With well over 300 Ukrainian students enrolled in our Chronological Bible Course, we get quite a lot of mail. Most of what we receive comes in the form of completed Bible lessons which are first graded and then returned to the student with the next lesson. But often we receive letters covering a broad range of topics. We have been asked everything from "Is it wrong to pray to icons?" to "Do I have a guardian angel?"
Recently, one of our newer students, a young lady named Maryana, wrote to us with the following question:
Can a girl who attends an evangelical church be involved romantically with a young man who goes to an Orthodox church? Please explain to me if this is permissible, and if it is done at all.
Due to the nature of the question, we decided that it would be best for Kelsie to answer this. Kels wrote the girl a three page letter, and when I had read it, I was again reminded of how blessed I am to have a prudent wife who loves the Lord. (Note to single guys: Look for a prudent wife who has a deep relationship with Christ. It will bless your life like you can't imagine.)
Below is the full text of the letter Kelsie wrote. The greeting in the opening sentence is typical of how people in Western Ukraine greet each other.
Praise Jesus Christ! Thank you for your letter. I apologize that this answer is so late in coming to you. We are low on staff right now in our office and so the workload has been a little overwhelming. However, please understand that your questions are important to us and we value your interest in the Word of God.
Your question is an important one, and the answer to it may influence the course of your entire life.
Your question: "Can a girl who attends an evangelical church be involved romantically with a young man who goes to an Orthodox church? Please explain to me if this is permissible, and if it is done at all."
Regardless of what church you go to, it is important to understand what the Bible says about marriage and love relationships. God is not as concerned with what church you are attending as He is with whether or not you are following Him through His Word.
While the Bible talks very specifically about singleness, and it also talks a lot about marriage, there is not very much information regarding the period between the one and the other. We believe this is because God did not intend for that time to be extended. He made marriage to be the “safety zone” in which a man and woman can love one another fully without the danger of fornication. (1 Corinthians 7: 2) With that in mind, a look at some of the things God says about marriage may help you understand how you should conduct yourself toward men from other churches or faiths.
You may not be considering marriage with the young man from the Provoslavnyk Church, but it is important that you realize that entering into a dating relationship with him is the first step in that direction. While not all “love-relationships” lead to marriage, it is best not to involve yourself in a dating relationship unless you are certain that the man is the kind of man you *could *marry.
God takes marriage very seriously. Here are a few points about marriage, taken from God’s Word:
1) Marriage was intended by God to be permanent.
- Matthew 19: 4-6 *“And he [Jesus} answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. **What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”*
- Matthew 19:9 *“Whosoever shall put away is wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”*
- 1 Corinthians 7: 10, 11 *“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband…and let not the husband put away his wife.”*
The Bible is clear that God intended a man to have one woman, and a woman to have one man, for life. Divorce is not in God’s plan, so choose your man carefully!
2) God views married partners as one flesh.
- Genesis 2:24 *“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”*
When two people marry, it means more than just living in the same apartment and having children together. Marriage is a blending of two lives into one. God views two people who have married as joined together, as one.
The apostle Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” Paul is saying that opposites cannot be mixed together. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should be joined ONLY to a man who likewise loves the Lord Jesus and has believed on Him. It is not God’s will for a believer to marry a person who has rejected Christ and is still living in their sins.
3) A wife MUST submit to her husband, even if he is not a believer.
- Ephesians 5:22, 24 “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Whether your future husband is good, bad, kind, cruel, righteous, wicked, wise, or foolish, you must submit to him and allow him to lead your life and those of your children. (See also: 1 Peter 3: 1, 1 Cor. 11:3, Col. 3:18) This means that a Christian woman should be very careful before involving herself closely with a man who is not a believer in Christ. Otherwise, she may one day find herself having to follow the decisions of a man who does not care about Christ or His Word.
4) An unbelieving wife or husband can influence his/her partner away from God.
The Old Testament gives us many examples of this point.
- God consistently warned His people, the Israelites, not to intermarry with the people of the wicked nations surrounding them, lest they begin worshipping other gods and take on the wicked customs of those nations. (Neh. 13:23-27, Dt. 7:1-4, Joshua 23:12-13)
- Abraham, the father of Isaac, did not on any account want his son to marry one of the daughters of the Canaanites, the wicked people surrounding him. He took very great care to find a wife for his son from among his own people. (Gen. 24)
- Isaac likewise forbad his son Jacob from taking a wife from the daughters of Canaan. (Gen. 28:1-2)
- Solomon, the great and wise king, beloved of the Lord, turned away from the Lord on account of the foreign wives he took to himself. (Nehemiah 13:26, 1 Kings 11:1-9)
While these examples certainly cannot be taken as commands to New Testament Christians, they do warn us of the strength of one partner’s influence on the other. We can learn from them that God’s intent was for marriage partners to both be followers of God.
5) Lastly, no matter who you are dating, God’s Word teaches clearly that any sexual involvement outside of marriage is absolutely wrong.
- 1 Corinthians 7:2 *“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”* (The implication is that fornication is any sexual activity outside of that between a man and his wife.)
- Hebrews 13:4 *“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers (those who act outside of marriage, both unmarried and married) God will judge.”*
In summary, a man or woman who is a believer in Christ should not become romantically involved with anyone who is not likewise a believer in Christ. God’s will is for Christians to marry Christians, and create strong families which will follow Him wholeheartedly. If the man in whom you are interested comes from another church, it is important to ascertain whether he has truly believed in Jesus Christ unto salvation and is living according to the Word of God before you enter into a close relationship with him.
May God bless you as you continue to seek Him!