A House Divided

A House Divided

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.
–Psalm 127:1

Good grace says we should obey God’s instructions for marriage, and He has given us two specific commands for choosing a mate: first, our mate must be a member of the opposite sex; second, our mate must be a believer. The latter is a requirement you find in both the Old and New Testaments. In Deuteronomy 7:4, God told the Israelites before they went into the promised land that they were not to marry the Canaanites, “for they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods.”

This prohibition was not because the Canaanites were of a different race but because they were of a different religion. We are to marry believers. Why? First of all, marrying an unbeliever will damage your relationship with God. In my forty-plus years as a pastor, I have observed that maybe one time out of a hundred a Christian will lead his or her non-Christian mate to faith in Christ. But most of the time, there will be such friction over church attendance, rearing the children, or giving to God’s work that the believer will say, “I am tired of all this turmoil. I give in.” You may think you are going to bring your non-Christian mate up to where you are in your relationship with God. But most of the time, they will tear you down to where they are instead.

Not only does marrying an unbeliever damage your relationship with God; it disrupts your relationship with your own mate. It is impossible to have true unity in a spiritually mixed marriage. Paul alluded to that in 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” That phrase “bound together” literally means “harnessed together.” In Paul’s day, farmers would never put a mule and an ox in the same harness because the animals would go in opposite directions. Paul was saying that mixing a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is like putting an ox and a mule in the same harness–they will be united, but they will not be unified. There is a big difference. To be unified means to be going in the same direction. God said in Amos 3:3, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (NLT).

Christians and non-Christians are headed in different directions. They have different frames of reference that affect how they plan their marriages, how they spend their money, and how they rear their children. They have two different foundations they are building their lives and their families on. The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). Unless you have a common foundation, God can never build a unified house on your marriage. That is why we are not to marry unbelievers.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Marriages” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotation marked (NLT) is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved; Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org