Q: Is it wrong for a Christian who is devoted to the truth in God’s Word to enter into a marriage with someone who holds beliefs totally opposed to the Bible?”
A: A person should never violate his/her conscience or compromise one’s religion in order to please a future spouse who holds false beliefs. Jesus says, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37), and the same would apply to the mattet of a husband or wife, or a fiancé or fiancée. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), whenever we are in a predicament which urges us to go against our Lord Jesus Christ and the teachings of his Word.
We must acknowledge, of course, that in many cases mixed marriages have resulted in the conversion of an unbeliever to faith in Christ as the Savior and to a healthy study of God’s Word. Peter, for example, told wives who were already married to an unbeliever to “be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without talk by the behavior of their wives. . .” (I Peter 3:1).
However, entering such a marriage without seriously considering the warnings is sheer folly. It has been said, “If a young Christian man or woman enters into marriage with one who is not a Christian, it is a great deal more probable that, in the end, there will be two unbelievers than that there will be two Christians.” It is dangerous for a Christian to enter into a marriage, a bond of outward/family unity, knowing full well that serious religious differences exist with the other partner. One of the most troublesome questions that will arise is: In what religion shall the children be raised? The devotional and prayer life in the home may also be stifled.
Does this necessarily mean that marriages of mixed religions are absolutely forbidden by Scripture? We refer to a remark made by Prof. Armin Schuetze: “Since marriage has no direct connection with the gospel, but is an institution for this life, a difference in religion is not as such an impediment to marriage. The Old Testament prohibitions (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:2f.; Neh. 13:25) had special significance during the theocracy (of Israel) and cannot simply be applied to Christians today. Nevertheless, the reason for the prohibition, lest the sons and daughters of Israel be turned to worship other gods, stands as a warning against mixed marriages which also New Testament Christians take to heart” (The Shepherd Under Christ, p. 272).
The passage, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. . . ,” speaks to the subject of church fellowship and not necessarily marriage per se. Even so, this verse cannot casually be dismissed if a Christian man or woman is thinking seriously of marrying someone whose life is obviously non-Christian and even vocally so.
In summary we could say this: Early instruction and warning on the basis of Scripture and experience is necessary to discourage mixed marriages from occurring. But when the marriage agreement already has been entered into, then no encouragement to break off the engagement or to divorce should be issued (see I Cor. 7:12). Yet sincere admonition should be given the believing party to remain faithful to the Word and to make every effort to raise the children accordingly.