inter-faith marriage header

Interfaith Marriage

What does the Bible say about mixed marriage?

Supplement to Four Menaces to Society, Part 3

By Earl S. Gosnell III

We have been studying four ways a society can get stressed out per (Prov. 30:21-23) "For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress." Part three had to do with "an odious woman when she is married;" which refers to women not being socialized for marriage. In going over the basics of courtship referred to in my book Biblical Courtship Basics we saw that the extreme case of an interfaith marriage—between a Christian and a nonchristian—is sanctified.

In fact, I dwelt somewhat long on the subject of mixed marriage as there is a lot of misunderstanding concerning it. Now I want to elaborate still more, and why is that?

The widespread church (not scriptural) prohibition against such interfaith marriage has resulted in the following societal stresses:

Some Christians and churches understand well that interfaith marriage is sanctified, but they tend to get marginalized by other believers who are against it. As we study God's word, in theory we should be able to discern our errors and correct our practice, but as a practical matter some errors are consistently passed over, especially ones that have been incorporated into modern Bible translations. I have tried to correct erroneous thinking on this subject when I encountered it, and I find that while I can win the argument by sound scriptural reasoning, I have, in many cases, been unable to change people's minds as they think that reinforcements are in the wings waiting to defeat my viewpoint. These supposed reinforcements include:

Modern Bible translations.
In an effort to make their translations clear, translators have taken to paraphrasing commands that don't clearly say what they think they should mean instead of leaving them be.
Greek scholarship.
But the Bible is translated well enough if we only consider the context and what it says.
Imaginary context.
That is when they imagine what the context must be to produce their result without actually looking at the context that's there.
Expert opinions.
Aside from the fact that experts sometimes disagree among themselves, those with special knowledge and insight in areas can still succumb to the same errors as everyone else in putting it together.
The Bible as a whole.
Here I've found myself winning an argument on a verse by verse basis only to find my opponent tell me that the Bible as a whole supports his own viewpoint.
A good commentary will say that Christians are divided on the issue of such mixed (interfaith) marriage and leave it to us to argue it out.
The church as a whole.
Here I am made to feel that I am the only one in all of Christianity who believes the way I do. Not so. I am in the company of Jesus, Paul, and many other respectable brothers.

I've found myself under tremendous pressure to regard interfaith marriage as unsanctified, and I know better. I can well imagine what it must be like for a new convert in the Lord, of marriageable age, to confront all this pressure when he doesn't even know the scripture or know that some popular Bible versions are not to be trusted. By all means stick to the King James Version.

The newly converted brother or sister with an as yet unconverted love interest might find himself in an awkward position being pressured by his church to dump that one—and to be fair he probably should if it could never lead to an acceptable marriage—while he is not conversant in the scriptures to defend keeping together. It wouldn't bother me. I have read the Bible several times and can put together an adequate defense for a mixed marriage—Christian to nonchristian—, so I'll go with whomever I please (in the Lord). This new convert, however, must make a major decision before he's had time for extensive Bible study. If this applies to you, by all means read on as I shall show you how to get out of the dilemma.

Teacher Steve Gregg was posed a question on his radio program by a man whether he should be involved in such and such a business venture with an unbeliever. Steve quoted (II Cor. 6:14a) "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:" telling him that it applies to marriage although not given in a context talking about marriage, but whether or not to apply it to a business venture is a value judgment. Steve is more forthcoming than some teachers about the actual implications of a text, but you may read for yourself that Paul is not talking about marriage in II Corinthians 6, or anywhere else in that epistle for that matter. You are a new convert. If someone quotes that verse—and they will—, just point out that since it's not given in a context of marriage discussion, you need to acquire a basic understanding of scripture up to that point before you make any radical decision based on a single verse out-of-context. Your plan is this: you are going to read the books of the New Testament one by one in the order they are presented in the canon, i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John etc., and when you get to II Corinthians, if you see that verse telling you to break up with your unbelieving intended, then so be it. I don't feel you need to be rushed more than that. In fact read some of the Old Testament while you are at it, starting with Genesis, as that will help you understand the New.

Steve will hardly object to you, or to anyone, reading the New Testament book by book, and when you get to II Corinthians 6, he'll expect you to be in agreement with him, as he has read the Bible several times and that is what he has concluded. You are in fact only doing what you are supposed to, per (Acts 17:11) "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so." We are not supposed to simply accept what we are told, even by an apostle, but to search the scripture ourselves whether what they say is true. We don't negate our own intelligence just because we became Christians. In fact, study with your friends the subject of marriage as they will have their own perspectives too.

Okay, the first mention of marriage we find in the NT is, surprise of surprise, Joseph wondering whether he should commit to marry his espoused Mary as she's been found with child. He's about to bow out, but he gets a visitation from an angel telling him, (Matt. 1:20b) "fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." As we are also reading Genesis, we might compare that with (Gen. 6:1ff), the "sons of God" taking wives of the "children of men" and having problematic offspring. Can we apply that to our own situation, that we a Christian are about to marry an unbeliever, and perhaps we better not if the offspring wouldn't be right? Maybe. We aren't given quite enough information yet, but it's a start. In fact we will probably find more questions than answers to start out with, but we are wary of trusting the shortcut approach. My parents used to joke about the directions: "you can't get there from here." Maybe a shortcut application of a verse out of context isn't going to help us understand what God thinks of a Christian entering a mixed marriage. Maybe our slower approach is more sure.

(Matt. 8:14-15) "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them." Well, Peter was married. Jesus doesn't seem to comment on it one way or another, although he supported it to the extent of healing Peter's mother-in-law, who for her part ministered to Jesus and his disciples. At the very least we have some kind of positive example of a man's wife contributing to his ministry without being an apostle herself.

We don't have a whole lot of answers yet, just questions which are about to increase, then turn into an enigma, although we shall find Jesus directly addressing marriage. In Matthew chapter 19, the Pharisees tempted Jesus with a question about divorce. Moses allowed it. What would Jesus say?

Jesus used as his model Adam and Eve, saying that marriage was a permanent state until death, not to be dissolved by man writing a divorce decree—except for the case of fornication. The disciples didn't like the idea of such a permanent bondage, saying perhaps it's better not to marry in the first place. Jesus allows that not everyone is meant to remain always single, but some can do it and should. The Pharisees wonder about Moses allowing divorce, but Jesus says that is because of the hardness of their hearts.

This makes one wonder how strong is the preference for a Christian to remain single? Does he sin in marrying? Yet if he remains faithful to his wife till death, that would be okay then, wouldn't it? How about the Christian who is married to a nonbeliever? Jesus is following the Adamic example of the permanence of marriage, but if the spouse is not converted, then even Moses allowed divorce for the hardness of an unconverted heart. What if the unconverted spouse wants a divorce? The Christian is not supposed to divorce, so shouldn't he oppose the it with all he's got? But then wouldn't the increased strife compromise his Christian witness?

I'm afraid matters don't get any clearer by the end of the chapter. (Matt. 19:27-30) "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, ... . And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." There is a reward for forsaking all to follow Jesus, a reward of a full measure of fellowship (an hundredfold) in this life, and eternal life in the next. The forsaking all includes "or wife." Now, what can that mean, since Jesus is opposed to divorce (except for adultery)? Does this mean one should divorce his unbelieving spouse, applying the law of Moses? Jesus doesn't say, not in so many words.

In terms of forsaking, though, wouldn't that apply to forsaking an intended marriage, where perhaps the one intended is not a Christian convert? Say a man is studying to be a doctor. There are a hundred beautiful women he could pick a wife from. Doctors have status. Then he converts to Christianity. He intends to become a doctor ministering to the poor natives of Africa. His marriage prospects have suddenly vanished. He would certainly consider his decision a forsaking of a wife. He would surely find comfort in Jesus' promise. He might even find a wife after all, the one homely sister who wants to be a nurse and who would be just thrilled to go to Africa to minister to the needy. Here the first picks have become last, and the last first, although who knows what that means?

If we are not confused enough by this teaching, Jesus goes on to illustrate it with the parable of the laborers, (Matt. 20) "For the kingdom of heaven is like ..." A householder hires laborers for a penny a day to bring in the crop. Later in the day, he hires more to get it in, and still more, later and later. End of the day, he starts with the last, paying each one a penny, and when the first get a penny they feel cheated for having put in a full day's labor to receive the same payment as those who worked only one hour. The householder is, of course, justified in paying them what they'd agreed to; he is free to spend his money as he pleases with the rest. And again we have the last being first, and vice versa, whatever that means.

Okay, we'll at least take the first step to figure this out. The payment, a penny a day. Since we have not left our brains at the door when we come to a study, we'll use some reference material here. Relax: you don't have to become a scholar; I'm going to quote from a historical novel, Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth189, which was a Literary Guild main selection, and was researched by an author passionate about the history.


They stayed at the village through the summer. Later, they came to regard this decision as a terrible mistake, but at the time it seemed sensible enough, for Tom and Agnes and Alfred could each earn a penny a day working in the fields during the harvest. When autumn came, and they had to move on, they had a heavy bag of silver pennies and a fat pig.
A silver penny was, during the Middle Ages, a proper payment for a day's labor. It seemed to be worth more than it is today, but the idea of a penny is one that isn't divided down. The reward for forsaking all was "an hundredfold" in fellowship and eternal life. One cannot divide down eternal life, and presumably the hundredfold of fellowship applies to various actual degrees of forsaking all depending on circumstance. Even the ones hired that last hour put their all into it. How that applies to forsaking wife, well, we are not told that here.

Okay, the synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke—haven't really enlightened us completely on the situation of marriage, just hints and questions. John writes from a different perspective, so let's see what he has to say. John 2 has the story of Jesus turning the water into wine, ... at a wedding. Jesus here seems family friendly, he participated in the festivities to the extent of providing a miraculous beverage. And unlike the instance of healing Peter's wife's mother, we don't see the wedding party ministering to him and to his disciples. They do, the servants do, however, cooperate with Jesus in bringing the vessels filled with water. So Jesus will be involved in one's marriage if we'll let him, quite aside from us being missionaries in Africa or any other pronounced Christian ministry.

We note also the curious exchange between him and his mother, (vs. 4) "Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee, mine hour is not yet come." We are reminded of Jesus as a child being about his Father's business in Jerusalem to the neglect of his earthly family. He hasn't changed much since he got older. Still operates by some set of priorities.

Okay, when we get into Acts and Romans, we encounter a married Gospel team Priscilla and Aquila. They help out Paul. They preach the gospel. They are just the type of marriage some of the churches I've been to exemplify and promote, like the end-all of Christian marriage is to be equally yoked in service to the Lord. I kind of expect Paul to get on the bandwagon here, and while he does commend their service, he leaves us hanging about their example of marriage.

Which brings us to I Corinthians. "Wait a minute!" you may ask, "Here we've gone through the whole New Testament up to First Corinthians when we could have taken Steve's shortcut in Second Corinthians to see how God felt about a Christian entering into a mixed marriage with an unbeliever. We've looked at all the passages on marriage so far, and frankly we're lost. We've got some ideas, but none of them are settled. Why waste time with one more book? Let's just skip to Second Corinthians and be done with it."

I sympathize with you, but reading the New Testament hasn't hurt you any. You are supposed to be reading it. Furthermore, I've got a trick up my sleeve. It's called I Corinthians 7. Here Paul gives some direct answers: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me ..." (vs. 1). What are those things he they wrote him? We don't know. There hasn't been a record preserved. So we have a bunch of questions with no answers, and a bunch of answers without the questions. How is that supposed to help us?

Well, remember back in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is one of the cases where that happens, these answers matching up to those questions. Paul while extolling the life of a eunuch, doesn't impose it on one who can't handle it. Marriage is good too. Married Christians should be faithful and active with each other. If we are worried about marrying the unbeliever because of the state of the offspring of such a union, we need not be as the children of the mixed couple will be sanctified by the believer. We shouldn't ditch our unbelieving spouse, as we will sanctify such a one and perhaps convert him or her. And remember Jesus' coldness to Mary; here Paul says, (vs. 29) "the time is short, it remaineth that ... they that have wives be as though they had none." We have to put marriage into the perspective of eternity as Jesus did ignoring his mother at times.

There is a caveat concerning a widow remarrying "only in the Lord" (vs. 39), but we probably have some idea what abiding in the Lord means even though this instance will not be elaborated until (I Tim. 5:11-12) "the younger widows, ... when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, will marry; having ... cast off their first faith." Marrying in the Lord is marrying not wantonly against Christ and not outside of faith. Everything should, in fact, be done in faith. And if II Corinthians 6 isn't addressing marriage per se, then it isn't addressing widows specifically either.

Here in the first part of I Corinthians, Paul has been chiding the Corinthians for their divisiveness. He tells us that the body of Christ is a unified whole but composed of many members. He gives a few examples of the members working together. Our callings with respect to marriage, on the other hand, are individual: (vs. 7) "For ... every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." The dynamics are different depending on one's gift. The eunuch avoids even touching a woman while the married man renders to his wife "due benevolence." While our unity in the body of Christ involves the dynamic of tending to each other in charity, our conformity to our individual callings involves following one's own dynamic. These dynamics can be different though we are all Christians.

I just use the same examples Paul does to demonstrate unity in the body, to demonstrate diversity in one's gift. (I Cor. 1:12) "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." The "Paul" camp would be the eunuchs, Apollos because of his association with Priscilla and Aquila would represent the married gospel team, Cephas (Peter) is the one whose spouse helps minister to the Christian worker, Christ would be the throwback to Adam and Eve. These different callings have their own dynamics.

(I Cor. 3:21-22) "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's." "Paul" being ours is the calling as a eunuch for those who go that way. "Apollos" is the married gospel team for those who can swing it. "Cephas" is the one whose spouse supports his Christian ministry without having been called to it herself. "The world" is a mixed marriage to an unbeliever whether things present [an existing marriage to an unbeliever upon one's conversion], or things to come [a future marriage to an unbeliever after one's conversion]; all are your's." All these callings are acceptable.

And I am not getting too far afield in using these examples to relate to marriage, because Paul used the same ones, "the world" explicitly when he said a mixed marriage was sanctified, and here, (I Cor. 9:5) "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" "Cephas"—Peter—would be a marriage in which the wife ministers to the apostle's needs without herself being an apostle. "The brethren of the Lord" would be the Jesus-friendly marriage without a specific Christian ministry involved, and the "other apostles," by process of elimination, would be the gospel team like Priscilla and Aquila. Paul says he had the right to any of these kinds of marriage, so they would be, of course, sanctified, just as was the mixed marriage. (He couldn't use the mixed marriage example in a rhetorical question, because as he had to explain it to them, it wouldn't be automatically understood.)

Now we can understand the application to marriage of the parable of the laborers. The gospel team marriage, like Priscilla and Aquila, would be the full day laborers for the reward of a penny: an hundredfold of blessing and fellowship plus eternal life. The laborers from the third hour would be those marriages where one spouse has a specific ministry which the other spouse supports without being an actual part of it. The sixth and ninth hour start laborers would be those marriages that while not involved in a specific Christian ministry per se are nevertheless welcoming to Jesus' involvement in them. And the laborers from the eleventh hour, those would be where a Christian marries a nonchristian and is responsible for the labor of being with his life a Christian witness to his spouse and a strong Christian influence to his children.

Come payment and we see the mixed marriage being paid first in the Bible with Paul's explicit teaching of its sanctification. The married gospel team gets paid last, as it were, by process of elimination. The point of the parable, one of them, is that there is envy of that eleventh hour worker by the full day workers for their having "borne the heat of the day" (Matthew 20:12) but receiving no more reward than that mixed marriage Christian who merely had to be a witness to his spouse. The "heat of the day" would correspond to the "trouble in the flesh" (I Cor. 7:28) that Paul imputes to marriage, there being more friction for having to coordinate Christian ministry than there is just doing the worldly things. The married Gospel team would have more frictions also because their mates were chosen from the smaller pool of the "few who are chosen" than was the mate of the mixed marriage Christian who got his from the larger pool of the "many who are called," and thus was able to select a mate with better compatibility in the flesh; at least, that's how the full day laborers will perceive it whether it's true or not. God is fair in sanctifying all these marriages equally, and that's the way it is.

Now we have come to II Corinthians and we see Paul says he has (ch. 3:12) "used great plainness of speech." Sure has been plain the way he explained marriage. Next we read he's (ch. 4:2b) "... not handling the word of God deceitfully." Okay, what does that mean? Well, we have been plodding along through Genesis, remember, and we've read (Gen. 34:13) "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister," where they said they were allowed to intermarry when it turned out to be false. Paul has already told us it's okay for a Christian to marry a nonchristian; he's told us plainly. To handle the word of God deceitfully would be then to say it's not okay. So we don't expect him to be saying that. So it is not entirely true that Second Corinthians chapter six is not about marriage, because we can say it is in the negative sense that the command not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (vs. 14) can not be applied to marriage, not directly, especially not with the OT references supporting it.

Okay, part of the problem with interpreting the "not unequally yoked" passage is that while Paul was writing to people familiar with seeing yoked oxen, we modern Christians are not. But for us it is less of a problem in that we have not left our brains at the door and in fact have a historical novel189 we've been reading that describes oxen at work. Let us read that along with CHAPTER 6 of II CORINTHIANS and look for comparisons, bearing in mind that the author of the novel was not trying to make any religious point nor are we.

1a. We then, as workers together with him, ...
    On the slope leading up to the gate they came up with an ox cart bearing a load of stone—a very hopeful sign for Tom. The carter was bent down behind the crude wooden vehicle, pushing with his shoulder, adding his strength to that of the two oxen as they inched uphill. Tom saw a chance to make a friend. He beckoned to Alfred, and they both put their shoulders to the back of the cart and helped push.
    The huge wooden wheels rumbled onto a timber bridge that spanned an enormous dry moat. The earthworks were formidable: digging that moat, and throwing up the soil to form the town wall, must have taken hundreds of men, Tom thought; a much bigger job than digging the foundations for a cathedral. The bridge that crossed the moat rattled and creaked under the weight of the dart and the two mighty beasts that were pulling it.
    The slope leveled and the cart moved more easily as they approached the gateway. The carter straightened up, and Tom and Alfred did likewise. "I thank you kindly," the carter said.
12. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.
They passed through the gateway into the town. The place was crammed so full of buildings, people and animals that it seemed in danger of bursting its circular ramparts and spilling out into the moat. The wooden houses were jammed together shoulder to shoulder, jostling for space like spectators at a hanging. Every tiny piece of land was used for something. Where two houses had been built with an alleyway between them, someone had put up a half-size dwelling in the alley, with no windows because its door took up almost all the frontage. Wherever a site was too small even for the narrowest of houses, there was a stall on it selling ale or bread or apples; and if there was not even room for that, then there would be a stable, a pigsty, a dunghill or a water barrel.
1b. We beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
The street was only a little wider than the ox cart, but the carter would not let his beasts stop, for fear they might not start again.
2. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
It was noisy too. The rain did little to deaden the clamor of the craftmen's workshops, hawkers calling their wares, people greeting one another and bargaining and quarreling, animals neighing and barking and fighting.
3a. Giving no offense in anything
So he whipped them on, ignoring all obstacles, and they shouldered their dumb way through the multitude,
3b. that the ministry be not blamed:
indiscriminately shoving aside a knight on a war-horse,
4a. But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God,
a forester with a bow,
4b. in much patience,
a fat monk on a pony,
4c. in afflictions,
men at arms
4d. in necessities,
and beggars
4e. in distresses,
and housewives
5a. In stripes,
and whores.
5b. in imprisonments,
The cart came behind an old shepherd struggling to keep a small flock together. It must be market day, Tom realized. As the cart went by, one of the sheep plunged through the open door of an alehouse, and in a moment the whole flock was in the house, bleating and panicking and upsetting tables and stools and alepots.
5c. in tumults,
The ground underfoot was a sea of mud and rubbish. Tom had an eye for the fall of rain on a roof, and the width of gutter required to take the rain away; and he could see that all the rain falling on all the roofs of this half of the town was draining away through this street. In a bad storm, he thought, you would need a boat to cross the street.
5d. in labours,
As they approached the castle at the summit of the hill, the street widened. Here there were stone houses, one or tow of them in need of a little repair. They belonged to craftsmen and traders, who had their shops and stores on the ground floor and living quarters above.
5e. in watchings,
Looking with a practiced eye at what was on sale, Tom could tell that this was a prosperous town.
5f. in fastings;
Everyone had to have knives and pots, but only prosperous people bought embroidered shawls, decorated belts and silver clasps.
6. By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, In front of the castle the carter turned his ox team to the right, and Tom and his family followed. The street led around a quarter-circle, skirting the castle ramparts. Passing through another gate they left the hurly-burly of the town as quickly as they had entered it, and walked into a different kind of maelstrom: the hectic but ordered diversity of a major building site.
7. By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
8. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; They were inside the walled cathedral close, which occupied the entire northwest corner of the circular town. Tom stood for a moment taking it in. Just seeing and hearing and smelling it gave him a thrill like a sunny day. As they arrived behind the cartload of stone, two more carts were leaving empty. In lean-to sheds all along the side walls of the church, masons could be seen sculpting the stone blocks, with iron chisels and big wooden hammers, into the shapes that would be put together to form plinths, columns, capitals, shafts, buttresses, arches, windows, sills, pinnacles and parapets. In the middle of the close, well away from other buildings, stood the smithy, the glow of its fire visible through the open doorway; and the clang of hammer on anvil carried across the close as the smith made new tools to replace the ones the masons were wearing down. To most people it was a scene of chaos, but Tom saw a large and complex mechanism which he itched to control. He knew what each man was doing and he could see instantly how far the work had progressed. They were building the east facade.
9. As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
10. As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
11. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. They followed the cart across the close to where the stones were stacked. The oxen gratefully dipped their heads to the water trough.
13. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
14a. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:

These writings are of about equal complexity, although I don't know if one could ever apply to the other. Paul starts out II Corinthians 6 with (vs. 1) "workers together with him," he goes on to demonstrate the apostle's enlarged care to the Corinthians who are themselves somewhat closed off—"straitened"—, and he asks them to be enlarged like Paul, then he tells them not to be unequally yoked. In the other story we start out with the men helping the yoked oxen at their work, then enlarging their way through a straitened town, and finally ending with the oxen drinking. My point, from the parallel, is that it is quite conceivable that Paul's thought about equal yoking is a continuation of his labor together with the Lord, which labor enlarges his care among the straitened Corinthians.

In fact that is just the ancient habit of thought: "Sententious, indeed, and highly elliptical the classical writers often were, but the thoughts were nevertheless consequent, and logically connected, though some links of the chain might be left to the reader's sagacity to supply."190 The "consequent, and logically connected" thought involving Paul's statement about equal yoking is that he was applying it to Christian ministry, not to some endeavor from left field.

We can confirm this by finding the references he took the remaining verses (14b-18) from in the Old Testament, but as that is past our reading of Genesis, they are beyond the scope of this beginning study. You can find out more about the requirements of ministry when you've grown some in the Lord and are ready to take on one.

I shall, however, give one example by way of illustration. (Micah 2:6-7,11) "Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? ... If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people." Just as it was not Paul who was straitened, closed off, but the Corinthians, so it was not God's spirit in Micah that was straitened, closed off, but the house of Jacob who decided not to prophesy. God speaks good things to them and he wants them to be enlarged, to prophesy, just as was Paul enlarged to the Corinthans and he wants them to be enlarged in Christian minstry—especially prophecy (see I Cor. 12). God doesn't want the prophets of wine and strong drink to do so, just as Paul did not want the Corinthians unequally yoked in Christian ministry. The parallels between Micah two here and Second Corinthians six are pretty obvious. If we want to understand what being "unequally yoked" in II Cor. 6 means, it would be very helpful to read these verses in Micah two. But if we are reading the Old Testament book by book, and at slower pace than we are the New, then Micah being near the end of the Old Testament, we are not going to get to it for quite some time. We can't be expected to make our pending romance decisions a year or two down the road. Therefore we can not use the Second Corinthians Six passage as its basis, but rather the passages in the New Testament (along with a bit of Genesis) that directly address the subject of marriage.

More developed analyses on this and related issues are offered on my following twelve web pages. They might do somebody some good. Or in a debate you might get the other party to read some of them. Be warned, though, that each of my "answers" that I link to is heavy going, and I don't use any gimmicks to help you breeze through them. If you care to read any of them, you may find them interesting and you may learn something. If you want a quick answer without going through all that, then I recommend the movie Chicago—if you can handle wisdom speaking allegorically through a film not particularly made to Christian standards. Check out my (four part) movie review to get an idea of the allegories, then order the movie and view it to your heart's content.


—John W. Witehead, Grasping for the Wind191
In this chaotic age, people are increasingly seeking something outside themselves to give order and meaning to their lives. While painting once tackled these questions, modern film now addresses this search, which inevitably includes the subject of God. Of all the artistic forms throughout the ages, film may be the most suitable forum for the discussion of religion and God.

While I tend to look at this glass—movies—as half full, others see it as half empty. Here's one viewpoint that holds some merit.

Americans, more than any other people in the world, love their illusions, their dreams, their flowery phrases and idealistic declarations. They have created an entire industry based on illusion: Hollywood. The deep effect that film has had on the human psyche has yet to be analyzed or even sufficiently addressed. We err if we believe that film is only stagecraft made more brilliant, more accessible. Stagecraft itself is a form of occultism, as teachers such as Stanislavsky realized at once; cinema is occultism plus light. It is powerful, and it is one of the reasons why so many foreigners hate America with an abiding passion; hate America enough to kill it. The only nation that comes close to America in the intensity of its film industry is India, and India recognizes the power of cinema to the extent that certain types of film are never made in that country: x-rated pornography (even kissing is rare) and occult-oriented films. Sex and magic.

American filmmakers ... have plumbed the depths of sex and magic (and drugs). The manipulation of illusion, the challenge to reality that takes place in a movie theater, may be only momentary, an hour or two; but its effects are long-lasting. Hence the propaganda film. ¶ all films are propaganda films. Our enemies certainly see it that way; and maybe we don't know our own strength.

—Peter Levenda, Sinister Forces192

Propaganda is not limited to movies, nor are movies the sole form of objectionable art. It's pretty much all over now.

It was in the Thirties that America turned itself into an urban society. It was also, with the proliferation of mass media, when the great divide began developing between high and low art, and leftist poet and mystery novelist Kenneth Fearing carried that divide within him, on the one hand consciously adopting a kind of writing that limited him, on the other finding within those limits a release of creative powers that otherwise might never have been available to him. Populists like James Agee, and in his own way Fearing, rejected belief that the old high art held some possibility of salvation. Now art, all art, had been democratized, leveled, marked down for quick sale. Now it could only be packaged and repackaged again to fill the unending need for consumer goods and the media's relentless demand for product: distilled into streams of sweet-tasting poison.
—James Sallis, Ghost of a Flea193

Some see Hollywood movies as propaganda, sweet poison, unredeemable, but I see in some of them a means to salvation, a vehicle to help one think of religious issues and of God. To the man described in Psalm 15 they need not be a stumbling block.

I once was enjoying going to the movies every week with a retired English teacher. We seemed to like all the same movies. But I discovered that she could not handle martial arts movies. All that fighting. Didn't bother me; that's just the kind of movies they were. But I could not stand movies of talking animals. Animals are creatures in their own right and should not be made to look like human personalities. But that didn't bother her at all.

My suggestion for a movie above is only for those who can somehow handle it. I know there is a lot that's rotten with the whole movie industry, and some people wouldn't be caught dead in a movie theater period. But I've found a helpful message in this one that may profit some people. If that's not your particular cup of tea, then I recommend just reading my material.

Dating Questions | God's Answers to
questions of Greek scholars, sanctification, context, dating, God's authority, & authority of the church
Yoked Together in Christian Ministry,
an attempt to sort out the confusion
KJV | Context | Mixed Marriage
Comparing the KJV with modern English versions; looking at inter-faith marriage and being unequally yoked in their own contexts; proper handling of the word of God; vulnerability of widows addressed.
Parable of the Laborers
Episcopals and diversity. Parable of the laborers.
"Unequally Yoked" Metaphor
"Unequally yoked" metaphor discussed. New translations muddy the waters regarding a widow marrying "only in the Lord."
Holy Seed
Evil report and good report. King James Bible. "Unequally yoked examined. Holy seed means sanctified marriage. Marrying "only in the Lord." Christian liberty. Corinthian epistles.
Only in the Lord
"Only in the Lord" for a widow's remarriage; application to the times; sanctification of marriage; accuracy of Bible translations.
Breaking up Blues
Breaking up is the pits.
Missionary Dating
Missionary dating; circular arguments; "expert" disagreeing opinions; Priscilla & Aquila; parallels in Paul's writing; spread of primitive Christianity; parable of the laborers.
Pauline Triads
Questions from Corinthian cultural framework; the expert's opinions; triads in Paul; courtship.
Expert Opinion
Eureka! An actual "expert;" the Corinthians' perspective; modern framework; Paul's thought.
Triad Note
Note on the triad.



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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403


Copyright © 2004, Earl S. Gosnell III Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this study--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I have used material from published sources for teaching and for illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor on Inter-Faith Marriage and mixed marriage in general. The source is included in a note. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

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Interfaith Marriage