Is It Ok To Marry A Non-Believer?

Is it OK to Marry a Non-Believer?
This question not seldom causes a lot of controversy, especially among Christians who are currently involved in a relationship with a non-believer since in this cases it is also connected with very strong emotions towards the boy- or girlfriend.
However, having this question unsolved and not operating in God's wisdom can cause us a lot of disappointment, grief, unfulfilled expectations, as well as broken relationships, divorce and especially and most importantly a loss of intimacy with God, of passion, commitment and single-mindedness.

Important Considerations

I have seen too many of my friends suffer because of this issue to not say anything about it. After all, choosing your spouse is said to be the second most important decision of your life (after becoming a friend of Jesus). So why should you not be wise in this decision? It is about time for us to come back to God's plan in order to prosper and live a life of consecration and growing love for Him.

  1. God's major purpose for your marriage is to be a blessing to both of you. It is to enable both parts to sincerely love God more, serve Him better and to establish His kingdom through a mutual commitment between two people. We should never aim towards anything less. If it does not bring you closer to God, would He want it?

    15 ... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
  2. God gave us a principle to not start a commitment with unbelievers. This principle refers to much more than only marital relationships, but also applies to it.

    14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (2 Cor. 6:14-15)
  3. The following passage is often used to justify the marriage between a believer and an unbeliever:

    12 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. 13 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. 14 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 are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Cor. 7:12-16)

    If read thoroughly, however, it becomes clear that this passage does not speak at all about getting married but about the issue of divorce (already starting with verse 10). It is important to notice that the original context Paul discusses here is the case when out of a married couple of two unbelievers one became a Christian but the other did not. The primary intention of this passage, therefore, was to instruct and help couples to solve issues that were raised when such an impact of imbalance occurred and not to allow marriages between Christians and unbelievers.

    Some people might argue that Paul says that it is his opinion and therefore not a command of God. Again, it has to be said that he does not speak about getting married (so he does not touch God's principle of not getting yoked to an unbeliever), but he speaks about divorce. It is his recommendation to get divorced if the non-believing part wants so, and he underlines that it is his opinion, because he knows the clear opinion of God says: "I hate divorce!" (Mal 2:16).
  4. Often there is the expectation that you might bring the person who does not believe to God. This is a misconception that has too often ended in the believing person losing his or her passion and commitment to God.

    16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Cor. 7:12-16)

    We do not know. Remember that Paul brings up this statement right after presenting the case of an unsuccessful marriage between a believer and an unbeliever ending in divorce. We do not know if it will happen. Paul does not say that in an encouraging but in a warning way: Since there is no certainty, we should not engage in it hoping it might work out and ignoring the fact that most likely it won't.

    Most of the so-called "prophetic impressions" that God wants you to marry somebody because He wants to bring him or her to Jesus through you are completely flesh-inspired. We should never listen to those voices, since they clearly contradict the written word of God (2 Cor. 6:14-15). God does never contradict Himself. Even though there are cases in which the non-believing part really became a believer through the other person, it happened totally through God's grace and still remains an exception. Furthermore, we have to notice that most of the cases in which this happened were within the biblical context of 1 Cor 7: They were both non-believers when they got married, and after one of them became a believer, the change and glory in this person drew the other person to Christ, too. It is much much less likely that this happens when they started the relationship as believer and non-believer.
  5. Gen 2 speaks about a certain kind of alikeness between marital partners. This alikeness relates to the Body, the Soul (character, will, ...) as well as the Spirit! Even though this alikeness also implies healthy, growth-enhancing differences, it never implies major mismatches.

    23 The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man. (Gen. 2:23)
  6. The principle of alikeness is also valid within the Christian context. It is not only important that the person I am going to spend the rest of my life with is a believer as well, but also that this person has similar beliefs and expresses his or her love for God in a similar way. As already said, there is a spiritual alikeness too. Therefore, I personally for instance could never marry a traditional believer - it just would not work and end up in either causing pain to both sides.

    Many have tried to ignore the fact that their spirituality was totally contrary and got engaged. Life together might not be a problem in the first days of romance when we believe that no hindrance could overcome our love. But as the relationship experiences the first valleys, it can end up being a big area of argument. Even if it that might be possible to endure, it will eventually become a serious issue as soon as it comes to the education of the children and the question, which way they should choose.

In His word, God shows us the clear principle that a believer should not be yoked together with a non-believer. This principle applies also to marriages. As a believer it is reasonable and wise not to marry a non-believer. Too often have people ignored that and ended up compromising or even losing their intimacy, passion and commitment to God. But He is a jealous God and does not want anything to hold us away from Him. His plan and purpose for marriages is to be a blessing to both and deepen the relationship to Him and help to live for Him better. Every marriage that does not bear this fruit is highly questionable and definitely not God's plan.


  1. One must also question, "why would a believer even want to marry a non believer?" If we find ourselves having such desires after becoming Christian, then we must ask God to help us identify and crucify the sin in our hearts that is specifically causing that.

    When our desires match the mind of Christ, then we will desire a spouse who loves Jesus with all their hearts.

  2. Hallo great atricle,butcan you please provide insight into 1 Peter 3:1 verse.

    1. As tremendous missions endeavors let the Gospel go forth to the nations, many people were impacted, even couples. But not always did both of them come to Christ. In 1 Pet 3, Peter addresses the same circumstances that Paul talks about in 1 Cor 7 - a couple and only one of them comes to Christ. Both Paul and Peter reinforce the possibility that the unbelieving part may come to Christ eventually. But neither of them is advocating marriage as a means of evangelism.

      Again, we need to read those passages with 2 Cor 6:14 in mind, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." They are not advocating the initiation of a marital relationship with unbelievers. We can't just make the Bible say two contrary things and then pick the one we like.