Should We Marry If We're Theologically Divided?

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Below is the latest “Questions and Ethics” query. Help me answer this question by telling me your thoughts in the comments. I’ll weigh in later in the week.

Dear Dr. Moore,

We are a couple thinking about whether we should marry. We love each other, and we love Jesus. We’ve been dating a while now, get along great, and everyone in our lives thinks we are made for each other. We agree, except for one thing.

One of us is a longtime member of a conservative evangelical (some would say “fundamentalist”) Bible church. The church is five-point Calvinist in the way it understands salvation, baptistic in the way it understands the church, dispensationalist in the way it understands the end-times, and definitely is not charismatic in any way in understanding the Holy Spirit. This one of us (just call me “Calvin”) agrees with my church’s doctrine. The doctrines of grace are really important to me in the way I understand God’s sovereignty in salvation, and in every aspect of my life, but I’m not one of those guys who beats every one over the head with Reformed theology.

One of us is a longtime member of an Assemblies of God church, and a convinced Pentecostal. I (just call me “Aimee”) speak in tongues, privately and sometimes in church services. I’m not an “evangelist” for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t think speaking in tongues makes a person any more holy or mature than any other Christian. I just think that’s what the Bible teaches. I also think salvation is a free choice, and that somebody can choose to stop being a Christian and, then, lose his salvation. That’s what my boyfriend says makes me a “five-point Arminian,” although I’d never heard that language before.

In case you misunderstand, we’re not arguing about this. It almost never comes up. We talk a lot about Jesus and a lot about the Bible, but, probably out of love for each other, we don’t bring up speaking in tongues, miraculous healing, or predestination! Here’s our question: should we marry?

We know it’s not right to marry an unbeliever (we agree on that part of 1 Corinthians!). But is it okay to marry a fellow believer in another denomination? If we do marry, should we continue to go to our separate churches? Is that unsubmissive of Aimee to follow her conscience to be in a church that doesn’t, as she sees it, “forbid to speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39)? And when there are children, what should we do then: raise them in the Bible church or in the Pentecostal church, or carry them back and forth?

We really love each other, and want to be married. We also want to do what is honoring to the Lord and we don’t want to marry if it’s wrong or if it will hurt the other. We both are really interested in what you’ll have to say.

Quizzically Yoked, Calvin and Aimee

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).