I’ll never forget the day a Christian woman in our church asked me to perform her wedding ceremony. After some conversation, I discovered her fiance wasn’t a Christian.
(Photo by gcardinal from Norway, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
“Why would you marry an unbeliever,” I asked her, “when God’s Word says you can’t?”
“Well, I prayed about it,” she answered, “and I feel like it’s okay.”
“You didn’t need to pray. You can be certain it isn’t God’s will.”
It was a short conversation.
God’s will for you will never contradict God’s Word. You don’t even need to pray about it. (Tweet that.)
The Reasons Marriage is a Major Decision
Marriage has a tremendous influence on the spiritual life.
- When a believer marries an unbeliever, the believer must tolerate beliefs, habits, and passions that are contrary to the Bible.
- Eventually, that toleration can lead to spiritual compromise . . . or, worse, to spiritual collapse.
- The danger is real. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we follow God’s prescription.
In the Old Testament, God regularly warned His people against intermarriage with foreigners: “For they will turn your sons away from following Me” (Deuteronomy 7:4; see also Exodus 34:12–17). And because the kings of Israel would lead by example, the Lord prohibited them from marrying wives who would turn their hearts away from a relationship with God (Deuteronomy 17:17).
God had nothing against foreigners per se, but often a foreign spouse brought along a belief in a foreign god.
Wise Solomon Laid an Egg
King Solomon literally wrote the book on wisdom. And yet, he behaved so foolishly in the realm of matrimony! How? It started with a small compromise: “Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt” (1 Kings 3:1).
Solomon’s marriage to an unbeliever was an attempt to buy national security for the price of a wedding.
This small sin opened a crack in Solomon’s heart that eventually divided it. Eight chapters later we read what seems inconceivable:
Solomon had “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away” (1 Kings 11:3).
That wasn’t a typo. Just do the math: 700 + 300 = 1000 women.
- How could Solomon even remember 1000 women? (Maybe nametags? “Hello, my name is . . .”)
- What’s worse, he let his wives worship their gods in the land of the true God. It wasn’t long before Solomon joined in and compromised his relationship with God (1 Kings 11:1-8).
- The king should have seen disaster coming. Even Solomon’s own poetry warned of guarding one’s heart and dealing with sin while it’s small (Proverbs 4:23; 17:14; 24:33–34; Ecclesiastes 10:18; Song of Solomon 2:15).
Solomon never started out to worship pagan gods. But the crack that divided Solomon’s heart would ultimately divide his nation, destroy God’s temple, and deport the Hebrews into exile (Nehemiah 13:26).
And it all began with a marriage to a foreign woman . . . that led to more unbelieving wives . . . and then to a divided relationship with God.
3 Truths to Consider Before You Get Married
God’s standards haven’t changed for Christians.
- The New Testament reiterates that a Christian should only marry (or remarry) a believer—one who can bear the weight of a life of faith (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14).
- It’s important that a believer marry someone of character with the same convictions for ministry and goals for life. We can be unequally yoked, even as believers.
- Your spouse’s spiritual life will affect your relationship with God, as well as that of your children (Psalm 128:3-4; 1 Corinthians 7:14).
God knows that a spouse can influence the heart of his or her mate. His commands are given for our good.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “The Wives of Solomon: Turning the Heart of a Spouse,” The Wise and the Wild: 30 Devotions on Women of the Bible (IFL Publishing House: Plano, TX, 2010), 55-56.