Maybe you’re not so little anymore. Maybe you’re grown up enough to understand that love has a lot of impact on the life of human beings. Maybe you’ve been old enough to understand that for a long time now. Maybe you’re 16. You could be 26 or 56 or 106. Whatever age at which this understanding came your way, it’s a very true realization. Love is something that we are made for, both to give and to receive. Love is something we’re geared toward. Love is a necessity of being human. We all either want to be loved, are loved, or do love someone or something. This need for intimacy and relationships is so deeply ingrained in us that solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments.
This need for intimacy and the need to not be lonely is one of the things that is meant to be fulfilled through a marriage. That’s what it means to be “one flesh.” Not that you suddenly morph into another human being, and both of you no longer have identities apart from each other, but that you become unique parts in one another’s lives, in a deep way. This bond between bride and groom, husband and wife, is meant to mirror Christ’s love for His bride, the capital-C Church. It is when this relationship stops mirroring that image that things go wrong. This is when things get screwed up, and this is when we get hurt.
However, we as humans are always and forever incapable of mirroring this image perfectly all the time. In fact, I don’t know of one couple who does it perfectly even a majority of the time. And this is why Jesus is such a necessary part of the equation as well. He is not optional. And the necessity of Jesus within marriage is the reason for God’s command to be equally yoked.
I have been told about or asked about mixed-faith relationships many times. I have been in them. They have all failed. Even the ones where two people of completely different faiths stay married, it is a failure, and here’s why: one or both of those parties involved compromised on what they say they believe. They either never valued that belief in the first place, or else they gave it up in the name of something that they would tell you is love. The very definition of marriage as a vehicle for showing Christ’s love to the world is denied.
It is not.
The Biblical definition of love at its simplest is just God.
God is Love.
There are all kinds of definitions that you could give to love, and I know that people do it. Maybe you’ve been told that you can define it yourself, and whatever definition you give it is what it means, and it can mean anything to anyone. In a sense, this is true. But what many people call “love” is just an emotion. This isn’t love, it’s the butterflies in your stomach. Those two may coincide, but they are not one in the same. When the butterflies go away, as they surely will, it does not mean that Love flew away with them to briefly flit to the next flower, staying only until the nectar is gone. That’s what the butterflies do. It is not what love does.
This is not to say that those who do not know God cannot know something of love. After all, we are all created in the image of God, and if God is love, then that is what drives this desire for intimacy even within those who don’t know him. It is a reflection of his nature within his creation. But the mirror is dirty, and this reflection becomes distorted. People take love and turn love into a form of self-worship, rather than using it to worship the One who is Love.
So here is my question for you if you are wondering about a relationship with someone who does not know Jesus: How will he love you the way that Jesus loves the Church if he doesn’t know Jesus? Will your relationship be what it was intended to be? Just because you can drag him to church, or coerce him to go with you once a month, or just because he attends in order to see you and hang out, none of these things constitutes knowing Jesus. None of these things makes a biblical man out of him. This is because, biblically, someone who just sort of tolerates God is considered an enemy of God. There’s not a sliding scale. It’s one side or the other. There’s not an in-between state where someone is neither an enemy nor a lover of God. He is one, or he is the other. He cannot be both, or neither.
Something else to ask is this: How will your goals and your aspirations and your values differ if what’s at the very center of each of your lives is not the same? The truth is, even if he’s not worshipping God, he’s worshipping something. We all are. That’s what an idol is. It could be a job, a relationship, approval, education, perfection, knowledge, physical strength or prowess, technology. What you worship is what your life revolves around, and what his life centers around is what yours will begin to gravitate toward as well. And if that doesn’t happen, then the pull between the two things you both are trying to follow will eventually become so great that either you pull away from each other, or one of you pulls away from the center of your own life to move toward the center of the other’s life. Most often, this is the other person pulling you away from God, not the other way around. Is that worth it to you? And that’s an honest question, not a judgment.
Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).