Thursday, May 15, 2008

St. Paul and Christian-Non-Christian Marriage

Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas?
(1 Cor 9.5, TNIV, emphasis added)

It is obvious St. Paul take the extra effort to put the adjective 'believing' here. He could just say 'wife'.

So now 2 following important questions. (1) Did he put in the adjective 'believing' due to his theology, pastoral concern, or preference? Or all three?

St. Paul's allusion to the examples of the "other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas" does help. This gives us 2 points:

1) St. Paul was refering to the Jews' practice of marriage (married only those of the same religion and ethnicity), and

2) St. Paul extending this Jews' practice as an example for his rights to get a 'believing' wife because he himself is a Jew.

So now, the (2) question: Did St. Paul added 'believing' because he just want to emphasize his Jews' practice, or his emphasis is to serves as an example for Christians' marriage?

Though not sure whether will he allow Christian-non-Christian marriage, but from other passages, we know that St. Paul does not ask Christians to divorce their non-believing spouse (1 Cor 7.12-16). And he seems to be quite relax in his dealing with Gentile-Jew relation (for eg. circumcised or not is ok).

So is he OK with Christians marrying non-Christian? If not OK, why not? Due to his theology, pastoral concern, or preference?

Oh... and by the way, why modern Christians keep using pagan symbol such as those in the picture above so prevalently as if it is NOT a marriage without it?.....mmm....if Christian culture can marry non-Christian culture, how about Christian with non-Christian?


Kar Yong said...

Hi JW,

Actually, the word "believing" is not found in the Greek text. In Greek, it is literally "a sister as wife" or "a sister wife". Most translations take "sister" as "believing" which is not wrong, as the construction of "sister wife" is a bit odd.

So I guess if you read Paul or Pauline literature carefully (as in the housecodes passages in Colossians and Ephesians), they seem to suggest Christian marriage only....

BTW, you really have this sudden urge to blog and blog and blog non-stop these past couple of weeks....something deep within you waiting to be exploded?

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Thank you for highlighting that. Now the passage is much clearer. So, no Christian-Non-Christian marriage...

Ya, a few reasons for blogging fever:
1) Blogging helps to focus those few thoughts among thousands of other thoughts that cross my mind each day.

2) Blogging helps to improve my writing skills (the one you told me about. It's working!)

3) Blogging helps me to understand myself better.

4) Blogging helps me to correspond with others more, for eg. Your help in this Christian-Non-Christian issue.

5) Blogging keeps my readers updated with information that we are interested in.

Thus, feel like wanting to blog and blog and blog :)

Sze Zeng said...

Hi KY,

Just thought of 2 other reasons:

6) Blogging is therapeutic!

7) Blogging gives me a sense of achievement...some sort of satisfaction that I actually 'did' something for the day.


Steven Sim said...

Paul was in my opinion operating from an OT point of view where great personalities fell because of their pagan spouses. But his overall operand is still "grace", you can say that's his metanarrative, and the new society of christians being and mixed with all sorts of people (esp. the rejects as some historians say) so Josh's suspicion that Paul was more charitable about relationships. To me, he didn't give a straight and direct answer to this issue as compared to say the question of resurrection. But the sad thing is many times, the Church superceeds Paul and use him to enforce things like this, rather than take his metanarrative inclusiveness (or grace) as the main point.

my 2 sens.


btw, I once heard a speaker thumb the pulpit saying "DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKE PERIOD. Where god puts a period, don't add to god's word" and spoke against romantic relationship with nonxtians (and catholics) throughout the whole sermon.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Steven,

You mentioned the church superseded Paul on this... that's so right. The church supersedes alot other issues.

The peripheral, they put it at the center. The center, they put it at the peripheral. Inerrancy is one.

Bridgetta said...

Here's another one: Joshua 23:11-13 "As for you, take great care to love the LORD, your God. For if you ever turn away from him and join with the remnant of these nations that survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that the LORD, your God, will no longer dispossess these nations at your approach. Instead they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD, your God, has given you."

Don't intermarry! Date Christians.