Mailbox - GOD'S MESSAGE/November 2010 Issue
AS MUCH AS I must
admit that I consider myself a potential convert to the Church of
Christ, having carefully studied many of the biblical doctrines it
upholds, I must also confess that I find its prohibition on interfaith
marriage scary, especially that I personally know of cases of successful
marriages even though the husbands and their respective wives are of
different religions. Do you have solid biblical basis for forbidding
Roderic Morelos email address withheld upon request
We are glad to know that you consider yourself a potential convert to the Church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo. We also appreciate your openness in expressing your apprehension about the Church's prohibition on "interfaith marriage." Obviously, you are aware that Iglesia ni Cristo members are prohibited to marry nonmembers.
Where the Holy Scriptures is concerned, there is nothing "scary" about this proscription, for it is the Lord God who enjoined such a decree upon His people. As early as when the ancient Israelites, God's first nation, were about to inhabit the promised land of Canaan, God, through His prophet Moses, had already pronounced this law prohibiting His people to intermarry with the nations that occupied Canaan before them:
"The LORD your God will bring you into the land that you are going to occupy, and he will drive many nations out of it. As you advance, he will drive out seven nations larger and more powerful than you: the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites ... Do not marry any of them, and do not let your children marry any of them, because then they would lead your children away from the LORD to worship other gods ..." (Deut. 7:1, 3-4, Today's English Version)
Notice how explicitly God forbade His people who had the true faith to intermarry with the nations who had false religions, worshiping and sacrificing to pagan gods (Exod. 34:16, 14-15). Several hundred years after the Israelites' conquest of Canaan, this commandment of God was re-emphasized through His prophets Ezra (Ezra 9:1-2; 10:10-12) and Nehemiah who led the rebuilding of the fallen wall of Jerusalem:
"At that time I also discovered that many of the Jewish men had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. ... I told them, 'It was foreign women that made King Solomon sin. Here was a man who was greater than any of the kings of other nations. God loved him and made him king over all of Israel, and yet he fell into this sin. Are we then to follow your example and disobey our God by marrying foreign women?'" (Neh. 13:23,26-27, TEV)
The sin being referred to by Nehemiah that King Solomon was led into by his marriage to foreign women is worshiping and building altars for pagan gods (I Kings 11:4-9). Therefore, God's decree to the ancient Israelites not to marry with people outside His nation firmly stood throughout history. God's people who came from the Babylonian captivity were also prohibited to marry those from pagan nations, for the same reason that He forbade their forefathers to intermarry with the original inhabitants of Canaan—that they would not fall into following false gods and hence remain as His own chosen people.
In the Christian Era, the Bible teaches that the chosen people of God are the members of the true Church of Christ (I Pet. 2:9-10; Col. 1:12-14; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). And the Holy Scriptures is as explicit in pronouncing that Church of Christ members, too, should not marry those who do not have their faith:
"Do not unite in marriage with unbelievers, for what fellowship has righteousness with iniquity? Or what mingling has light with darkness? Or what accord has Christ with Satan? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever?" (II Cor. 6:14-15, Ibid.)
Unbelievers are those who do not have the true faith and hence do not belong to the true Church of Christ, notwithstanding whether they are potentially good partners or not. It is God, through the apostles, who forbids the true Christians to marry someone from other faiths for the same reason that He issued such a law to His first nation—so that they will not be separated from God but re¬main as His chosen people:
"And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people'. Therefore 'Come out from among them And be separate,' says the Lord. 'Do not touch what is unclean And I will receive you'." (II Cor. 6:16-17, New King James Version)
As it is the Lord God Himself who founded and instituted marriage (Gen. 1:27-28 [So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."]), above anyone, He knows what makes up a good marriage for His people. The Church of Christ thus firmly believes that God's prohibition on "interfaith marriage" is certainly for the welfare and benefit of His children.
For questions, comments, and suggestions, send your letters to any of our editorial offices (see staff box, p.1). Or, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org . ph We reserve the right to edit letters for reasons of space and clarity. Sender's name may be withheld upon request.
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