Is Jeremiah 16:2 telling me not to marry the woman I love?


I am a believer in Nigeria. I have this question, I want you to seek the face of God and give me the interpretation.

I have a lady friend, whom I truly love and she loves me. She is my neighbor. We have known each other for two years now, but we became friends for over a year now.

I wanted to ask her to marry me. Near the end of last, I was doing my morning devotion, when the Spirit led me to read Jeremiah 16: 2. I read it and was wondering if God really didn't want me to marry from this lady's tribe. At that time I was with another friend of mine who is from the same tribe as my current lady friend. Last month, I was praying in the night, when the same Scripture came to me. By the time I had forgotten seeing it before. I prayed over it.

Three weeks later my elder brother came from church service and told me that God asked him to remind me of a Scripture. I looked at it and it was the same verse, Jeremiah 16:2. Please, I want you to seek the face of God for me on this issue.

My lady friend is from a different tribe than I am. She is also a Catholic Christian while I am not. Recently, she became sick. She is HIV positive. My mother came recently and told me to stop my relationship with her. We truly love each other. I promise to stand by her despite her HIV status.

Please, help me seek God's advice and interpretations on the whole issue. God bless you.


There are several problems which we need to discuss. First, you are not treating God's word with the proper respect. You act as if your Bible is a prop in a seance. You ask a question, flip it open, read a verse and think that is going to answer your question. You don't understand the verse you have read. You don't know who it was written to, why it was written or what was being directed. Paul told us, "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17). But you have no understanding of this verse and still, you have convinced yourself that something, written by Jeremiah thousands of years ago, taken out of its proper context, applies directly to you and your situation. Paul told Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). The phrase "rightly dividing" means people are to handle God's word correctly, using it in a way that cannot be contradicted because all can see that it is being used as it was intended to mean. The reason it is needed is found in the next verse, "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:16). When people don't respect the meaning of the Scriptures it becomes idles words without content and that leads people into sin.

"Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways. You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently. Oh, that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments. I will praise You with uprightness of heart, when I learn Your righteous judgments" (Psalm 119:1-7).

But all of this requires learning God's word, not reading random verses.

The book of Jeremiah was written as Judah was overthrown by the kingdom of Babylon. It was allowed to happen, God told Israel through the prophet Jeremiah, because of their unceasing sins. Judah was destroyed in three waves of conquest, each worse than the one before. In chapter 16 Jeremiah is told by God not to marry and have children. "The word of the LORD also came to me, saying, 'You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place.'" The reason for this command is given in the following verses: The destruction would be so severe and gruesome that few would survive. "Both the great and the small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried; neither shall men lament for them, cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them" (Jeremiah 16:6). Thus we realize that God was seeking to spare Jeremiah the additional grief of losing a wife and children in the upcoming destruction.

There are times when having a family might not be the best thing to do. Paul suggested this once: "I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress--that it is good for a man to remain as he is: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you" (I Corinthians 7:26-28). Because of the upcoming persecutions against Christians, Paul suggested avoiding marriage in order to spare his brethren additional grief. But he makes it clear that it isn't wrong to marry and no one needs to leave their spouses just because of the persecution.

But unless your country is entering into severe famine or war where it is likely that you would see your wife and children dying, the recommendations would not apply to you.

Forgive me if I read more into what you have written than you meant. I know that communicating across languages and cultures is very difficult. But it appears that when you say you have been in a relationship, you mean that you are having sex with these women even though you are not married. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Sex belongs inside a marriage, but it is a sin outside of marriage. Fornication is having sex when you are not married. Adultery is having sex with a married person who is not your spouse. Both of these are sins. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

If it is true that you are having sex with these women and the current woman has HIV, then there is high probability that you either have the disease or will have it. This one of the reasons God said having sex outside of marriage is wrong: it spreads diseases as well as destroying his spiritual life. "Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away" (Proverbs 6:31-32).

I cannot make the final decision whether you should marry this woman or not, but I can state without reservation that until you are married you must cease from having sex with her or any other woman. Since she has HIV and is already becoming ill, you can be fairly sure that if you do marry the chances of having children are less and there is a strong possibility that any children she does manage to bare will also have the disease. I would also suggest that marrying someone who has a different religious faith than your own is not likely to work. Differences in religious beliefs frequently become a source of fights between couples, which doesn't produce a happy marriage. But there is nothing stating that you cannot marry a woman from another tribe or even another nation if that is what you want to do. The real question is whether both of you are willing to put in full effort to make the marriage work despite any and all difficulties you might face; and that is something only you and she can answer.


Thank you so much, sir, for that admonition and words of encouragement. I really do appreciate your sparing the time to advise me. Thank you so much.

I have taken all you’ve said in the mail to heart. Please continue to pray for me. On my part, I long to be in right standing with God. I believe that by His grace I will make it.

Thank you and God bless you.

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