Introduction

Writings & Publications

United in Marriage by One Lord:
God’s Wisdom on Intermarriage in a Multifaith World

Introduction

A story from England…

When Mahdi and Aida were married, they were both faithful to the religious traditions they had been taught since childhood. They lived busy working lives but also looked forward to becoming parents. However, after months of trying, Aida was still not pregnant. They were sad, and their families were extremely disappointed.

One day when she felt especially dejected, Aida met a friendly lady at the fruit and vegetable stand in their local supermarket. Seeing how troubled Aida looked, the lady asked her if everything was alright. Immediately Aida unburdened her heart. The lady answered by telling Aida that she knows Someone who could help her – Jesus. She asked Aida if she could pray to Jesus for her and ask him if he would kindly give them a little baby. “Of course,” she replied.

Six weeks later Aida missed her monthly period. Secretly and excitedly she made an appointment to see her doctor. Yes, the doctor confirmed, Aida was pregnant.
She could hardly wait to share the good news with her husband, although she was afraid to tell him the whole story.

Aida was in the supermarket some months later, already wearing maternity clothes, when she happened to meet the same kind lady. Aida’s face glowed with joy as she told her friend the good news.

This friend then told her that Jesus wanted to do an even greater miracle for her—to give her His gift of peace. She left her phone number with Aida, adding that if ever she would like to have a chat, she should call her.

Aida often pondered this Christian lady’s words in the following months while waiting for her baby to be born. She could sense a peace and beauty of life in this lady that she did not enjoy herself.

After Aida had given birth to a baby son, she decided to phone her friend and tell her the wonderful news. During their conversation, her friend said: “I think we should thank Jesus for this precious miracle, don’t you agree?” Such a thought had never entered Aida’s mind because she only prayed formal prayers to God. Her friend encouraged her to thank Jesus for this miracle baby. She then added, “Why not also ask him for his gift of peace?”

She did, and a bigger miracle happened—the peace of God came into her heart. Later, when her husband returned home from work, he noticed something had changed. Aida decided to tell him the whole story.

That was three years ago. Aida still keeps in good contact with her special friend and, although Mahdi hasn’t yet allowed her to attend her friend’s church, he cannot deny that their baby is a miracle child. They are now expecting their second child.

***

Prayer requests from Africa…

Pray for the women believers here. Many are fearful of meeting together, and there is only one woman leader. Most women are either divorced or living in households where their husbands have more than one wife. This includes the women in the church.

Pray for this woman leader, for her gifts to be used for the building up of the church. Her husband has strong religious convictions but now seems to be more open to the Gospel. Pray that the Lord will get a hold of his heart and the hearts of his entire family.

We need prayer, too, for the families in the church. Only a few believing couples exist in the entire region. Pray for the Lord to bring the husbands of the believing wives into the church, and vice versa. Pray that the church would be built on the family principles which God would want for His church.

Pray also for the singles. Many say there are too few believers for them to marry another believer, so they are tempted to go outside the church to find a partner. Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them not to do this, and instead to trust God to bring them the right partner according to His will.

***

Concerns from Eastern Europe . . .

N. is really struggling at this time. She will turn 30 this year and for a woman in her country not to be married by 30 makes her socially abnormal. The good thing is that she shares openly about her struggles with some people, so this makes it easier for us to support her. But people like this are in a very vulnerable place and could easily fall into the trap of marrying a ‘nice’ non-believer. Often well-meaning church people make it even more difficult. Rather than being supportive, they just keep asking, “When will you get married?”

***

Honest confessions from Asia . . .

Dear Father, Mother, and younger brothers and sisters,

May this letter find you in good health, just as I am also enjoying good health. Thank you so much for your letter, which I received two months ago.

Father and Mother, I have something to tell you that is very hard for me to say. I told you on my last visit home at New Year’s how difficult it was for me to attend church while working here. It would take most of my monthly  salary to travel to the nearest city for Sunday services. Besides that, I don’t know any other Christians there. I remind you of this so that you can better understand my constant loneliness since being placed here.

Well, something has happened. Yes, the news you heard is true. I know how shocked you must have felt to hear that I am now married, and now you know that it is not just a rumour. But let me explain. One day my director introduced me to a young lady, making it clear that he expected me to agree that she should become my wife. Well, I can assure you that Esmat is a very nice girl. As you know, the traditions here are different than ours. One thing led to another until . . . well, until I had no other option. I had no choice. Yes, I had to change my religion to marry her. I couldn’t even run away, because this position is my only hope for a prosperous future, and I know how important that is to you.

I will close now. The one who will deliver this letter will bring other news about my new family. Please forgive me for the great shame I have brought upon you and the whole family. I sincerely hope that you will not disown me, but in my heart of hearts I fear that this might happen.

Your son,
Peter

***

These stories paint vivid pictures of the real issues and struggles faced by Christians all around the world today. They may even be similar to your story, or to the experiences of others you know.

Such are the realities of the Christian life in our 21st century. How would God have us respond in such circumstances? What are our God-given responsibilities to each other in these matters?

If you are in the middle of the battle yourself—unsure about how to choose a life companion or anxious about the choice your family might make for you—you need God’s help and encouragement.

Perhaps you are asking, “How does God want me to respond to the expectations of my family and friends?” Or you may already be attracted to a non-Christian friend, thinking, “This relationship feels so right.” Or you might be a puzzled parent, wondering how to help your son or daughter wrestling with similar issues and emotions.

Tough issues, aren’t they? Does the Bible offer us practical answers in such painfully challenging situations? Yes, but not pat ones! God gives us hope and encouragement for every difficulty no matter how hopeless it may appear. He gives counsel to His people who for varying reasons are facing the hard issues related to marrying a person of another religion.

This counsel – from God’s inspired Word – constitutes the core message of this book. Part 1 addresses needs and situations faced by Christian singles. Part 2 grapples with some of the issues and challenges faced by Christian parents. Part 3 deals with special needs of Christians married to non-Christians. Throughout, it will be clear that the book is addressed to my fellow-believers, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, allow me to introduce my persona as the author of the letters and email messages you will read in the chapters ahead. You will soon discover that together with my wife Frieda, I am working as an English language and literature university lecturer in a major city. I also lead a weekly Bible study group for students in our home and a small fellowship of believers close to the campus.

Another important part of my life is corresponding with my former students via email and letters. Most of them live and work in distant regional centres. Occasionally I correspond with their family or friends.

The first email message (Chapter 1) was written in response to a request from a final year university student named Mark. In it I offer advice on how he could or should respond to an unexpected request from a friend.

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