David Oyedepo: Whom to marry is the biggest question every single man or woman ponder on. On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your love for the Lord? The area I’m going to speak about today often proves your love for God.
David Oyedepo: Many people violate God’s principles on who to marry, either out of fear or because they believe they know better than God. This leads to a lot of pain and disappointment, simply because we refuse to believe that God wants the best for us.
SHOULD I MARRY AT ALL?
Marriage is a gift of God, but so is singleness. Not everyone should marry and there are probably many people who marry, who never should. Jesus said, “Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it” (Matthew 19:12).
Paul wrote, “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).Why would a person stay unmarried? One reason that the Bible mentions is that a person who is single can give “undistracted devotion to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35). Being single means your attention is not divided between pleasing God and pleasing your spouse (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
So does the Bible say that I can’t marry? Absolutely not! Paul said, “If you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this” (1 Corinthians 7:28).
MUST I MARRY A CHRISTIAN?
Deuteronomy 7:3-4 says, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”
Intermarriage with pagans was a HUGE issue in the Old Testament. Esau, Samson, and Solomon are examples of gifted believers, who squandered their potential by unbiblical marriages (Genesis 26:34-35; 28:6-9; Judges 14:1-3; 1 Kings 11:1-3).
Why was intermarriage forbidden? Deuteronomy said that a pagan spouse will “turn you away from following me to serve other gods.” Take the example of Solomon: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). God wants our complete heart and a pagan spouse can pull us down easier than we can pull them up.
The same marriage principle applies in the New Testament. Believers are to marry only believers. 1 Corinthians 7:39 says, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”
The apostles had a right to marry, but only “a believing wife” (1 Corinthians 9:5). According to both the Old and New Testaments, believers should only marry believers.
SO WHO IS A BELIEVER?
Well, a believer is a Christian, but there are a lot of definitions of “Christian” in the world. To some being a Christian simply means you are not a Jew. To others it means an intellectual belief that there is a God and He has a son named Jesus, who was some sort of Messiah.
But we should ignore these worldly definitions and look at the Bible itself to define a Christian:
A Christian is someone who puts their complete faith in Jesus. This is more than intellectual assent. The New Testament word for “belief” means: a commitment, a dedication, an agreement of loyalty. “Believing” in the New Testament sense of the word is a heart thing, not a head thing. Romans 10:9-11says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
A Christian is someone who has Christ living in them. John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
A Christian is someone who is changing to become more like Jesus. 1 John 2:3-6 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, Gods love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
So who is a Christian? Someone who believes, has the Spirit of Christ, and evidences fruit. This has nothing to do with a particular denomination.
EXCUSES FOR DATING A NON-CHRISTIAN
You will often hear Christians giving justifications for dating or marrying an unbeliever. Here are some that I have heard:
“Dating standards are different today.”
“I think he’s open. Maybe I can witness on our dates.” This is sometimes called “Missionary Dating.”Â
“He’s not a Christian, but he’s sure a nice guy.”
“He’s more of a gentleman than most Christians I know.”
“He’s come to our Christian fellowship several times.”
“I told him he had to be a Christian so he accepted Christ.”
“I became a Christian while we were already dating.”
“We have so much in common other than religion.”
“We don’t plan to get serious.”
“I will loose dates. It narrows the field too much.”
“I don’t want him to think I’m a religious fanatic.”
“We’re only young once.”
“He’s got a few bad habits, but no one’s perfect.”
“I know I should break up, but I don’t want to hurt him.”
All of these are simply excuses for disobedience to God’s commandments and His commandments are not meant to harm us, but to protect us from harm. We can trust Him, we can follow His decrees, and it will turn out good for us in the end.
BEING IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT
Scripture teaches clearly that Christians are not to isolate themselves. As early as Genesis 12, Abram was sent out of his own country to the land of Canaan and Egypt. Joseph was used by God in Pharaoh’s court. Daniel was placed in the government administration of Babylon. Esther was called to serve God in the harem of a Persian king. Christ ate and drank with sinners. When it comes to pagans, we are not to separate ourselves from contact with them.
But even as God’s people were sent to live among those who did not worship the Lord, they were reminded again and again to be separate from them in other ways. We are to be “holy,” that is people who are set apart for the purpose of God. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'”
Hence, we are called to be in this world, but not of this world. Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Set them apart by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).
How do we be in the world, but not of it? God doesn’t leave us in doubt. God gives us clear boundaries in the Bible. Some of those boundaries relate to our lifestyle – what we can do and what we can’t do. For example, going into a bar is something we can do. Getting drunk is something we can’t do. There are also boundaries that God gives us related to intimate relationships.
MARRIAGE IS ONE OF GOD’S HOLY BOUNDARIES
Deuteronomy 7:3 says, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons.”
Exodus 34:15-16 says, “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.”
Other Bible passages: Joshua 23:11-13; Judges 5:6-7; Ezra 9:12; Nehemiah 10:30; 13:23-27; 2 Corinthians 6:14-16.
To avoid grief we should follow God’s commandments. Once a mistake is made, you can’t simply turn around and say, “We got married out of God’s will, so now we’ll just get a divorce!” It doesn’t work that way. The Bible tells us that if our unbelieving mates consent to remain with us, then we must not send them away (1 Corinthians 7:12-13) – we are bound to them for life. So this is a serious decision that must be made before you get married, not afterwards.
WHY MUST WE NOT MARRY AN UNBELIEVER?
There are at least four reasons to follow God’s command on this issue:
You will be led astray. We are warned over and over again that marriage to an unbeliever can cause us to wander away from God. Examples of this abound in the Bible.
It is disobedience. Disobedience is no small matter. It leads to a lot of pain (and marriage pain can be the worst pain) and takes us further away from the Lord, rather than closer to Him.
It is idolatry. When we make a deliberate decision to choose a person over God, that is idolatry. Who is the most important person in life to you: your “love” or Jesus Christ?
You are to be married for a mission. Christian marriage isn’t just about two people in love. Christian marriage is a partnership in working for the kingdom together. How can a believer and an unbeliever serve together, raise “godly seed” together, or open their home to Christian ministry? It can’t happen and the kingdom of God desperately needs marriage partnerships.
If you are not already married, seek the Lord to see if you should be married. If you are, then seek only to marry someone who “belongs to the Lord.”
Covenant Day of Marital Breakthrough Service Aug 28, 2016 Bishop David Oyedepo