Question:

Hello,

I am having a few issues. I fell in love with a non-Christian and planned to marry her. I fully believed that God would save her and she would become Christian. I love her but after my pastor kept pushing me not to marry her because she was not a Christian and we broke up, then I didn't marry her. We are still together and now live together because she is the only person I have right now. I moved across the world to be with her. Ever since he said this, I started to doubt and worry that I would be beginning my relationship with a sin because he says it is a sin to marry a non-believer. I thought that as a Christian I should show what love is about and marry to show that love is strong. I realize that saving her is not going to be something I can do and that God has to come into her heart.

Now it is approaching three years we have been together and have been living together for over two. I still haven't married her. I thought I wanted to go back home but then after coming back I once again worry. I worry most about that I wanted kids before and worry how we would fight because we each believe different things. We fight sometimes, and I feel like we should break-up, but then I still realize I love her too much to break-up. I keep worrying so much that I think if we do marry that I might not want kids anymore.

I feel like it is now gone on long enough. I am thinking should I marry her because I love her. I worry about our future, but I know we both love each other. We live in such a small place that I think that is the reason we fight. It is meant for one person. I keep thinking if we move to a bigger place it will solve our main problem of being in too close proximity for too long and too often. Now we are moving to a bigger place in two weeks and I hope it solves the problem. We sometimes are having sex and I remember the Bible saying that the sins of the body are the worst. It says that fornicators go to hell. I am trying to not have sex until we marry, but we have it maybe once a month or not at all.

I love God and want to please Him and at the same time I love her and think if I make it official it would be a sin but then not a continual sinning because I love her and don't want to leave her. Is it better I marry than continue living this way? Should I end it after everything? I have tried to end it, and we ended up back together. We have both been faithful and I trust her for the most part. We fight because of where we live I think, but I feel she can be really negative and freak out over nothing. Is this how relationships are? Do we accept each others faults because we love each other?

Other than this issue with living with her, I feel that I live a pretty good life and know that I am not perfect and that I can't earn salvation but am supposed to receive grace because I believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior and the Son of God. Am I condemning myself by living with her? I keep my personal life private, so I don't feel like I am setting a bad example as a Christian outside of home. She even said she would support me if I want to do more religious work.

When I am sick or have been having a lot of problems in this country she has always been there for me. I am also a veteran and this has caused problems because her family doesn't like that as her sister's ex was in the military, and it was a bad experience for the family. Also I suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorder, TBI, and other injuries including my back and legs. Literally every time she has even left her family to take care of me just like I do for her if she needs me or is sick. Sometimes I even feel I don't give her as much as she gives me. I feel like we make a conscious decision to love each other, and I don't know how I would leave her. I think love is more than just a feeling and it seems like if I have been waiting for a sign from God that it is OK, even though I know that waiting for signs is no good. Would I be wrong and not pleasing God for the rest of my life if I married this woman? I can't imagine anyone else would be any better for me especially because of all of my issues. I finally started seeing a psychologist to treat my past to try and close the distance that seems to have gotten between us.

I keep thinking if I can't marry her that I will go to a third world country to isolate myself and work as a missionary because I felt better when I was doing it. I got really lonely last time and that's why I left. I didn't mean to fall in love with a non-Christian, and I haven't been at peace because of all the doubts that I felt after being confronted by the members of the church here. My grandparents are Christians and say love is love. I am not a Bible scholar by any means. I just enjoyed working with the kids because being around that environment gives me peace. That's one of the main reasons I worry so much about having kids because it could be nice, but I wonder if I am in any shape to be a dad because it feels like it is the kids who are helping me and not me them, and I am pretty messed up. I used to be strong and not worry about anything because it doesn't accomplish anything like Jesus said. I would just take the door presented to me and trust that God would provide. I miss the freedom but that kind of loneliness was eating at me especially living in a third world country where nothing is familiar and feeling like my impact was so little.

I know I have to make the decision myself. What words of advice do you have for me?

Thanks,
Concerned and in turmoil but with my heart intact.


Answer:

You fear to marry this woman because you thought it might be a sin, so instead you move in with her and sin anyway. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

Then you justify your fornication by saying that you can't marry the woman until God makes her a Christian. In doing this, you are inadvertently blaming God for your continued sin. The woman you are living with has free-will. If she wants to be a Christian, she is fully able to make that choice. She clearly doesn't want to follow Christ at this time. That is by her choice and not God's.

The sad part is that there is no passage that says it is wrong to marry an unbeliever. It isn't the smart thing to do, it will cause problems in your marriage, but it isn't sinful. See: Does God condemn marriages to non-Christians? Live righteously before God. If you want to marry this woman, then get married.

It was my understanding and from my pastor that it is not a sin to be married to a non-believer and become a Christian, but when you are already a Christian and marry an unbeliever you are sinning. What about the verse to not be unequally yoked?

I am not blaming God. If you read my email then you can see that I am making the decision myself to live with her and recognize that I cannot force her to come to Christ. I was trying to make sure that what I thought and was told was correct or incorrect. You say that I can marry though it would be unwise. I would not turn away or be unfaithful to God. I am confused because different people are saying different things. I would like to stop sinning and marry her if it would mean I would not be sinning anymore being with her.

There are passages that talk about Christians married to non-believers in I Corinthians 7:12-16 and I Peter 3:1-2. These passages do not state how the Christian ended up married to the non-believer. To make assumptions and impose those assumptions as laws is to add to God's Word (Proverbs 30:5-6).

The passage that you are referring to is "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (II Corinthians 6:14). This not talking about marriage because a marriage is a joining of equals under a covenant. The passage is stating that Christians are to avoid situations where a non-believer has power over the Christian -- an unequal yoking. Even then, it is not an absolute forbiddance but guidance in making choices. The Bible talks about how Christian slaves were to treat their unbelieving masters (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; I Peter 2:18-20). Such would be an unequal yoking that must be dealt with, but such contractual arrangements should not be sought out.

This doesn't mean that marrying a non-believer is an ideal choice. It holds a lot of difficulties because your criteria for making decisions may not match her criteria. But if you are willing to take on the extra burden, it isn't wrong to marry a non-Christian. Just remember that your obligations to the Lord come before your wife.

My point in the first note is that you traded uncertainty for certain sin (fornication) and you continued sinning because you remained uncertain instead of getting out of sin.

I gave you scriptural references so you can check out the things I mentioned. I'm not interested in matching what other people might have told you. My duty is to teach the Bible.