“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
If we are a believer in God and His son, Jesus Christ, we are told by God in His Word, the Bible, to not marry unbelievers. But why? Short answer – your foundations will be completely different, and every action and decision made will begin from different starting points. From the very beginning you will already be divided and as one person matures in Christ and the other does not, that divide will only widen. One person wants to attend church. The other does not. One wants to teach the children about Jesus. The other does not. One wants to tithe to the Church. The other does not. Not only will you not have any spiritual bond with that person, but this divide will impact every other bond as well. Relational and Emotional bonds. And ultimately physical bonds as well.
Do not marry someone to change them. A nonbeliever may be hard to resist, but use the power of Jesus to resist the temptation. Once you know they are not a believer, run like Joseph when tempted by Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. Do not develop a romantic relationship with them – move on. It will only get harder later to end the relationship.
When my husband and I got married 15 years ago, my husband was a believer and I was not. We dated for 2 years and were engaged for about 6 months. During that time we had many conversations about the Christian Faith, read books, attended church together a few times, etc. But I did not give my life to Christ until later. We do not recommend this method. Sam’s father advised him not to marry me. Sam felt I was close to becoming a believer so he decided to take the risk. As a mother, I see that Sam’s actions at the time were VERY RISKY and possibly foolish. He was not a strong believer at the time. As parents, we have been teaching our children from the beginning that the person they marry needs to love Jesus as much as they do. Jesus needs to be number one in the marriage.
I look back at the early years of our marriage and can see several areas that suffered from the beginning because we were unequally yoked. Sam made it clear in the beginning that once we found a church, that he would want to tithe 10% of our income regularly. Say WHAT?! 10%? Regularly?? I had never seen this modeled in my home as a kid (though when I attended Catholic Mass with my grandparents, I did see my grandfather tithe). And since I was not a believer, I thought this was CRAZY! I was not onboard with it. Even after I became a believer and we eventually started to attend a Christian church regularly, it took us a while to put God first in our finances (that is a whole different blog!)
As a nonbeliever, whenever I thought about church and serving at church, it sounded so exhausting to me. Just the thought of having to expend any energy – even baking something for a potluck- felt like more than I wanted to give. If the time had come where Sam wanted to attend church before I was a believer, I can see where that could have really divided us – especially if he wanted to start serving somewhere, and I did not. I could see where resentment would likely build.
Other problems that can come up with dating a nonbeliever – sexual sins. One person wants to wait until marriage. The other does not. It is likely the temptation will be too great and the couple will fall into sexual sin. And you can never get that purity back. A great resource on purity or recovering from sexual sin is:
The book of Malachi, chapter 2 says a great deal about unequally yoked marriages:
“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?
11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty.
13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth.You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.
15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.
16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.
So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.”
If you are in an unequal marriage, there is hope! Check out these resources by authors Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller:
In all things, seek God through prayer and Bible study for His will! Seek God before you make any lifelong commitments like marriage.
“15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
“5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
“5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
“11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Seek God’s will in every decision and trust His plan for you! He loves you and knows what is best for your life.