Sunday, January 4, 2009
What Does the Bible Say About Mixed Marriages?
About 1556 years after the Creation it is recorded that the numbers of men had increased upon the earth (Genesis 6:1-8). There were two clear lines of men (two distinct races); those who were descended from Seth, and those descended from Adam's other sons (including Cain). The line of Seth was the godly line, and the line of Adam's other sons was the ungodly line.
F. La Gard Smith, in his commentary included in the Chronological Bible, wrote:
"In the accounts of Seth, Cain, and their descendants is a hint that two distinct groups of people have been developing. Those descending from Seth - for example, Enoch - were apparently people who lived righteously before God. On the other hand, those descending from Cain, as typified by Lamech the murderer, appear to have degenerated into unrighteousness. Therefore, although undoubtedly individual exceptions might be found within each of the two extended families, it can generally be assumed that the Sethites were godly people and the Cainites ungodly." (p. 11)
La Gard Smith fails to include the other sons of Adam in his analysis, but as far as he goes, this is a good observation. It is to be noted that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The line of Seth were not godly because of any inherent goodness in themselves, but rather, it is God's grace, and God's grace alone that restrains the sinfulness of man, that justifies through faith, and that sanctifies by the application of His Word through the contending of the Holy Spirit. However, there are times in history when the sinfulness of man, even in the hearts of the chosen people of God, becomes so wide-spread, that God has to wipe the wicked from the face of the earth.
Henry M. Morris, in his book 'The Genesis Record' wrote:
"Although Scripture does teach that believers should not wed unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14; I Corinthians 7:39), there is no intimation that this particular sin is unforgivable or more productive of general moral deterioration than other sins." (p.165)
At this point Morris's commentary is weak; he fails to take into account a number of comments by God throughout the rest of the Scriptures in regards to mixed marriages. In the Law (Deuteronomy 7:3-4) God specifically states that the intermarrying of believers with unbelievers is so seriously bad that if it ensued "the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you." In its entirety, the passages states:
"Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them (the ungodly); you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you." (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
God's New Testament commands are as equally clear in their condemnation of mixed marriages:
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, 'I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from their midst and be separate,' says the Lord. 'And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,' says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:14-18) In this passage, Paul is making an application of the Law in Deuteronomy that says, "You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together." (Deuteronomy 22:10)
The command, "Do not ..." does not leave room for any exceptions. The contrasting couplets do not allow for shades of grey in this command: believer vs unbeliever; righteousness vs unrighteousness; light vs darkness; Christ vs Belial; Temple of God vs idols; clean vs unclean; ox vs donkey. There is no room for mistaking God's clear meaning: " mixed marriages are forbidden."
Again, in the New Testament, Paul writes:
"A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." (I Corinthians 7:39) And furthermore, Paul removes any grey area in his commandment, "only in the Lord," by excluding those who call themselves Christians but whose lifestyle witnesses that they are not. The whole chapter of I Corinthians 5: 1-13 prohibits true believers from associating with pretenders (those who call themselves Christians, but who in practice are immoral people). If true believers are not to associate with pretenders, how can they be approved to marry them?
In his commentary on the book of Genesis, R. J. Rushdoony writes:
"God through Haggai tells us that 'cleanness' is not contagious, but 'uncleanness' is (Haggai 2:11-14). This is why mixed marriages are at best very often difficult. Our redemption is a gift from God; it is not a contagion acquired from men. Evil, on the other hand, is a contagion and polluting (p. 63). In its entirety the passage states:
"Thus says the Lord of Hosts, 'Ask now the priests for a ruling: If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil or any other food, will it become holy? And the priests answered and said, "No." Then Haggai said, 'If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean? And the priests answered and said, "It will become unclean." Then Haggai answered and said, 'So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,' declares the Lord, 'and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:11-14)
The prophet Nehemiah recognised the seriousness of mixed marriages, and went to great extremes to remedy the situation before the rebuilding of the Temple could be finished. He wrote:
"Now the rest of the people ... all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God ... taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God's law ... that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons." (Nehemiah 10:28-31)
"In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people. So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, "You shall not give your daughters to their sons not take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin regarding these things? Yet among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless the foreign women caused even him to sin. Do we then hear about you that you have committed all this great evil by acting unfaithfully against our God by marrying foreign women." (Nehemiah 13:23-27)
Here, Nehemiah calls mixed marriages, "sin" and a "great evil" and an "unfaithfulness against our God." Not even the wise, king Solomon could save himself from the fall that most often comes because the unrighteous member pulls down the righteous member within a mixed marriage.
Parents of covenant families must carefully guide their children in the process of choosing a life partner. The criteria for a suitable partner for a member of the covenant must be much more than perceived physical beauty (Genesis 6:1-8). There must be considerations that concord with God's comment in Genesis 2:18:
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." The latter phrase being translated variously:
"who is right for him" (NCV)
"a companion who will help him" (NLT)
"an help meet for him" (AV)
"a helper comparable to him" (NKJV)
"a helper fit for him" (RSV)
"a helper as his partner" (NRSV)
"a helpmate, like this" (Darby)
"a suitable partner for him" (NAB)
Keeping in mind that God says, "I will make ... for him." Which the Apostle Paul explains means:
"Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:9)
Therefore, in choosing a wife for their son, the family needs to consider whether the candidate will be: "right" religiously and spiritually; "a companion" socially, intellectually and emotionally; "a helper" physically, domestically and vocationally; "comparable" in social status and gifting.
A mixed marraige can be delaterious for a young man who has a clear call of God upon his life. Commenting on Leviticus 21:14, R. J. Rushdoony writes:
"Some have held that 'he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife' means wedding a girl of the tribe of Levi, someone reared in the culture of a holy calling. The point is a very important one. The more important a man's calling in terms of the Kingdom of God, the more essential is his wife's compatibility to that calling and to the strains, duties, and responsibilities it imposes. The importance of a wife in a marriage is determined by her husband's work and her relevance to it. Similarly, the more important a man's calling, the more deleterious a wife can become by importing alien standards and demands.
"Closely related to this, as has been recognized, is v 15. A man's seed, his progeny, is profaned and grows up outside a man's calling if the woman who rears his children is at odds with or indifferent to his calling. This is serious for all men, but supremely so for a hight priest. Because it is the Lord who sanctifies us (v 15), we dare not profane our seed by unsuitable marriages. The covenant man is warned against all such unions: 2. A good man obtaineth favour of the Lord; but a man of wicked devices will be condemned. 4. A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband; but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. (Proverbs 12:2, 4) It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. (Proverbs 21:9; cf. 25:24)
These verses give us an interesting perspective. The "man of wicked devices" is condemned by God, and the word has a legal framework; God passes judgment against such a man. This is not the case with a bad wife, i.e., God does not bring judgment on her. This is why she is so dangerous, and why God warns us against bad unions, because such a woman can profane a man's seed. (Rushdoony, R. J. 2005. Leviticus. pp. 281-282)
And here is the reason that God pronounces such a severe judgment upon the union of the Sons of God with the Daughters of Men in Genesis 6:1-8. The defilement of humanity that arises out of mixed marriages can reach such a low point in the general population; there is such a confusion between darkeness and light, and between faith and unbelief, that God has to start all over again in setting Himself apart a godly line. This is preceded by general judgment, through which the wicked are wiped from the face of the earth, and a remnant of the righteous are preserved to recommence God's plan of glorifying the Name of His Son, and extending His kingdom in time and throughout the earth.
Christian parents, it is a sin for a child of God's covenant to marry anyone outside of the covenant. To do so is to introduce into the covenant family and covenant community wickedness that eminates from an inclination of the thoughts of the heart that are only evil all the time. Christian parents, guide your children in the choice of their life's partner, and choose very carefully. Failure to do so will evoke God's judgment upon your family, and will contribute to the moral decline of the community that you live in. It is very serious business.