Muslim-Christian marriage: Some friendly advice

Should you take the plunge?

I remember hearing an interview on the radio with a Muslim, a few years ago.

As the interview began, the host asked the Muslim guest whether he was married. He replied that Islam is so open and tolerant that he is married to a Christian. Islam means equality and no discrimination.

However, the quick-minded interviewer asked him if Islam allows a Jewish man or a Christian man to marry a Muslim woman. The guest’s enthusiasm dropped a little. He had to concede that Islam does not allow this. The radio host pressed home the point, saying that the guest’s first statement was a little misleading, wasn’t it? They argued for a moment or two. Then, if I recall correctly, the radio host sensed his guest’s unease and changed the subject.

This short article from a Muslim website, representing many others, says about religiously mixed marriages:

It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man.

It is permissible for a Muslim man to marry a Christian/Jewish woman strictly under these two conditions:

1. She is a true Christian/Jew – not by name and/or ancestral background.

2. She did not renegade from Islam and become a Christian/Jew.

A Muslim man is allowed to marry a Christian woman, but a Christian man is not permitted to marry a Muslim woman.

Why is marriage allowed in only one direction? Maybe seventh-century Arab culture will answer this question.

What does the New Testament say on the matter?

The Quran

The Quran in Sura (Chapter) 5:5 says:

. . . Likewise you are permitted to marry chaste believing women [Muslims] or chaste women among the people who were given the Scripture [Jews and Christians] . . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 427 or online here)

To see four orthodox Sunni translations of 5:5 side-by-side, click here.

This verse, as noted, says that Islam permits Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women who are Christians and Jews, but a Jewish or Christian man may not marry a Muslim woman. (In this article I will address only the Christian community.) What is the rationale behind the ruling?

Beyond any doubt, Islam is patriarchal, so a Muslim man must have final control in the relationship. For example, Sura 4:34 says that a husband may hit his wife, but no verse in the Quran says a wife may hit her husband—as if domestic violence in any form is acceptable. It isn’t.

So this means that in seventh-century Arab culture a Muslim man may dominate his wife or wives, but not a Christian man who would dominate his Muslim wife.

Therefore, Christian women must be careful about marrying Muslim men. Islam does not give the same rights to women as it does to men. In fact, the Quran clearly says that women are inferior to men.

This article gives the top ten rules in the Quran that oppress and insult women. Islam, as the whole world knows by many, many reports, does not honor women.

Therefore, Christians must not trade in the eternal Son of God who sets people free today and offers the love of God, for a human and mortal messenger Muhammad (Suras 3:144 and 39:30). who is too often cruel and harsh and misogynistic.

Sorry to say, but Islam does not honor women.

If a Christian woman marries a Muslim, but holds on to her beliefs, such as the Sonship and Lordship of Christ, then ipso facto she holds on to a false belief (from Islam’s point of view) and may be considered a “heretic” or an “infidel,” if the Quran and traditional Islamic theology are followed consistently.

Also, would the children be Muslims or Christians, or secular? The answer is clear, if Islam is followed consistently. They would be Muslims.

What kind of marriage would this be? Where is the spiritual connection and agreement between husband and wife and God?

The New Testament

The New Testament starts the soon-to-be married couple on an equal footing in the selection of a mate.

The New Testament in 1 Corinthians 7:39 says that a Christian woman may marry only a Christian man (and vice-versa) (see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). At first glance, this divine counsel seems too restrictive, but looked at more deeply, it demonstrates a lot of wisdom. If a married couple starts their walk together with the same faith and theology, then this takes the pressure off of possibly converting the partner to the other’s faith. One partner does not have to “evangelize” the other partner. Neither partner starts off as an “infidel” or “heretic.”

In Biblical Christianity, the man and the woman must have a deep, spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ, individually, through the power of the Holy Spirit before they become one flesh in marriage. This means their spiritual intimacy with the Lord will be shared in the couple’s own intimacy with each other.

Also, this true spiritual equality takes away any patriarchy. The woman already agrees with the husband in matters of religion, so what need does he have to control the relationship and lay down religious law?

In a way, Islam acknowledges this restriction when it forbids a Muslim from marrying a polytheist or idolater (Sura 2:221). They are too far apart theologically. Likewise, though neither religion is polytheistic, Islam and Christianity are too far apart theologically and spiritually, notably in Muhammad’s denial of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, an essential, non-negotiable doctrine in Christianity. Islam wrongly demotes Jesus to a mere prophet. The New Testament everywhere affirms the Sonship of Christ.

On a heart-felt level, the Muslim does not receive the Holy Spirit because he does not receive Christ as Savior and Lord. In fact, Islamic theology erroneously reduces the Holy Spirit to the angel Gabriel. This means that a marriage between a Muslim and a Christian would be unequal. And this is risky for the Christian, since she would be most vulnerable to a particularly strong patriarchy that may rear its ugly head later on in the marriage.

Remember, the Quran gives permission to husbands to hit their wives if the husbands merely fear high handedness or rebellion in their wives (Sura 4:34).

Besides this practical reason, if a Christian understands the New Testament, then he or she must not marry a Muslim, for spiritual and theological reasons.

A Christian couple must keep spiritual unity. They must raise their children in spiritual harmony, as followers of Christ.

Conclusion

If you’re a Christian woman who is contemplating marriage with a Muslim, then think reconsider. More clearly: don’t.

If you’re a Christian woman who has already married a Muslim man, and you’re happy, then don’t divorce him.

But don’t convert to Islam, for twenty-five reasons and its thirty sharia laws.

Here is the standard advice I give to all Christian women who email me and have already married a Muslim:

  • Get into church and get to know other Christians.
  • Don’t let your faith be merely cultural, but deepen your personal walk with the Lord.
  • Get to know Scripture–the Bible. Go to a Bible study.
  • Pray for your husband. He may come to know Christ–and probably will, if you pray. And you don’t have to tell him you’re praying, either. Just pray. Ask your friends to pray for him and you–that you’ll receive grace and strength in your marriage.
  • If he hits you, then you have a reason to separate from him and divorce him.

God bless you and give you peace and grace and strength and wisdom in your marriage!

This article first appeared at American Thinker and Answering-Islam (.org), in June 2007, but it has been updated and edited here.

Related:

Divorce and remarriage in Islam;

Women’s status and roles in Islam;

Domestic violence in Islam;

Polygamy;

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