"Should We Marry If We’re Theologically Divided?"
- Tuesday, May 18, 2010
A while back I posted a question from Calvin, a Reformed dispensationalist fundamentalist, and Aimee, a Pentecostal, who have fallen in love and want to get married. Their question is too long to repost, but you can find it here. Y'all gave a spirited round of responses. Here are my thoughts on the question.
Dear Calvin and Aimee,
I'm tempted to start by saying your question has me singing a version of a great song as "Pentecostal Woman, Calvinistic Man, We Get Together Every Time We Can…" But I won't do that, because that would be wrong.
First off, you're not in danger of what the Scripture calls being "unequally yoked" (2 Cor. 6:14), since that passage is clearly about a joining of "righteousness with lawlessness…light to darkness…Christ to Belial." You are both, it sounds like, godly people trusting in the blood of Christ and received by faith into the kingdom of God through the Holy Spirit.
Now, just because you can, morally, marry is no sign that you, wisely, should. Here are some questions to help you think it through ethically.
If you, Calvin, equate Calvinism or dispensationalism with the gospel, don't marry Aimee. If you, Aimee, equate baptism with the Holy Spirit or the freedom of the will with the gospel, don't marry Calvin. None of these things are to be equated with the gospel of Christ. The questions are important, no doubt, and Scripture speaks to them. But the gospel is both simpler and bigger than these systems.
That's why, despite all our disagreements, an Arminian charismatic can recognize a Reformed cessationist as a brother or sister in Christ, and vice-versa. Pentecostals who know Christ and Bible Church folk who know Christ both participate in "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5). We must typically be in different churches because in order to carry out a congregational mission, we must agree on the specifics of what what the mission is. That doesn't mean we disagree on the gospel itself.
In order for a marriage to work, you will have to go into it assuming that the other will never change positions on these things. Now, you probably will grow closer together on these things. As committed Christian couples go from their parents' homes to forming a new family (Gen. 2:24), they tend to grow in doctrinal unity as well as marital unity as they learn and are discipled together.
But you must assume, Calvin, that she will end her life believing in speaking in tongues and you must assume, Aimee, that he will end his life believing the reverse. If you are marrying thinking you will "change" the other, it will be better for both of you to dwell in the corner of the housetop than with each other (Prov. 21:9).
If the two of you marry, God has called Calvin to spiritually lead the home (Eph. 5:23, 25-28; 1 Cor. 11:3). Aimee, if you see Calvin as spiritually immature because he hasn't experienced the "baptism of the Holy Ghost," do not marry him. He will be leading you spiritually, and if you can't respect him, as he is, move on. If you would plan to whisper to your children, "Don't tell Daddy but really serious Christians get slain in the Spirit…" then call off the engagement.
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