MAKING A SUCCESS OF CONTRACTED CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM MARRIAGE

by
Babatunde Fagoyinbo

INTRODUCTION

Christian-Muslim Marriage

We need to have a good understanding of the scriptures before delving into the affairs of marriage; otherwise, we shall be confused. Let us begin from creation “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: So God created man …male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion …” (Gen 1:26-28, KJV). This implies that man is in two components, male and female. The word man refers to both sexes and that will be the concept of this article. There will be no need to use alternative man/woman, boy/girl, he/she. This also does not prevent the use of man for males only and specifically mention woman when only the female is referred to. That was creation. Man was created last.

You do not think of who to employ until you have decided and planned what business you are going into. And the Lord God saw his loneliness “… the Lord God said, … I will make him an help meet for him….And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast …And Adam gave names to all … but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him” (Gen 2:18-20, KJV). This implies that Adam was brought into physical existence before other living creatures. To give him a wife “… the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam … and he took one of his ribs, …And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman… she shall be called Woman…Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother… and they shall be one flesh…” (Gen 2:21-25, KJV). This is God’s original plan for man. To be one with his wife; not throw her out at will. When Adam was formed, Eve was part of him.

Irrespective of the number of years that Adam had been in existence before the physical Eve, there was a component of Adam that was Eve. Adam knew that Eve was part of him when he woke after her extraction from his ribs “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen 2:23, KJV).

Husband-Wife Relationship

You will ask about our patriarchs who had multiple wives. You are right for the Lord Jesus answered the Jews on that matter that “…For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept” (Mark 10:5, KJV). God did not make provision for divorce for God is united in Himself and since He created us in His image, He expects us to be one flesh “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. .. one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9, KJV).

Saul discussed the God-man-wife relationship as “… the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3, KJV). To Muslims who are in doubt, the Qur’an says “So if you are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, then ask those who are reading the Book before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it). 10:94”.

Muhammad was aware of dissidents among the children of Israel “Is it not [true] that every time they took a covenant a party of them threw it away? But, [in fact], most of them do not believe” (2:100). Was God not aware of this scenario when He advised Muhammad to consult the people of the book? That advise still stands today and always, for God declared “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6, KJV). Aisha says that Khadija took Muhammad to a Christian convert who used to read the Gospels in Arabic” from Bukhari vol.4 book 55 ch.17 no.605 p.395. Note that Muhammad studied under a Christian convert; not just any Jew or Hebrew

Sonship of Adam

What makes you know that you are the child of your father? I’m from the most homogeneous state in Nigeria. My father’s cousin saw me in the heart of Oyo town and recognised me. I was shocked. She had never seen me before, even as a baby! What did I receive from my father? A tiny drop of sperm, not feasible to the naked eye, meets with my mother’s egg {about 100 microns (millionths of a meter)}, or roughly the thickness of a strand of hair) and then God nourished it until it becomes me. Who is the father?

The LORD God created us like He created the angels but He didn’t form us like them. He formed us in a way that would relate us close to our domain; the earth. God wants us to cherish the earth, to love it and to adequately take care of it in a sustainable manner. Knowing the earth as a component part of our body would cause us to honour and cherish it. Angels don’t have domain but man has. After my father dropped that sperm, he went about other businesses only occasionally asking my mother “How’s the baby doing? “ But God continued with the work of bringing me into the world, nurturing and caring for me so that I would be well shaped and that everything that would make me function well is done for me “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen 2:7, KJV).

Can you quantify the breath of life inputted into you? The breath that makes you a living soul! Can you compare that precious breath with the tiny sperm measuring about 0.002 inch (about 50 micrometres) from head to tail? Your earthly father has no choice in what you are: tall or short; fat or slim; light or dark; male or female. But the LORD God takes interest in everything concerning you, your mother, your siblings, your father, the resources they need to take care of you.

You say that you are the servant of God! How? What work do you carry out for him? Clean his farm/ Wash His clothes? Make his bed? Cook His food? What work do you do other than work out your salvation? Now, let’s look at it this way, Dictionary.com says that a servant is a person employed by another, especially to perform domestic duties. A cook is a servant. You are an old person and a cook is employed for you, then you cook falls sick and cannot enter the kitchen. You’ll starve that day except you look for an alternative to cook for you.

Now, tell me what assignment you are charged with by God that if you don’t carry out He will have to desperately look for an alternative. God created us as His children but we fell short and descended to the rank of a servant. No, not of God but of Satan “… wasted his substance with riotous living…. How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough… make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:12-19, KJV). But for His compassion, we have not truly repented and returned to the Father for forgiveness and reabsorption into His Vineyard but we go about labeling ourselves servants of God when, in actual sense, we are slaves to sin. The prodigal son raised his heart and his soul and looked towards his home and sought to repent. He did not just think it, he took a step of faith and headed home.

Have we got to that level? Have we repented? If we are truly servants what have the nearly 200,000,000 of us done about the Ogoja Five?

True Sonship

The Police impounded my 23-year old car in Nsukka because I was not carrying the bill of laden. I had to send the driver back for the paper. When I went to retrieve the car, I met a man who came to bail out his son that was arrested for harassing a woman on her farm. He was not ashamed to call the young man his son. If the man is decent he would, on reaching home, scold the child and threaten to disown him and declare. “You are not like me!”

Man is not only in the image of God but also in His likeness “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26, KJV). This informs God’s decision when He sent to Pharaoh “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn” (Ex 4:22, KJV). If we have not accepted Christ we overrate ourselves if we call ourselves His servants. Christ said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34, KJV).

In the course of time man began to multiply in response to the blessing at creation “That the sons of God (that is, the professors of religion, who were called by the name of the Lord, and called upon that name) saw the daughters of men (those that were profane, and strangers to God and godliness) that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen 6:2, KJV). The generation coming out of Seth did not keep by themselves, as they ought to have done, both for the preservation of their own purity and in detestation of the apostasy. They intermingled themselves with the excommunicated race of Cain (MH, 2006). Their choices were guided by physical beauty; based their choice on the assessment which their own corrupt affections made without regard to divine instructions and became unequally yoked with strange women. No doubt, they must have married their daughters out to them too.

What Does Marriage Entail?

As a teenager, I used to read Denise Robins’ novels but when I started work I noticed that nearly all my colleagues who were married did not have the same ending as Denise Robins’ “they both lived happily thereafter”. There were mountains to climb, rivers to cross and swamp lands to pass through. Notwithstanding, I still had problems with my first relationship. I saw the problem about two years earlier than our breakup but I couldn’t leave. I kept on praying that the relationship should be terminated by God. I knew my error. I picked a relationship by myself; I never consulted Him but kept on praying that He should make her my wife. God kept on revealing to me that she was not for me.

When the break came, it was not easy but I made up my mind I won’t enter into any relationship for two years. I’d known better: I asked God to provide His choice for me. He did. My first sighting of her the spirit told me that she is my wife. We were in close proximity for about two weeks and I had every opportunity to drop a hint on having a relationship but I never did. Then, she left. I did not even blame myself for not taking the chance. The following day, she was back with an errand to her brother who was my colleague. Had she not been sent back I don’t think we would have met again.

The following morning was when I remembered the first day that I saw her and the voice that I heard. Today, we are blessed with four children and grandchildren. I have not, on any occasion wondered why I did not marry someone else. We have our differences but they make us stronger.

Conversion

An elder cousin of mine dated a Muslim babe and they eventually got married. After marriage, the babe reneged on her promise to become a Christian. My cousin never bothered himself about it until their first baby was 40 days. Then he told the wife “Our daughter will be dedicated tomorrow.”

“That’s Ok. Mama will mount her.” She replied.

“Mama is not her mother. She cannot present her to the priest.” He stated emphatically.

Notwithstanding his wife’s refusal to go with him to the Church, he instructed everybody in the family not to collect the child from her. 30 minutes later she joined them in the Church. The following week she was ready for service ahead of the husband.

Another case was a friend of mine who converted to marry a Muslim girl. The day after the marriage the father-in-law told him “Waheed, you have demonstrated love by converting to Islam to marry my daughter. By virtue of my position in Islam and the family, I cannot give my daughter in marriage to a Muslim. Your wife should also be able to demonstrate her love to you. The two of you should decide what faith you would follow but you must be of the same faith.” This is not a narrative. I was part of the system from conversion to reversal. The girl had assured him of reversal after marriage. They are happily married.

Already Married

In the case of a marriage between a Christian and a Muslim, the Muslim has acted in faith as the Qur’an allows it (Qur’an 2:221; 5:5). Even if the Muslim does not understand it at the time of the marriage, there has been no violation. However, the Christian has violated the ethics of the Christian faith. They now have the right to re-oil and rekindle their lamps, drain the oil and put off their lights or keep their lights glowing and continue praying for the spouse.

ON THE PERIPHERY

There are four possible situations that can create marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian: both were unbelievers before marriage but one of them received the light and got converted; one was a Church goer and married a Muslim but now has submitted self to Christ; One is a warm Christians married to a Church goer and One is a Christian but pushed God aside and followed their passions.

One of Unbelieving Couple Got Converted

Unequally Yoked

If one partner becomes a Christian after the marriage, the inherent struggles of living under two different authorities quickly become apparent: values will clash, attitudes will conflict, priorities will differ and desires will be at odds.  It won’t be easy for the new convert to grow in the faith. They won’t be able to share the newfound source of wisdom, comfort and joy with the spouse they loved the most. Making the other partner understand may generate ridicule.

The onus of success rests on the convert. They must be prepared for the storm. They must learn how to live their faith in a way that will attract the other partner rather than repel them, how to grow and even flourish in their relationship with Christ, irrespective of discouragement from the spouse and admit possible mistakes to restore stability to the family relationship.

A Church Goer, Married a Muslim and Became Born-again

Their case is akin to that of an unbelieving couple of which one got converted, but in addition, they carry the guilt of deception to self. This is the most common among Christian-Muslim marriages. Marriage is hard enough when you have two believers who are completely in harmony spiritually.

Warm Christians married an in-name-only Christian

The genuine Christian should’ve known the situation of the nominal Christian during the courtship days and should have taken adequate care to decide on the course of action In-name only abound all over and in every congregation.

One is a Christian but Pushed God aside for Their Passion

The temptation to get romantically involved with a non-Christian is usually not hidden and an attempt is usually made to justify it to themselves and co-worshippers. Any feeling arising from any infatuation to a non-Christian is a temptation to call right that which God calls wrong; generally, such feelings are not accompanied by any affirmation from God. You’ve definitely told a lie: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4, KJV). You should repent from your sin of deceit.

The Christian had probably got romantically involved having spent a great deal of time with the opposite sex one-on-one. This was what happened in my first relationship. I was coaching her for admission into a Teachers’ college. If you don’t want to get romantically involved with someone, don’t spend hours one-on-one.

Possible Outcomes of Christian–Muslim Marriage

There are only three ways an unequal marriage can turn out, (and by unequal I am willing to stretch a point and include genuine, warm Christians who want to marry an in-name-only Christian, or someone very, very far behind them in Christian experience and growth). The followings are what you are experiencing now:

  1. There is a need to sacrifice such essential Christian activities as devotional life, hospitality to believers, missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers;
  2. The deep unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person’s most important commitments: this would result in the unbelievers seeing themselves as marginalised.
    1. A cousin of mine was dating a Muslim. I noticed in their album they never sat or stand fully side by side. Their sitting and standing positions were always looking in different directions. I asked him why but he dismissed it as superstitious. I told him he thought they lovd each other but that their spirits were not in agreement. They got married. Within three months there were tensions in the family. I wasn’t married then. The wife insisted he must become a Muslim. It was after they separated that my cousin regained his senses, repented and asked God for forgiveness. He loved the woman and never searched for an alternative. He was shocked , after three and a half years of separation, when the womn packed her things and came back home, unannounced; and
  • Stress, loneliness and unhappiness will result from forced co-habitation or eventual breakup.

Prayer is a wonderful instrument in this matter. The Christian should exploit this resource.

THE BIBLE HAS THE SOLUTION

Staying On

Christians are not meant to live solitary lives “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen 2:18, KJV); they need to find support from outside sources such as the Church and Bible study groups for the Scriptures enjoined “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb 10:25), KJV). Being married to an unbeliever does not alter the sacredness of the relationship, so it should be the priority of every Christian to pray for their spouses and set good examples, allowing Christ’s light to shine brightly “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Phil 2:14, KJV).

It is often said that each believer has their own experiences and priorities “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations “Jer 1:5, KJV) that influence their unique collection of ideas, beliefs, practices, and all the other parts that make up the sum of what they mean when they say “I’m Christian,” or such remark as those who share the same religious affiliation does not necessarily share the same opinions on important issues. But it is ever ethical for Christians to commune together on what the Bible says on important issues. If we want to use our wisdom or our own experience we would falter. The Bible provides the benchmark.

The Bible is a complete manual of life and goes deeply into every situation. It is consistent on all matters. As a young Christian, I wondered why Reuben’s relationship with Jacob’s concubine and David’s illicit relationship with Uriah’s wife were recorded. The Bible wants us to know. Is God’s word not true to-date? “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren” (Gen 16:12, KJV). The Bible recorded all so that we would learn the fact that every action we take has a spiritual impact on the creation and spiritual consequences on the immediate environment made up of you and your generations.

Let’s remind ourselves of what you’ve done by marrying an unbeliever or what situation you’ve put yourself in the period of ignorance. If you’re selected for military training, the first task you are put on is repentance “for being a civilian”. Now that you are a Christian, the first task is to realise that you are a sinner and have to repent. Repent of what?

God’s image: You are to display God’s image (Gen 1: 26) in obedience to His commands (Deut 7:3-4). Marriage is to display God’s image by obeying God’s commands for fruitfulness and dominion (Gen 1:28). Obeying God’s word is doing what pleases God. Otherwise, you are either pleasing yourself or others. And that’s idolatry.

Marriage is a partnership for God’s service: God formed other living creatures before forming Eve. To fulfil the blessing of prophecy/priesthood/kingship contained in Gen 1:28, God had to provide a suitable help in Eve. He created man and woman in relationship for competence to fulfil his calling to His image. Samson is a good example of not being able to fulfil God’s purpose when you ignore His commands “… Let me die with the Philistines. … the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life” (Judg 13:1-16:30, KJV).

He was aware of God’s purpose for his life. Have you realised God’s purpose for your life? Having a Christian spouse will assist you to be focused and accomplish. Had Samson prayed aright, repented and asked for full restoration, he would have received both his sight and his strength.

Marriage is harmed by sin: While Adam went about his business in the Garden, Eve glorified God. Her relationship with the husband was as designed: “a help meet”. There was a reversal of God’s will in “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen 3:16, KJV). In a Christian marriage, spouses have the opportunity to call each other to submit their respective sinful wills to God’s perfect will. An unbeliever would not understand this and thus lose out on the blessing of having a spouse who calls you to submit your will to Christ, and instead have a spouse who has no interest in being called to submit their own will to Christ.

God’s commands warn against marrying unbelievers: (Deut 7:3-4; Josh 23:12). Gen 24 revealed the extent to which he planned that Isaac would not be unequally yoked. Isaac did the same to Jacob “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan” (Gen 28:1, KJV), being disgusted with the marriage of Esau to the Hittite women. Jacob’s children refused to intermarry with unbelievers “…The soul of my son Shechem longeth for your daughter… give her him to wife. … We cannot …to one that is uncircumcised; for that were a reproach unto us (Gen 34:8-14). The hidden intention of the Shalemites is contained in “Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us” (Gen 34:23, KJV).

God positively pictures believing marriages: The book of Ruth presents the most beautiful picture of believers marrying. Boaz provided and protected; Ruth trusted and took the Godly initiative. It’s a wonderful love story of how a woman who has come under the wings of the Lord comes within the love of a godly man.

Christ endowed the Old Testament: Christ declared “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: …  but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:17-19, KJV).

What to do

Now that we have a good picture of God’s stand towards marriage we can look at what God expects of us “…to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. …, Let not the wife depart from her husband: … For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife… For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? …” (1 Cor 7:2-17, KJV).

Christians married to unbelievers will need to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to profess Christ and live in the light of God’s presence (1 John 1:7). They should seek God’s transforming power to change their hearts and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian wife is obligated to have a submissive heart, even toward her unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3:1), and she will need to remain close to God and rely on His grace to enable her to do so.

Procedure

Divorce is UnChristian: Being married to an unbeliever does not alter the sacredness of the relationship, so it should be the priority of every Christian to pray for their spouses and set good examples, allowing Christ’s light to shine brightly. Exiting from the marriage is not the solution “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt 5:32, KJV). Matt 19:4-8 also emphasises on this. Paul was emphatic about it “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39, KJV). In the same way is the husband

Praying unceasingly: Christians married to unbelievers will need to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to profess Christ and live in the light of God’s presence (1 John 1:7). They should seek God’s transforming power to change their hearts and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian wife is obligated to have a submissive heart, even toward her unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3:1), and she will need to remain close to God and rely on His grace to enable her to do so.

Encourage your spouse: You are called simply to love your spouse (Eph 5:21-25; Tit 2:4). No matter how strong one’s walk with God, sacrificial love is a daunting standard. Indeed, the depth, breadth and intensity of the divine standard for husbands; of love, of providing for the family, of guiding the family spiritually,  may cause them more stress than we realise. So also are the homecare demands, the care of the children (the husband inclusive) etc. on the wives. ·

Although your eyes naturally fall on areas in which your spouses need to improve, you should instead look for ways to bless them with encouragement.

Love is enjoined: “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph 5:33, KJV)

God is aware of our shortcomings: God has made adequate provisions for our shortcomings and desires our salvation. He uses every opportunity to manifest His glory. You’ll be amazed when He takes over “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom 8:29, KJV). Howbeit you have to be patient and persevere.

Next: The Fundamentals of Major Religions

REFERENCES

MH (2006). Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.

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