From “God Speaks To Today’s Teenagers”
by James Meadows – article written around 1970
An area of marriage that bothers every concerned Christian is that of mixed marriage – Christian to non-Christian, for example. Surely no relationship of life is more intimate, involving, far-reaching and soul-influencing than marriage. When considering any marriage, one needs to evaluate honestly his or her own marriageability and the strength of the determination to work at making a good marriage, no matter what circumstances may arise. This is more true of those making a mixed marriage than of the usual couple.
What is a mixed marriage? A mixed marriage is any marriage in which there are considerable, obvious, extreme or unusual differences between the spouses. There will be some differences in all marriages. It’s only when these differences are of such a nature as to be significant and outstanding that it would be considered a mixed marriage.
A marriage may have several elements of mixture. The problem will be to learn to adjust to them because there will be little hope of changing them, in most cases. The more a man and woman have in common before marriage the more they’ll enjoy being married.
The time to consider these questions is before the final choice of a mate has been made. . . The chance of success is greater if those who marry across lines of difference are aware at the outset that they will have to work harder for success than they would have to do if they married someone with a background similar to their own.
What are some forms that mixed marriages may take?
(1) There may be differences in previous marital status. There is a big difference in marrying one divorced or widowed and one that has never been married.
Consider some of the problems or questions in marrying a divorced person. a) The Christian must first ask the question, “Why the divorce?” If the divorce is for any cause other than fornication, the marriage must not be considered. (Matthew 5:32, 19:9). b) Can you accept the criticism that is sure to come, even though the person has scriptural grounds for divorce? c) How many times has the person been divorced? People often repeat their mistakes. d) What about the former spouse? Will he or she appear on the scene? e) Can you live with the payment of alimony, if such is involved? f) Are children involved? Can you become a step-parent? Will they accept you? g) Can you live in this marriage and face your religious convictions?
Consider some of the problems in marrying a widow or widower. a) Was the first marriage happy? b) Can this person adjust to a second marriage or will they live too much in the past? c) Can you tolerate mention of the former companion and comparison? d) The Christian must consider I Corinthians 7:39 about marrying “in the Lord.” e) What about children involved? Can adjustments be made?
(2) Age difference may constitute a mixed marriage. This would be considered a mixed marriage only where there is such difference as to create special problems. Some problems that might arise are: a) A difference in “habit set.” As one grows older one’s habits become set and the younger person would need to make greater adjustments. b) The older husband may assume the attitude of a father toward his wife instead of a husband. c) A wide age difference may create special problems in having mutual friends. d) Public opinion may place their marriage in the peculiar or unusual category. e) Special physical problems may arise. “A husband of 40 may keep up with a wife of 20, but a husband of 60 and a wife of 40 may find it difficult.”
(3) Difference in nationality may pose problems. If people are going to marry across lines of difference they should consider carefully whether they both have the qualities that will enable them to make all the adjustments required. Some of the problems involved may be: a) The language barrier. b) Differences in religion. c) Differences in customs and habits. Nationality differences alone may be of little importance to their happiness if they happen to be of the same religion, of approximately the same economic level, and if the things they value in life are not far different.
(4) Difference in size may be a mixed marriage. This would be a “mixed marriage” if the size difference were so extreme as to create special problems. Some of the problems might be: a) They may become the source of public amusement where the wife is considerably larger or taller than the husband. b) The husband may become excessively meek, spiritless, and submissive where he is considerably smaller. c) On the other hand he may become egotistical or “bossy” to compensate for his smallness. d) Physical adjustment problems may also be involved.
(5) Racial difference. The biologists agree that there are no biological ill effects of race crossing, but, from the sociological point of view “we must conclude that interracial marriage in the United States has little to commend it and much to condemn it.” In the United States interracial marriage causes great bitterness and social strife. Some problems are: a) Finding mutual friends friendly to both spouses. b) The children of interracial marriages suffer the most. “Problem is offspring of Negro-White becomes a mulatto—somewhat a man without a county.” c) There may be inter-family strife. d) There will be differences in racial costumes.
(6) Extreme difference in economic status may make a mixed marriage. In story books the princess marries the page, an heiress marries the chauffeur, the millionaire marries the chorus girl and they live happily ever after, but in real life it’s not always that way. Problems that may arise are: a) The formerly poor party may be snubbed by the rich “in-laws.”
b) The poor party may be regularly reminded of his or her former condition. c) The poor party may be completely unable to adjust to the newly acquired wealth.
7) Differences in education. This may or may not constitute another form of mixed marriage. Some problems that may arise are: a) The interests of the two parties may greatly differ. b) The highly educated person may become ashamed of the lesser educated person. c) Mutual friends may be hard to find.
When there is great disparity of education between husband and wife, there are in four general courses that their marital life may take. (1) They may make satisfactory adjustment, with little actual change on either side. (2) There may be formed between them an unbridgeable chasm. (3) The one with the higher education may assist the other to raise himself to the higher level. (4) The one with the lesser education may drag the other down to the lower level, the last is the path of least resistance and is not infrequent in actual experience.
8) Religious differences. There are enough differences between the teachings of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths to make interfaith marriages one of the most difficult types of mixed marriages. Religion in marriage is more important in marriage than many young people in love are inclined to think. It may be a uniting force or a disrupting influence. Sociologists tells us that people with a religious faith are more likely to have successful marriages and happy homes. . .
“But religion will not be a problem in our life. . .” “Would either or both of you make religion a bone of contention? How did you deduce your answer to this question? Have you ever discussed religion together? Do you argue about it and find yourselves emotionally wrought up and unable to find any common bases for agreement? Would she expect you to change your religion? . . . Would you expect him to change his religion? . . . Has either of these alternatives been discussed? . . . If one changed, would it be because of conviction or to remove a barrier to marriage? Have you planned that each will retain has own faith and affiliation? If so, have you carefully thought through the problems that this might involve in later life, when there are children to be reared? . . . How tolerant and broad-minded is the other person?”
Some problems and dangers of inter-faith marriages: a) There is the danger of compromising the truth with error. b) The greatest risk is in a Christian-Catholic marriage due to their peculiar doctrines about the Bible, papal infallibility, birth control, confessional, marriage, etc. c) Children will be torn between their parents. They don’t understand why mother and daddy don’t “go to church” together. d) Marriage is less likely to be as happy as it could be due to the conflict.
Sometimes people intending to enter a religiously mixed marriage say: (a) “I know of a case that worked out.” But you can probably name ten that didn’t. Wouldn’t both be happier if they could work together as Christians? (b) “Ours will work out for we are in love.” Love is essential in marriage, but it won’t solve every problem that one walks blindly into. (c) “We’ll just not talk about it.” The Christians can’t help sharing with others the truth of God. Failing to talk to one’s companion about his soul will be an eternally fatal error. (d) “We’ll worry about children later.” Most of the time it’s too late to do anything about it even if you “do worry later.”
The only sure way to avoid the difficulties presented by mixed marriages is to avoid mixed marriages. You as a responsible being, are accountable to God. Make a wise decision for your happiness here and your eternal destiny after a while.