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SECRETS’ CORNER – Uneven yoking

Sanka Price

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SHOULD YOU marry the one you love, even though he/she may not be a Christian like you?It’s a dilemma countless Barbadians have faced through the years, and a discussion that still stirs passions. Saying yes could mean turning your back on church, family and lifelong friendships; while saying no could lead to the love of your life walking away.Our double-barrelled question this week – Should a Christian have close friendships with non-Christians, and should they marry such an individual? Based on what you went through or know of, what kinds of problems could such a couple experience? – sought to gauge whether people still consider such a relationship as a ‘bad idea’. Based on the numbers who texted and sent emails, it’s clear that feelings on this matter still run high. The vast majority of responders said it was a bad idea as the Bible, the Word of God, taught against it. A few others countered this. They said respect for each other matters most.While we appreciate the negative consequences of marriage between two people who are not in sync on such a sensitive, personal matter, we believe that a couple who genuinely care about each other and can communicate would be able to live a happy life in spite of this factor. As one respondent said, “You don’t have to be a Christian to be a faithful, loving, respectable and reliable partner, so I don’t see why not.”The following are edited versions of responses:• “I am a born-again Christian. My husband is not. Yet he believes in the principles of the Holy Bible. . . He doesn’t smoke, drink alcohol, party, womanise, or anything of that sort. He is extremely kind and loving to me.“When we decided to marry, I took him to my pastor, who said that he cannot marry us because we are unevenly yoked. To date, I have no regrets marrying this man because we are happy together. I am totally committed to him, and he is to me. . . . Being religious cannot save a person.”• “Yes. Christians can have friends with non-Christians. Jesus sat with the tax collectors, and this did not make him unclean. How will people know good? How will they hear and know about God if they have no godly people to show them an alternative lifestyle or way of thinking? Who said if you married a non-believer that they may not turn to Christ eventually?“We marry people who profess to be Christians and sometimes are treated worse than if they were not. With God all things are possible. Therefore, if we trust God, he can make believers out of non-believers. Ask God for continued guidance and support, especially if you are in a relationship.”• “Because you are a professing Christian does not mean that you are necessarily a good partner to be yoked with. Many sisters make that mistake and suffer for it.” • “The Bible speaks against it: ‘do not be unevenly yoked with non-believers’. Sometimes, however, such marriages work depending on the two individuals involved. The most important things are love, respect, honesty, communication and commitment.”• “No. The Bible tells us we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. It also states light has no fellowship with darkness. We can have friends who are not Christians but we should be careful not to get too close with them.”• “Even though there are very powerful reasons why marriage between a Christian and an unbeliever might be unwise and certainly fraught with difficulty . . . there is at least one instance in the Bible, and countless instances in current and anecdotal history where a Christian has been able to convert his or her entire family. “It would be a serious mistake to get married with that intention, however, since there is no guarantee that such a serious step should be taken on such an uncertain basis.”• “Some spouses stick steadfastly to their faith and forget to tenderly encourage their partners. This in turn deters some partners and may cause them to look unfavourably not only on the spouse but on the religion as well. “The point that I am making here is that some people see marriage as a means of acceptability within the church and as a way of fulfilling their social roles and obligations.”• “Marriages already come with their hosts of challenges. Those of opposing views where religion or Christianity is concerned would be adding more problems to the marriage. I am not saying it is not possible for a marriage to survive under these circumstances, but it would be very difficult.”