Marriage to an Unbeliever

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Question: That a Christian is bound to abstain from marriage with an unbeliever is self-evident. But if the evil is done, what does scripture lay down as its remedy, or right dealing with it? F. F.
Answer: The word of the Lord enjoins (Heb. 13:44Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)), “Let marriage be honorable in all things,” a very different thing from the A. V. which makes it a necessarily dignified status for any and everybody. It is a solemn exhortation that nothing should be done in the relationship inconsistent with its holy and intimate character, as well as implying honor due to the relationship in itself and in every way. For Christians 1 Cor. 7:3939The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39) guards the limits of “will” with that sole worthy principle, “only in the Lord.” The immediate application is to a widow marrying again; but it would be absurd to restrict it to her, or to doubt that it equally applies to any Christian woman or man.
On the other hand the same chapter shows that a brother might have an unbelieving wife, as a sister an unbelieving husband, as is not infrequently the fact now as of old; and it deals with the case with the grace of the gospel in vers. 12, 13. In contrast with the rigor of the law, wherein separation was imperative if a Jew had taken a Gentile wife, “let him,” or her, “not leave;” as the children too were not “unclean,” but “holy.” Neither laxity nor bondage characterizes the gospel. if the unbeliever left, let him (or her): a brother or sister is not under bondage in such things; but God has called us in peace. What did each believer in the case know whether he or she should save the other? Clearly not a word anywhere sanctions contracting mixed marriage; but neither does the word prescribe putting away an offender. It is too often forgotten that godly discipline as revealed in the scriptures covers a great variety of dealing, and that not a little censure due to the Lord’s honor should be as the general rule before a case ought to be before the assembly. So, even when that last resort here below is reached, rebuke has its just place no less than excision. It is deplorable when one or two rash men, and mistaken followers, see nothing but the assembly for every fault, and nothing but its extreme action. They are evidently far from spiritual, and in spirit rather Jews than Christians, though even that is morally better than laxity and lawlessness.