Photo by Shea Rouda
Disclaimer! I wrote this post for the single woman who isn’t married but is considering marriage in the future. If you are a believer and you are married to an unbeliever ( you have to work out your situation with God). This isn’t a one shoe fits all kind of post.
When I write ‘unbeliever’ I mean a person whose life isn’t based on the conviction of their faith in God or a person whose life isn’t submitted to the word of God.
It is possible to be a Christian unbeliever- where one goes to church on Sunday but lives contrary to the faith they profess to have. There are many ‘Sunday Christians‘ in the church so you have to know who is a believer to be able to make wise choices.
Here are a few reasons why it is detrimental to choose to be in a marriage covenant with an unbeliever.
Becoming one flesh
For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 AMP
This is the first time we see what happens when a man and a woman come together in a marriage covenant. There is a joining that takes place which results in the two becoming one flesh.
How do two different individuals with different personalities, minds, and bodies become one flesh? This is only possible in the context that God is in that relationship. They become one with one another as they are becoming one with God. Remember God’s ultimate plan is to conform us into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). So, when we are told that the two become one flesh, it means that these two people are both being transformed and conformed into the image of God. They are able to become one in Him.
We cannot be one flesh apart from God because who will we become? Whose flesh will we be mine or his? Outside of a relationship with God two become one flesh but because there isn’t conformation to become like Christ, the relationship is muddled with selfishness and manipulation.
In a godly covenant, I’m not trying to make him like me, nor is he trying to make me like him. We are both submitting ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to conform us into the image of the Son. (This isn’t easy because of the weakness of the flesh, sometimes; even two believers can find it difficult to become one flesh). Our oneness is connected to our becoming one with Christ, and the result of this is a beautiful union that brings glory to God.
God calls a man to sacrificial love. Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25AMP
In a godly covenant, this is the way a man is to love his wife-sacrificially as Christ sacrificially loves His church. The blueprint for this is Christ’s love for us. Therefore, if sacrificial love has to be present then a man has to be in a relationship with Christ to be able to know how to do this.
Unselfish love isn’t easy because we are naturally selfish. We are wired to prefer ourselves at all times. This is especially true when it comes to men. Even though this is a command first to the man, we as well have to reciprocate this sacrificial love for it to work. It cannot be one-sided. It has to be both parties learning how to sacrificially love each other in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4- has also given us a blueprint of what this kind of love looks like- it is patient, it is kind, it’s not envious, it doesn’t put itself first, it is not sensitive and easily irritated, it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs done. Notice, these are all listed as the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 Therefore it is only possible to love sacrificially through the enablement of the Holy Spirit in us.
A man or a woman cannot love sacrificially outside of God. If you marry an unbeliever forget about him loving you sacrificially because he can only do this in God.
Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
God has a pattern for a marriage, he leads, you submit. It cannot work any other way at least not in a glorious way.
Our ability to submit comes from our submitting to God first.
A man will have trouble if he marries an unbeliever because she cannot be able to submit in this way. She may submit when it is beneficial to her but, when it is convenient she will probably not submit.
Submission is paramount in a godly relationship because a woman is submitting to the leadership of a man who is first submitted to God. His ability to lead in marriage comes from his submission to God’s authority, meaning God is leading him as he leads you. Also, God can correct him because he is ultimately under his authority, and you are protected from his mistakes and missteps.
You have no protection when you are submitting to a man that is not under God’s authority.
A man who is not submitted to God will not lead you anywhere but to himself. As much as you would like to believe he can lead you, he cannot. His leadership will be marred by the weakness of his flesh. It will be selfish and hurtful because he will only care about his own ends.
Because of his God-given authority to lead, a man has a natural stubbornness to his own ways. Sometimes a woman has this idea that she can lead him apart from God…Sis, I have news for you, you cannot. His stubborn heart will not submit even to your godly counsel because he is outside of God. Your relationship will become a tug of war where he tries to manipulate or control you into submitting to his selfishness, and you trying to lead him towards God unsuccessfully. No one will win in this.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
Paul here is talking to believers who were having sexual relationships with unbelievers (precisely prostitutes). They were acting as if it wasn’t a big deal. We can use this statement for marriage because it has the same connotation.
He speaks about being unequally yoked. He uses the analogy of two oxen tied together with a yoke in order to carry a load or plow together. For this task to be done, the two oxen needed to work together.
A marriage covenant yokes you to someone by default, whether you like it or not- this is God’s design. The two become one. The problem arises when these two people are going in two different directions- righteousness and lawlessness. Where will you go because at some point you have to agree to go together? In this circumstance, it becomes difficult to go anywhere because both parties are trying to pull the other in the direction they want to go.
When two people are equally yoked, they can go in the same direction. They can do what they need to do together; there is no division because they have one vision coming from their submission to God.
Did he not make them one, with a portion of the spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. Malachi 2:15
Malachi gives context for why God puts two believers together in a marriage union. God is seeking something from the two – a godly offspring. Is it possible to have a godly offspring where one is a believer and the other one is not? How will you raise your children? Whose values will you follow? It takes two believers to raise and train up children after God.
Imagine you being the believer and trying to teach your children godly values and he comes in with his worldly values and dilutes them. He cannot give them what he doesn’t have. And because he is their father he will influence them. He will give them his values. You will do the hard work and he will come in and teach your children contrary to what you taught them. You will never be in agreement on raising up a godly offspring for God.
For a marriage to survive there has to be a bigger reason than we love each other. In the beginning, your love for each other is based on feelings, and as the relationship progresses this will change. (i promise you it will).
There will come a time when your reason for staying in that covenant will need to be bigger than, “I love his eyes, or I love his good looks.” His wit and looks will not mean much when his behavior is unlovable. This is where purpose comes in, the greater reason why God brought you two together.
Why is God putting you together? What does He want to do in and through your relationship?
When there is a God-given purpose in a marriage, it makes it possible to survive difficult seasons because you are not just looking at the here and now but at where God is taking both of you. If you have no purpose when you no longer feel the love, you will walk away because that covenant was all about you.
Purpose will sustain the relationship because it isn’t just about us. But also about what God was looking to do in and through our relationship. It is also about the things that our being together will reveal to a world that needs God’s love. It is also about what God intended for us to accomplish together for His kingdom. How will you and that unbeliever do this?
You cannot save him
Most believers will get into a relationship with an unbeliever with the excuse that “I will lead him to Christ”.
Remember it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and repentance to a person. You are not Holy Spirit. We enter into deception when we decide to take the place of God where someone’s salvation is concerned.
God has a different way of leading each person to repentance. He can use you, but because your agenda is biased by your investment in this person. You most probably will interfere with His plans rather than aid them.
If you end up married to the unbeliever you have to be prepared to model Christ for a very long time to lead them into repentance. Sis, you do not have that time, it will take away your time of doing the things God has called you to do on this earth.
There is also the possibility that the person might never willingly choose God. God will never override someone’s will – sometimes we want their salvation for ourselves. It doesn’t work like that. They have to come willingly to Him or He will let them be. God’s ultimate purpose for saving a man is for Christ. If Christ isn’t at the center, God isn’t interested in them- we are Christ’s reward, full stop.
You can cry all you want but unless they want God for themselves, He will not coerce them into salvation. It is a gift that one has to choose to receive for themselves.
Sis, if you are in a relationship( dating not married) with an unbeliever I pray that God will lead you into truth so you may see it for what it really is. I hope this post encourages and inspire you to walk away and wait on God for a godly partner. Marriage is so much better when both of you are in God. It is not perfect, but it is so much better.
Have a blessed weekend!