Wednesday, July 13, 2011

R U Thinking About Getting Married?

I know a beautiful young woman, and she believes she is in love.  She wrote to me about her relationship, and how she was thinking of marrying this fortunate young man, but she told me she was concerned about him, because he had not accepted Christ as his Savior, and at times he behaved sinfully, and she had made mistakes in letting him cause her to do things that she realized later were not right.  So looking to me for wisdom, one who has been successfully married for over 30 years, she told me her story, looking for counsel.  I told her of a situation similar to hers, where the wisdom I was going to give her was not given to the person I was thinking of, and here were the results of marrying someone who had not accepted Christ as their Savior, when their spouse had done so only.  They had two children who got mixed signals from the parents, because one would give them a limitation for how long they could stay up, and the other would negate that ruling and give them a more lenient time to go to bed, and so the one parent would be at odds with the other, because the children would go with the more lenient of the two, the one who gave them the answer they wanted to hear.  The two would have arguments over the one undermining the other, and have a troubled marriage in this, and further, the children became spoiled because the unbeliever of the two was a bad example of a parent and the children felt they did not have to believe in God, because the unbelieving parent didn't!  The unbeliever even went so far as to cuss out his Savior and blame Him for all his problems as they became frustrating!  The believer was very miserable, and sometimes felt the need to exit the marriage!  So she went back to her boyfriend, and confronted him again that he needed to accept Christ, and he told her that he would accept Him.  I followed up with this young lady on her man's sudden acceptance of Christ with further counsel, that she give him an observation period before committing to marrying this young man she felt in love with.  I told her to observe him as often as she could, to see if he behaved as a believer would be expected.  If he did not seek to go to church, bible study with the pastor or with the church teachers, if he didn't stop sinful behaving as he did in the past, then understand that he did not accept Christ after all.  Be especially aware that if he pushes for fornication, he truly has not accepted Christ, because he will be proving he wants you to feel forced into marriage because of pregnancy, and then he will not have to accept your wishes that he be saved before marriage.  Now while all this I told her from knowing better, I never failed to back it up with Scripture.  Let's look at what a prospective bride or groom should be looking for in a spouse.

The very first advice I gave her from Scripture was what Paul said to the Corinthians; "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate', saith the Lord, 'And touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters', saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14 - 18)  In this passage, Belial means Satan.  An unequal yoking can be not only of marriage, but also in business and of false teachers troubling a church, or even of a believer in a church of false teachings!  The believer may realize they are in a church that has wrong doctrine, and that they need to leave the church!

In Moses' time did God order the Israelites not to be yoked with unbelievers, and they later disobeyed.  "Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; and thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods." (Exod. 34:12 - 16)

In the days of the Old Testament, it was so that a woman typically found herself getting the boot out of her home if she was unclean or hated by her husband; if they were unequally yoked; "When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house." (Deut. 24:1)  Who here thinks divorce is somewhat fun and a trivial matter, like in television soap operas?  If a 'yes' came out of anyone, oh, does that one need educating!  Divorce is expensive, and normally bankrupts both couples, and that is fitting, because their marriage was spiritually bankrupted before their bank accounts!

Consider Solomon; God had blessed him so much, particularly in that He made him the wisest man ever to tread the earth, and yet, his downfall was being unequally yoked.  "But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.  And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.  For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.  And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.  Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.  And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.  And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded." (1 Kings 11:1 - 10)  Remember too that just as Solomon was caused to sin much because of his unbelieving wives, so too an unbeliever in a marriage will cause the believer they are married to also to sin!  There will be corrupt communications of all sorts, there will be spiritual corruptions, and much unhappiness, and the believer will fall out of favor with God so long as the unbeliever continues to cause the believer to sin.  Adultery may also result from this unequal yoking!

Now understand also that there are consequences for the sin that follows the corruption of a believer in an unequal yoking; let's look at what God did with Solomon's case; "Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, 'Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.  Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.  Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David My servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen." (1 Kings 11:11 - 13)  Just as children suffer from an unequally yoked marriage, so was the case for Solomon's son.  He did indeed rend all but one tribe from the son of Solomon; the child paid for the sins of his parents!  So too will any children of an unequally yoked marriage suffer.  Children will pay consequences.  Here in America, there are such things as visitation rights, and parents who abduct their children form the custody of the other parent, and these fall further into consequence, and the children suffer afflictions on their emotions concerning the two parents.

I don't want to miss the last counsel I gave my daughter in Christ concerning her boyfriend's sudden willingness to convert.  We prayed that he would accept Christ the next time she asked, and he did, but there is one more caveat concerning an unequal yoking, and that is this.  If your initial choice is an unbeliever, and they accept Christ while you are considering them for marriage, you have a responsibility to yourself and your future children to test their commitment to Christ.  To allow time for observation of their fruits, that they have indeed accepted Christ as their Savior.  "Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:16 - 20)  One who has thrown off the old man and become a new creature will behave as such.  He will not be interested in willfully sinning anymore, he will come to enjoy going to church, and will want to read the bible continuously, and look forward to any bible studies his church or pastor offers.  He will want to control his tongue, and no longer swear, talk lewdly, nor let any corrupt communication come out of his mouth.  He will start to do good things willingly, and shun going to places where unChristian behavior takes place or is condoned, even expected.  When you are equally yoked, you will enjoy a long happy marriage, with the word of God as your daily guide!

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