Is It A Sin To Marry An Atheist?

Is It A Sin To Marry An Atheist?

Are you a Christian looking to marry an atheist but wondering if that’s acceptable in the Christian faith? Scroll down for all the details on whether it’s a sin to marry an atheist.

Is It A Sin To Marry An Atheist?

Yes, it’s a sin to marry an atheist. Here’s how the bible demonstrates it’s sinful for a believer to marry a non-believer:

Marriage Should Display God’s Image

According to Genesis 1, marriage is supposed to display God’s image by obeying his commands for fruitfulness and dominion. Genesis 1:26-28 say that God designed marriage to be a partnership in ruling creation under his rule. And if you don’t acknowledge that you’re ruling under his rule, then you’re ruling under the rule of an idol or a combination of idols.

This applies to every decision you have to make as a couple. Like, how are you going to decide what you should do at any point in your life? Will you do what pleases the Lord, yourself, or others?

If you’re a Christian, you’ll want to please the Lord before pleasing yourself or others. However, an atheist will have no reason to please the Lord but themselves and others.

Marriage Is A Partnership In Doing God’s Work

In Genesis 2:15-17, Adam is a priest/prophet/king in the garden kingdom where God has placed him to rule within his constraints of ultimate kingship. This is symbolized by the two trees: a blessing for living under his rule and a curse and death for refusing his rule.

 The chapter continues and shows that Adam cannot fulfill his calling to be a priest/prophet/king alone and needs a suitable helper. That’s when Eve is provided so the two can together fulfill God’s calling to bring glory to his name under his rule.

This shows that marriage is a partnership. And although it’s not good for a man to be alone, it’s not because he’ll be lonely, but because he’s incompetent to do God’s word even before the fall.

God didn’t create man alone to be competent to fulfill his calling to image God. He made a man and a woman in the union to do that. Therefore, marriage is a partnership in the gospel if it’s a Christian marriage. But if marrying a non-christian, the marriage is partnered in something else.

Marriage Is Harmed by Sin

Genesis 3 displays how marriage can be messed up by sin. Adam and Eve went from naked and unashamed to hiding from each other when cursed. In the curse, God says in Genesis 3:16 how marriage post-fall is a battle of one sinful will against another.

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

This implies that all marriages are complicated. However, in a Christian marriage, spouses can call one another to submit one’s sinful will to God’s perfect will. However, when you marry an atheist, you lose the blessing of having a spouse who calls you to submit your will to Christ. Instead, you have a partner with no interest in being called to submit their own will to Christ.

The Old Testament Condemns Marrying Unbelievers

Genesis shows us huge efforts made to ensure God’s people marry those who trust the Lord. For instance:

  • In Genesis 24, Abraham goes to great lengths, combined with God’s answers to prayers, to ensure his son Isaac marries a believer, Rebekah.
  • In Genesis 34:8-9, Rebekah and Isaac are disgusted at the marriage of their son to Caanite/Hittite women who are not religious.
  • In Genesis 34:8-9, Harmor encourages Jacob’s sons to intermarry with Shechem’s daughters instead of distancing themselves from them, as that would have destroyed the people of God in the first generation.

Moreover, the Lord gives strict prohibitions against intermarriage in the conquest of Canaan. Deuteronomy 7:3 says:

“Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.”

Old Testament Positively Displays Believing Marriages

In Proverbs 31, a young man is called to choose a woman of noble character who fears the Lord. Proverbs 31:30 says:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

So, what is it that attracts you most in a spouse, beauty, charm, or God’s fear? With a Christian, you can get the three qualities. But with an atheist, you’ll only have fleeting beauty and deceptive charm but not the fear of the Lord.

New Testament Prohibits Marrying Non-Believers

The new testament has several verses that approve the old testament prohibition on marrying non-believers is still valid. 1 Corinthians 7:39 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 say:

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness.”

These two verses show that marrying or having fellowship with pagans is condemned. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says:

“Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife with us, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?”

This verse shows that having an unbelieving wife disqualifies you from ministry.

The New Testament Gives A Positive Vision For Marriage

According to the new testament, marriage is a partnership picturing the redeeming love of Christ for his church. Ephesians 5:21 and Revelation 21:9 shows that the whole concept of marriage is to display the gospel and picture the relationship between the father and the son beyond that (1 Corinthians 11:3).

Conclusion

So, is it a sin to marry an atheist? Yes, it’s not allowed to marry an atheist. Marriage is a partnership in doing God’s work, which is impossible if you marry a non-believer.

Barbara Hartshorn
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