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Is It A Sin To Marry An Unbeliever? 

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Some Bible teachers use Malachi 2:10-11 to teach that marrying an unbeliever means marrying someone who is godless and it's a sin. And Christians who also believe this claim that the scriptures say we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers and that refers to marriage. They claim II Corinthians 6:14-8 was referring to marriage and that I Corinthians 7:39 reinforces this teaching. Let's think about this view.


Malachi 2:10-11 say, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.” 

Malachi is a part of the Old Testament and its instructions were for the Israelites. While we are not under that law, it can be used to learn lessons (Romans 15:4). Israel had returned from captivity, but their priests were teaching a corruption of the covenant. In particular, they taught that it was permissible to marry worshippers of idols. This is the very problem that led Israel into captivity (Deuteronomy 7:1-4Ezra 9:1-2). Worse, they were divorcing their legitimate wives in order to marry idolatrous women.


The problem is that the New Testament doesn't forbid the marriage of Christians to certain nationalities. 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 your spouse's criteria.


Paul said, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" " (II Corinthians 6:14-16).


There ought to be an equality of binding love and concern between brethren. But Paul is concerned that the Corinthians are giving more of themselves to unbelievers and thus are becoming unequally yoked with them. The concept comes from the Old Testament law, which required that oxen and donkeys not be yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10). 

Some immediately see Paul’s warning as it applies to marriage, but Paul has far more things in mind than just marriage (Ephesians 5:7,11I Corinthians 15:33I Timothy 5:22). There is no commonality between believers and unbelievers. Our views are just too different (I Thessalonians 5:5).


Does this mean it is a sin to marry a nonbeliever? The difficulty is that there are commands given dealing with situations where a believer is married to a non-believer (I Corinthians 7:12-16I Peter 3:1-2). Thus, while it should not be sought out, it should be recognized as not ideal, it will happen at times.


"A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:39).


First note, that this particular passage applies to widows, not single women. The key is understanding what "only in the Lord" means. The simple meaning of phrase “in the Lord” is that the widow must not marry anyone who will prevent her from “seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). She is “free to marry whom she will,” but only when such marriage will not interfere with her faithful service to the Lord. 

A Bible teacher who tries to impose the view that it is a sin to marry a nonbeliever without reasoning with those who object to his position should consider that he might be off in what he is teaching.



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