, nor do I want to.”

      Who says you have to right now? You’re only EIGHTEEN, my young brother. I’d contend that you are young enough and have several years ahead of you before you should seriously contemplate marriage. My maturity and perspectives between 18 and 25 were vastly different from where they are now at 37. If I married any of the women I dated at 18 or 20, we’d probably be divorced by now based on the nature of those women and where I am in my walk today. I’m not necessarily saying wait until you’re 30, but you could stand to pump the brakes on the marriage thing (with anyone) at this point. Now don’t take that to mean that I’m advising that you squander many years trying to figure out if this particular girl will be where she needs to be spiritually while potential Christian mates become unavailable to you by marrying other men. I’m just saying you have more time than you may think you do with her (or anyone else).

    • Been There

      I know that you specifically asked for the opinions of other men, specifically those who had already taken the steps that you’re considering. I’m a woman who married an unequally yoked man, but I wanted to pose a few things to you.

      I did NOT grow up in a Christian home. I lived my life in sin. I ended up pregnant and had my first child at twenty, unwed. I left her father when she was one. Shortly after that I found God, but I was such a “baby” Christian that I married another man unequally yoked.

      When I had my daughter (before I had come to the Lord) my life changed dramatically. I realized that I didn’t want her to live the life that I had lived. Without having come to God, it straightened a lot of sinful ways out of my life. It caused me to grow-up in an immense way.

      Now, I bring this up to you so you can consider it in your own story. Let’s say that you do marry her. How are things going to change when you have children? You sound like you want to raise them in the faith. Are you going to want to start reading the bible together? Are you going to want to pray over your children with her at night? Are you going to want to start going to church?

      Now, I told you about how after I had my daughter I married another man who was unequally yoked… He has actually come to the Lord now (after adultery with 10 different women, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental/physical abuse, and a lot of tears from both myself and my children). Many other women now tell me how lucky I am to have a husband as involved and caring as him. He has honestly grown into a great man and his heart is to do right now. However, I grew VERY close to the Lord through all the heartache and we are STILL very unequally yoked. I have STRONGER convictions than he does. I would rather have more interaction with the kids, than have them watch a lot of t.v. He doesn’t really think it’s a problem. There are certain movies I don’t think are appropriate for them to watch. He wonders why. When things go wrong in their lives, I’m quick to turn it into a lesson and pray with them over it. He isn’t so much. I believe in building our treasures in heaven. He has caused debt for us by wanting the biggest and the newest when it comes out. His mind is just generally more “here” on earth, while mine in usually more “there” in heaven.

      These are all more issues to take into account in the event you get married. Even if she does come to the Lord, will you be running at the same pace toward Him? If she doesn’t come to God at all, it will be as if you’re running in different directions.

      You seem like you do want to have a Godly marriage, and like you want to raise your children in the faith. If that is the case, why wait? You’re growing up now. You’re becoming a man. The ability to enter a marriage and to have children is real now. Make your faith real now. Chase after God with all you have and develop yourself now into the husband and father you’d want to be. It will also be the fastest and most reliant way to see if your girlfriend would be along for that kind of ride. If God tells you to leave her, leave her. If He has it for you, He will bring you back together. You may even inspire her NOW to begin seeking God. Maybe say to her that you know you’ve put a lot of pressure on her shoulders with the whole “God thing”, but that you love her immensely. Say you love her more than the way you’ve been treating her. So you think you should stop the relationship, and start over again, but the right way. Tell her you want to start going to church and you’d like her to come too. Then, if she DOES find God, you can have a relationship with her, with God’s blessings upon it. If she DOESN’T find God, you have to trust that God loves you. He will not ever leave you, nor forsake you. He will prosper you, and not harm you. He wants what is best for you. He made every single human on the face of this earth, including your girlfriend. The maker of each and every one of us is fully capable of blessing you even greater than with her… but place that in His hands, rather than carry that burden. It’s a pretty tall order for you, anyways.

      Don’t wait for tomorrow. Don’t wait for marriage. Don’t wait for children. Tomorrow IS NOT promised. If you’re going to do this, do it.

  • Nicole

    I am very sad to see just how closed minded people are being about this situation. My mother was raised Roman Catholic by nuns in Northern Quebec. My father was raised in New Brunswick with no beliefs in God. My mother had married another Catholic man when she was 17 and he was the worst kind of person out there. He would beat her and caused her to suffer a miscarriage. She had 2 kids with him one when she was 20 and another when she was 22. She left him on her 27th birthday.

    She met my Father who was a police officer when he was called to handle a disturbance at her apartment, her ex had shown up to get revenge. They got married 8 years before I was born, and yes I was also raised Roman Catholic. My dad came to my baptism and first communion as well as my confirmation. I am actually glad he didn’t become a Catholic, I left the faith years ago, the people who go there are just too closed minded for me to talk to.
    And no, this had nothing to do with my parents and the different religious beliefs. This was me accepting that I was made for more than just following blindly. There is more than just a male divinity, otherwise where does life come from? The priests could not answer that.

    That being said it is not fair to try and come between 2 people who love each other. Let them sort things out for themselves. It is no one’s job to do this for them.

  • Donny Coach

    Sounds like you can speak for yourself…and that’s refreshing in today’s world. OTOH, and with all due respect to religious “believers,” after attaining the wonderfully ripe age of 81, and calling on all those wonderful years of experience, I suggest that you and I are as Divine as Jesus was…and personally, I’m convinced that’s what he wanted us to know…above all.
    Even though I’m not a Christian (I’m spiritual, not religious), when Jesus said that God was within each of us, that was enough for me. My search for the God we all seek, was over. Now I don’t “believe” God is within me (and you), I KNOW it’s so. And gone too is the “burden” of the need to “believe!” A Freedom!
    As a long time Life Coach and Relationships counselor, I maintain if you love yourself, you’ll love others. OTOH, If you dislike (or hate) yourself, you’ll dislike or hate others.
    May you realize that God is with you always and you’ll never be lonely or alone,
    Love to you,
    DonnyR (life Coach)

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  • Isabelle Blake

    I am a non believer and allowed a Christian to convince me our marriage would work. I had doubts in the beginning and even more doubts later on. It’s interesting most of these views shared on here are for the Christian being lonely and feeling alone and NOT the non believing spouse. Kinda typical though….not a lot of compassion or empathy for the non believer.

    My reason for feeling lonely was not due to his involvement in church, bible studies, or prayer. I had numerous hobbies of my own I was involved in and considered his Christianity a hobby to him.

    My issues really arose from his self described clarity in assuming he knew who went to hell. We attended a funeral of a friend who was a Jew and had suffered lengthy with cancer. After the funeral my then husband turned to me and said ” it’s sad Bart isn’t in heaven with my savior” I just looked at him and felt a sense of absolute no respect for this man. The arrogance, self righteous, holier than thou, unkind OPINION at such a time was too much to bear.

    His family was very much the same. They had no respect for anyone who had come to a different conclusion about a god then they had. Name calling, threats of hell, attacks on ” moral and core values ” of those who didn’t believe as they did.

    I felt like I was living in a cesspool of spewed hatred and contempt for myself and my 18 year old non theists daughter.

    There’s something very unnatural and almost sinister about having an intimate relationship with a person who actually believes in a hell and that thinks anyone goes to such a place. That is a lonely feeling.

    For me, I would never date or be close friends with a Christian because I feel they are the ones blinded to a lie that has been perpetrated on mankind for far too long.

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