Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
The groom is a Christian and the bride is a Hindu. They marry according to Hindu rites. They tie knots and affirm they have accepted each other as their spouse; and the next day there is a Christian wedding led by a pastor, asking them if they are willing to accept each other as their spouse and etc. etc.
Is this right according to the Bible? Is the pastor right going through all Christian aspects of the marriage and blessing them in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What Bible passages are related to say this is wrong?
Sara, this is a great question. I appreciate your zeal for wanting what is right in the eyes of God. Based on my understanding of your question, I assume that you are a Christian. I also think that you want me to say that what the pastor did was wrong. However, let us, together, consider several principles regarding mixing Christian wedding with Hindu rites. We need to appeal to various principles, because I am not aware of any specific Bible passages that address directly your question.
1. First, I don’t know the relationship of the bride. She may have accepted Christ as her savior, but because of pressure from her Hindu family, she needed to go through with a Hindu wedding. It is important to maintain positive relationships with one’s own family. The bride is faced with the Scriptural injunction, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your Father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise)” (Galatians 6:1, 2).
2. Every culture has its own way of acknowledging a marriage. Some have religious meaning, and some don’t. For example, here in America Christians can get married by a judge. It is only a civil ceremony in which the state formalizes the contract between two people. If the couple viewed the Hindi marriage as simply a formality, then that may not have been a problem. It would be good for the entire community to recognize the marriage. Otherwise, the Hindu community may consider the marriage as invalid, and the couple living in sin. However, if the Groom involved himself in an act of worship to a Hindu God, then that would certainly be problematic. That would violate the first of the Ten Commandments.
3. Perhaps the idea was that if the couple agreed to the Hindu marriage, then that side of the family and friends would be obligated to hear the precepts of the Bible regarding marriage. They would more likely be open to hearing the gospel of Christ. The potential for possible hostilities would be reduced. It may be that even some of the Hindu family and friends would be saved when they hear the Word of God.
4. Probably the larger problem would be for a Christian to marry a non-Christian – assuming the bride is not a Christian, but a committed Hindu. The Scripture relating to that issue is “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Most commentators say that this applies to marriage, and also to business, religious and intimate personal relationships. This might, however, be too strict an interpretation. After all, Paul admonished those in a marriage where one is a believer and the other is not this way, “But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away” (1 Corinthians 7:12,ff.). This mixed marriage relationship, then, was not considered wicked, unclean, or “unrighteous,” or “lawless.” The mixed marriage was not grounds for divorce, which would be the logical step if the marriage was somehow wicked.
Furthermore, we must have some association with unbelievers. Not to do so would mean we would have to live outside of this world, and avoid our neighbors and coworkers.
It seems, according to the context, that Paul is speaking of mixing paganism or pagan idolatry with Christianity. In fact, marriage is not even mentioned. The general thought may be to avoid any association that would lead one to compromise our Christian standards or place in jeopardy our personal witness to unbelievers. We must consistently live a godly life even while living in an environment filled with wickedness. The application of this principle to specific situations would need much prayer and leading of the Holy Spirit. We cannot separate ourselves from all the evil in this world, but we can keep from personally participating in evil while living in the sinful world.
5. I don’t know all the circumstances in your situation. Your pastor has thought carefully and prayerfully about these matters. It would be good to respect his decision. It is good to strive for positive relationships with all the parties.
6. As for the couple, they are now married, and need all the support they can get to make the marriage work. When two young people are in love, it is hard for them to listen to reason. A mixed marriage does bring problems. It is hard to maintain a strong spiritual life and Christian service when the spouse is against you. Difficulty comes when deciding which faith to raise the children in. There are two different value systems involved that will clash.
Sara, I hope these thoughts will help you. In the final analysis, there are no easy answers.
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