I was born in a Hindu family and accepted Jesus as my Savior eight years back. Jesus has blessed me while doing my education and now my job. Now I am 28 years old, living in Bangalore, India. My family members are looking for a bride for me. But the problem is I'm the only one who believes in Jesus, and my family is against this. So they are only looking for a Hindu bride.
I am praying on this every day and every hour, and even informed my family that I won't marry if they are looking for a Hindu girl. I request you to give suggestions in this regard, according to the Bible. What should I do?
I assume that when you say "family members," you mean at least your parents, so let me address your question primarily as it relates to them, and I think the answer will have secondary application to other family members. Given the situation you've described, I think the biblical answer is that you should honor your parents here, but not obey them. I'll explain.
The fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12) tells us to "honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." That command is repeated in Ephesians 6:2, right after the command for children to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). Colossians 3:20 is even stronger: "Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."
So, do these passages mean that you have to obey your parents in their directive to marry an unbeliever? No. Scripture is clear that we are not to marry unbelievers. After making several other pronouncements on married life, Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 7:39 that when a widow remarries, she may marry anyone she wishes except that "he must belong to the Lord." Also, Ephesians 5:22-33, the fullest exposition in Scripture on God's purpose in marriage and how it should function, describes a marriage that glorifies God because each partner is fulfilling his or her role in the marriage for the purpose of illustrating the relationship between Christ and the church to the glory of God. Only believers can act with that purpose (Romans 8:7-8). For a follower of Christ, marriage to an unbeliever is contrary to Scripture, and therefore is sin.
The Bible is also clear that we are to obey the authorities God has set over us – in the church, the family and the government – unless they direct us to clearly sin. For example, in Acts 5:29, when Peter and the other apostles were ordered not to preach the Gospel, they refused, saying "we must obey God rather than human beings!" And Paul directed the Galatians to reject any leader or authority who led them to embrace a false gospel, even if that leader were Paul himself or "an angel from heaven" (Galatians 1:8).
Keep in mind, too, that biblically "honoring" our parents, especially as adults, has a wider definition than obedience. As I've said, there may be times when biblically, we simply cannot obey our parents' directives, but we can always "honor" them by humbly acknowledging their position in our lives as parents, treating them with respect and care with our tone of voice and our manner toward them as we gently explain why, in a particular situation, we cannot obey their advice or directive, and continuing to show them the love of Christ in our ongoing relationships with them.
For folks reading this who might be struggling specifically with the commands in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 not just to honor, but also to "obey" their parents, keep in mind that those letters were written to the church. So when Paul tells children to obey their parents, he presumes that those parents are believers, whose directives to be obeyed would presumably be given in a desire to submit to the commands of Christ and His Word and to bring glory to God. Also, "children" at that time would have meant non-adult children still living in their parents' home and still formally under their authority — not a financially independent adult living on his own.
Now, I could picture a lot of alternative circumstances that would complicate this answer. If your parents were believers, if you were not an adult and still living at home and financially dependent on your parents, and if your parents weren't directing you to do something that was so clearly sin (like marry an unbeliever), but rather to do something that was not clearly sin but that you just didn't like, we would be having a different conversation.
Based on your specific question, though, I would advise that you stay on the path you've taken. You are on solid biblical ground to refuse to marry an unbeliever, but make sure that as you relate to your parents on this issue, you honor them (and honor Christ) by speaking to and treating them respectfully and humbly, and by loving them well no matter how they react to your decision. By the way, apart from what the Bible has to say about parents specifically, you should treat the rest of your family the same way as you talk through this issue with them.
I have a Hindu friend who came to Christ (he had grown up in India) and faced a very similar situation, and I know you may feel like there are only difficult choices here. I would encourage you to speak to someone at your church — who knows you and the situation personally — about this. In the meantime, I will pray for the Lord to give you wisdom, to provide you a wife who loves Jesus, and that He would, in His great mercy, bring your parents and the rest of your family to himself.
Copyright 2012 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.