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March 18, 2015

sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever. You wouldn't be the first to do it, and you wouldn't be the last. You're over eighteen, and there's no law against it. Once you've made up your mind, no one can really stop you. So that's why I say,

"Sure, you can marry an unbeliever."

But first, stand in the lobby with me and study the deep creases in this man's face, the grooves his hand plows into his grey hair. Hear his low baritone say the phrase I've never forgotten: "If I could do it again, I'd marry a woman who loves the Lord." Watch the weight of his distant wife and wayward children burden his shoulders, like a grey boulder that threatens to break him.

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

But before you do, spend a day wearing yellow rubber gloves with the sixty-something lady who is cleaning houses to pay the rent. Rub your fingers through other people's dirt and remember that at the age when most people are thinking about retirement, she's signing divorce papers and supporting herself. She signs the papers unwillingly, though he made her life miserable for the last thirty years, because she still believes it's wrong to divorce the man to whom she made a covenant before God.

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

But prior to your signature on that contract, let's spend a week in the home of the man who "led his wife to the Lord" before marriage, to please the parents or the pastor. She submits to his way of running the home and joins him at chruch; she might even read a valuable Story or two to the kids each day. He would have no reason to leave her; she's a nice lady. But watch how the faith is his, not hers. Watch him spend his entire life with this tension: drawing near to God always feels like it draws him farther from his spouse, because his spouse is invested in the earth, and his soul is invested in the eternal.

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

But let's make one more stop, and have a hot cup of rooibos with my friend, who says that "spiritual topics are not a topic" between her and her husband. Attend the prayer meeting she hosts; note that her husband is holed away upstairs. Kneel with her as she prays desperately for her sons and daughter that they wouldn't follow their father's footsteps, though the first one has gone that way already. Hide her words in your heart, "I have wanted to leave him so many times." Ask what kept her in her difficult marriage to an unbeliever: "Every time I wanted to leave, the Word told me not to."

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

I tremble to think how much power God has bestowed on you, in giving you a will, that creature form of the Creator's omnipotence.

Did you hear the unfinished sentence in the Garden, one of the few in Scripture: "'Behold, the man...might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'—" and hear the grief in the Creator's tone?

Did you hear His analysis of the events at Babel, " nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them"? He is the first to acknowledge the power of a man made in God's image, the amazing power of choice.

God can override that creature-choice, for man's own protection, and often He does. After all, we are mini-kings, but He is the ultimate King. In the Garden, His response to man's waywardness was this: "So He drove the man out..." At Babel: "So the Lord scattered them abroad from there...and they stopped building the city." But He doesn't promise to override the principle of sowing and reaping, and the rebellious "I will..."'s in the Garden and at Babel still bore bitter fruit (paradise lost, families scattered) that we taste even today.

Sure, you can marry an unbeliever.

But I petition
and I plead
and I pray
that you would take that "I will"
and make it an "I won't".

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;
for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh
will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit
will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

If a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.

Photos in this post are from here.


  1. Very good sis, and very sad reminders. :(

  2. A good family friend with whom we visited this week said that a pastor's counsel to one of their daughters was "Do not marry anyone who loves God less than you do!" Setting a high standard is so important; keeping to it is another. (Mom)

  3. Julie, Very good articles, I arrived at your blog, from the Esther Kary site, where Trevor posted your great post. Stephen Priddle

    1. Thank you, Stephen, for taking the time to comment!!