Should a Christian Marry a Heathen, Unbeliever, or a Person of a Different Religion?



The Bible is very clear on this issue, no!  A Christian should never date an unbeliever, let alone marry a heathen.  In the book of Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul made it very clear that a believer in Jesus should have no part of a binding relationship with heathens:

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
2 Corinthians 6:14-17

All throughout the Old Testament God gave many commands forbidding His people from marrying people of different religions because it always brought about apostasy:

"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."
1 Kings 1:1-2

"And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves."
Judges 3:5-7

I have a family member who is a professing Christian and we were discussing marriage one afternoon.  I mentioned how the Bible forbade a Christian from marrying an unbeliever and she vehemently opposed me. 

She stated, "Jesus went to the unbelievers so it is okay to marry one."  If a professing Christian can rationalize away clear teachings of scripture like that it is best to not argue with them because they don't believe the Bible anyway.  All we can do is pray that their eyes would be opened.

It is one thing to have a disagreement about the meaning of an obscure passage of scripture between believers.  However, for a professing Christian to boldly disregard a very clear text of scripture is an altogether different matter.  Second Corinthians Chapter six is very clear on this issue and those professing Christians who disagree with it really need to examine their motives for doing so.

Some people might claim that First Peter Chapter Three gives permission for a Christian to marry a heathen.  The Apostle Peter under direction of The Holy Spirit says no such thing!  This verse simply means if an unbelieving married woman becomes a Christian she is to live a godly life.  Over time her unbelieving husband will be won over by her transformation in conduct.

"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear,"
1 Peter 3:1-2.


Matthew Henry's Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:11-18


The apostle proceeds to address himself more particularly to the Corinthians, and cautions them against mingling with unbelievers. Here observe, how the caution is introduced with a profession, in a very pathetic manner, of the most tender affection to them, even like that of a father to his children, v. 11-13.  Though the apostle was happy in a great fluency of expressions, yet he seemed to want words to express the warm affections he had for these Corinthians.

As if he had said, "O ye Corinthians, to whom I am now writing, I would fain convince you how well I love you: we are desirous to promote the spiritual and eternal welfare of all to whom we preach, yet our mouth is open unto you, and our heart is enlarged unto you, in a special manner."

And, because his heart was thus enlarged with love to them, therefore he opened his mouth so freely to them in kind admonitions and exhortations: "You are not," says he, "straitened in us; we would gladly do you all the service we can, and promote your comfort, as helpers of your faith and your joy; and, if it be otherwise, the fault is in yourselves; it is because you are straitened in yourselves, and fail in suitable returns to us, through some misapprehensions concerning us; and all we desire as a recompense is only that you would be proportionally affected towards us, as children should love their father."

Note, It is desirable that there should be a mutual good affection between ministers and their people, and this would greatly tend to their mutual comfort and advantage.

The caution or exhortation itself, not to mingle with unbelievers, not to be unequally yoked with them, v. 14.  Either, In stated relations.  It is wrong for good people to join in affinity with the wicked and profane; these will draw different ways, and that will be galling and grievous.  Those relations that are our choice must be chosen by rule; and it is good for those who are themselves the children of God to join with those who are so likewise; for there is more danger that the bad will damage the good than hope that the good will benefit the bad.

In common conversation we should not yoke ourselves in friendship and acquaintance with wicked men and unbelievers. Though we cannot wholly avoid seeing, and hearing, and being with such, yet we should never choose them for our bosom-friends.

Much less should we join in religious communion with them; we must not join with them in their idolatrous services, nor concur with them in their false worship, nor any abominations; we must not confound together the table of the Lord and the table of devils, the house of God and the house of Rimmon.  The apostle gives several good reasons against this corrupt mixture.

It is a very great absurdity, v. 14, 15.  It is an unequal yoking of things together that will not agree together; as bad as for the Jews to have ploughed with an ox and an ass or to have sown divers sorts of grain intermixed.  What an absurdity is it to think of joining righteousness and unrighteousness, or mingling light and darkness, fire and water, together!

Believers are, and should be, righteous; but unbelievers are unrighteous. Believers are made light in the Lord, but unbelievers are in darkness; and what comfortable communion can these have together?  Christ and Belial are contrary one to the other; they have opposite interests and designs, so that it is impossible there should be any concord or agreement between them.

It is absurd, therefore, to think of enlisting under both; and, if the believer has part with an infidel, he does what in him lies to bring Christ and Belial together.

It is a dishonor to the Christian's profession (v. 16); for Christians are by profession, and should be in reality, the temples of the living God—dedicated to, and employed for, the service of God, who has promised to reside in them, to dwell and walk in them, to stand in a special relation to them, and take a special care of them, that he will be their God and they shall be his people.  Now there can be no agreement between the temple of God and idols.  Idols are rivals with God for his honor, and God is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another.

There is a great deal of danger in communicating with unbelievers and idolators, danger of being defiled and of being rejected; therefore the exhortation is (v. 17) to come out from among them, and keep at a due distance, to be separate, as one would avoid the society of those who have the leprosy or the plague, for fear of taking infection, and not to touch the unclean thing, lest we be defiled.  Who can touch pitch, and not be defiled by it?  We must take care not to defile ourselves by converse with those who defile themselves with sin; so is the will of God, as we ever hope to be received, and not rejected, by him. 

It is base ingratitude to God for all the favors he has bestowed upon believers and promised to them, v. 18. God has promised to be a Father to them, and that they shall be his sons and his daughters; and is there a greater honor or happiness than this? How ungrateful a thing then must it be if those who have this dignity and felicity should degrade and debase themselves by mingling with unbelievers!  Do we thus requite the Lord, O foolish and unwise?


Christians Must Not Marry Unbelievers:

"And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.  And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac."
Genesis 24:1-4

"And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.  Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughers of Laban thy mother's brother."
Genesis 28:1-2

"And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.  But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people."
Leviticus 20:23-24

"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."
1 Kings 1:1-2

"Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever: that ye may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever."
Ezra 9:12

"And that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, not take their daughters for our sons."
Nehemiah 10:30

"In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves."
Nehemiah 13:23-25

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  And what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
2 Corinthians 6:14-17

"And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves."
Judges 3:5-7

"Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.  For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."
Deuteronomy 7:3-4

"Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.  Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you."
Joshua 23:11-12

"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods."
Exodus 34:14-16

"Have we not all one Father?  Has not one God created us?  Why do we deal treacherously with one another By profaning the covenant of the fathers?  Judah has dealt treacherously, And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The LORD’s holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god,"
Malachi 2:10-11





"But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love."
1 Kings 1:1-2
"And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods.  And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves."
Judges 3:5-7
Dr. J. Vernon McGee: Unequally yoked to unbelievers.