“While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women… Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them – through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Phinehas has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor.’” Numbers 25:1-11
Phinehas was as zealous as God Himself for God’s honor. He refused to be “tolerant” when the men of Israel were drawn into the worship of Baal and sexual immorality by Moabite (non-Israelite) women. Compelled for God’s honor, this article will address the issue of marrying and dating only disciples.
To fully understand God’s heart on many subjects, one must search not only the New Testament, but the Old Testament, realizing it was the “Scriptures” for the early church. (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Throughout the Bible, God’s heart has been to have a “people of His own.” (Deuteronomy 7:6) In the Old Testament, they were the Hebrews – the physical nation of Israel. In the New Testament, His people were the Christians, the disciples, the church, the “holy nation” of spiritual Israel. (1 Peter 2:9) Let us not forget that the Old Testament is the physical fore-shadowing of the New Testament spiritual realities. The Hebrews’ slavery in Egypt parallels the slavery of sin before one becomes a Christian. The miraculous Red Sea crossing parallels baptism – the washing away of all our sins. (1 Corinthians 10:2) The forty years wandering in the desert is analogous to the Christian life. (Some people mistakenly believe the Promised Land is the parallel to the Christian life. That’s why their faith is shaken when tough times come; they expect all their problems to go away, not the “venomous snakes and scorpions” of life!) (Deuteronomy 8:15) The Jordan River represents death, thus the song, “Jordan River, I’m bound to cross.” Finally, the Promised Land is Heaven!
Abraham is our “father of faith” and the “father” of the Jews. When he sought a wife for his son Isaac, Abraham told his servant, “I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of Heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:3-4) In the next generation, Isaac and Rebekah’s first son Esau married “outside” God’s people – two Hittite women. Rebekah comments to Isaac, “‘I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.’ So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him and commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother.’” (Genesis 27:46-28:2) Clearly, to marry “outside” God’s people disturbed Rebekah. Incidentally, Esau later takes a wife from God’s people. (Genesis 28:8-9)
As for “casual dating” relationships, who can forget the unholy Delilah and her “influence” that took Samson away from God. (Judges 16:20) Seemingly, Samson’s attraction to women was purely physical as he previously was married to a non-Israelite (Judges 14:2) and after her death spent time with prostitutes. (Judges 16:1) Like many, Samson confused lust with love.
In 1 Kings 11:1-4 the Spirit writes, “King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, ‘You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.’ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” The Bible is clear that Solomon’s non-Jewish wives led his heart astray from God through “love.” The “feelings of love” for a “person not of the faith” must be crucified because of our love for God. (Luke 14:25-27)
During the restoration of physical Israel and the rebuilding of the temple, Nehemiah “lays it out” about marrying outside the faith. “Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab… I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves. Was it not because of marriages like these that Solomon king of Israel sinned? Among the many nations there was no king like him. He was loved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel, but even he was led into sin by foreign women. Must we hear now that you too are doing all this terrible wickedness and are being unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women?’” (Nehemiah 13:23-27) In this passage marrying a “foreigner” is “sin,” “terrible wickedness” and “being unfaithful to… God.” The prophet Ezra wept over this same unfaithfulness to God. (Ezra 10:1-3)
The New Testament teachings on marriage are built on the Old Testament’s foundation. God is “the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) God’s desires for His people are: 1) Faithfulness to Him (Revelation 2:10); 2) Purity – sex only within marriage (Hebrews 13:4); 3) Produce children of faith through the marriage union. (Malachi 2:15)
Let us not forget that 1 Corinthians 7:39 teaches, “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” “Freedom in Christ” is not marrying anyone, but marrying “anyone who belongs to the Lord.” Remember there is no marriage in Heaven. The fundamental purpose of marriage is to get us and our children to Heaven. An insightful person once said, “The person you marry will likely determine where you spend eternity.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 states, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ ‘Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ Since we have these promises… let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” In this passage, the Old Testament (Isaiah 52:11) is quoted in verse 16 as the command to be “separate” from the world. Therefore, this New Testament passage clearly teaches that a relationship – marriage or dating – “outside” of Christ is not “reverence for God.”
Though dating is a Western culture phenomenon, this relationship is extremely influential in our lives. As a young Christian (eight months old), I went home for Christmas vacation and got together with my old high school “friends” at a high school basketball game. Afterward, I spent time with a non-Christian girl, who was “just a friend.” In a few days’ time, we “fell” into gross impurity. The next day, feeling overwhelmed by guilt because of my hypocrisy, I went to this girl’s front door. When she answered I apologized for my behavior and shared with her I had recently become a Christian. Though she did not feel at all badly about our sin, I told her I could not see her again. And I did not. My rationalization for going out with her was I did not see anyone in my campus ministry that I “liked.” Since I was spiritually weak, beauty and personality replaced “a heart devoted to God” as my top priority in looking for a girlfriend. I learned the hard way that “light” must be separate from “darkness.”
How should we proceed in God’s new movement? First of all, be unashamed and teach from both the Old and New Testaments God’s principles on marriage and dating, showing God’s heart to have “a people of His own.” Secondly, if any weak Christian begins to date a non-Christian, then in compassion reach out to and prayerfully study with the non-Christian. At the same time, share with the weak disciple God’s Word on this subject and in love call this person to obey God’s commands to separate themselves from the non-Christian. Do not be led astray by the argument that “so and so” dated a non-Christian and later was baptized as a rational for dating non-Christians. Sometimes people become Christians in spite of our lack of righteousness! The facts are that countless numbers have fallen away from the truth because of their “love” of a non-Christian. Many of these in rationalizing dating outside of the church have become “fuzzy” on who is a true Christian and have compromised God’s doctrine by then attending a denominational church. To be a Christian, one must believe in Jesus, repent (making the decision to be a disciple), and be baptized for the remission of sins to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This true doctrine of salvation is not practiced in most denominational churches, so Paul’s words “to watch your life and doctrine closely… so you will save yourself and your hearers” is a stern warning.
Of consideration, even the Catholics teach you should marry Catholics; the Mormons believe in only marrying Mormons; and the Muslims have been known to kill a Muslim that does not marry a Muslim. Though these groups do not follow the Scriptures’ teaching on salvation, they understand the concept of marriage in relation to “their view” of “God’s people.” Are Jesus’ true disciples to be any less convicted?
This year in the City of Angels Church, we have already seen two gorgeous weddings – Derion & Dena Onekea and Danny & Rebecca Drew! These occasions were so joyous as each husband and each wife were sold-out disciples, who lived out their passion for “absolute purity” during their dating relationships. (1 Timothy 5:2) The brides’ white dresses gave true honor to God! Elena & I are so excited about this summer as we look forward to celebrating the weddings of Jeraldine Luque & Cory Blackwell, Samantha Ramnath & Kyle Swann, Jessica Zepeda & Javier Ochoa, and Nathalie Moningka & Mason Fetelika!
So, if the above challenges in this article are not from the Bible, then simply let the Spirit blow them away like chaff. However, if this article is based on the Bible, then these are not simply the teachings of an aging preacher, but the very words of God! I plead with all who will listen, to consider both the Old and New Testament Scriptures and then “put them into practice” for the honor of God! And to God be the glory!