I am a Christian young woman engaged to “Tom,” who is not a Christian. Throughout our relationship, Tom has always encouraged me in my faith. It’s one of the things I love about him.
When we announced our engagement, I received several emails from the pastor of my church telling me that, because the Bible says Christians shouldn’t marry non-Christians, I need to end my engagement. Since then many others at my church have been telling me the same thing.
I’m happy with my decision to marry this good man, whom I love. I believe that marrying Tom is not a sin, and that God will bless my marriage. But I do not know how to deal with people at my church saying that I’ll be living in sin if I marry Tom. Can you help me handle this?
It (almost!) goes without saying that your fiancé is more Christ-like than your pastor, who apparently wouldn’t know God’s love from a sack of wet nickels.
And what’s that, you say? Your pastor offers no reasoning in support of his assertion that you end your engagement beyond his manifestly self-serving and mortifyingly immature, “Because the Bible says so”?
Gosh. So shocking.
(Pause for a pastor pointer: Any belief you hold that cannot be defended without pointing to the Bible is a belief you need to rethink, especially if it’s one which necessarily results in innocent people being in any way harmed or maligned—e.g, the belief that wives should be subservient to their husbands, that all who die non-Christian go to hell, that homosexuality is a sin, that Christians shouldn’t marry non-Christians, and so on.
(Wrong is wrong, and no religious dogma, no matter how passionately believed or zealously defended, can make wrong right. If you fear God’s wrath, please remember Jesus’ warning to the religious leaders of his day: “Woe to you, teachers of the law! You snakes, you brood of vipers! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. … On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness!”)
That your pastor couldn’t even bother to meet with you in person to discuss the choice he’s given you between your immortal soul and the man you love proves to me that he’s less a pastor than he is a lazy coward.
Be that as it may, he and the others in your church have put you in a terrible position. My suggestion (and this is your right, as a member of your church) is that you ask your church to use your situation (about which people clearly already have opinions) to inform a congregational, in-depth exploration of the hardly inconsequential question of the proper relationship between Christians and non-Christians.
Suggest to your pastor a class, a forum, a moderated debate — some way in which all the members of your church can come together to openly and freely discuss this matter. If he likes the idea, great! Then you can see how that whole thing goes. If, however, your pastor rejects this perfect opportunity for a teaching moment, then thank him, leave his office, and keep going. Both you and Tom deserve better.
Send your question to John@JohnShore.com—or use our Contact form. (Letters may be edited for brevity or clarity, and will be published anonymously.)