Q. I am very surprised at your reply to “Relationship Problems” in Ask a Bible Teacher. As I understand the letter, this woman is not only in an unequally yoked relationship but she is living a sinful lifestyle by living with this man outside of marriage.
Gal 5:19-21 says that those who practice fornication, which is sex outside of marriage, will not inherit the kingdom of God. How does this woman’s situation differ from that of a homosexual couple who “in their hearts are married”? They are both sin, and willfully continuing in that sin will keep them from the kingdom of God as I understand the scripture.
While I agree with your counsel for her to live separately and remain chaste, I think you mislead her (and your audience) when you said that the Lord sees unmarried couples as married as long as their motives are right.
Also I don’t believe Rom 8:28 applies to this situation because of the last phrase, “…according to His purpose.” I don’t believe this woman is currently living according to God’s purpose or perfect plan for her life.
I really enjoy your site and have recommended it to others. I trust that you will receive my feedback as just that, feedback and not criticism. I encourage you to prayerfully reconsider your answer to this woman.
A. My first admonition was for the woman to live apart from her partner and in a chaste relationship. I did not condone them living together, especially when he’s not a believer, because she admittedly doesn’t feel married in her heart. My advice was, “If you love this man, and want a life with him that’s also pleasing to the Lord, you have to bring it into compliance with Biblical standards for unmarried couples, and give him an opportunity to see you as a faithful Christian woman. To me this means living separately and remaining chaste.”
In biblical times men and women were married by agreement between themselves to be so. Many times the family was involved in the decision, but never the state. What minister or priest married Abraham or Isaac or any other biblical figure? And where are their marriages licenses? God considered them married according to the motives of their hearts. And indeed 1 Corinthians 4:5 explains that God judges our actions according to the motives of our hearts.
Here’s a hypothetical example. Do you think that a woman who remains legally married to her husband, but denies him any marital rights, is emotionally unfaithful, and does everything she can to drive him out of the relationship including verbal and physical abuse, is married to him in the eyes of the Lord? Or has she divorced him in her heart?
This is the problem with any sort of legalism. A person can keep the letter of the law to maintain outward appearances but deny it in spirit. Is the Lord fooled by this? Will she be credited with keeping the prohibition against divorce? Would a man if the situation was reversed?
The “legalizing” of marriages was done by governments to resolve issues of parentage and inheritance, and to protect the parties in case of divorce, something else the Lord has prohibited. It became necessary because of humankind’s unwillingness to be responsible for their actions, not because of God’s requirements.
All this is stated in the context of a man / woman relationship. Homosexual unions were and still are forbidden by God under any circumstance.
Also, if the woman takes my advice, follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit and complies with the biblical standards for unmarried couples to see if the relationship will flourish under those circumstances or not (including the man coming to the Lord) she will be living according to God’s purpose for her life.
Here’s what I said. “If he truly loves you, this could lead to a new relationship that brings him to the Lord and achieves fulfillment in marriage. But it could also cause Him to move on. Either way, the Lord has promised to work everything out for your good, as one who loves Him.”