Thursday, February 26, 2009

Must Christians marry Christians?

Heaps of young Christians struggle with this question. (And even more so older Christians who are or become single.) The hard thing is that (a) it's often quite hard to find someone to marry. This is especially the case for women. There are just not enough godly Christian blokes about in many churches. And (b) many argue there's no one clear verse that says Christians must marry other Christians. It's a big problem and not one to be tackled lightly.

Sadly, I'm not in a position to help with the first problem. (Although my goal as a minister will be to build up as many solid young men, and women, as I can so I guess I'm trying to help.) But with the second I encountered a verse today that I'd often overlooked. It's 1 Corinthians 9:5.

Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

Paul here is interacting with the Corinthians' assumption that they have "rights" that they should be free to exercise. (I'm reading these chapters this morning for a lecture where we'll be discussing how Roman society viewed these "rights"/ἐξουσίας) In chapter 9 he lists out a bunch of "rights" that he has.

But what struck me was this one. Paul has a right to get married, and to take her along on his journeys. But can he marry just anyone? Apparently not. He has a right to marry a believing wife.

OK, so it's still not an explicit command to all Christians that they should marry Christians. But it's another piece in the puzzle. And it's a significant one. The apostle Paul didn't have the right to marry just anyone. He had to marry a believing sister. I hope that's some encouragement and help to those looking to marry.