A Christian Woman Asks: “Is Marrying a Non-Christian a Sin?”

Just now, in response to my post, Letter From an Atheist Man Married to a Christian Woman, I got in the following comment. Just now I’m crazy busy getting together the next episode of “Smith Family,” and so couldn’t properly respond. But this letter is so touching, and so sincere, that I wanted to get it right out to you, gentle readers. I’m sure our young friend here would appreciate whatever any of you might have to say to her. Thanks.

I have always been a strong Christian. I have no problems with my faith. I love God and I don’t feel I need to prove it to anyone – to me, it’s personal, and God knows my heart.

My family is composed entirely of strong Christians, and also judgemental Chrristians. A few years ago, I met the most wonderful man who does not believe in Christianity. He believes in a higher power. He was raised a Christian, but felt his church was full of fake people who did not have true spirituality. He completely respects my religion – we talk about it a lot and he’s even come to church with me.

I am getting to the point where I want to marry this man. My family is heartbroken. They are convinced my marriage to him will tear me away from God. To be honest, my relationship with him has brought me closer to God because of how wonderful and happy he makes me.

Am I really sinning?

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Charles

    Absolutely not. God created us out of an act of love. All he wants from us in return is to love him. If this relationship brings you closer to God and more loving of him, than this it is no sin to wed outside of your faith.

  • Mary G

    I see no “sin” here. Only a great deal of love!

    I would caution you that marriage IS a bonding of two families, and if your family will so actively hate your beloved, it could be a terrible strain on your marriage.

    My first husband was utterly and completely despised by my family, and it eventually tore apart my marriage. Please discuss this openly, honestly and patiently with your beloved, to be sure he’s ready to take that on. If you or he’s hesitant in any way, you may want to consider waiting until your family gets to know him better, in hopes that they get over their bigotry, and learn to LOVE, like Jesus did!

    Hugs,

    Mary

  • Angie

    The word “sin” carries with it so much baggage of hellfire and condemnation and punishment. What if we asked a different question: “Will marrying a person who rejects Christ bring God’s best for my life?”

    God asks us not to be unequally yoked with non-believers, and to obey that, we need to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Why? Why would he want to ruin our love?

    Some thoughts ….

    He sees what we cannot and knows what’s ahead.

    A non-believer may have different priorities in financial stewardship. Will you be able to give as freely as you would like to or will giving to further God’s work seem like a waste of good money to your spouse?

    What will you teach your children?

    Will you be able to pray with your spouse? (I raise this because it’s a barrier for me in my marriage. It didn’t seem important when we were dating, but the longer we are married, the more I wish I could share this with him.)

    Will you be able to be close friends with Christian couples or will it become uncomfortable because core values differ?

    I certainly believe it’s possible to marry a good person who is not a believer and live a happy life. But it’s also important to explore the issues I mention above before diving in. I would suggest a pre-marriage class at your church. People usually wait until they’re engaged before taking the class. By then all the wedding machinery is set in motion, and it can be emotionally and financially difficult to change your mind. Take the class as a step in deciding whether you are meant to be together.

    I wish you the very best as you make your decision!

    • Terry

      Angie,

      In response to your post, I wanted to give my experience of how my husband and I make it work…he is non-christian…I am Christian.

      First of all, I believe he and I donate more to charity than most people I know that give to their churches. So, to answer that question…No, my husband believes it’s good to give to charity. Check.

      We decided we both have the responsibility to teach our daughter our religious views and she would decide on her own what her beliefs are. She is strongly grounded in her Christian beliefs. Check.

      We are friends with Christian couples and those that are uncomfortable with us, well, I dont view them as Christian couples. Check.

      So, yes, I KNOW that a non-Christian man can marry a Christian woman…we are 22 years and still going strong…stronger by the day! All it takes is unconditiional acceptance/respect, unconditional love/compassion,and unconditional trust–isnt that something…all of these is what Christ teaches.

      We both pray together. Check.

      • Angie

        Terry,

        Excellent! I’m glad to hear that. Would that all non-Christian/Christian matches turned out as well.

    • Diana A.

      “But it’s also important to explore the issues I mention above before diving in. I would suggest a pre-marriage class at your church. People usually wait until they’re engaged before taking the class. By then all the wedding machinery is set in motion, and it can be emotionally and financially difficult to change your mind. Take the class as a step in deciding whether you are meant to be together.” This is excellent advice! Thank you for sharing this!

      • Wise Fairy

        I appreciate the points Angie raised, and that she is telling where SHE is coming from–and then Terry had a very different experience that works for her–but I am thinking that one of the things that happens to pretty much EVERYONE (you’ve all heard the stories) is that once we get the “we’re getting married” ball rolling, it can be pretty impossible to turn back. We get SO invested in how we LOVE the other person, that we do not want to FAIL at the relationship, even if there are important warning signs. Pre-marital classes may be good, but they also have a strong expectation that you are just there to do what the church requires before you can marry–how many couples actually break up as a result? (I don’t know the answer and I am sure some do, but still, you get my point.) Whom we marry is perhaps THE major decision of our life (some may disagree) because it will affect our life’s trajectory and so much more, and who really knows, the first time around, what marriage even MEANS?! It takes some experience to understand.

  • Linda

    It is not a sin to be with the one you love. Period. Lots of good advice here. Lots for you to think about. But questioning whether or not your love for this man is a sin – no, it is not.

  • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

    I honestly don’t know, but I can share my story.

    Some years ago, I fell in love with a man I met online. I was churchgoing and Baptist then, and he is/was not. He was raised Methodist, though, and assured me that he believes in a Higher Power and kind of “believes the same way I did” – he’s just into being private, not into the church and dogma thing.

    He made plans to bring me out to where he lived (across the country, I lived in Arizona, he in Pennsylvania) to see a U2 concert as an early birthday present, and to help allievate some depression I was in (I was in a horrible state then and all my online friends knew it). His nephew let it slip in an AIM convo that he was planning to propose… As I recall, he’d brought me out his way before for an anime convention, so it wasn’t the first time I was seeing him in person. And I was totally in love.

    I thought about it a lot, prayed a lot before taking the trip and talked to the pastors of the two churches I was going back and forth between at the time. I got the whole “uneavenly yoked” speech (mostly because I let them know that while my guy “believed as I did” he also believed in “other possibilites” – for getting to Heaven, yadda and that kind of freaked them out).

    I ended up accepting the proposal. I felt he was right for me and, also, he offered to save me from a terrible life situation. At the time, I was forced to live with my elder brother, who was, to put it bluntly, psychotic. Verbally abusive to me, threatened me/my property all the time, stole things from me – and I literally feared for my life living with him. Bob offered me a way out. Frankly, I jumped at it.

    In explaining the situation to one pastor, I got the whole “You can’t go live with someone! You’ll be putting yourself in a situation of sexual temptation!”

    I’ve been living with Bob for close to 6 years now. We’re sort of “common law marriage” I guess, but not officially married due to financial issues (and issues with state funding to get medication / therapy /services that I need that would go bye-bye if I was “yolked” to his income – even though he’s been out of work for over a year…. doesn’t our system suck)? Anyway, Bob and I have not done the “bedroom thing” yet, nor have we really wanted to.

    It would seem that we are what happens when two aesexual nerds fall in love. Aesexual doesn’t mean a-romantic… We’ve kind of decided that we have a great partnership going on, no need to mess it up with something niether of us are actually that intersted in. Seriously, we’d rather take walks togehter, joke together and watch anime. – it pretty much shows that the one pastor who was sooo worried about my chastity knew dip about my situation and spirit.

    Over time, well, I think my conception of God is a little more like his now – a little more inclusive, a little less dogmatic…. and the reasons why I don’t go to church right now have both to do with my job (I work with animals and must work on Sundays, they don’t stop poopin’ just becuase you want to sit in a pew), and because of my anti-social nature that shies away from human contact, especially from those I fear might be judgemental of my many flaws and quirks.

    I would say that Bob and pretty well “evenly-yolked” – we have the same creative spirit and humor and have jokes between us that no one else would ever understand. We also like approaching our relationship with God in an independant way. The only time I’ve run into contention with this with him is one time, worried over something, I asked him to pray with me and he refused on the ground that he likes to keep his prayer-life very private, as in, not even with one other person. I just accept that about him and go on to pray alone, letting him pray alone when and if he feels like it.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is not to worry too much about what church-authority says. Pray about it, think about it, and do what’s best for you.

    • Suz

      Thanks for sharing that, Shadsie. You’re on an interesting journey. Incidentally, I sympathize with Bob – I HATE to pray with others. Praying to God is the single most intimate thing I do, and it feels weird to share it with any human. I certainly share my faith, and often pray silently alongside others, but words are so small. They don’t convey what I feel when I pray, and I know God gets it anyway. Praying out loud feels like a declaration for the people who hear me, a show of support, but it doesn’t feel like prayer to me.

      • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

        Although I’ve never had any mystical experiences, I wonder if God lead Bob and I to be together.

        He has had the kind of life that would make many people bitter, yet he is not. He talks of how he grew up with a severely developmentally-disabled little brother (who died young), saw a sister of his through a liver transplant (and her death, after the transplant didn’t take), took care of both of his parents as they wasted away with their respective cancers… had his dream of becoming an animator quashed by corruption at his college, has been trying to become a published writer/comic-creator for years only to build rejection… will probably have to work all his life (if he can only get work in this economy!) because of a work situation he was in during his early life that prevented him from building up his social security….

        And yet, he takes life with humor and laughs at everything. While I… frankly, I’m a person who needs to be taken care of. I’m bipolar, and can’t seem to manage my own life. I’m hard to live with, but he takes it in stride because he’s had to take care of so many people through so much already, so he says he’s “used to it.” He diffuses most bad situations with me just by saying something to make me laugh.

        I remember after having an accident at work (fell down stairs and busted an arm), he was making me laugh by talking about “medical experiments” in his faux-German Mad Scientist character voice. Soon after, I was joking about being a professional-stair diver.

        One thing it seems he’s taught me is that you either laugh or cry and it’s more fun to laugh.

        • Mary G

          That is so awesome. Love to you both!

  • Kara K

    It’s not sin, but life takes funny turns. I was in your situation 20 years ago. I grew up Baptist and my family is very strong in faith. And I never imaged anything could turn me from God. I was sure the good man I was marrying would find God. Well, it didn’t take long for the respect he had for my faith turned to ridicule. And since my family disliked him so I became isolated from them. Within just a few years I had done what had been unthinkable and turned my back on my family and my God. But my husband and I were happy for 15 years. Then, we weren’t. And I was alone. I found my way back to God, but this time it was because I needed him rather than because I was raised to believe in him. Having lived in the “real world” has given a depth to my faith that I don’t think I would have had if I had stayed in the sheltered world of Christianity.

    One of the fascinating things about life is that everyone experiences it differently. My experience was bad (I’ve left out the ugly parts because they don’t really apply to this discussion), but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Following the path I took I learned completely different things and experienced completely different things than I would have had I taken a different path. And that’s ok.

  • Suz

    No!!! Marrying a non-Christian is NOT inherently sinful! If he despised your beliefs, I would wonder why you’d want to marry him, but that’s not the case. Your relationship with God is between YOU AND GOD. Your family does not define that relationship. If your man is not actively trying to sabotage it, I don’t see a problem. With him, that is. The problem I do see is that perhaps your family doesn’t share your values, and doesn’t appear to have confidence in your relationship with God. There is no doubt that prejudice in your family could be disruptive to your marriage However, if you disagree with that prejudice, why would you let it guide the biggest decisions in your life? If God is in your heart, being true to your heart is being true to Him. Would you deny Him in order to please your family? Who is the wayward party here?

  • Wise Fairy

    I have a few thoughts, and some ideas to contribute–for you to mull around–that come from my own experience(s).

    First, is it a sin? Well, what IS sin? First, you have to define the concept. Second, you have to decide if you believe in it. Thirdly, you need to formulate an understanding of the consequences of believing something to be “right” or “wrong” or a “sin.” If you believe that the Bible is an authority for you, if you believe that Paul saying, “Do not be unequally yoked” reaches through the centuries to YOU, then you have the opportunity to be honest with yourself about what you believe.

    Your relationship to God–your identity in Christ, if you consider that you have one–is a strong guiding principle for life, to the extent that you find yourself wanting to be adhering to a way of life that is consistent with what some may call devotion (and others may call fanaticism). What I mean is that it depends very much on how committed you are to finding your ultimate identity in Christ, or in something else–and I am not arguing for one or the other, I am just saying, “How serious are you about your faith?” because that is important.

    Now, my experience–I was a devout (but not “religious”) Christian. I had come to my faith as a young adult. Within a couple years, I met the man I would marry. He was from another culture and, more than anything, was agnostic. The faith of his nation was not Christianity, but he rejected pretty much all religion and any concept of a relationship with God. We had a lot in common, but we were miles apart in this one area. Before we married, after we’d been going together for four years, I heard a sermon about marriage and about lifelong commitment and about being unequally yoked, and the responsibility of the believer to NOT enter into this vow with someone who was not where you were with regard to faith. It struck my heart like an arrow hitting its mark, but I ignored it.

    I was married for 25 years. Mostly very miserably, especially once children came along. There was such a tremendous chasm between us. There was no ability to have spiritual communion, to pray together, to talk about spiritual things, to talk to our children together; my world view and his were miles apart. I believed our vows were a sacred pledge; he believed our vows were words we spoke.

    I have already written A LOT, I know (so please, forgive me) but I think it is of the utmost importance for anyone who is considering uniting themselves to another (supposedly for life) to be as well-suited for one another as possible. In some areas, yes, it’s good for one person to have strength and the other to have weaknesses in a certain area, so that there is balance, but I do not think this applies to world views or faith or direction of the innermost being. When you think about two oxen being put into a heavy wooden yoke that, if one turns, the other must turn, that in order for them to get anywhere, they have to be in harmony–well, believe me, marriage is not a fun little quick trip along a small garden, where the load is not that heavy and there is not much chance for disagreement. No. Marriage is a big deal, and the person we marry will affect EVERYTHING about our life, and the children born to that union will cause stresses–joy comes, of course–but parenting puts added demands on a couple. Life puts added demands–things happen in life–and the less “one” you are, the more difficult it becomes to maintain harmony and that unity.

    I say, look at your faith. Decide how important it is to you. If it plays a prominent role in who you consider yourself to be and if you maintain your faith (as I did for most of my marriage), and your husband NEVER comes to any faith, you will have been a very lonely woman with one of the deepest and most precious parts of your life never able to be shared with the person you love most.

    Think about it.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Wise Fairy

      I just read the Letter from the Atheist Husband–and I think he’s a remarkable man and I feel grateful that there actually exist such people with abiding love and acceptance for their partner. However, what I am left thinking is that the letter was from the side of the atheist. He doesn’t feel the need for connection on a spiritual level because he doesn’t enter that realm. His relationship with his wife sounds very close, but if her Christianity forms a big part of her identity then she DOES miss out on this aspect–she may have a great marriage and love him to pieces, but she does not have spiritual communion.

      Maybe some of us are hardwired for that connection and others aren’t. Maybe for some Christians, it truly doesn’t matter. (Although I don’t understand that part personally.) I have a very good friend whose husband is Jewish, and more secular humanist than anything. She considers herself a Christian, but I don’t think you’d ever see it in the way she relates to her world–it’s almost only in her beliefs. They have a great marriage, however.

      Again, my point–takes me long enough, don’t it?!—is that it is really up to US to decide about OUR faith and our understanding of its demands (if any) on how we live and the choices we make. We usually know in our hearts what we believe is right–and wrong. Living with integrity. Not a bad way to do things.

      • Mary G

        I disagree whole heartedly. My husband of 20 years and I started out on the “same page” as regards to faith – or we THOUGHT we had! I’m now growing more agnostic as time goes on, and his faith hasn’t changed a bit. It also hasn’t done any damage to our marriage, even though I’ve struggled with this for over 10 years.

        There’s really no way at all to be sure you’ll grow together in faith, or if one of you will later convert to another, or lose all faith entirely. If you marry with the assumption (expectation?) that your faith will remain unchanged all your lives and all of eternity, your marriage is guaranteed to fail. All people change. ALL people.

        • Robert

          Totally agreed. All people change- especially me!

          When I first became a Christian I thought that I must find the perfect Christian woman. However, what I believe (which is much in harmony with the Thruway Christians statement of beliefs) and what the vast majority of Christians believe, is different. I had already stopped going to church because I didn’t feel comfortable with anyone there, and I’ve searched for something that makes sense for four years. Fortunately, I found my perfect woman- she just happens to be a Buddhist! What she believes and what I believe may be different, but we both have our own personal walks, and I’ll trust in God to lead us.

        • Wise Fairy

          Mary G, you sound like you have a marriage that has room for dissonance, which is very lucky. I am wondering if you’ve read Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” which is about her consciousness raising regarding patriarchy and Christianity and how she eventually gave herself permission to reject it–and she’d been a major writer for Guideposts for years. (Maybe you already know this story.)

          I don’t know if I agree with you that all people change. I think some people get very stuck. I think some of us just continue becoming more and more of what we always were. When I talk about being equally yoked, I do not mean we remain trapped in a mindset that we are not “allowed” to leave.

          But obviously there are plenty of opinions about this topic, which is healthy. It helps us question our own thoughts, which is also darn healthy–but I can see that you already know that! :^)

    • melissa

      @ wise fairy

      Great, wonderful, well thought out and,..errrrr, wise. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I mentor young adults who ponder this question often, as we don’t always choose who we fall in love with, but we should choose wisely who we decide to marry. My learned, pat answer to the sin part of this question is, “of course, why would you not choose a Christian?” As I move further away from dogma and except-ance, and closer to inclusive and loving, I am having to reconsider all of my answers to these types of questions. I sat here and looked at this empty box because I did not know how I felt. I just know that much of what I grew up with really does not settle right with my soul at this stage in my life. You actually summed it up quite well. I appreciate that so much. Again, thanks.

      @John, you really do have some of the best people to post on your blogs. I learn a lot from all of you. Thank you too.

    • Angie

      Awesome, awesome, awesome! Thanks for sharing this wisdom!

  • SugarMags

    I do not have a good answer to this…in fact, I’m dealing with similar questions in my own life. But speaking from the perspective of having spent 19 years in an emotionally abusive “Christian” marriage, I think it also needs to be said that, while both spouses being of the same faith is HELPFUL, it is by no means a GUARANTEE of anything. Two Christians can marry and STILL be “unequally yoked”. And such a marriage can be a severe form of bondage indeed.

    • Wise Fairy

      Amen to that, SugarMags!

      Nobody can truly know another person’s heart or intent, nor who they will become as life unfolds. I think that’s why, the older I get, the more I think about the concept of being equally yoked–in as many ways as possible. Saying “I am a Christian” doesn’t mean you are on the same wavelength as another person who says the same thing.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I have nothing to add to these great and thoughtful comments, and I took up the comment space to say it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Love it. Welcomed as always, Skerrib.

  • Don Rappe

    I would like to give my answer without advise, anecdotes or examples. No, it is not sinning.

  • textjunkie

    Mmmmm… Is it a sin? Doubtful. Is it right for you? Only you can tell. I went through the same thing, being madly in love with a fellow who was not in any way a Christian, and wanted to marry him really badly–but when you ponder such stuff in your heart, as the saying is, how do you feel? When I put all the happy fuzzy thoughts aside and really pictured it, considered it, my stomach lurched like I was going off a cliff, and not in a good way. I couldn’t do it. I knew that for me, with this guy, it would Not Be a Good Thing.

    So we broke up (stayed friends, he’s happily married to another atheist now with a beautiful little daughter), and a few years later I was in the same situation with another guy, who thought of himself as more Buddhist in philosophy than anything else. But with him, when I sat down and meditated on once again whether I could marry a non-Christian, the answer was “yeah. This’ll work.” And we’re coming up on our 18th anniversary this summer, so, yay. :) Have our religious views changed? Absolutely. We’ve definitely grown closer to each other in viewpoint. Have we had problems because we’re not on the same page theologically? I’d have to say yes; but we’ve also had challenges over how to spend money, how we interact with each other’s parents, how we prioritize things, you name it. The kind of religion we practice is not the main problem in trying to meld two people’s lives.

    So is it right for you with this fellow, is the question? You’re also marrying into his family and his history and his culture and his baggage, as he is into yours. How’s that feel?

    • Suz

      “Is it a sin? Doubtful. Is it right for you? Only you can tell.”

      Excellent, and then some. This is truly the heart of the issue, isn’t it? All of the variables are real and should be seriously considered, but this is the bottom line.

    • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

      Whenever I see “Christian wants to marry an atheist” or vice versa, I get a little twitch of worry… I think the letter that Mr. Shore shared is an exception. With a Buddhist, you’re getting someone who would understand a desire to follow a philosophy and someone who believes in some dimension of spirit. It seems these days with (Western – American, British) atheists that the majority of them think it’s their right, nay, even their duty to mock religious/spiriutal people (especially Christians) into the ground. Also, if the Christian in the relationship is of the hell-believing kind, they might be a little too-bent on trying to convert someone who doesn’t want to convert.

      An online friend of mine who is going for doctorate in psychology has told me he basically thinks the words of Paul on this matter are psychological advice – because it’s one of those things that psychologists will tell you: that mixed-faith marriages are difficult.

      Still, I’d see it as more psychological advice than necessarily straight-out sin. I think the important thing is being with someone you know respects you. That “lurch in the stomach” I’d say was a good sign that the person you thought you wanted to marry was good to remain just friends with. You probaly knew deep down that there’d be respect-issues.

  • Brian W

    I simply don’t know how a Christian could marry an unbeliever, I just don’t see ANY biblical support for such a union. I know Paul speaks of a marriage where a husband / wife comes to believe AFTER they were married. For me, finding a Christian wife was something I could not compromise on. That was 28 years ago and we’re still married and I love her more now than ever before. Sin is transgression of the Law, for a Christian, that is transgession of the Law of Christ. The principal of being yoked with a believer has its roots in the Old Testament – The Law of Moses, which is the Law of Christ which is the Law of God. The essential foundation in a Christian marriage is a born-again experience with Jesus Christ – this is ESSENTIAL. Marrying an unbeliever places the marriage on a shakey foundation.

    A believer should NOT marry an unbeliever. The Bible is clear about that. If you become a believer AFTER marriage, you are still obligated to remian married and in fact are commanded to live an exemplary Christian life so the unbelieving spouse will Christ personified in the believing spouse and by God’s Grace -become saved by the believing spouses life

    • Suz

      I would hazard a guess that what you and your wife have in common goes way beyond your religious beliefs. Marriage is far too complex to be defined by such a narrow static rule. After 28 years, you should know that. People grow and change. Beliefs evolve and deepen and broaden with understanding and with the acquisition of knowledge and experience. The term “unbeliever” doesn’t allow for that, does it? How do you define an “unbeliever?” And is it permissible or wise for a believer to marry a weak and perhaps (unintentionally, of course) cruel person, so long as that person is also a believer?

      While faith and philosophy should certainly be considered, “A believer should NOT marry an unbeliever,” strikes me as a shallow and unrealistic standard for choosing or rejecting a lifelong partner, especially among young people. It does not consider the moral character of either party. It implies that shared beliefs are enough to sustain an otherwise weak relationship, and that divergent beliefs will automatically undermine and otherwise strong relationship. It also encourages young people to think that they already know all the answers, that there is no reason for their beliefs to evolve.

      Couples whose beliefs are very far apart don’t often become close enough to seriously consider marriage in the first place. Therefore, such a proscription seems all but arbitrary in the real world. As if it’s only justification is, “It’s in the Bible, so it must be true.” It shouldn’t override everything else. Allowing it to dominate the issue is a convenient way to turn our backs on SO MUCH wonderful potential.

  • Mindy

    What a sweet letter. And I am saddened by those who insist your life will be miserable if she marries him. You already know the answer, letter-writer – God is love, your sweetheart has brought you closer to that, so sin? Good heavens, no. He believes in a higher power, which simply means that you and he define God differently.

    Examine how you are most comfortable practicing your faith. He attends church with you – will he continue? If he doesn’t, is that OK with you? Do you feel the need to be able to pray with him, or you do you pray in private? Find the answers to the those questions before you move forward.

    Someone mentioned that her husband moved from respect to ridicule in terms of her religion, and while that is obviously unacceptable, I believe that is about far more than “just” religious differences. That is about a man who has to insult in order to feel powerful. Men who ridicule any aspect of their wives’ lives, or vice versa, are playing with cruelty – and if it wasn’t religion, it would be something else.

    My biggest worry for you is how your family will treat him and his family. Will they ridicule? Will they continue to judge? Any family who voices their “heartbreak” over a child finding true love, just because it doesn’t fit THEIR definition of what should happen, has problems THEY need to deal with – not you. Except that they’re your family, and you love them, and you don’t want to ditch them, but you want their consideration, if not their blessing – yes? That is something you’ll probably have to address – with them. Because families, unfortunately sometimes, come with the package.

    I wish you happiness!

  • Beegowl

    Sin? My lady friend is a Christian who came to her faith late in life. I was born, raised and confirmed a Missouri Synod Lutheran. As an adult I came to the realization that God is inconceivable by humans and that what religion, and Christianity, demonstrates is an exclusive relationship with the inconceivable cloaked in the trappings of humanity, and politicized in a way that precludes spiritual honesty. I prayed then and still pray for God to guide my life. My lady friend and I have a wonderful relationship and I don’t mind going to church with her because it makes her happy. I express to her my honest disagreement with the leader of the corporate-like mega-church we attend who ridicules scientific findings regarding human origins and proclaims that church members must adopt an unwavering belief in a Hebrew creation myth because it’s in the Bible. The perpetuation of medieval ignorance by popular church leaders is, to me, reprehensible. The fate of 14th and 15th century scientists and the victims of the Inquisition says all there is to say about medieval ignorance taken to its lowest evil, political level. And, sadly enough, a contemporary Inquisition used as it was hundreds of years ago, to quash political opponents, is a feature of modern politics. On the other hand, a lot of individual people are assisted on a day-to-day basis and given hope through the charities operated by the church. It may all be a front for a huge financially lucrative scam, or it may be a legitimate expression of a search for spiritual contentment; an expression of genuine agape. I love my lady friend because her Christianity is expressed in an inclusive love. She accepts me because I accept her belief in a Triune God who intervenes directly in the lives of individual members of her church. However, it’s difficult to take Christianity or religion seriously (except when Protestants and Catholics kill each other over fine points of theology, or Muslims kill anyone who doesn’t agree with their religious views, and Jews are fair game the world over) when science is openly ridiculed in modern churches, even while inspirational stories of the application of modern science are used to illustrate God’s intervention in the world. Thanks, I’d rather have the evolution believing scientifically trained heart specialist doing my heart transplant than the preacher of the congregation. My original point is that two people cannot predict where their beliefs will lead them in their relationship. If my friend was a Christian fanatic, I’m sure we would not be together. If I hadn’t seen the good that can generate from a sincere search for spiritual contentment, I would not go to church with her. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and any other religious adherents can continue to kill each other in the name of their God(s), but this is the irrefutable demonstration of the human political nature of religion and certainly any God who defines sin would define taking a human life in God’s name as a sin. Would it be a sin because one of God’s believers fell in love and married someone who didn’t accept the other’s definition of God? Only in the fanatic’s theology.

    • Suz

      Awesome.

  • http://blog.godsword.net/ Bridgette Mongeon

    Thank you for your post and your concern. First let me say there are no guarantees. You can marry a Christian man and then down the road he decides that is not the direction for his life.

    There is no doubt that marrying someone out of your faith can make things a bit difficult. The key element to this is love. Love does conquer all things, hopes all things believes all things. My questions are these

    1. Can you love him without expecting him to change? Can you love him exactly as he is?

    2. Do you mind going to church, prayer meetings, conferences, retreats alone?

    3. Can you both respect each other enough to allow the other to take their journey?

    4. Can you respect each other enough to come to agreements on how and what the children will be told?

    For anyone to say that you loving a person, even though they have a difference of opinion, is a sin, well It makes me want to jump off of that band wagon and walk. Go into this with your eyes wide open, which is often hard to do in the beginning of a relationship.

    Oh, and for the record. I say this because I married a wonderful man who after a few years of marriage came the incredibly difficult decision to be true to himself. He came to terms with his truth—he really does not believe in God. It has been an incredible journey of self discovery. I am glad I have been able to walk that part of his journey with him. If I try to force another human being into a way of thinking then it is not their journey at all, it become mine.

    May God bless you in your union and your lives.

  • Ninetailedfox

    My family is composed entirely of strong Christians, and also judgemental Chrristians. A few years ago, I met the most wonderful man who does not believe in Christianity. He believes in a higher power

    If he believes in a higher power, hes not an atheist.

    Oh and, for me, Im no longer christian and I reccomend some serious soul searching before you tie the knot.

  • Ninetailedfox

    I believe you should love someone as they are, if you try to change them, you have no buisness tryin to marry them. I almost married at 21, but too many things went wrong, and Im glad they did. Marriage should NEVER be rushed, and people should find themselves first.

  • bld

    I am a Christian Woman. I have been married to one man who was a typical atheist and am now married to a man who is simply a nonbeliever and chooses not to title himself with terms like atheist or unitarian or anything regarding religion. My first marriage was fine. The man had no interest in religion and I did so I went to church, prayed, read scripture, the same things all Christians do. Occasionaly we had a heated disucssion about faith, but not often. We just didn’t feel the need to talk about it. It was just something we didnt have in common, like his love of football. LOL so he didn’t come to church with me and I didn’t watch football with him. The only thing that we really had to compromise on was our son. Before we married I asked him if I could raise our son in church. He was fine with that as long as once our son began asking questions over why daddy didn’t go to chruch with us, he could gently explain that he and mommy didn’t believe the same thing. Well, after 5 years together and one wonderful son we divorced. Not over religious isses, over life issues. The ones that confront Christians and non Christians, and anyone that chooses to leave the house in the morning. Just life stuff. We are still great friends. My second husband who is a non believer is completely supportive of my faith. He is proud to have a wife who truly beleivves in something and who stands up for it. He comes to church with me when I ask. When I don’t he stays home and reads. We talk about the bible. I ask him his opinion on relgious issues that I stugle with. Our children will be raised in church and when the time comes he will explain his beliefs to them. Our relathionship works. I have found him to be more supportive of me than many “Christians” that I have dated or befriended. I don’t beleive it is a sin to marry outside of your religion. I feel that the God I worship would never condem me based on what ANYONE else believes, even if they are your husband. God cares about what is in your heart. YOUR HEART.

  • bld

    I felt my past comment was not enough. I feel like this is pretty simple. It depends on the people. If you are a hard core right wing conservative Christian and he is a hard core ain’t no way there is a higher power, not gonna happen and that is all folks kind of atheist then, no marriage is not a good idea. If you are a moderate who reads the bible and interprets it for yourself and is open minded and open hearted, and he is an atheist who is also fairly moderate and enjoys hearing about others faiths and ideas and is also open minded and open hearted, I truly think you will be fine :)


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