Is it OK to marry a non-Christian?

Is it OK to marry a non-Christian?

Many single Christians, at some stage, will wonder if it is really that bad to marry someone who doesn’t trust in Jesus. After all, that nice guy or girl we know ticks almost all of the boxes we are looking for! They have their lives together, they are so nice and fun and interesting, and they are not exactly anti-Christian. Over time, there is even a good chance they might become Christian! The longer someone dwells on this line of thinking, the more logical it seems.

Instead of going to the usual “unevenly yoked” passage, I want to show you a rather obscure passage from 2 Kings 8. From v16-v29 we get two of those summary passages that tell us about the reign of successive kings in Judah. The kings in question are Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat and his son Ahaziah. Jehoshaphat was a godly king in many ways, assessed to be faithful to God, but he made one major mistake: he married his son to evil king Ahab’s daughter Athaliah.

This might have gone either way. Perhaps Jehoram would maintain the ways of his godly father and his wife would come to trust in the true God? Unfortunately, history tells us it went the other way. Jehoram “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel” (2 Kings 8:18). All through these summary passages we read of the ongoing influence Ahab’s family wielded through Athaliah. This previously godly family ended up following other gods, a very long way from where they started.

If a Christian and a non-Christian end up getting married, on the surface it might seem like their different views on faith are a minor issue. The truth is that your faith influences everything. Whatever topic you can imagine, whether it be money, sex, goals in life, or work, all of them are seen quite differently through the lens of trusting in Jesus. While it is indeed possible that the non-believing spouse might come to be converted, influence goes both ways. In many cases I have seen, the Christian spouse starts to cool off in their faith. They get less involved in church, less passionate about the things of God, and start to drift in directions they would never have done had they remained single.

So, if you are a single Christian considering dating a nice non-Christian, and you cannot see any harm in it, think again. There is a great deal of potential harm. 2 Kings 8 is not the only cautionary tale.

If you are a Christian married to a non-Christian now, your marriage covenant vows are permanent. Whether your marriage was wise or not is no longer a question. What you should consider is how you are influencing one another. Are you being a godly influence on your spouse, or are they drawing you away from service in church in some way? Be honest. It can go either way. Be aware of when you change your thinking or actions to please your spouse at the expense of serving Jesus. Stand firm. Who knows if you might save your unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:16)?