If I change my religion, can I marry my Christian girlfriend?
On occasions a non-Christian decides that he or she wants to marry a Christian. The man and woman may love one another, but one serious problem exists. The Christian will not marry the unbeliever because God forbids believers to marry someone who does not follow Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Christian tells the non-Christian that he or she must become a Christian in order for them to marry. What does the Bible say about a non-Christian changing religions or becoming a Christian in order to get married?
When a Non-Christian “Becomes a Christian” to Marry a Believer
When a non-Christian either pretends to become a Christian or with good intentions plans to become a Christian in order to marry a Christian, the non-Christian or unbeliever is guilty of deception for one of two reasons. There are two sides to deception.
The first type of deception is intentionally seeking to make someone believe a lie. Proverbs 23:6-8 illustrates this type of deception.
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 23:6-8 (ESV)
This proverb describes a man who pretends to be generous but he is not really generous. He is actually a stingy person who pretends to be generous. He does not really want to share his food; he just seeks to make others believe a lie. This person is extremely self-centered and operates by the philosophy that the “end justifies the means.” The proverb warns us to not eat the man’s bread. That is we are to have nothing to do with him since he is deceptive. We are warned to not trust him. His words are designed to deceive. We are not to have anything to do with a deceiver.
God warns the deceiver that we reap what we sow. This is a divine universal principle. If a person deceives others, God will punish the deceiver.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7 (NASB)
The second type of deception takes place when individuals deceive themselves. Listen to Jeremiah 17:9-10.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
I the LORD search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV)
Here God tells us that we can easily deceive ourselves. When a non-Christian is motivated to become a Christian in order to marry a Christian, the possibility of deception is extraordinarily high. Since when is one’s God and eternal destiny more important than the one a person marries? The person has put the future husband or wife above God. God is in second place and not in first place. One’s commitment to God must be more important than one’s commitment to a spouse. The wisdom and character of anyone who places a spouse above God must be questioned. In fact, they should question their wisdom and purpose. Have they deceived themselves?
The Bible teaches that all other gods are false gods. They are demons. Therefore, if the non-Christian honestly and sincerely chooses to believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him as their God, they have actually made the only correct choice. Their sins are forgiven gained heaven. God determines our eternal destiny but not our spouse. Why would someone change their god or religion for a man or woman? To make a decision about one’s eternal destiny is foolish and self-deceptive under such circumstances. The only genuine reason for a person to become a Christian is based on what a person believes about Jesus Christ; it must not be based on how one feels about a girl or boyfriend. The last part of Jeremiah 17:9-10 reveals that God knows the heart of everyone and He will judge us even when we deceive ourselves.
Both types of deception have serious negative consequences. The only way to avoid God’s judgment is to be completely and totally truthful and honest.
Recommendations for Getting Married
Now we will assume that the non-Christian honestly wants to become a Christian, but not for the purpose of getting married to a Christian. It is important that the man or woman does not think that becoming a Christian is simply a matter of changing religions. Christianity is not a religion or ritual with rules to be kept that if kept will enable one to get into heaven. Christianity is not a list of obligations to be followed but a relationship with God. It is a belief that Jesus Christ is God and the only true God. All other supposed gods are actually false gods or demons. Exodus 20:3 commands us to worship one God and only one God.
You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3 (NASB)
In Isaiah 45:5 God declares that He is God and there are no other Gods.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God . . .
Isaiah 45:5 (ESV)
In Isaiah 46:9 God announces that there are no gods even like Him.
. . . remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me . . .
Isaiah 46:9 (ESV)
In the New Testament Jesus Christ declares that He is God. He is the eternal God of the ages. The reader is encouraged to study the series called, “The Bible Teaches Jesus Is God.” and “The Trinity – The Plural One.” To become a Christian and follow the true God is the guarantee of eternal life, but only if the non-Christian is truly and honestly serious. Remember that God knows our hearts. To change religions is a serious issue.
It is recommended that if a non-Christian claims they want to become a Christian, then the Christian should refuse to get married and/or live together until three years pass after the non-Christian has claimed to become a Christian. The non-Christian and Christian should not be living together anyway. That is a sin. During the three years, the “new Christian” will discover what it means to be a Christian and the Christian then has time to confirm if the “new Christian” is actually a Christian. For those who think that the three years is “way too long,” the wait time should not be decreased. It takes time for someone to grow spiritually as a Christian. Changes do not occur immediately or in weeks. It is important to minimize deception and to please God. If a non-Christian and a Christian marry, very serious problems will eventually occur.
God Does Not Bless Mixed Marriages Between Christians and Unbelievers
The first problem that occurs when a Christian marries a non-Christian is that the blessing of God will not exist on the marriage since the Christian is living in disobedience. God warns Christians in multiple passages in the Bible that they are not to marry non-Christians. Here are two examples.
. . . she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:39 (NASB)
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NASB)
1 Corinthians 7:39 clearly states that a woman can only marry a man who is “in the Lord,” that is her husband must be a Christian. The same principles apply for a man marrying a woman. The second passage has a broader meaning that includes marriages as well as any business arrangements. When two people are married, they are bound together for the rest of their lives. The last part of 2 Corinthians 6:14 explains why they are not to marry. A non-Christian is a lawless person in the eyes of God who walks in spiritual darkness. This does not mean the person is necessarily an evil or wicked person from a human perspective. The message is that they have no desire to obey God. Now they will want to obey their future spouse in order to please them, but they do not seriously desire to please God. They will not obey God from the depths of their heart. Actually, they are not able to obey God because the Holy Spirit is not dwelling within them (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16). There is no power to be godly. Ephesians 2:1-2 helps us understand that non-Christians are sons of disobedience. They will disobey God.
Conflict Will Occur in Christian and Non-Christian Marriages
Consequently, tremendous conflict will occur between a Christian and a non-Christian while they are married. The marriage will be like a battle field with two armies constantly at war trying to win. Life will be one battle after another battle, each one trying to win! Eventually one of the spouses will gain dominance or they will divorce. For a Christian wife, the problem is even worse since God commands her to submit to her non-Christian husband. Then what does she do if he wants her to disobey some or all of God’s commands? Non-Christian husbands have at times refused to allow Christian wives to regularly attend church, read their Bible and pray to God. Some non-Christians have insisted and tried to force Christian wives to participate in their husband’s religion. If she divorces to escape, then she sins against God by divorcing him. However, there are Christian and non-Christian marriages where the husband yields to his wife and some peace exists. But this is still a violation of God’s command. In short, the Christian wife married to an unbeliever has displeased her God numerous times.
If the Christian is the husband, the problem is somewhat better. He will find that the wife will not be as submissive. Genesis 3:16 teaches us that marriages are cursed ever since Adam and Eve sinned. A wife will want to control her husband and the husband will want to dominate his wife. Therefore, the battle rages on for control. For a better understanding of this problem, study “God’s Solution To War In Marriage.” Further, a wife has no ability to submit since the Holy Spirit is not dwelling within her to help her obey God’s command to submit to her husband.
Spiritual Problems in Non-Christian and Christian Marriage
The third problem in such a mixed marriage is that the non-Christian will drag down the spiritual life of the Christian. In some cases, the Christian will stop attending church, not be able to read the Bible or be baptized and is often urged to commit various sins. 1 Kings 11:4 captures the ultimate problem.
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 1 Kings 11:4 (ESV)
The Christian will not be able to be fully devoted to God because of the influence of the unbelieving spouse. In response, God will judge them both. Remember “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
Why Does A Person Become A Christian?
The reason a person becomes a Christian is because they believe they are sinners and as a result are going to hell. Romans 3:10-18 teaches that God considers every person to be wicked. They have no fear of God. Therefore, every person deserves to go to hell for eternity.
Second, a person must believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only true God. There are no other gods nor is anyone even close to Him. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ became a man (John 1:14; 1 John 4:1-3). God became a man so that He could die on the cross in order to forgive our sins. When He died on the cross, His human body died; but since God is spirit, He still lived. People become a Christian when they repent of their sins, believe Jesus is God and died in their stead for their sins and humbly yield their life to God. For more information, study “What does it mean to receive Christ?”
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (ESV)
. . . because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:9-11 (ESV)
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (ESV)
In summary a person becomes a Christian by rejecting all other so-called gods. The person must believe that Jesus Christ is the only true God. There is no God but Jesus Christ. The person must believe that Christ’s body actually died on the cross in order for our sins to be forgiven. We must in sorrow seek God to forgive us. Lastly, we must willingly turn our lives over to Him to live as He wants us to live as revealed in the Bible. If a person denies Him later, it will be proof that the person was never a real Christian and that they will spend eternity in hell.
The motivation to become a “Christian” in order to marry a Christian does not sound like a serious desire to follow Jesus Christ, our God. It sounds like a deceptive gimmick to trick the non-Christian into marriage. Unfortunately, some religions practice deception and fully approve of deception in order to accomplish one’s purpose. But the God of the Bible promises to punish deceivers and evil doers. He will eventually punish those who afflict Christians, if not in this life in the life to follow.
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power . . . 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 (NASB)
However, if an unbeliever is truly serious about becoming a Christian because they want to be rightly related to God, the person is encouraged to read the articles below and then visit, “Searching For God.”
Suggested Links:The Bible Teaches Jesus Is God
The Trinity – The Plural One
God’s Solution To War In Marriage
Is it a sin to live together and not be legally married?
How To Be Filled With The Spirit
Must a person repent in order to go to heaven?
I want to seek God; how do I seek God?
Do I have to believe that Jesus is God to be saved?
What does it mean to receive Christ?
Searching For God