Should We Give Sinners Proof Texts or Unfold a Bigger Picture?

It is difficult when people reject the truth. You deliver God's word as clearly as you can and still people persist in their rebellion. You wonder if you used the right texts or presented them in the right way. This believer is frustrated because he is trying to biblically admonish a friend who is planning to marry an unbeliever and is not responding to the confrontation. His statement reveals his dilemma: "I have already taken him to several places in the Bible that have something to say about this, to no avail. I'm wondering if I'm missing something that I should be reminding him of."


Thank you for taking on this ministry. This is the way things are supposed to work: people in the church counseling other people and repentance hopefully happening privately before the matter ever has to be spoken to someone else or brought before the church. Sadly, I already know the situation and know that your friend is not a church member. Our hands are somewhat tied.

My job is to equip you and others to do just what you are doing, so please do not hesitate to ask questions.

I will give you an Old Testament command and a narrative that both underlie the New Testament commands not to become yoked to unbelievers:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. Deut. 7:1-4 (ESV)

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, f rom the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen." 1 Kings 11:1-13 (ESV)

See also the life of Samson. The big issue, however, is not specific “proof texts,” but where your friend’s desires lie. This is less a matter of following biblical commands than it is a matter of a having a heart wants to follow biblical commands. What does he think he must have?
  • A life that loves and glorifies the Savior?
  • A trophy girl on his arm?
  • A good time?
  • Female attention?
  • Sexual gratification?

Answer those questions and you will see the altar at which he worships. Why would a believer want to date an unbeliever? What fellowship does light have with darkness? Can he glorify God in the relationship? Assuming he understands that romantic male-female relationships lead to (pardon my bluntness) either married or unmarried sexual relationships, there are only a few options on this road:

  • He is going to marry someone who absolutely cannot be God’s kind of wife and invite much long-term misery.
  • He is going to become sexually immoral and invite much long-term misery.
  • He is going to stir sexual feelings in a woman and in himself that cannot be satisfied in a holy way. He will then be stealing (“defrauding”) what belongs to God and her future husband.

Which one is he going to choose? Proverbs 13:15 says, “The way of the transgressor is hard.” Your friend is already miserable if he is a believer. Ask him why. Point out that the happiness he is seeking is only found in one place (and that place is not finding a girl).

Let me encourage you not to be afraid of making him angry. Love him enough to call him on his inconsistent claim to worship Jesus Christ and yet live apart from accountability to his church and obedience to his word. He needs to make a choice.

If he chooses to reject biblical counsel, you have fulfilled your responsibility. As much as it hurts to see people reject God’s word, it hurts far more to avoid confrontation and have an uneasy conscience because you did not give someone God’s word. Leave the door open, but make sure he knows that he cannot wean himself off of idols and onto Jesus. You have to cut idols down and run to Jesus for mercy.

Keep me posted.

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