Why shouldn’t “only in the Lord” mean only marry a Christian?


I want to thank you for the lesson Because of the Present Distress. My concern is that of the widow's decision in I Corinthians 7:39-40. If Paul was not categorical about the term "only in the Lord" as to marrying only a Christian, contrasting your earlier lesson on marriage where you took to the background that God did not want the Israelites to marry other nations, wouldn't it have been better to come to a compromise as to who a Christian should marry?

Also, something was not taken into account in your analysis: Paul was replying to questions written in their letter where we have a newly converted spouse where one of them was converted and the other refused. So, carefully looking at this: Was Paul not trying to correct the situation by advising widows to marry "only in the Lord" as a means of remedying the earlier addressed situation of one of the spouses being converted?

If the conclusion is not sound scripturally as to whom a Christian should marry whether brother or sister, then you have left a vacuum for individuals making a choice rather than a scriptural point of view.

Thanks in anticipation.


We do not have the letter that the Corinthians wrote to Paul; therefore, to make a conclusion based on what the letter might have contained is false. It is true that what Paul wrote would cover situations where a new Christian's spouse did not convert to Christianity. However, Paul's wording does not limit itself only to these types of situations. To add additional restrictions where God did not is to create a falsehood.

To conclude that Paul was correcting a problem with the widows' earlier marriages is again adding an assumption to the text. There is nothing in the text that indicates that earlier marriages were wrong. It is improper to draw conclusions based on your own assumptions.

God only told Israel not to marry from seven specific nations. "When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly" (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). This did not apply to any other nations. Boaz was not wrong marrying the Moabitess, Ruth. Esther was not wrong marrying the Persian king, Ahasuerus. Moses was not wrong marrying the Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12:1). Therefore, you cannot conclude that Christians should not marry non-Christians from this.

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