What fellowship has light with darkness?
We would answer—none! It’s impossible. Light and darkness can’t mix. When you shine a flashlight into a dark-black room, you don’t get a ray of mixed gray light. You get a distinct separation; the light pierces the darkness.
Second Corinthians 6 explains to us that you can’t mix light with darkness, and this pertains to every relationship on earth. Now put that within the context of the greatest, closest, and most intimate relationship ever known to man: marriage. If two people, one saved and one unsaved, can’t even walk together in a true friendship, how could a marriage between spiritual “light” and “darkness” ever possibly work?
The answer: it can’t. Not unless the saved lives a compromised lifestyle. “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. . . . For what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). We can make a lot of arguments to show why those marriages don’t work, and how hurt the spouses are now, or how hard it is to try to raise children to worship God in that kind of environment.
But really only one argument needs to be given: God said no. It’s not that He doesn’t want us to enjoy marriage. Quite the opposite. As the author of marriage, He Himself knows exactly how we can have the best and most enjoyable marriage, greater and deeper and more fulfilling than we could have ever conjured up ourselves. He not only tells us how it works (Ephesians 5: the roles of husband/wife that will best keep joint unity and individual purpose), He shows us that it only works within His plan. God knows that when the saved marry the unsaved, those marriages absolutely will not work because they can’t picture Christ and the Church.
It’s not a new problem. God’s people wanting to marry whomever they wanted started years and years ago after God told the Israelites to marry only other Israelites. And time and time again, they looked over to Moab and Edom and all the other nations that were so anti-God they were Israel’s enemies. Ezra laments that Israel was so far from God and it had all started with the leadership—the priests—pushing aside God’s plan for marital holiness and intermarrying “the peoples of the lands with their abominations” (Ezra 9-10). Because of the leadership’s decisions, the entire nation ended up succumbing to this “faithlessness” (Ezra 9:2, 15). They were far from God because of their marriages.
Solomon, known to have the wisest heart of all time, who gave us the greatest picture of the joy of marriage in his book The Song of Solomon, in the end did not even adhere to his own original beliefs. The beginning of 1 Kings 11 shows the end of his life in a state far from God. “King Solomon loved many foreign women . . . Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite.” Verse two shows these marriages and mistress relationships were in direct violation of God’s commands because the Lord knew the women would “surely turn away [his] heart after their gods.”
Defiantly, Solomon still “clung to these in love,” and just as God had predicted, “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God.”
Nehemiah openly confronts (and curses) Israel for their intermarriages and even uses Solomon as his example of heart infidelity (Nehemiah 13:23-31). Then as the prophet of God, he begins work to cleanse the nation, re-establish the duties of the priests, and rebuild the need for consistent sacrifices to the Lord for confession and holiness (13:30-31).
Again and again and again.
Christian, marriage is about God and His glorious person. We have to fight for every minute part of His definition for marriage, not only that marriage remains between a man and a woman, but that in the community of believers, it remains between the saved.
So, what do we do then? Our culture so promotes that anyone should be allowed to marry anyone (or literally now anything) they want, it has infiltrated into the Church. How do we stop it?
Love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your might (Deuteronomy 6:5). There is no room for disobedience with love for God like that. Halfhearted love leads to halfhearted trust, and halfhearted trust leads to mere half-obediences. You cannot give to God every area of your life except this.
Teach your children that godliness is the most attractive quality. An unsaved man or woman with good character is still unsaved. When your 3rd grade daughter comes home with her first crush, don’t just laugh and tease her and think it’s cute. Take that moment to talk to her then about what a godly man should look like (Titus 2:6-8) and ask her if this crush measures up (yes, elementary-aged children who are saved can show godliness in their lives). When your teenage son likes a girl in youth group, don’t just ask if she’s nice and think “boys will be boys” when he only likes her because she’s cute. Ask him if she’s godly. Will she be a wife who is most like the woman from Proverbs 31? Our children may find no attraction to the dull world if their eyes are dazzled by God’s radiance.
Christian, whether you are married or not, you cannot encourage God’s perfect plan of marriage by celebrating those in the church who are not following it. It doesn’t matter how cute they are together. It doesn’t matter if they are best friends. It doesn’t matter if he has had a chance to witness to her (granted, giving the gospel is important, but can be done outside the boundaries of a relationship/engagement/intention to marry). It doesn’t matter if the relationship looks like it’s without conflict. Christian, love in its purest and most biblical form is wanting God’s best for someone else, and you cannot claim to have love for someone else if you are encouraging them in disobedience.
Promote God’s goodness in marriage by encouraging His plan for His glory!
Disclaimer: This article does not deal with someone who is already married while his/her spouse remains unsaved. In that situation, please study 1 Peter 3.