Today Was Supposed to Be My Wedding Day

It was supposed to be a momentous occasion–the day I would walk down the aisle in my mother’s lace wedding gown, peonies in hand, best friend at my side, family and friends looking on with joy. It was supposed to be the day I started a new chapter, the day my dreams would be fulfilled. Little did I know, God had other plans…

Shortly after we settled, a friend from work recommended we try out a small new Presbyterian church in the area. I was a tad leery, as I had recently been baptized in a non-denominational church, but I agreed to check it out. I immediately loved it and felt like this could be my church home. On my second visit, I filled out a visitor card, which asked a few questions about how I wanted to get involved. Did I want to join a life group? Be part of a ministry team? Have coffee with the pastor? Coffee sounded good. I checked the box.

Later that week, the pastor emailed me, asking when I wanted to get together. What a great opportunity to get to know him and learn more about the church, I thought. Maybe he would even be willing to officiate our wedding in a few months. High hopes turned to frustration when I mentioned the possibility to my fiancé. “Coffee? With a pastor?” he asked. “Heck, no. That’s just too weird.”

After weeks of my coercing, praying, hoping, and begging, he finally obliged. But we continued to fight about it–all the way to the front door of the pastor’s house. Regardless, I enjoyed myself and looked forward to hanging out with the pastor and his wife again soon. I could see them being our friends–a couple who would help guide our marriage and bring us closer to God…

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me on a weekday in early January when my friend opened the Bible to this passage and showed me the truth. I came to understand that God intends for marriage to mimic Jesus’ selfless love for his people. I was awestruck. My husband is supposed to lead me closer to God? I immediately broke down crying. I kept digging, trying to understand how I got so far off base. “He’s a good man,” I argued. “Yes, but is he a Christian? Does he know Jesus?” people asked me in response. “But if I leave him, won’t I be going against what God says, by not loving the unbeliever?” Surprisingly, no. I was not yet married. I had not made a covenant with him before God. I was not bound to him. As much as it would hurt to say goodbye, I knew this was not the relationship God intended for me. He promises much more, and I wasn’t going to find it in a marriage with an unbeliever.

As this devastating realization sunk in, we began the process of disentangling our lives. And within a few weeks, my ex-fiancé headed back to his home with his belongings, including the dog I had come to love and all of my hopes and dreams for a lifetime of happiness together.

Today Was Supposed To Be My Wedding Day

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christian cerna's picture

hmm... i think that she should have married him. even though he was not a christian, they were already living together, so i am presuming that they had already slept together. what's worse, marrying an unbeliever, or sleeping with a man but not marrying him?

It's strange that the pastor advised her against marrying an unbeliever, but not against living with a man who is not her husband.

Charlie's picture

christian cerna wrote:
hmm... i think that she should have married him. even though he was not a christian, they were already living together, so i am presuming that they had already slept together. what's worse, marrying an unbeliever, or sleeping with a man but not marrying him?

First, I have no idea where you get the idea that illicit sex obligates one to marry.

Second, at any given point in time, the thought process ought to be on the future. If an unmarried believer is contemplating marriage to an unbeliever, past actions or present situation do not override the prohibition.

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christian cerna's picture

Charlie wrote:
christian cerna wrote:
hmm... i think that she should have married him. even though he was not a christian, they were already living together, so i am presuming that they had already slept together. what's worse, marrying an unbeliever, or sleeping with a man but not marrying him?

First, I have no idea where you get the idea that illicit sex obligates one to marry.

Second, at any given point in time, the thought process ought to be on the future. If an unmarried believer is contemplating marriage to an unbeliever, past actions or present situation do not override the prohibition.

Well according to the law of Moses, if a man seduces a young woman and lies with her, he is obligated to marry her. The idea being that by marrying each other, he is ensuring that she does not commit adultery with another man. It is God's plan for a man and for a woman to have sex with only one person, and that in marriage. Thus Jesus' forbidding divorce, saying that he who divorces his wife, unless for reasons of unfaithfulness on her part, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

christian cerna's picture

the woman in the article seems to criticize her fiancee, wondering if he is a christian man, or whether he will be able to be a spiritual leader. Yet she doesn't criticize her own christian faith for having let him move in with her in the first place. It doesn't seem like she is really mature in the faith, possibly she is a recent convert- yet she expects her fiancee heart to change immediately, and to become a devout christian, and to become BFF's with the Pastor. Umm... life doesn't work like that. God changes the hearts of man in His own time.

JG's picture

Charlie wrote:
First, I have no idea where you get the idea that illicit sex obligates one to marry.

Perhaps from here:
Deut. 22:28-29 wrote:
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

We are not under the Law, but this does tell us that God sees this act as creating an obligation at least in some cases.

Here's two cases to consider. A unmarried couple lives together for more than ten years. They have several children. One of them gets saved, the other does not. What now? Marriage? Continue with concubinage? Separate? What does a pastor counsel? Whether this is a common-law marriage varies across jurisdictions, and does God recognize common-law marriage?

A young man and young woman get engaged, and upon his promise of marriage she moves in with him. Some months later, he gets saved. Should he then say, "Because I'm a Christian I have to break my word?" Remember that she has acted on his promise and he has taken at least part of his side of the covenant already.

In Scripture, sometimes a concubine is called a wife (Keturah), or the man with a concubine is called a husband (Judges 19).

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
Here's two cases to consider. A unmarried couple lives together for more than ten years. They have several children. One of them gets saved, the other does not. What now? Marriage? Continue with concubinage? Separate? What does a pastor counsel? Whether this is a common-law marriage varies across jurisdictions, and does God recognize common-law marriage?
Most likely get married. They already have a long history of life together and a lot of entanglements. Separation at this point is more like a divorce than a breakup. If the unbelieving partner is willing to remain, then they should probably stay together and get married.

Quote:
A young man and young woman get engaged, and upon his promise of marriage she moves in with him. Some months later, he gets saved. Should he then say, "Because I'm a Christian I have to break my word?" Remember that she has acted on his promise and he has taken at least part of his side of the covenant already.
Most likely do not get married. A promise to marry is not a marriage. And some promises should not be kept. I see engagement as a non-binding promise based on a certain state of affairs. When that state of affairs changes, the promise may indeed change. Remember, it is marriage that is "until death do you part," not engagement. Engagement is (or should be) a time of preparation for marriage in all respects. It is a time of continued learning about your prospective spouse (emphasis on prospective).

Let's change the scenario: A young woman is engaged to a man. A month prior to marriage she finds out that he has a ten year porn addiction, that also includes prostitutes, strip clubs, and one-night stands. Should she break her promise? Absolutely.

Sin always messes things up, but not all promises are equal promises. In this particular case, the woman was right not to marry him.

Jay's picture

On what basis do you say that she was an unbeliever? She was attending a church, wanted to meet with the pastor, was confronted on her sin by others, repented of her sin, and is now looking to the future and is leaning on God's promises for her married state.

I realize she didn't quote the Romans Road, but this doesn't sound to me like like an unbeliever griping about how God made her life miserable by forcing her to end her relationship with an unsaved guy who manifested no real interest in spiritual things.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

JohnBrian's picture

JG wrote:
Here's two cases to consider. A unmarried couple lives together for more than ten years. They have several children. One of them gets saved, the other does not. What now? Marriage? Continue with concubinage? Separate? What does a pastor counsel? Whether this is a common-law marriage varies across jurisdictions, and does God recognize common-law marriage
On the mission field most of the marriages my father performed were of this kind. Common law marriage was... well common, and in these cases most frequently the woman became a believer.

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JohnBrian's picture

christian cerna wrote:
It is God's plan for a man and for a woman to have sex with only one person, and that in marriage.
But yet Jesus, speaking to the woman at the well said to her that she had 5 husbands and was then living with a man she was not married to, rather than saying to her that she had 1 husband and had lived with 5 non-husbands.

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JG's picture

Thoughtful answer. I think it comes down to this -- are you already "unequally yoked"? In the first scenario, they almost certainly are, even if it isn't a legal marriage. In the second, it's not so clear -- but the second is comparable to the case described in Deut. 22 where a single action created an obligation, so I think we need to be careful here.

We don't want to let the world's casual attitudes towards intimacy influence us to view this as not a really, really major thing. If a man took a maiden in the OT, he was on the hook for life, unless her father let him off the hook (Ex. 22), and even then it was going to cost him a bundle. God didn't see this as something a man could just walk away from if he repented. The young woman (or her family) might have had an option in the case, but the man didn't.

Your scenario is significantly different because there are grounds for divorce, let alone breaking an engagement.

Two points about "unequally yoked":
1. "Be not unequally yoked" is not exclusively or primarily about marriage, though it certainly applies to marriage.
2. Though it is a definite command, the application can be difficult when people get saved when they are already "yoked" in some way (whether an intimate relationship, business, or whatever). This is especially true in light of Paul's instruction in I Cor. 7 that those who are saved should remain in the condition they were in when they got saved. The application is obvious when someone is married to an unbeliever, but when the situation is concubinage, it's much more difficult. There is a yoke, but not the kind God approves. Do you break it, or get into the right kind? Have you created binding (morally or legally) obligations?

With this particular case, I agree with you. And I think your emphasis on the length of time and extent of entanglement is well-placed.

What "should be" is obvious, but how to unscramble the egg when someone gets saved in a situation that "shouldn't be" isn't always so easy.

Jay's picture

JohnBrian wrote:
christian cerna wrote:
It is God's plan for a man and for a woman to have sex with only one person, and that in marriage.
But yet Jesus, speaking to the woman at the well said to her that she had 5 husbands and was then living with a man she was not married to, rather than saying to her that she had 1 husband and had lived with 5 non-husbands.

It's also God's desire that 'all should come to repentance' (II Peter 3:8), yet there is a lake of fire for those who reject God (Revelation 20:11-15).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

christian cerna's picture

JG wrote:
Thoughtful answer. I think it comes down to this -- are you already "unequally yoked"? In the first scenario, they almost certainly are, even if it isn't a legal marriage. In the second, it's not so clear -- but the second is comparable to the case described in Deut. 22 where a single action created an obligation, so I think we need to be careful here.

We don't want to let the world's casual attitudes towards intimacy influence us to view this as not a really, really major thing. If a man took a maiden in the OT, he was on the hook for life, unless her father let him off the hook (Ex. 22), and even then it was going to cost him a bundle. God didn't see this as something a man could just walk away from if he repented. The young woman (or her family) might have had an option in the case, but the man didn't.

Your scenario is significantly different because there are grounds for divorce, let alone breaking an engagement.

Two points about "unequally yoked":
1. "Be not unequally yoked" is not exclusively or primarily about marriage, though it certainly applies to marriage.
2. Though it is a definite command, the application can be difficult when people get saved when they are already "yoked" in some way (whether an intimate relationship, business, or whatever). This is especially true in light of Paul's instruction in I Cor. 7 that those who are saved should remain in the condition they were in when they got saved. The application is obvious when someone is married to an unbeliever, but when the situation is concubinage, it's much more difficult. There is a yoke, but not the kind God approves. Do you break it, or get into the right kind? Have you created binding (morally or legally) obligations?

With this particular case, I agree with you. And I think your emphasis on the length of time and extent of entanglement is well-placed.

What "should be" is obvious, but how to unscramble the egg when someone gets saved in a situation that "shouldn't be" isn't always so easy.

The best thought-out answer on here. Thanks JG.

I personally would have told the woman to continue with the wedding. The Bible tells us that when a man and woman lie together, they become one flesh. Also, Paul advises women to submit to their husbands, so that even if they do not obey the Word, they may be won over by the respectful and pure conduct of their wives. So we see that Paul thinks that even if a person is in a relationship with an unbeliever, they can be won over to the Gospel.

Had the woman not been sleeping with the man, or living with him, then yes, I would have advised her to break off the marriage. But because they were living together, and most likely had slept together, it changes everything. The last thing a minister of God should do, is to encourage sexual promiscuity. The fewer sex partner a person has in life, the better.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

So Christian,

What if she had tried living with the guy and it hadn't worked out. After she moved out, she met this new pastor and started straightening her life out. Your philosophy dictates that she should return to her "one flesh" man and make the relationship work. This is nuts. What do you do with a divorcee who has remarried? Do you counsel they are living in ongoing adultery and must break off the "unsanctioned" relationship to restore the original marriage? You philosophy has been promoted before, and it fails miserably.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

christian cerna's picture

I don't like "what if" questions. We are discussing the article that was posted. I am not saying that someone should go back to a relationship that has already ended. I am discussing the situation of the woman in the article. She was in a relationship with a man, was living with him, sleeping with him, and was even engaged to be married to him. That is a serious relationship and commitment. For her to decide to break everything off just because she didn't think that her fiancee was showing much interest in the church, in what brief time she was becoming involved there, is ridiculous.

What ever happened to personal accountability? What ever happened to accepting the consequences of our actions?

Since we are on the topic of "what if's"...

What if she had married that man, and later down the road, God would have touched the heart of that man, and he would have begun to attend church with his wife? What if he was her soul mate? What if... What if...

Jay's picture

Yes, you're right. The idea that a believer should marry a non-believer just because they slept together is ridiculous and flies in the face of II Cor. 6:14. It would have been FAR better for her to marry an unbeliever in the hopes that he gets saved that it would be for her to break up with a nonbeliever and potentially marry a believer down the road.

/sarcasm

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

PLewis's picture

In the beginning of the article she states:

Quote:
Shortly after we settled, a friend from work recommended we try out a small new Presbyterian church in the area. I was a tad leery, as I had recently been baptized in a non-denominational church, but I agreed to check it out.

I think she was advised well - she was a recent Christian - about to marry a man who she apparently felt strongly was NOT a Christian. I think for many of us who've been Christians for a long time, it can be difficult to remember what it was like to work through difficult spiritual situations without the benefit of wisdom acquired over time. Or some of us were saved VERY young - and taught properly- and don't realize the battles that accompany coming out of sin as an adult.

I do not think she "blamed" the fiancee' .. I think she realized she had made decisions that were wrong, and did what she had to do to make it right.