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Persnickety Presbyterian
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I know two families in which a professing Christian is engaged to an unbeliever (in the first, to an irreligious Jew; in the second, to a Sikh). In both cases, believing relatives have admonished that becoming wed to an unbeliever is a sin which, on the one hand, will draw attention away from Christ, & on the other hand, will lead inevitably to a divided or else totally non-Christian household once children are brought into the picture. These admonitions have gone unheeded, & unfortunately, neither person in question is a member of a church which practices discipline.

So, my question is, how should believing relatives respond from here? Should professing Christians who marry unbelievers be regarded as unbelievers themselves (until they acknoweldge & repent of their sin)? Should believing relatives attend the weddings, or refuse to participate in the wedding festivities altogether? What kind of support should be offered or refused to such marriages, once consummated, by believing relatives? Is it acceptable for Christian parents to disown a child who disobediently weds an unbeliever? And if Christian parents pursue such a course, should the siblings of that child also treat him or her as no longer being a part of the family?


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Quote
Should professing Christians who marry unbelievers be regarded as unbelievers themselves (until they acknowledge & repent of their sin)?

That is a tough one, seeing how the professing Christian isn't subject to a local Church. However, unless I misunderstand the applicable Scripture passages the same principle can apply in this case.
However, before I went as far as considering them as unbelievers, I would make absolutely sure that the person knows the motives for doing so. That would mean pointing them to the applicable Scripture passages before doing so.

Just a word of warning, if you follow through with this, you may take some flack and in the eyes of some.

I am in a similar situation with my sister in law. She is a professing Christian, who has been dating a non-Christian for a few years now. Taking month long holidays with him and living part time with him at his house.
It is even more complicated than that, she is an extremely unforgiving person, who is easily hurt. She is slowly losing the respect of her family, because of this and is acting like a bitter old woman.
She also is working towards a degree in Christian counseling, so you can guess what the family thinks about that.
To make a long story shorter, under the counsel of my pastor I wrote her about the concerns I had about her.
She has completely denied all the accusations I made against her in the letter. She also told me that she will never talk to me again until I apologize. She also says she is concerned about me because she believes I am getting unbiblical counsel from the Church I attend. In other words she believes my wife and I are attending an unbiblical Church.

I mention all this, just to say that when we step out and try to do what we believe Scripture says on a given matter, it may not be well received. However, we answer to God, not others. Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.

Tom

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Originally Posted by CovenantInBlood
These admonitions have gone unheeded, & unfortunately, neither person in question is a member of a church which practices discipline.
This in itself is revealing; 1) Loving, biblical admonition and counsel have gone unheeded uncovers a resistance to necessary repentance. 2) IF from the second statement both professing believers are actually members of churches which do not practice discipline, there is far more amiss than the marriage issue. A church that has no discipline is most always one which has lots of theological errors as well. Why would a professing believer join such an assembly?

Q. How should believing relatives respond from here?
  1. Should professing Christians who marry unbelievers be regarded as unbelievers themselves (until they acknowledge & repent of their sin)?
    Relationally, yes. To clarify, their profession should be considered spurious. Close association should be curtailed but communication should be left open if at all possible. Of course, if genuine repentance should be forthcoming, i.e., the engagement broken and the possible leaving of the church they are currently members of, then restoration should be openly sought.
  2. Should believing relatives attend the weddings, or refuse to participate in the wedding festivities altogether?
    I think abstention from all aspects of these unbiblical marriages would be the proper choice. This is assuming of course, that the parents/relatives believe that those professing faith in Christ are genuinely converted. Should either/both deny the faith, then attending the wedding and/or festivities might be considered.
  3. What kind of support should be offered or refused to such marriages, once consummated, by believing relatives?
    What kind of "support" are you referring to? Once the marriage is consummated, faithfulness, kindness, love, respect, etc., i.e., all that is required of a husband and wife according to Scripture still applies regardless of the spiritual state of either party. Those things should be impressed upon the minds of all involved.
  4. Is it acceptable for Christian parents to disown a child who disobediently weds an unbeliever? And if Christian parents pursue such a course, should the siblings of that child also treat him or her as no longer being a part of the family?
    I'm not sure what "disowning" entails?? shrug One cannot abrogate the biological tie. But one could decide to not include the individual from any inheritance should their be any. The parable of the Prodigal Son is very instructive as to what kind of relationship parents should have with errant children. The sin(s) committed are neither to be ignored nor diminished but wholly acknowledged. Yet, love for the child and a firm hope that there would be a returning first to God and then to the family remains. Constant prayer is one's strongest ally for all things are possible with God.

There is no denying that parents with such children are easily swayed by their emotions and often make wrong judgments in regard to their respective children. Standing firmly on biblical truth and counsel can often be difficult as that familial bond tends to cloud right thinking.

Tom suggested that one try to surmise the reasons why these professing Christians have sought out marriage with an unbeliever. Although that might help explain the external reasons for their action, e.g., love, infatuation, lust, loneliness, rebellion, etc., etc... we should not fail to realize that the true reason for these decisions is sin, plain and simple. And there is no 'excuse' for what they are planning to do. There are consequences, some dire, that always accompany sinful decisions, especially for those who profess to belong to the Lord Christ by faith.

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Hey Kyle,

Here is my own personal practical opinion.

I am a father of three girls. I remain a witness to them and I instruct them and they are all baptized and attend church.

I love them very much and if any of them should break away from the church, I would never disown them. I wouldn't even be legalistic with them, especially when they are out from under my parental authority. I would continue to love them and try to guide them, but at the end of the day, it's their decision and if I just continue to admonish them over and over, then the only thing that would result from that is that they would eventually wan't nothing to do with me.

Now the argument here is, well; sometime it takes tough love. But again, when they are old enough and or when they get married, then they are out from under my authority, so I am no longer in a position to administer judgement.

I believe in this situation; that the loving thing to do, would to just be a good witness to them. Pull them aside, tell them how your feel as a disciple of Christ; open up the Scriptures to them and encourage them to join a good Church.

If they don't then, you've done what you could, if they do, then it's now up to the Pastor and the Leaders to help that person.

Either way; in my personal opinion, the loving thing to do is to stay involved in their lives as a good witness. Yes; attend their wedding and smile and hug the bride and love them.

It is very unfortunate if a believer does mary an unbeliever. First of all, if this happens, then the believer in my opinion isn't very strong in their faith, or else they would have been seeking a believer to be married to.

It's unfortunate because if the believer does become stronger in their faith, then they are going to face a lot of challenges.

I can testify to this because I am in that situation. I'm not saying that my wife is an unbeliever, but her faith isn't like my faith.

Where I really desire to sell most of what I have and become a missionary, she desires to have a big house, a nice car, nice cloths, go to a luke warm church, etc.... etc....

So I'm not able to follow the Lord the way that I would like too. There is so much to be said here though; I truly believe that God wants me exactly where I'm at and I'm not complaining, I'm just using my own personal example of how it can be tough to be married to an unbeliever.

Most of my family are Catholics. I personally believe that none of them are true believers. Now I can either separate myself from them which would cause much tension with my wife. Or I can continue to be more of a silent witness to them and pray for them. There are times when I have to put my foot down, but I still continue to work hard at remain in good relations with them, mostly because it pleases my wife. In this situation, it wouldn't do any good for me to separate myself from them, because my wife wouldn't follow and it would just cause me to eventually getting a divorce. So I just leave it up to God to eventually work in their hearts.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Dave


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
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Kyle,

I also feel like Tom that it is a tough one.

There are certainly lots of concerns an others that replied already touched on that. I also know a Christian woman who is married to an unbeliever and one can sense that just something seems to be missing in that marriage.

Having two grandchildren myself, my question is what happens to the children born from such a marriage? The believing husband or wife must have thought about that.

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Pilgrim said:
Quote
Tom suggested that one try to surmise the reasons why these professing Christians have sought out marriage with an unbeliever. Although that might help explain the external reasons for their action, e.g., love, infatuation, lust, loneliness, rebellion, etc., etc... we should not fail to realize that the true reason for these decisions is sin, plain and simple. And there is no 'excuse' for what they are planning to do. There are consequences, some dire, that always accompany sinful decisions, especially for those who profess to belong to the Lord Christ by faith.
Pilgrim, though I agree with your reasoning here. I think you misunderstood what I said. I am assuming you referring to when I said:
Quote
However, before I went as far as considering them as unbelievers, I would make absolutely sure that the person knows the motives for doing so. That would mean pointing them to the applicable Scripture passages before doing so.
I was not suggesting that one try to surmise the reasons why these professing Christians have sought out marriage with the unbeliever. Rather I was suggesting that before considering them as unbelievers, one should point them to scriptural reasons (chapter and verse) for doing so. This would include Scripture verses showing that it is meant to cause repentance in the professing Christian.
Forgive me if my wording was not clear.

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Originally Posted by Tom
I was not suggesting that one try to surmise the reasons why these professing Christians have sought out marriage with the unbeliever. Rather I was suggesting that before considering them as unbelievers, one should point them to scriptural reasons (chapter and verse) for doing so. This would include Scripture verses showing that it is meant to cause repentance in the professing Christian.
Forgive me if my wording was not clear.
Ah... gotcha! Thanks for the clarification. I totally misunderstood what you wrote. [Linked Image]


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Tom Offline
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Originally Posted by Pilgrim
Originally Posted by Tom
I was not suggesting that one try to surmise the reasons why these professing Christians have sought out marriage with the unbeliever. Rather I was suggesting that before considering them as unbelievers, one should point them to scriptural reasons (chapter and verse) for doing so. This would include Scripture verses showing that it is meant to cause repentance in the professing Christian.
Forgive me if my wording was not clear.
Ah... gotcha! Thanks for the clarification. I totally misunderstood what you wrote. [Linked Image]

BigThumbUp Thank you

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People who marry unbelievers don't really believe it all themselves...they just think they do... OR...they're on the rd. to belief. The Lord will use this greatly in both lives to teach and reveal himself.

Why snub them? They already know how you really feel. The minute you get all holy God will reveal some weakness in your own life. Why embarrasses yourself.

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Originally Posted by Mickel
People who marry unbelievers don't really believe it all themselves...they just think they do... OR...they're on the rd. to belief. The Lord will use this greatly in both lives to teach and reveal himself.
What does it mean that "they're on the rd. [road] to belief."? shrug

Originally Posted by Mickel
Why snub them? They already know how you really feel. The minute you get all holy God will reveal some weakness in your own life. Why embarrasses yourself.
It isn't a question of "how you really feel", but rather speaking to him/her about how God 'feels' about disobedience of His perfect will, i.e., sin. Secondly, impressing upon him/her the more than likely inevitable consequences of being joined with an unbeliever (cf. 2Cor 6:14-18).

IF they are professing to believe on Christ, which also means they are allegedly disciples of Christ; those who follow Christ and all His teachings, aka: the Bible, then marrying an unbeliever is a serious sin. Those who are unrepentant of sin are to be disciplined, which is one of the three marks of the true Church.

I'm not sure what getting "all holy" means? I do know that God, according to His revealed will, again the Bible, requires that everyone be perfectly holy (Matt 5:48; Heb 13:21; 1Pet 1:15,16). So, getting "all holy" seems to be a virtue, no? Are you advocating that the brethren simply wink at this sin of marrying an unbeliever, which in the OT received serious punishment and even death by God, and take the lackadaisical attitude that everything will work out for the best?

According to the Lord Christ, we are to judge but with right judgment and with a humble attitude (Prov 27:6; Matt 7:1-5; Jam 5:19,20).


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