When anyone asks me to marry them I will always agree to have at least one meeting, to learn about the couple, see where they are spiritually, get to know one another and see if we (officiant and couple) are a good fit. It’s a no-strings attached informal info session. At the very least it is an opportunity to share of the Christian vision of marriage and most importantly the Gospel. If we decide to proceed the couple commits to biblical premarital counselling.
Sometimes, sadly, because of sin and an unwillingness to do things God’s way on the part of the couple, I, by conscience and conviction, cannot proceed beyond this first conversation. This is of course done respectfully and charitably but must nevertheless be done. For example, I cannot marry same-sex or trans-gendered couples. Adultery, fornication, divorce and remarriage are also things that must be seriously explored. If the couple are not Christians I ask why a Christian marriage and will invest in a couple seriously interested in the ways of the Lord versus those interested in a Christian wedding simply because the Church has a centre aisle. I believe holy matrimony to be a sacred institution and so I am quite comfortable stepping outside of the common lens of seeing it as a form of evangelism (it is primarily an opportunity to disciple and not to evangelize, though in some cases this may be a positive side benefit). As someone who is lawfully allowed to officiate over wedding ceremonies I take the opportunity with all seriousness likening the responsibility to James 3:1, not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
You may have noticed that I left out one sort of couple, the blended couple, or a Christian seeking to marry a non-Christian. Should a Christian even entertain marrying a non-Christian? Should a Christian officiant preside over a mixed-wedding? Though some would argue it is a great opportunity to convert the non-believer, a work the Christian spouse can finish up, the classic evangelical response and consensus has been, and still is, “no.” The remainder of this blog will unpack “why.”
The why centres around what the Bible clearly says. This is not an ambiguous area where there is some degree of flexibility, the Scriptures are quite clear on the matter. Let’s build from the less clear to the clear passages:
Whether you are considering marriage for the first time or are in a situation of remarriage, resolve today to be obedient to the Lord and only “marry in the Lord.” This should be the number one criterion you have in finding a spouse.
If you find yourself in a mixed-marriage, confess and ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and save your spouse. Surround yourself with a good church and strong Christian fellowship and may your brothers and sisters in Christ prayerfully support you.
As always, would love to chat if this or any blog generates an biblical or situational questions. These are difficult matters, let us wrestle with them before the Lord and with His help.
 If you cannot find a Christian spouse it is better to wait upon the Lord than settle for something less. He will honour your patience.
 Though I have met a select few upon whom the Lord had mercy and the spouse was converted, this shouldn’t fuel disobedience nor foster wishful thinking.
In the midst of a very busy chapter that is Genesis 3 there is a curious verse which reads:
Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
What is this verse saying? It could be misread a number of different ways and begs all kinds of questions.
Firstly, it must be understood in its context, which is the Fall of mankind from a state of grace that makes up the entire chapter. If we rewind to the time before the Fall we see a picture of a marriage relationship very different from that of Gen 3:16 (NB: marriage was God’s only intended expression of an intimate relationship between a man and a woman; all other forms fall under the heading “sexual immorality or fornication”). In Gen 2:24 we read the definition of the intended marriage state between one man and one woman. This is the same verse that Jesus, and also Paul, later quote in the New Testament. It reads: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Before sin entered the world a marriage was designed to reflect God’s complementary design which pervades the opening chapter of Genesis, equality in essence (Gen 1:27) but complementarity in roles. The husband has special responsibility for lovingly leading, providing for and protecting his wife. The wife was to be to him a helper. Together they were to form a team.
Gen 3:16 describes how sin came to affect God’s design for marriage. Since the Fall wives are tempted to be insubordinate and disrespect their husband’s leadership (“desire for your husband”)—in fact they desire that role for themselves, and the husband is tempted to abuse his leadership for selfish gain (“rule over your”)—or even shirk it. This abuse of our intended roles lies at the heart of most marriage (and pseudo marriage) conflict. Wives seek to usurp a position not rightfully theirs and husbands grossly abuse, or fail to step into the role given them by God. Gen 3:16 lies at the heart of all marriage troubles. How ironic is it that men are actually looking for what society says is beneath women (submission and respect), and women are looking for exactly the opposite of what culture encourages men to be (macho vs. loving, kind and strong). God knows best!
In the New Testament we see pictures of what an ideal, restored, marriage relationship ought to look like. In Ephesians 5:22–33 and 1 Peter 2:13–17 we see words such as “submit” and “obey” used for the wife, while the husband is not to be domineering, but the loving servant leader (the weight in Ephesians at least heavily falls upon the husband and not the wife). In the Bible “submission” and “obedience” are usually put forward as virtues, ways in which we are to honour God’s will and order for His Creation. It is a call for relationships to return to the pre-Fall harmony God intended, and Gospel power to effect that change. Christians are called to submit to Christ, governments, one another, church elders, employers, wives to husbands, etc. Through the Gospel God desires to restore all things to their proper design. Such restorations affirm the glory and power of the Gospel, and adorn it with great beauty. May the Holy Spirit transform marriage relationships to this great end!
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.