Question:

Hello,

By the grace of God, I am saved and was baptized last year. And by His mercy, I am able to continue the race that is set before me with patience. Before my salvation I made a promise to a girl that I would marry her. At that time I was hurting from a recent break-up and accepted the proposal of a girl who loved me. I liked her company a lot and I freely shared everything with her over the phone. After some months passed I promised her that I would marry her in future no matter what.

But that was a year before my conversion. My priorities are different now. They changed from being worldly to being spiritual. As a result, I am not satisfied with her now.

Now I'm confused at what to do. Must I keep the promise and keep up with the relationship? Or just ignore it as a bad dream?

Please help.


Answer:

While marrying a non-Christian is generally not recommended because it can pull a Christian away from God (I Corinthians 15:33), there is no requirement that a Christian cannot marry a non-Christian (I Corinthians 7:12-15). The fact that you became a Christian, by itself, is not a good reason for changing your mind about marrying this woman.

The reason we have engagement periods is because we do not want to rush into the serious business of marrying another person. Often it is only after you seriously commit yourself to a person that you begin to see who they truly are. To continue down the road of marriage to a person you can see you won't get along with is foolishness. When couples tell each other that they desire to marry one another, there is the implication that until the actual vows are made there is opportunity to change your mind if important reasons are discovered. One should not promise to marry another when they have no intentions of going through with it -- that would be lying. They should not ask to marry if they are not certain this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. But things can happen that force a change in plans.

You became a Christian and I take it that there are characteristics of your fiancee which are not compatible with a Christian lifestyle. I think it is long past time to sit down with her and discuss the problems. Tell her what you love about her, but also honestly discuss what you see as problems if you two get married. She'll likely give you one of three responses: She will agree that it isn't workable and that the wedding should be called off; she will think the problems are insignificant and can be ignored; or, she will agree there are problems and propose one of you change. The decision to marry is not done by one person -- both people have to agree. The decision that what looked good at first isn't what either of you hoped for is also a decision that both of you should make. It isn't respectful of her to end it without a discussion and a chance to make changes. It is because you promised that you should see if the situation can be made to work if given a chance.

Until that discussion happens, I can't advise you as to what needs to be your next step.

Thank you for the reply,

She is a Christian girl. She prays regularly every morning. I met her online through one of my friends who introduced me to her. She knew how I looked, what my character was, and lot more than I knew about her because my friend and she were roommates in college. She said she loved me because I'm different from the rest of the boys at that time. Though I wasn't saved by that time, I feared God and tried to be as guiltless as possible. I loved her because of her devotion to Christ, her innocence, and most important of all because of her love for me.

I never really had the intention of being in love with her. I just took her as a friend. That's the reason I haven't seen how she looks like until an year later. Though she asked me if she could send me her pictures, I said there's no need for me to see how you look. I never knew how she looked until a year after we met online. We used to talk over the phone regularly.

Then one day she called me over the phone one midnight, crying and said she loves me so much, feels like she can't live without me, and that she never felt that way for any other person in her life before. I calmed her down over the phone and asked to go to sleep.

Later, I asked her to send me a picture of her. After seeing the picture, I couldn't find myself attracted to her, not even a little, though many of my friends her looking good.We did met a couple of times, may be thrice, not just online always.

Even though I didn't like her physically, I loved talking to her, and sharing my thoughts with her. She remembers every little detail of me. She writes poems on her own for me. Every day she writes of me in her diary. I never knew that a person could be so loved in so many possible ways until i met her . One day, while talking with her over the phone, constrained by her love toward me, I promised her that i will marry her, no matter what.

Her cultural background (caste) and mine are entirely different. Here in my country it's very uncommon for a person to marry another person of a lower caste. Personally, I don't believe in castes because everyone's born free and equal, but I believe that my family definitely won't allow such a marriage. For generations it's been continuing that people of a higher caste don't marry a person of another caste. And, personally, sometimes I feel that if I marry a person whom I'm not attracted to physically, I may fall into the snare of lusting and being jealous of others. I don't desire a beauty model but at least i must find the person somewhat attractive to me, right ? I've been a virgin until now, by the grace of our Lord, though I was tempted many a time by beautiful girls who wanted to get me. God helped me stand in those times. After all these years of waiting for a good, godly girl, I feel like it's not worth the wait. I'm a foot taller than she.

I was worldly, so I started ignoring her because i felt that the marriage was not going to happen. Even she didn't want to force me, so we barely talked to each other just to find out how everything's going. Only brief talks twice or thrice in a month.

Then as days passed by, I found rest in the Lord. I confessed all my sins, repented and merely by the grace of our Lord, I got saved, believed in the Lord, got baptized, and God taught me many important lessons through her presence in my life.

I've already discussed with her that I'm going to do the Lord's will in my life. That no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me, and that I can't decide my life, it's He who's going to decide. Though I asked her pardon many times,I've told her many times that I cant forgive myself for what I've done.

It was the hardest part in my life, forgiving myself. Oh! That feeling, that God may forgive me, but I couldn't forgive myself. Anyhow, by the grace of God, I succeeded in forgiving myself.

Now my problem is: Am I going to be judged for the promise I made to her, if I don't marry her?
Is it far beyond repair? Because I'd rather marry her, than be judged by God if I'm going to be judged.

You give two reasons for not marrying her:

One is based on her looks, which tells me you are like many young men who put more emphasis on the physical world and things that don't last. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30). Difference in height doesn't make any difference in a relationship. I'm ten inches taller than my wife and it has never been an issue between us in 30 years. A man who would stray from a loving wife because of looks is not worthy to be a husband.

The second is based on Hinduism. You say caste doesn't matter to you, but you still bring it up, which tells me that it is still a consideration to you. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). The claim that it is rare for someone to marry a lower caste is not true. If no one married below their caste, then no one marries above their caste either. But cross caste marriages happen all the time; it is just that Hindus dislike talking about such things.

A decision that you changed your mind about marrying a girl is not wrong. As I mentioned before we have engagement periods just for that purpose. However, your reasons for changing your mind are not good ones. Worse, you've blamed your change on God when it is really about you. You said it is because you became a Christian, but that should have brought the two of you closer. You told her that it would be as God wills while you decide that you don't want to marry her.

I'm not saying you have to marry this woman, but I am saying that you need to start being honest with yourself, her, and with God. You broke your promise to her. That is a sin, but like any other sin, it can be forgiven. You are trying to make God the scapegoat for your poorly thought out decisions -- that too is a sin. And you haven't been honest with her (saying that a picture didn't matter when it really did matter to you).

Being a Christian doesn't mean that you've lost all control of your choices. It means you are now letting God guide you in making good choices as you submit to His will. "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalms 119:97-103).

Thank you, brother, for making me realize my mistake. Thank you for leading me to repentance. Thank you for your guidance.