Should a Christian marry a non-Christian?
“Of course not,” is the answer. “The Bible commands us to not be ‘unequally yoked with an unbeliever.'”
But is that really what it says? That a Christian can’t marry a non-Christian? It’s no great secret or surprise that we get many things about scripture wrong.
– The American South believed it endorsed slavery.
– The Neo-Reformed believe it says God both wills and causes people to sin.
– Many conservative Christians think it says women can’t be pastors or teachers (over adult men at least).
And whatever your view on these topics, the fact is we don’t understand everything in scripture, and we never will. And the fact is, we’ve gotten some things wrong in the past.
And I believe we’re misapplying 2 Corinthians 6:14 by having it very narrowly only mean marriage. In fact, it’s not only misapplying, but hypocritically applying it, which is worse.
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Cor. 6:14
This is a well-known command from Paul, and most Christians hear it from their parents or teachers when they reach dating age. And universally the only issue of life and faith this passage is applied to is that of relationships and marriage.
And yet, Paul nowhere mentions marriage in this chapter of 2 Corinthians, or even in the whole book for that matter. But he does talk about idolatry, the worshiping of other gods (and in his day and culture, there were temples to gods like Zeus, Athena, Baal, and etc.).
In a very general way we can see how this verse applies to marriage, but why do we hypocritically not apply it to:
– A Christian business person partnering with (or even working for) a non-Christian business person, where contracts and legal agreements are involved?
– Christians and non-Christians living together as roommates?
– Christians taking each other to court before non-Christian judges?
– Christian and non-Christian students working on assignments together, or Christian students having non-Christian teachers?
– Christians playing sports, or coaching kid’s sports, which include non-Christian players and parents?
– Christians having non-Christian close friends?
Because Paul doesn’t specifically apply his command to marriage, we are wrong to do so ourselves. In fact, we often laud those Christians who pursue the modern idols of fame and money – we call them megachurch pastors.
Now, my point is not to say that it’s okay for Christians to marry non-Christians; in fact, I believe the Bible universally points to that being a really bad idea and I would advise any Jesus-follower against it (just look at Solomon and his many wives).
However, I also believe that so narrowly applying this passage is also wrong and hypocritical,and in fact, none of the reputable commentaries limit it’s meaning to only marriage either, and some don’t bring it up at all.
Whether we claim to take the Bible seriously or believe it is the inerrant word of God, we must not put our interpretations above what the text actually says.