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
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."