ODJ: faith & marriage

November 2, 2013 

READ: Ezra 9:1-15 

You husbands must give honour to your wives. . . . She is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life (1 Peter 3:7).

Family members pleaded with him not to marry. But the young man wouldn’t listen. What was the family’s concern? He was a believer in Jesus; she was not. They knew that the union would dishonour God and that the two would face struggles due to disunity. They were right. One year after they walked the aisle, the couple divorced.

The principle of believers marrying other believers in Jesus is found throughout God’s Word. In Ezra 9, for instance, Jewish leaders came to the prophet and told him that Israelite men had begun marrying women who did not follow the God of Israel. They said, “The holy race has become polluted by these mixed marriages” (v.2).

Ezra trembled with shock and outrage (v.3). He then fell to his knees and confessed the sins of his people to God—seeking His mercy and cleansing for the nation. He asked God to prevent his people from “intermarrying with people who do . . . detestable things” (v.14). Ezra knew that when Israelites married partners who embraced foreign gods, it defied God’s commands and led to the corrupting of His people’s faith (Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12-13).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul continued this same theme. Consider these verses:

Marry only a believer—“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Be one in Jesus—“Wives . . . submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). “Husbands . . . love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (v.25).

A shared faith in Jesus with the one you marry is vital. Keep that in mind before that first date and long before you say, “I do.” —Tom Felten

Read 2 Corinthians 6:14 and consider how this general principle from Paul applies to marriage. Read 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 to see Paul’s encouragement for those who are married to an unbeliever. 
God views marriage as sacred and holy. How does this apply to why a believer should marry only a believer? Why is dating nonbelievers dangerous?