Question: What is the UCGIA's teaching about members marrying nonmembers?
Answer: We believe that one should marry within the faith, that a converted person (that is, one who is baptized, having the gift of God's Holy Spirit) should marry another converted person.
While there may be some differences in approach between two people who are both in the faith, the number of differences increases greatly when one goes outside the faith. Before an individual makes the decision to marry outside the faith, thought needs to be given to how he or she will live with those differences. How will the family work out the keeping of God's festivals vs. the worldly holidays? How will the finances be managed in relationship to tithing? What will the children be taught? Can a member continue to worship God in the manner to which he or she has been called, without opposition or argument?
All aspects of compatibility are important and need to be maturely considered by people considering marriage. In the flush of romance, a couple might be tempted to minimize a lack of compatibility in religion. However, experience shows this area of marriage is one of the most crucial, and one which can enhance an enduring marriage relationship or cause a marriage to fail.
In all matters, each individual is responsible and accountable for his or her actions. Inasmuch as we do not find the early Church expelling members for marrying outside the faith, neither do we. Rather, if after counsel and caution from the ministry, the individual still desires to marry outside the faith, the Church takes no punitive action (unless other aggravating circumstances are present).
After careful examination of the scriptural instructions given by God, it is clear that the chosen and called of God are expected by Him to seek to marry only within the faith. While we do not deny that there are cases of interfaith marriages that have succeeded, the weight of experience down through the years points out the wisdom of the biblical instructions. Experience also points out the many pitfalls of ignoring those instructions. Therefore, it is the teaching of the UCGIA that members seek to marry only within the faith.
For further information, see "What Does Paul Mean by Unbeliever in 1 Corinthians?" in the January 2000 United News, on the Web at www.ucg.org/un/un0001/unbeliever.htm. UN