A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.
According to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:
- A Christian
- Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
- Of the opposite sex
Item 3 used to be self-evident (and still is, for most of us), but we had to add it to the list a few years back.
That’s it. Despite the stereotype that the Bible is just a giant rule book, many things are very simple.
The key constraint is usually item 1: The future spouse must be a Christian. Ignoring God’s clear direction on this is a bad idea. Just because God might ultimately bless it doesn’t mean He is obligated to. That’s why it is called grace. (Full disclosure: It is possible that my wife violated guideline #1 in marrying me. Fortunately, she lost the receipt so she can’t return me now.)
“Missionary dating” (that is, dating someone in hopes of converting them) is un-Biblical, as it is based on false pretenses. God might bless your relationship and your spouse might become a Christian, but there are no guarantees of that in scripture. You just don’t want to start your marriage in clear violation of one of God’s commands.
Marrying someone outside your faith is problematic. You will have vastly different views on what should be the most important part of your life. It will send a horrible message to your children, namely that you and your spouse thought it was important to agree on where to live, how many kids to have, where to vacation, what to eat, etc., but it wasn’t important for you to have even a general agreement on who God is and how that should impact your lives.
A good Christian friend realized the error of his ways and broke off a relationship with a non-Christian. It was pretty painful, but certain things validated why he needed to make the break: She specifically tempted him to deny his God, “Just this once” – proof enough as to why such relationships are a bad idea.
Sadly, I know countless church-going parents who don’t teach their kids to only date Christians, and who think little or nothing of their kids marrying non-Christians. And countless pastors officiate at these ceremonies without ever counseling people about what God says.
Of course, just because it is moral to marry someone doesn’t mean it it wise. There is a lot of wisdom and advice about how and whether to marry in the book of Proverbs and in 1 Corinthians 7, among other places. These passages were directed to Solomon’s son but they apply to both sexes.
Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.
Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.
Proverbs 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;
Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.