The Agora
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Marriage "only in the Lord"

The Scriptures abound in warnings against alien marriage: The sons of God marrying the daughters of men resulted at last in the Flood (Gen 6-9). Abraham and Isaac, faithful sojourners looking for the Kingdom, opposed such marriages for their sons (Gen 24:3; 28:1). The Law of Moses forbade the yoking together of the clean ox and the unclean ass (Deu 22:10). Moses said to take no alien spouses (Deu 7:3,8). Solomon's alien wives turned his heart from God (1Ki 11:1-11). Ezra (Ezr 9;10) and Nehemiah (Neh 13:23-29) tell us of the evils of such alliances, and Paul has stressed the deviation of such a union (1Co 7:39; 2Co 6:14-18).

Those who are courting or are contemplating marriage must remember that complete happiness can be achieved only when it is "in the Lord". History and experience show that where there is no unity of thought and purpose, whether it be between God and Israel, Christ and the ecclesia, or between a husband and wife, there may follow a break in fellowship and unity. How could it be otherwise? That is the sadness and the tragedy of divorce or separation.

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt they were told that they should not "make marriages" with the peoples of Canaan. Moses gave the reason in words which are relevant today:

"Thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods..." (Deu 7:3).

Paul had much the same thing to say when he wrote: "Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?"

Marriage, properly understood and lived, is a part of the divine fellowship in which love, patience, sympathy, understanding and service can be truly learned, and happy is the couple from whom these flow to the rest of the household of faith, for their reward will be the eternal blessing of the Father.

In being prepared against the "problem" of "alien marriage", it is not sufficient merely to quote one or two passages like "only in the Lord" and "be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers". We should see far more clearly than that. It is the general realization and appreciation that to marry "outside" is willful disobedience to the Lord who bought us, and it is a failure to understand the loftiness of our calling. We are invited to be the Bride of Christ. How then can we be associated in the closest intimacy with one who is not a member of the called-out ones in Christ? The whole of the Word of God requires this necessary separateness.

The Lord knows all our circumstances and He arranges that which is best for us. If in all our ways we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him" and the Psalmist assures us that finally "He will give thee the desires of thine heart". If we thus "rest in the Lord", then we can rest assured that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, those are the best for us in the ultimate. If other conditions were better, then the Lord would bring them to pass.

It may be, perhaps, that celibacy is best for us -- the Lord knows. If, on the other hand, marriage with a true companion is the better condition, then the Lord will see to it that the proper partner comes along. Sometimes such comes to pass later on in life. Place the whole matter in the Lord's hands and leave it there. Above all, don't try to short-circuit the Lord: after putting it in His hands, don't rush hastily into a marriage pretending it is the Lord's doing. When the Lord moves in the matter there will be no mistaking it, and then one may say: "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes."

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