555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

362. Does God Approve of the Marriage of an Unbeliever to a Believer?

The whole question at issue is fully and fearlessly discussed in II Cor. 6:14-18. This is Paul's interpretation and it stands good today as a general rule of Christian conduct. Nevertheless, we are not to judge those who may ignore the injunction, for in I Cor. 7:14, the apostle shows how such a union may after all accomplish beneficent results. From this verse to chapter 7:1, inclusive, the apostle seems to forbid too much social intercourse generally with idolatrous and heathenish people, rather than to have in view the marriage relation especially. In I Cor. 7:12-16, separation from the unbelieving husband or wife is discountenanced, because the believing spouse may be able to sanctify—that is, make holy—the unregenerate mate, and may effect conversion to salvation. In the same chapter and other passages of the apostolic writings marriage is encouraged without any restrictions. In Gal. 5:1, and Acts 15:10, the word "yoke" is used in a somewhat similar connection to that supposed to contain the implied prohibition. In Phil. 4:3, Paul addresses some unknown individual as "yoke-fellow," and it is quite certain he does not mean his wife. But if it is admitted that the text cited prohibits intermarriage between Christians and unbelievers, it must be construed with reference to the conditions of sensual idolatry universally prevailing at that period in the city of Corinth. Paul was addressing a small community of Christians in a very large heathen city, and it is as if we should advise Christians in China and India not to intermarry with Buddhists and Mohammedans, only more aggravated.