What might God think of us using His Name to join a believer to a non-believer in 'Holy matrimony?
' take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the Lord your God, or else, if indeed you go back and cling to the remnant of these nations-these that remain among you-and make marriages with them, and go into them and them into you, KNOW FOR CERTAIN that the Lord your God
will no longer drive out these nations from before you..' Joshua 23:11-
We all know instinctively what this paper is going to teach.
We understand Gods will clearly on this subject.
Society declares that each individual should be able to decide what is right for them, especially in their choice of partner, and that Gods declared will should play no part in their decisions.
We, Gods people, have quietly come into agreement with them.
God revealed Himself as a Covenant making God to Abram in Genesis chapter 17 and he became Abraham.
God made Covenant promises to him about His seed, and Abraham understood and cherished these promises.
Ishmael was a child of the flesh - Abraham's own efforts to help God - whereas Isaac was the child of God's promise, and Abraham was quite clear in his mind what Gods will was for a child of God.
Calling his chief servant into his tent one day he said to him..
Genesis 24:3 "and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell;
Isaac followed his fathers example..
Genesis 28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: Do not marry a Canaanite woman
When God was giving His commandments to Moses He told Moses to tell His people not to come into agreement with the people around them, for it would prove to be a snare to their commitment to Him.
He also warned them against choosing wives for their sons from the peoples around them.
Exodus 34:15 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods they will lead your sons to do the same.
How many people have found this to be true in their experience.
The people around us look lovely, but
knowingly, or more usually unknowingly, they serve the god of
And when one partner serves God and the other serves
the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) -
something has to give. For how can two people walk together unless they be agreed?
Either they agree
with God's view or
societies view, for they cannot agree
with both. Friendship with 'the
world' is enmity with God. (James 4:4)
The Bible of course shows again and again that Israel did not heed Godscounsel. Always in due season, with dire consequences.
Judges 3:5-7 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.
King Solomons story is a good example. He began well.
He was the wisest of all men. The most blessed of all men.
And yet when he softened on the integrity of this Kingdom principle we know what happened to even him.
1Kings 11:4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.
It is believed that Solomon was responsible for introducing the Jews to the Hexagram symbol towards the end of his reign. It is often referred to as the Crest of Solomon or the Star of David.
There are those who believe that when Israel comes into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that they will forsake their symbol of the two interlocking triangles, which has always been known in occult circles as one of the most powerful symbols in the practice of magick.
It is often encircled increasing its occult power and significance. It is also referred to as the Seal of Solomon in kabalic mysticism.
This symbol was used by the Egyptians long before the Israelites adopted it.
The Jews began using it during their Babylonian captivity, and it became a common symbol among some groups of Jews during the middle ages, but was not distinctively identified with Judaism until the 1700s.1
Indeed so often did the Israelites ignore Gods command on intermarriage that when Nehemiah and Ezra were called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and restore the integrity and the dignity of the Kingdom of God, this was one of the big issues to be dealt with. Ezra 10:1 While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites-men, women and children-gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra,We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the people around us. Nehemiah 13:25 I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in Gods Name and said, You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourself. Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon King of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God and God made him King over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Must we hear now that you too are doing this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?
Now we get shocked when we read about the extreme measures that many of the Old Testament heroes got up to. Putting women children and animals to the sword. Ham stringing horses, etc.
So often God commanded, or allowed, extremes to take place, and to be recorded, so that it would shock us into realising how serious these spiritual principles were.
Elijah put all the false prophets to the sword which is not how we would treat a defeated enemy. The physical principle at work was that had he left a few, within several years there would have been a lot. The spiritual principle is that unless we put everything that works against us spiritually to the sword it will multiply and rise up against us.
Jesus sometimes used extremes in language to shock and
so ensure that His listeners understood just how serious the spiritual
if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is
better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes,
to be cast into hell fire.
Saul was commanded to put everything Amalekite to the sword because of this principle. He didnt obey. He captured King Agag and kept the finest animals.
Samuel who understood the principle took a sword and immediately beheaded Agag. As Saul lay dying on the battlefield it was an Amalekite who finally finished him off, and the when that same Amalekite brought his crown to David as an honour, David put him immediately to the sword. (2nd Samuel Chapter 1)
So here in the Book of Nehemiah we find the hero of the hour recording his pain..
I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in Gods Name and said, You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourself .
We are meant to be shocked in the physical so that we will take notice of the spiritual principle being set before us.
Moving from the Old Covenant into the New Covenant does not present us with a new God..or a changed God..or a God who weakens in His resolve to have a holy people for Himself.
We know He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
So it is no surprise to read of God declaring through His Apostle Paul..
2nd Corinthians 6, 14 - 18 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For WE are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you,and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. What stronger yoking is there than the two becoming one flesh?
So quite clearly from scripture we see that God has not commissioned us as His Church to join believer to unbeliever in His Name.
And yet we do it. Every day of every week, somewhere, we are yoking believer to unbeliever in His Name. We declare whom God has joined, let no man separate.
Has God joined them because we have declared it so? I think not according to scripture.
joinings struggle before our very eyes. It is hard enough to make a joining work between two believers (as any long serving counsellor will confirm) but the added strain of making a joining work where one partner has God as their Father and one has the
devil as their father is enormous.
1st John 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire.
As Paul declared What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? Sin is not harmful because it is forbidden. It is forbidden because it is harmful.
So when ministers go contrary to God's instructions and agree to join believer to unbeliever in His Name they are condemning them to much trouble...in Gods Name.
Better surely to risk being unpopular and guard the believer in Christ.
My first wife died of cancer at only 23.
She was saved by a visiting pastor in hospital only days before she died (not knowing that she was dying) and for this I am eternally grateful to God.
When she and I, both unsaved, approached our familys church minister to be married he refused.. because we were not Christians.
I was shocked at him and deeply offended.
I assured him that not only did I believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but that I said my prayers every night and had done so every night since I was three years of age. I assured him that I was a good person and so was my fiancée.
But to no avail. He knew we were not born again into the Kingdom of God and he would not compromise on the integrity of the Kingdom. He was very nervous about telling us, and I could see that it was taking its toll on him, but he would not be brow beaten by me on the matter.
However, other than embarrassment and a bit of hassle it was no problem really.
We found a minister who would marry us - as long as we attended his church for seven Sundays - which we did, then were married, and he never saw us again.
As I reflect, I realise which minister pleased me the most, and which pleased God the most, and they are not both the same man.
My wife Linda and I were both born again in a tent meeting many many years later- at exactly the same moment in time. Again, for this I am eternally grateful to God.
How else could we both
have worked together to establish Gods order in our home if we were both not committed to obeying and serving the One who saved us?
Ephesians 5:22-23 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body.
Ephesians 5:33 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.
1st Corinthians 7:3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
have counselled many people who struggle with situations where
it is not the case that both
partners are saved and willing to establish Godly order in their home.
Probably the majority of those saved in church have been saved while their partner has remained unsaved and so the situation is difficult.
More on that later.
It is important to keep
a foundational understanding in all this that God hates divorce. Always has.
Always will. A married couple are one flesh and divorce violently
tears that one flesh in two. That is why divorce is deeply painful even for
people who could not wait to get divorced. It is tearing one flesh apart.
(It is worth reading the teaching paper on soul ties in the teaching section
to understand this better)
Malachi 3: 13 And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, With weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, Nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant.But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth."For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," Says the Lord of hosts.
I'm glad that God hates divorce because Jesus is the
Bridegroom and we -the church-are His bride. His wife.
Revelation 19:7 & 9 "Let
us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has
come, and His wife has made herself ready." ...Then one of the seven
angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me
and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's
And if ever a Bridegroom had cause to divorce His
spouse it is Jesus. We have been lukewarm towards Him, committed adultery
with the god of this world so often and so regularly, been rebellious in not
submitting to Him in all our ways as Head of the Family. Yet He is Faithful
even when we are faithless. I am glad He hates divorce.
also hates divorce because He seeks godly offspring.
A believers seed is regarded by God as holy seed and is not to be mixed with the seed of unbelievers. Scripture records His displeasure at this happening.
Ezra 9:2 "For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that
the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass."
But within this difficult situation there is Gods grace at work for the children.. and so there is hope.
1st Corinthians 7:12- 14 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they (the children) are holy.
I do not believe Paul was saying that the unbeliever
is saved by being married to a believer, but that through the believer the
unbeliever is sanctified so that the seed - the offspring - will be
holy. I do not believe that salvation can be obtained by being married to a
believer. If this was the case then Paul would not have written in 1st
Corinthians 7:16 "For how do you know, O wife, whether
you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will
save your wife?"
And now we enter the difficult waters on the issue of
Matthew 19:3-10 The
Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it
lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" And He answered
and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning
'made them male and female,' "and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become
one flesh'? "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what
God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to Him, "Why then
did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He
said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you
to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. "And I say to
you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries
another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits
adultery." His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with
his wife, it is better not to marry."
We can readily sympathise with the disciples in their
response! This is tough teaching.
Paul grasped the nettle also.
1 Corinthians 7:10-16 Now
to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart
from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or
be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But
to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not
believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a
woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with
her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by
the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise
your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever
departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such
cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether
you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will
save your wife?
Again tough teaching. It is clearly God's heart, and
therefore God's best for us, that everything that can be done to keep a
marriage alive should be done. Read again where, through Paul, God lays down
hope where there seems to be none..
For how do you know, O wife,
whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether
you will save your wife?
But the fact is that marriages do break up both within
and without the Body of Christ.
People marry with the best of intentions in their
hearts, never with the intention of one day separating and divorcing.
Where God hates divorce we can be sure that the evil
one loves divorce and has been very successful in breaking up marriages and
families causing untold pain and confusion.
I know some who have walked out on their marriage over
a series of small things that irritated them, or because they 'met someone
they loved more' and this must grieve the heart of God.
On the other hand I know of believers who have striven
for many years in extremely difficult circumstances with an unbelieving
partner, and with admirable perseverance continued giving their best to
glorify the Lord, and yet been divorced by the unbelieving partner at the
end of it all.
The same result but two completely different heart
attitudes. One for self the other for the Lord.
David was a man after God's own heart yet he seriously
blew it on this issue. Not only did he commit adultery, but had his
mistress's husband killed on the battlefield so that he could have his wife
as his wife. In due time God convicted him through Nathan the prophet and
he truly repented (Psalm 51) was forgiven. God
continued to favour him, but the consequences were very severe. (2nd Samuel
11 & 12 and 1st Kings 1 & 2) One immediate consequence was the
death of the baby that came from their illicit intercourse, but later,
through God's grace alone He allowed Bathsheba to bear Solomon.
It is not good for man to dwell alone and so the urge
is always there to try again. It is a very painful issue for
believers. God's Word makes marriage absolutely watertight so that both
partners will have lifelong security, but I have seen God's grace at work in
many situations when marriages have failed. However His grace cannot be
presumed upon and certainly cannot be abused by carnal hearts. I do not envy
either the innocent or the repentant guilty party in this situation and leaders need
great wisdom from God. (The Pharisees have no such problem
as all cases have the letter of the law applied)
However this is not a paper on divorce, but on the
church agreeing to marry a believer to an unbeliever in God's Name, so back
to the subject.
I think it is important that those who
were believers when they married unbelievers should
confess their sin to God right now, and ask God for His unfathomable and undeserved mercy.
For sin it was. Rebellion it was.
As a believer you knew God's heart on the issue and,
'awake and aware' you chose to go against His heart. Listen to these stern words from God through Malachi..
Malachi 2: 11-12 'Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the Lord's holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god. May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware. Yet who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts!'
It was putting self
interest before God's interest, and sin produces death in whatever arena it is dropped into.
Remember the consequences that followed King David and Bathsheba?
Probably even more important, because they have been given much responsibility, and therefore much is asked of them, it is important for
pastors and ministers to repent of rebellion against God in this area.
They have not demonstrated grace by deliberately
contradicting God’s will and then presuming on His
They have demonstrated rebellion.
And so the world generally holds church leaders in
derision, almost always portraying them on television as weak watery
chinless characters with no cutting edge.
Malachi 2: 7-9 "For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi," Says the Lord of hosts. "Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base
before all the people, Because you have not kept My ways But have shown partiality in the law."
Churches that have come into agreement with this rebellion need to respond to God on this issue and break the agreement with sin, for how can two walk together unless they be agreed?
The most shameful fact of all is not even that we have come together in agreement that it is acceptable to use Gods name to join believer to unbeliever, but that we have come together in agreement that it is also acceptable to spiritually join
unbeliever to unbeliever in His Name.
So ridiculous a thought is this that scripture doesnt even bother to deal with it.
The cold truth is, that to unbelievers, a church is a sweet and traditional, fairy tale setting, for the biggest day of their lives, and a perfect setting for family friends and photographs. The couple will agree to whatever terms the minister will lay down in order to be facilitated. They will agree to whatever vows the minister asks them to speak out. They did not want Christ before the event and they do not want Him after the event. Love might have joined them. Lust might have joined them. Friendship might have joined them. But can we honestly speak over their lives that God has joined them? Our lame excuse for this unscriptural behaviour, that it is a good opportunity for evangelism shows how low we have come in demonstrating the Gospel and the Kingdom of our God to the world. Shame on us.
The good news is this. When we walk in the light, in fellowship, in obedience to Him, we read that God is 100% faithful to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:7- 2:5 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence--Jesus Christ, the Righteous He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:
Lets line up our wills and actions with the Word of God and await the
results. They will surely come, because He is faithful and watches over His Word to perform it.
I pray that this teaching paper is helpful in restoring the integrity of the Kingdom of God. Use it as a framework to study Gods word on this matter for yourself. Then talk to God,
wait upon Him, and listen to Him as He gently
makes your heart conscious of His will.
He is good, and faithful, just and merciful.Always for us, never against us.
But He will not compromise truth to avoid upsetting us when we have gone astray.
Jesus said You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.