Is it okay to enter into a relationship between an on-fire practicing Christian and a non-believer?
I want to make what I have to say about this fairly brief – but with quite a few references to the word of God, since that should obviously be our guideline.
These things were written primarily to those of you who are considering getting into a relationship – it is not for you who became a Christian while already in a marriage where neither one of you were believers to begin with (in that case, you need to read 1. Corinthians 7:12-16, which describes that exact situation).
First of all… Marriage in and of itself is good and healthy! Paul actually encourages us to marry if we can’t live the single life in a way that honors God – and God did create us as man and woman precisely for us to get together and have children.
It is important to understand that when you enter into a marriage, you become one. You are no longer “just your own person”, but rather you are spiritually connected – and you are incredibly responsible to your spouse, which means that you need to submit to each other.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
According to the Bible, a marriage has taken place when you have a marriage certificate and have had sex with each other. Sex outside of marriage is Biblically wrong/sin!
But… Is it okay for a Christian and a non-Christian to enter into a relationship/marriage, according to the Bible?
Actually, the answer to this is incredibly simple… When entering into a marriage between a believer and a non-believer, and the two become “one”, then the believer must submit to the non-believer in all things… The believer must honor and respect the non-believer… But if you are on fire for Jesus and you are a believer at heart – and you don’t want to give up your faith – then how can you submit to a person who is not on fire for Jesus and who is unwilling to submit to Jesus Christ??? Is it possible…?
If YOU are on fire for Jesus, you are, according to the Bible itself, hot. If the other party does not believe in Jesus, that person is cold! That makes the “calculation” hot + cold = lukewarm.
About being lukewarm, the Bible says (this is Jesus talking):
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Meanwhile… it says in several places in the Bible that you become one through marriage… but at the same time, it says that we must “become one with the good / with Jesus”.
Here it is about our relationship with Jesus:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
The disciples who had chosen Jesus whole-heartedly – and sacrificed EVERYTHING for Him (they did not compromise) – get an explanation here of how they are now one with Jesus.
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
So, again… if we are going to be one with Jesus, and if we want, at the same time, to be one with another person, it will be necessary for the other person to be one with Jesus…. Otherwise, there’s a conflict. But is that just my interpretation…?? No, it actually says so, right there in the Bible.
2. Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, the conclusion must be that a Christian and a non-Christian cannot become a couple. If you do so anyway, because you are controlled more by feelings than by the word of God, you will generally see that the Christian goes astray – or no longer burns for Jesus. You cannot take a red-hot and burning iron and place it in the snow, while expecting it to remain hot. That’s a naïve expectation – and countless examples have shown that it will never come out okay.
But… love can never be wrong, can it? After all, God IS love…!?!? Precisely…! God is love, and for that very reason, He wants the BEST for you – ALWAYS. Because he wants YOU…. That’s why He created you. An example: If a child eats 15 lollypops a day – because the child loves sweets and because they taste good, that doesn’t mean it’s okay. You know that it is damaging to the body in many ways. And you know it will cause cavities, which eventually could mean root canals, infection, and perhaps ultimately dentures – along with diabetes and a lot of other junk. You know what is best for the child…! In the same way, God knows what is best for YOU. For that very reason, he has set up guidelines for you…. You choose for yourself, whether you will follow them, but if you don’t, there are consequences. Just as the child chooses whether to eat 15 lollypops a day, once he or she has moved out… but it still has consequences!
– and no – forget the illusion that the non-Christian will probably give his or her life to Jesus, after you have been together long enough. It very rarely happens. Remember what it says in the Bible:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Satan wishes with all his cold heart to get you away from God – he doesn’t care if he has to use “love” and feelings… as long as your fire for Jesus is put out, Satan is happy.
If you have found a non-Christian partner, you probably feel condemned right now – and you probably feel everyone coming down on you hard…. Perhaps you also feel that your partner is the only one who will ever love you, so it comes down to that everyone else doesn’t understand you…! Let me turn it upside-down… How much does Jesus actually mean to you…? Will you sacrifice everything for Him, so He can give you everything you truly need? Will you let Jesus make you WHOLE…? Will you allow yourself to be guided and led for HIS sake, so you don’t fall into temptation and do something stupid?
– If this is making you feel convicted, then you should let EVERYTHING go and seek God ONLY… do it with fervor!!! Don’t do it to get answers, but rather to seek Jesus for who He is. Then you get the answers you need – without asking for them.
When I talk to people about this stuff, it is NOT to condemn, but rather to guide and lead…. To help people keep from faltering and to help them keep from doing something really stupid, they can never take back…. Once you have made the choice to “marry off your faith”, there is no going back.
He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.
Remember! If you get together with a non-Christian partner, the Bible does not give you the right to be divorced again. Your non-Christian partner is free to go – but you… you made your choice, wherefore you have to stay! So, let the word of God guide you – and receive the care from other Christians, which sadly you probably see as condemnation…. Instead, come to terms with why you are feeling condemned – whether it is really because you are going against God’s wishes and plans for your life?? After all, He will never be able to use you in His service as a role model for others, when you actively choose to counter His will.
If, on the other hand, you find a Christian partner, your marriage will be bound by three bonds that keep the marriage together: You, your spouse, and Jesus… but if you find a non-Christian partner, your relationship will be tied with two different ropes that pull you in each your different directions… you will be pulled in half and die from the inflicted wounds – or you will need to choose sides 100%. As the Bible says so clearly:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Finally, I would really recommend that your read all of chapter 2 of the First Epistle of John – and be open to which way God wants you to go in your life – how you will ”remain in the light” and be ”the salt that doesn’t lose its power”. But here is just a select passage:
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
This was not written to condemn you who are in the middle of making your choice…. It is guidance and instruction for you to go right and receive God’s wishes and blessings for your life. It was also written for you to open your eyes to what the word of God says about these things.
… But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Remember!! In a nutshell, you are choosing between a marriage close to God, where he is first in your life – or a marriage where God has less and less room in your life…! Alternatively, you will still choose God, but in that case your partner will really feel let down – and your relationship will be far from what either of you hoped and imagined.
Where is YOUR heart in the middle of all this? In the light with God? Or in the world without God..? What means most? God or….?
…and IF Jesus is to be first in your life, how will it be in the long term, if you can’t share your faith and your heart with your partner…? As a couple, you need to share life with each other. Otherwise, you’ll simply grown apart!
Making the right choice is often difficult! But YOU need to live with YOUR choice for the REST of your life…! A BINDING choice!
Translated from Danish in 2019
by Lisbeth Agerskov Christensen