Whom can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.

wedding-rings2.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

According to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:

  1. A Christian
  2. Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
  3. 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.

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2 thoughts on “Whom can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.”

  1. Growing up, the mother of one of my friends was in that situation, where she had married an unbeliever. I’m not sure if she was a Christian at the time of her marriage or not, but I think she was. Growing up, nearly every week, sometimes every church service, this woman would ask for prayers for her husband’s soul, that he would be converted/regenerated, etc. The husband came to church very infrequently (maybe once or twice a year, often less), and I know that the whole situation just wore on the woman’s spirit. It took almost 30 years, from the time I first remember hearing her ask that prayer, but her husband was indeed regenerated and converted (within the past 2 years) and is now a solid church member, and can’t believe his blindness for so many decades. **Thirty years**!!! I can’t imagine the disconnect that must occur in such a marriage, though can readily see that the Biblical analogy of being “unequally yoked” certainly applies!

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  2. “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.

    Confession time – I tried that a couple of times when I was younger. Once in college, once afterward. This was AFTER my Campus Crusade for Christ leader had warned our group against dating other students who weren’t believers.

    Needless to say it was a disaster. Neither relationship lasted more than a few months. The first eventually broke up with me, saying she wanted to go off and study the Bible I’d given her without my guidance.

    The second was pretty insistent that she would never accept Christ, which is why I realized I was wasting my time. I have always regretted that she said that, as she was a really nice person – intelligent, nice family – with a fantastic figure AND a wonderful personality. I think we could have had a lot of fun together. She’d even told me that she didn’t mind if I brought up our kids as Christian, should we marry and have some. I realized, however, that I simply couldn’t bear the thought of sitting across the breakfast table for the next fifty years and thinking, “My wife is going to hell.” Or of having to explain to our children why Mommy refuses to come to church with us.

    There are simply many women out there who are already believers and can’t find a man who is, so I realized I needed to go find myself one of them and leave the secular ladies for the atheist men to date.

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