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After struggling to find a solid local church, I finally found one that’s gospel-centered. I have been fellowshipping there for close to 6 months now and am planning to pursue membership soon. My fiancé is a godly man, but he lives in another town, so he fellowships and serves in a church which he knows has some unbiblical doctrinal issues I won’t compromise on. After our wedding, we plan to live in the town he currently resides in. There are no Bible believing churches around (all are prosperity gospel churches). I am confused because I am not ready to listen to unsound teaching and later bring up my children in a community I don’t agree with theologically.

That’s such a difficult dilemma to be caught in, and I certainly do sympathize. An engagement period should be a joyful time of planning your wedding and your subsequent life together, not agonizing over major disagreements.

That said, it is good that you recognized this problem before the wedding rather than after, and I would strongly encourage you not to move ahead with the marriage unless and until the two of you have come to a biblical agreement on the matter.

Marriage can be challenging even when you agree on all the important stuff. But when you staunchly disagree on what should be the most important issue in your marriage – Christ, His Word, and His church – it can be devastating. Even if you think you are spiritually mature enough to work through the issue and remain committed to your vows, your husband might not be, and could decide he’d rather give up on the marriage than continue to struggle.

There are a couple of Scripture passages I’d encourage you to take a look at as you continue to work through this dilemma:

2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Though verse 14 of this passage clearly says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers,” (You said your fiancé was a godly man, so I’m assuming he’s a Believer.) and though the context of this passage is more broadly about the church yoking with unbelievers than it is about marriage, there are still some important applications to your situation.

Get a good picture in your mind of two oxen being yoked together to pull a plow or wagon, because that’s the image the Holy Spirit is giving us in this passage. Even if you’re both oxen (i.e. both Believers) what’s going to happen if you’re pulling one direction and your husband is pulling the other direction? Or if you’re pulling one direction and he digs his hooves in and refuses to budge? To plow rightly, you’ve got to be pulling in the same direction together. What would happen if you yoked a full grown ox with a small calf? Even if you’re pulling the same direction, that yoke is going to rub one or both of you raw, cause blisters, etc. Prayerfully think about the words “yoked,” “partnership,” “fellowship,” “accord,” “share,” and “agreement” in this passage in light of the spiritual differences between you and your fiancé.

Ephesians 5:22-33: Examine what this passage calls you to in your role as a wife: Submit to your husband. Respect your husband. Already you have an issue because when it comes to your husband requiring you to do something ungodly (such as attend and raise your children in a heretical “church”) you, as a Believer, must obey God rather than men.”

Now examine the role this passage calls your husband to. Is he giving himself up for you as Christ did for the church in order to make sure you grow and flourish in sound doctrine in your relationship with the Lord? (v. 25-27) Is he nourishing and cherishing your sanctification? Is he loving you as his own flesh?

In addition to praying and studying the Scriptures, it would be very helpful to make an appointment with your pastor for pre-marital counseling. He can lead the two of you to talk through the issue and determine whether or not you can resolve it in a biblical way. Your fiancé’s responses should give you a clearer picture of what to do, and if he refuses pastoral counseling, that should also be an indicator about which direction your relationship should go.

Husbands and wives do not have to agree verbatim – although it’s wonderful if they do – on every teensy tinsy molecule of doctrine or the marriage is doomed. (My husband and I have a few minor theological disagreements, but we’re in agreement about 98% of the time, and certainly on all the most important tenets of doctrine.) But heresy versus sound doctrine is not a teensy tinsy molecule of doctrine. It is a major issue that will harmfully impact your marriage and your children – in more ways than you can now imagine – for the rest of your lives. I would strongly encourage you to put the wedding on hold until this issue is resolved in a biblical way. Your love for and loyalty to Christ must take precedence over your love for and loyalty to any man:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” 
Matthew 10:34-37


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

 

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