The Ancient Faith
“ONLY IN THE LORD”
Today we are shocked by the increasing number of broken homes and the divorce rate in our country, and to see this even creeping into the Lord’s church disturbs us very much. Surely we can see the need of much teaching for those who have never entered into marriage.
First, we should realize that marriage is a ‘‘life-long”’ contract. Too many times young people have the idea that they can marry and if it just doesn’t work out they can get a divorce and later give it another try. I just can’t believe God intended it to be this way. Each one should enter marriage and realize it is to be for life.
A CHRISTIAN HOME
Marriage should be the beginning of a Christian home. When one chooses a companion who is a Christian, they both will have things in common. On the other hand, when a Christian marries a non-Christian, there will be problems. They are asking for trouble! One will have certain interests while the other does not.
It is only natural for the Christian to want to associate with other Christians, while the unbelieving companion wants to do the things the world enjoys. When children are born into this family, other problems are presented.
There are many responsibilities that go along with marriage. The husband is to love his wife, and the wife is to be in subjection to the husband (Ephesians 5:22-25). They work together as partners to build a Christian home. And when they bring children into this world, they have the responsibility of teaching them and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
Marrying out of the church seems to be a growing temptation to our youth and a practice that is becoming more and more common. Young people, take a look at true Christianity. True Bible Christianity is the ‘‘one faith’ (Ephesians 4:5). It is the ‘‘common salvation” (Jude 3). All those who refuse to embrace this ‘ “one faith’? are classed as “unbelievers.” Should you as a Christian marry one of these ‘‘unbelievers’’?
WHAT WILL IT DO TO YOU?
It is possible that if you marry “‘out of Christ” that you will jeopardize the happiness of your companion and increase the chances of a broken home. One party to a mixed marriage wrote: “It is not only what you do to yourself, but what you do to the one you love that makes it a double tragedy.”’ She went on to say that he began to drink and that she began to nag.
You see, marrying an unbeliever seeks to join two together who can really never be together, unless one has a change of heart. The Christian loves the Lord—the unbeliever does not! Are they legally married? Certainly! Are they morally married? Yes! But there will always be that high wall that separates them; they will live in two different worlds.
Take a look at Abraham. He did not want his son, Isaac, “‘to take a wife of the daughters of the Canaanites.”’ Why should he feel this way? He knew that Isaac could have been influenced, being so closely associated with them. His wife would be under the influences of her people and their customs of worship. It would be almost impossible to reform her.
Maybe you are saying, “Yes, but I am strong—I can change my partner after we are married.”’ So, in your mind you are thinking, ‘‘We can take care of religious matters later.” You might even think of a few cases where this happened. But I can show you many, many more where it did not happen. The unbelieving companion never did obey the gospel, and even sometimes the Christian companion was led astray!
Listen my friend, marriage was never intended to be a mission effort! This should all be settled before marriage. If that companion is not interested before marriage, it is very likely that he won’t be after marriage.
WHAT WILL IT DO TO YOUR CHILDREN?
The children become the helpless victims. They are many times caught in the cross fire! One parent will say, ‘‘I want them to go to church services.”’ The other parent will say, ‘““They don’t have to go.” Then the child must choose sides—how painful! But maybe you say this, ‘We will let the children make up their own minds.”’ You know this is not right. It is your God-given duty to lead your children to Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me.”’ Can’t we see that with a mixed marriage we have a civil war, and the casualties are the children?
It will leave its marks upon them. They will bear scars of battle. And you know who will be responsible- You! Jesus said: ‘Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and were cast into the sea” (Mark 9:42).
As one party to a mixed marriage expressed it in a letter: ‘Dear friend, it is a high price you pay for love. I urge you to stop and count the cost. Don’t sell your children’s birthright as I did.”
WHAT WILL IT DO TO THE CHURCH?
You might be saying, ‘Well, why bring the church into this? Isn’t it a personal matter?” Friend, God loves the church dearly. The elders are admonished to ‘“‘feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Also, read Ephesians 5:25-27. Here is why the church, your brothers and sisters in Christ, is concerned: You may leave the Lord and lose your soul! We have seen those leave who felt themselves “strong,” and we even felt they were ‘“‘strong in the Lord.’’ We are concerned! We are striving to build the church, and when you marry “‘out of Christ” you are taking a chance on tearing it down.
And, even if you are strong and things might even work out well for you—you must think of your influence on other young boys and girls who are looking to you for an example. It might not work out so well for them.
We then reach this conclusion: It would be unwise, to say the least, for a Christian to seek a companion who is not a member of the Lord’s church. Read and study the following examples:
(1) The marriage of the ‘‘sons of God” with the “daughters of men” caused sins that brought about the flood (Genesis 6:1-7).
(2) Alien marriages were forbidden in Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1-15).
(3) It was the downfall of Samson when he chose a wife from among the uncircumcised Philistines (Judges 14:1-3),
(4) “Strange wives’ turned Solomon’s heart away from God (I Kings 11:2-4).These examples are from the Old Testament but we must remember they were written for our learning (Romans 15:4 and I Corinthians 10:11).
Be sure to read and study this Scripture: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?’’ (II Corinthians 6:14). We realize this includes other things besides marriage, but what greater yoke can we find than the marriage yoke?
Christian boys and girls, we encourage you to marry Christians. Therefore, you should keep company with Christians —date Christians. Do not date anyone who you would not want to marry, if you fell in love with them.
Paul teaches that the widow is to marry ‘‘only in the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:39). Isn’t this good advice for our young people also?
We would encourage parents to make an effort to see that their children associate with other Christian boys and girls. This might mean a sacrifice of time and money. It may mean driving to gospel meetings away from home. It could mean having “get-togethers” in your home with other Christian people invited. The effort will certainly be worth it. We hope you will look at marriage as being sacred. Choose a companion of “like precious faith.’’ Plan to live with that mate the rest of your life.
[This was originally published in Old Paths Pulpit No.2, M. Lynwood Smith Publication, 1978]
Introducing the Church of Christ – Ronny Wade
God’s Sevenfold Unity – Jerry Cutter
Repentance – J. W. McGarvey