How do you deal with a church member who wishes to marry a non-believer?


I would like to know how other elders/consistories have dealt with a situation where one of their active members have chosen to marry someone that is not a believer. How to provide discipline in matters such as that while caring continuing to show love and care. Especially when the person decides to go ahead anyway.

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 Hi Al,  

seems like there are few good suggestions to help you.  I suppose in part this is because so many details are missing.  Generalized solutions to particular problems will often fail to deal with nuance.  I usually divide the issues,  First there is the question: what is happening in the life of this person?  This is where the sketchy information makes it difficult to make judgments.  It is clear that the strength of love is a powerful movement in the persons life.  But I wonder What is happening to a person's faith?  I try to listen carefully to the language.  So many times there are subtle suggestions that Christianity is just another form of spirituality.or perhaps there is a suggestion that the Scriptural words about being "unequally yoked" is not applicable in this situation.  I also wonder how the person's future spouse deals with faith... supportive of the faith commitment? Antagonistic?  There is so much left unsaid that addressing the concerns is difficult.  

The second question involves the integrity of the church's voice.  If a person disobeys the voice of God but continues in ministry does this not mean that the church's voice is compromised?  Simple answer: yes.  But how do we deal with this?  Two points to make: First, there are times when a person needs to be withdrawn from a certain ministry.  For instance if a person is a mentor to youth the integrity of the church's ministry maybe undermined.  This is when the involvement of a person is restricted in a certain area.  However, there are other activities for which this is not the case.  Council needs to make a judgment.  Second, how we approach this is another part of integrity.  If we fail to show the compassion and love of Christ, we also fail the integrity test.  

When I hear this kind of a conversation I always wonder to myself:  to whom are my eyes directed?  so many times out of fear or out of dysfunction in the system our eyes are directed to "those who might say ..."  or "to those who might conclude..." .  I would rather that our eyes get directed toward Christ and how we might represent the saving power of Christ in the life of our community.  

just a few thoughts 


I'm just trying to understand why "discipline" would be required?  Can you please give more clarification on that?  For while marrying an unbeliever may not be the wisest thing, without knowing more detail, I'm not sure that discipline should be the 1st step as that would perhaps result in a further resistance to the faith by the unbelieving spouse.  But again, not enough information is known to really give a sound response.