Mixed denomination marriages

We had a reader that asked us a question about “mixed marriages”, meaning marrying someone of a different denomination. I qualify to answer this question since my husband and I were as opposite as night and day. I grew up in the Catholic church and he grew up in the Baptist church. I don’t know where I got the idea when I was growing up, but I always thought of the Baptist religion as the “Anti-Catholic”. I could NEVER imagine myself going to a Baptist church.

When I met my husband, I had a revelation from God that this was the man he intended for me to marry. We had only known each other for 2 weeks. He knew when we first met; it took me 2 weeks more! Even though I was a fairly new Christian, I felt that God was telling me that this was the one. And this is where our adventure began.

The first thing we had to do was decide on where we were getting married. It was our first opportunity to make a compromise, so that our wedding was a combination of both of our beliefs and experiences. The Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) was similar enough to Catholicism to me, and he thought it was Protestant enough for him, so that is where we got married.

Now when DH and I were considering churches, we tried many churches. We went to a mass together at a Catholic church, and he didn’t like it at all. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be comfortable in a Baptist church. We started looking for a middle ground that we both would feel comfortable in. We wanted to choose a church that we could raise our children in as a family. In the first four years of our marriage, we tried several Lutheran churches (Missouri Synod), and finally settled in a nondenominational Bible church. We were there for 10 years. Now…guess what? We left the Bible church and are now enjoying a Baptist church. It is very similar to the Bible church we attended for so long, but not actually a traditional Southern Baptist church.

I think there are several things that you need to consider when considering marriage. First of all, God calls us to be equally yoked. By this, God tells us not to be yoked to an unbeliever. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) Now there are some marriages that have worked out this way…Lee Strobel and his wife, Leslie are examples, but in this case, Lee DID become a Christian after an extensive and exhaustive investigation into the evidence of Christ, but it wasn’t without its trials and tribulations along the way. This isn’t going to work in all marriages. Don’t enter into a marriage thinking you can change your spouse’s mind about religion. It doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. Remember, the only person you can change is yourself. You don’t have control over change in your spouse. Secondly, I highly recommend premarital counseling. This counseling can really help with all areas of your future marriage. It helps you to think through things that will affect your marriage that maybe you haven’t thought about. Sometimes before we get married, we are so in love, we can’t see through the feelings of the moment to think about issues that could come up later in our marriage; religion and where you will attend church is one of those issues. Lastly, since my husband and I were both believers, we didn’t compromise our beliefs, but compromised on the church body where we felt that we could worship God together, raise our children and feel like it was our “home”. Some of you may have decided to attend the wife’s church or the husband’s church. If it works for you, that’s great. If there is a comfort level involved though, I feel it is important to look for a church where you both can worship together. My comfort level was really tested when DH and I looked for a church, but in the end, we spent 10 years in a church that my Dad thought made me a “bible thumper”, but my relationship with God blossomed there. It honored God that we, as a couple and as a family, decided to make it a priority to find a church body where we could grow as a couple and where we could raise our children to know Him.

Where should you choose? That is totally up to you, your spouse and God. I would take it in prayer to God. Listen for God’s guidance. He could lead you to any denomination. He could lead you to a church that is nondenominational. He could lead you to a home church. If you are very staunchly rooted in your religion, whatever it may be, and you would never compromise on your religion, it wouldn’t be wise to marry someone outside of your religion. I have seen for myself the results of this in my own parents. Prayerfully consider what God has planned for you and your spouse. He would never lead you wrong!

16 Comments

  1. Good topic and very relevant in todays society.
    I think the most important thing as you mentioned is for a believer to marry a believer. Otherwisw your asking for problems, not that God can’t work them out but sometimes it just dosen’t happen. I think in this area of our life more than anywhere we need to pray a lot and seek God’s will and then follow it.
    I was raised in a baptist church and still belong to the same church.:) I would not be comfortable in any church that didn’t open the bible and preach sound doctorine.
    My husband was raised lutheran (wisconsin synod) but after being saved wasn’t comfortable with some of there stands or lack of.
    It’s important to remember that God’s word is inspired by him, but religon is not. Yes he wants us to meet together to worship, but where is our choice. No one religon is more ordained by him than another.I do believe however we should worship with like minded believers, and be carefull of those who say they are believers yet have no fruit.
    There are a lot of good churches out there, but make sure you agree with all of there doctorine before joining up with them. God tells us to be discerning christians.
    Sorry I sort of got off tract, but this is a hot topic to me. Christian parents really need to stress the “unequally yoked” topic with there children. If God thought enough of this to mention it in his word, we need to “take heed” and follow.

  2. I have to agree. You should marry someone of the faith or you will encounter some problems, especially about where to raise the kids..

  3. I am leaning very much toward becoming Christian, and my husband is not. This does not mean our marriage is doomed. Neither of us were Christian before we got married; we respect each others’ beliefs now, as we did always. It does make some things difficult, but there’s always difficulty in marriage. It is how you deal with it that makes the difference.

  4. No it is not doomed. It is a new beginning and the marriage can blossom and he may come around, I am praying he does..
    God Bless and be with you!

  5. No, your marriage is not doomed. 🙂 And when you read the comments above talking about how a Christian should not marry a non-christian, this does not apply to people who are already married. If you are married, God wants you to stay married, in fact His word says in 1 Peter “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”
    So you coming to know the Lord and then continuing to love and serve your husband, not looking down on him or becoming self righteous, could be God’s plan for bringing your husband to Him!

  6. Hello Lisa,
    I admire and respect you for having the courage to consider a different lifestyle choice even though you may face consequences in your marriage.

    As you mention, I also believe the crux of most interdenominational or different faith marriages boils down to one word, respect.

    If you can decide to utterly respect and continue to love your husband without pressure, before commiting yourself to a Christian mindset, you will be treated likewise. If you become a pain in the neck about him converting to your new way of thinking, you will receive a gradual cold shoulder.

    God bless your journey.

  7. LisaB,
    I couldn’t agree more with what the others have said. God says we shouldn’t enter into a marriage unequally yoked. He is not speaking to those already committed in marriage.I think for reasons of peace between you. It is always easier to respect others if you share the same opinions and goals but that dosen’t make the opposite true. God would NEVER tell us to break a marriage committment. You are so right marriage is work, it’s a give and take no matter what your religous beliefs are, but it’s so worth it!
    I pray that God sends someone into your life to show you what it means to become a christian, and opens your heart to him. Then in turn maybe God will use your testimony to bring your DH to him.
    There is nothing better in life than a relationship with the Lord. He will always be with you once you committ your life to him. This is the most important decision you’ll ever make! I pray you choose him!

  8. I was just looking that verse up, MDCCCC – couldn’t remember which Peter it was in 😀 the whole passage in peter about wives is found in 1 Peter 3:1-6
    great thing to meditate on.

    That whole passage makes such a beautiful picture of powerful womanhood – submission. But not servility or weakness or even timidity, and not husband-worship. Instead qualified honor and respect that puts God first, powerful quietness, and fearless love and submission.

    Whew. That’s what I get out of it anyways. Haven’t reached all that yet (and I’m blessed that my husband is already a believer so that I don’t have to win him to Christ. And yet he isn’t perfect in his walk with Christ and lately we’ve both been struggling. So I think even though I still have a responsibility to draw him closer to God, ‘win’ in a sense through the ‘purity and reverence’ of my life even though he IS a believer and even though I’m far from perfect myself. Likewise, my husband has a responsibility to be my spiritual leader too…)

    Well, that’s my two cents.

    As far as the original article topic – we’re sorta an inter-denominational marriage; he’s baptist and I never affiliated (and still don’t really want to affiliate with) any denomination. Don’t necessarily want to go back to my old non-denominational church that I attended with my family, but every week we go to ‘his’ church I feel more and more unhappy there, and I don’t like that – I want to get MORE comfortable there, not less!
    Not sure what I should be doing to help myself with that…
    My father in law is the pastor, and my husband grew up there – oldest son, practically everybody doted on him, and so I feel like a ‘cradle-robbing’ outcast who had the nerve to marry THE PASTOR”S SON and go change him (and he has changed – gave up a lot of his church activities to be the man of his own house, and a lot of ppl don’t ‘get’ that. And he misses church more often now, b/c I am sick a lot. and ppl don’t ‘get’ that either. But I sure do love that he takes care of me. He’s a good man)

    And then there’s a bunch of small, but numerous, doctrinal issues. Hubby and I agree with each other on these issues, but we just neither of us agree with the church…
    But there is no perfect church, and I think we’d have ‘little issues’ wherever we go. It’s tougher though, b/c he grew up here and therefore never had to ‘get to know everyone’, so I feel alone in the struggle to ‘fit in’…

    it’s hard, to say the least, but I knew it would be and never doubted for a moment that this man was the man God wanted me to marry. It’s just… any time you have two people getting married, there’s gonna be some issue like this somewhere, I think.
    Esp if the two ppl do come from different kinds of churches.
    So… I think it works. it can work. And God puts people together for a reason, and I think that he’s growing me through this (wonder if God is trying to get rid of my hug-phobia? hmmm, if so, we need more work!)

    I just try to be submissive and let my husband be the leader – and pray that he follows God faithfully, and speak when I feel called to speak…

    pray for me tho, b/c I am struggling and have been for a while now.

  9. Thank you for your replies, everybody. Your advice is very good, and I plan to follow it: I will respect my husband and continue to grow in my relationship with God, while honoring my marital relationship. I have no desire to divorce, and I believe that it was God who spoke to me when I realized that I would marry my husband (the second time we met). I believe that even an “unequally yoked” relationship can work.

  10. Isn’t it amazing once you recognize the voice of God, that you realize He was speaking to you all the time? I have walked with the Lord for most of my life, but didn’t learn what His voice sounded like to me until the last decade. Before that, what I thought was distraction was actually Him. 🙂

    I am certain that your marriage can work and am encouraged by the parts of your story that you have shared. Thank you.

  11. I don’t know where to start. I know most of the folks on here are women, and as a man my views are allot different than most. As I read through the posts I was a little shocked. First Lisa you said you are “leaning” towards becoming a Christian. Do you believe in God and Jesus Christ? Then what is the problem. Please as soon as you can ask God into your heart and feel His loving embrace and the confidence that He is always with you and He always loves you no matter what.

    I also read allot of “his” Church or “her” Church. This should never be the case it should be “our” church. Today’s society tell us that even though we are married we can still do our own thing. Every good husband should listen to his wife’s wants, desires, and concerns and then make the best decision for everyone concerned. Then it’s the wife’s job to summit to this leadership. This should be done with a willing heart. If he decides that y’all should go to a certain church then go knowing that you are doing what God has commanded that you do.

    God has given us guidelines to live with and as Christians we must follow these. I think many of us still struggle with one foot in the world and what society tells us we should do and what God tells us we should do.

    I think when we start going to different Church’s and we stop worshiping together we allow satan to start driving a wedge between each other in our marriage.

    I apologize for the harsh tone to some of my statements, but I think this is one of the biggest struggles modern Christians face. Trying to please everyone instead of doing what God tells us. My wife and I have been married for 22 years and she is a wonderful Christian woman. But don’t think for one second she does not have a voice in our marriage. She always lets me know what she thinks and I respect her and her experiences and opinion very much. I would never make a decision without her input.

    I love this site and it great to find other sexually open Christian.

  12. “MIXED marriages?!!!” Jesus wept.

    This is relevant topic because there is so much misunderstanding among children of God, by definition brothers and sisters!

    Not long ago, an Irish Catholic marrying an Italian Catholic was considered a “mixed marriage.” (But cultural and not spiritual reasons.)

    Today, many churches — some in Protestant denominations but more who are independents — teach that Catholicism is not Christianity! Heaven knows what they would think if they ever heard of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

    Where there is a willingness to compromise, there is true love!!! And true belief!!!!!
    What a wonderful and uplifting example example you share! Unwillingness to compromise is a danger flag for other issues, and for the marriage itself.

    Different backgrounds should be a matter of personal preference (in what setting, including liturgy and architecture, do you feel closest to God?). If your church — whatever its affiliation — is teaching against other churches rather than against the ravages of sin in this world, your church is trying to whitewash its sepulchre while avoiding the hard work of following the examples of Jesus and the commands of the Christ! .

  13. Rev,
    I appriciate your comments on this post but have to say I don’t agree with you 100 o/o.
    I think christianity is defined as a Christ follower. One who reads the bible and follows it. Not one who alligns themselves with a group or religion. My DH and I choose to worship with a group who might be known as fundamentalist, (a label given by some) but that dosen’t make me a christian. We have committed ourselves to follow Christ and asked him to be Lord of our lives. That alone makes us Christian. I know a lot of “good” people in life. They are kind, friendly, loving people who believe there is a God out there. They are a part of many different churches, catholic, lutheran, baptist, methodist etc… However they don’t believe they are sinners in need of a savior, they feel if they are good or pray hard enough that God will allow them into heaven. I would not call these people Christians. A true believer is one who accepts God’s free gift of salvation as the ONLY way to enter into heaven. That is the difference between believers and unbelievers and being “unequally yoked”
    Now if we choose to enter into an unequally yoked committment, we can (that is called our free will). God allows it, it just won’t be the ideal situation for us (his will).
    Oh and I hope your opening line was a joke. That wasn’t why Jesus wept. He was mourning the loss of his good friend Lazurus.
    I hope my tone isn’t harsh I just wanted to better define chrisianity.

  14. Just wanted to encourage you in your journey. My husband and I decided before marriage that we would not use any hormonal BC. Condoms were out for him, because the connotations were just too nasty for him. I found out about the sympto-thermal method through NFP. We are not Catholic. I did read just about all of the huge book on NFP by the Couple to Couple League. I did NOT read the full text of the Humanae Vitae. However, I did read enough to know that even though sex for pure pleasure is not acceptable within NFP, (without being open for the possibility of pregnancy every single time…), pleasure in sex is encouraged.

    Anyway, I do want to encourage you to not fight the NFP method of BC. I don’t know how involved with it you have been in the past. I was on the opposite side of the coin–he was the refuser. I would get bitter when I could only check the coitus box once or twice a cycle, when I much preferred at least twice a week.

    My encouragements:
    1–Be as involved as she will let you, in charting. At least the temperature and coitus records. If you go several months, and only several happy check marks, you can show her that you as a couple are not really fulfilling God’s plan for mutual protection/pleasure.

    2–Take a few cycles to really focus on loving your wife. Don’t focus on how many times you have sex (if any). Learn her love languages, and use them. LOTS of acts of service, and non-sexual touches, loving words, etc… Make it as much about her, and not about yourself. The NFP stuff talks a lot about using the fertile abstaining times as courtship times. What fun things did you do together while dating/engaged? How does she connect with you?

    My husband NEEDS me to play board games with him. He can be a video game freak, so I have learned to play board games that have similar strategies, but in the real world–Settler’s of Catan, Carcasonne… We have a three-year old, and 11 month old twins. He works close to 50 hours in a demanding job. Limited down time is a big issue. Sometimes it is a game night, other times we play a game we both can win (happy check mark!)

    While we have switched to Fertility Awareness, rather than NFP, (Barrier methods during fertile times), NFP can be workable.

    As the spiritual leader in your home, you can encourage your wife to learn what the Bible itself has to say about love, sex, and enjoyment. Try Driscoll’s Peasant Princess series–at least for you to watch, even if she does not want to watch something that is not RC.

  15. Don’t want to give you unrealistic expectations, either. We still only have intercourse 1-3 times per cycle, but his attitude has changed, and we both enjoy what we are doing.

  16. Amen Brother!!!!!!! I was thinking the same thing.


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