Is it wrong to marry a non-believer?


"While it is not generally advisable to marry someone who is not a Christian, it is not wrong either." You mentioned this in your answer and this is the first time I heard a Christian advisor giving such advice.

I came to know the Lord years ago. Several years ago I drifted away, and I was engaged to a non-believer and had been living with him since then. About six months ago I came back to the Lord, my fiance supported my decision and I assured him that nothing would change between us. About two weeks ago, I sensed that my lifestyle was not pleasing to God, I'm sinning against Him, and that I should not be yoke with non-believers. I broke off my engagement with my fiance and moved out of our house. My fiance and I are still in touch with each other. We're still deeply in love, and I told him that I will wait for him to know the Lord before we continue with our relationship.

His Christian friend does not think that I have done the right thing. For my action will just push him further away from God, for how will my ex-fiance accept a God that breaks up a loving relationship?

During these two weeks of living on my own, I'm in constant struggle and confusion. I believe that I've done the right thing by moving out and abstaining from sexual intimacy, but I don't have full assurance that I've done the right thing by breaking the engagement. Our engagement was between him and I, where he gave me his grandma's ring that was promised to her first grandson's wife. It was not legalized on paper, but it was a sacred vow between the two of us. We've already been living as husband and wife, and in my heart, he is my husband and I'm his wife. He told me that he felt like I've divorced him.

He said that we could get married straight away, if that means that he gets to keep me. But I'm in 'bondage' by the verse, do not yoke with unbelievers. Is it sinning against God if I marry my fiance?

Also, I read about I Corinthians 7:25-28 concerning the betrothed or engaged. It seems to suggest that it is not wrong to marry (but does it apply to those that are engaged to non-believers?)

Is the verse "do not yoke with non-believers" is a good enough reason to break off my engagement? Or could I have misinterpret it?

At this point, I would still very much marry my ex-fiance. I'd abstain from sexual intimacy until we get married, and I know he will respect my decision. But I'd really want to have a clearer understanding about what the Bible says about my situation.


Let's start at a basic foundation that you are ignoring. It doesn't matter what you, your friends, or I feel about any situation. You judge situations by what is right or wrong and only God's word is the standard for such judgment. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Peter 1:2-4).

"Love" is never a justification to sin. Love comes from God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (I John 4:7-8). But God is without sin (I John 1:5) and those who truly love are obedient to God. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:2-3).

While you were engaged to this man the fact is that you were not married, so stop trying to justify your past sin. Promises between two people does not create a marriage covenant. See: Marriage Covenants. You were living with a man and having sex with him while not married. There was nothing stopping you from getting married other than your own excuses. What you are offering are lies instead of truth.

Because you were living with a man you were not married to, you were committing fornication. "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).

You know you are not married because if you were truly married, then you sinned by leaving your husband. "But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him" (I Corinthians 7:12-13). Notice that this verse proves that a Christian can be married to a non-believer. Another verse that also says this is "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (I Peter 3:1-2).

You were correct to move out until such time as you did get married. You just moved out for the wrong reason. You should have moved out because you were sinning, not because you were sinning with a non-believer.

I Corinthians 7:25-28 was talking about not getting married at all because of the persecution that was about to take place. "I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress -- that it is good for a man to remain as he is" (I Corinthians 7:26). But Paul also said that those already married should not leave their spouses (I Corinthians 7:27) and if someone insists on getting married they are not to be forbidden marriage (I Corinthians 7:28). This is a passage (as is most of I Corinthians 7) about making the better of two choices, both of which are righteous choices.

The passage that you are misquoting 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 his 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 husband.

Thank you, Jeffrey. I will look into God's word. It's just that many a times I find it very hard to understand God's meaning.

The Bible has various translations and sometimes the current Bible translation differs from the original meaning in Hebrew or Greek. For example, I heard one preacher say about I Corinthians 7:16 that the words 'wife' and 'husband' here were 'male' and 'female' in the original language in Greek. Most of the preachers said that 'do not be unequally yoked with non-believers' means 'do not marry a non-believer'.

I also sought advice from another web site. The answer was rather condemning. I was in turmoil during the last few days of living with him. I couldn't really think clearly what I should be doing. I cried all the time especially when I saw how much I hurt him. I just know that I was sinning against God and grieving the Holy Spirit, and my lifestyle was not glorifying God. Hence I moved out. But now that we're living separately and I'm in a better position to rethink about our situation, I'd like to know what God is saying.

I find it hard to find truths and even within the Christendom, there're various versions of answer to my situation. Anyway, I do want to lead a life that's honoring God from now onward.

I thank you for your honest reply. I will continue to seek God on this matter.

If you seek out people's opinions, yes, you will get a variety of answers. But if you insist on a biblical answer, then you can look into your Bible yourself. The reason I give you Scripture to back what I said was because I don't want you following my opinions but God's teachings. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11).

For example, I showed you that you misquoted a verse and therefore came to a wrong conclusion. This isn't about translation problems but handling God's Word accurately. "Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:14-16). The problem is that you ask for advice, but then you don't check the answers against what you find in your Bible.

In the Greek language, the words for man and husband are the same word. The same is true for the words woman and wife. Greek is not the only language with this lack of distinction. Which is meant is understood in the context of which they are used. Since in the context of I Corinthians 7 we are discussing marriage, it is not difficult to understand that we are talking about husbands and wives.

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:15-17).

God did not give an impossible command. You can understand what God wants by studying His Book.

Thanks, I will heed your advice.