Dating, engagement, courtship, and betrothal have been important and interesting topics for families, churches and schools to address since creation. Deciding who to marry is the second most important life decision, with the most important decision being that of receiving Christ (John 1:12).
Who you marry will make a difference in your every day and most of your decisions for the rest of your life and be the foundation upon which your children begin their life and faith. Therefore, it is very worth learning as much as possible from God's word about His criteria for selecting a spouse. It is a huge package of blessings to marry "in the Lord." And even knowing the consequences of not following God's criteria for marriage is the way to gain a healthy fear of God and to further motivate right decisions and any needed repentance toward restoration.
Below are Pastor Henry's elaborations on who not to marry. My favorite part is where he quotes Dr Pocock stating "He that marries a heathen woman is as if he made himself son-in-law to an idol."
Matthew Henry, from his Malachi 2 commentary is speaking about the children of Israel which applies to Christians today. He taught this to his family during his own daily family worship:
"Two things they are here charged with, as very provoking to God in this matter—taking strange wives of heathen nations, and abusing and putting away the wives they had of their own nation; in both these they dealt treacherously and violated a sacred covenant; the former was in contempt of the covenant of peculiarity, the latter of the marriage-covenant.1. In contempt of the covenant God made with Israel, as a peculiar people to himself, they married strange wives, which was expressly prohibited, and provided against, in that covenant, Deu. 7:3 . Observe here,(1.) What good reason they had to deal faithfully with God and one another in this covenant, and not to make marriages with the heathen. [1.] They were expressly bound out from such marriages by covenant. God engaged to do them good upon this condition, that they should not mingle with the heathen; this was the covenant of their fathers, the covenant made with their fathers, denoting the antiquity and the authority of it, and its being the great charter by which that nation was incorporated. They lay under all possible obligations to observe it strictly, yet they profaned it, as if they were not bound by it. Those profane the covenant of their fathers who live in disobedience to the command of the God of their fathers. [2.] They were a peculiar people, united in one body, and therefore ought to have united for the preserving of the honour of their peculiarity: Have we not all one Father? Yes, we have, for has not one God created us? Are we not all his offspring? And are we not made of one blood? Yes, certainly we are. God is a common Father to all mankind, and, upon that account, all we are brethren, members one of another, and therefore ought to put away lying (Eph. 4:25 ), and not to deal treacherously, no, not any man against his brother. But here it seems to refer to the Jewish nation: Have we not all one father, Abraham, or Jacob? This they prided themselves in, We have Abraham to our father; but here it is turned upon them as an aggravation of their sin in betraying the honour of their nation by intermarrying with heathens: "Has not one God created us, that is, formed us into a people, made us a nation by ourselves, and put a life into us, distinct from that of other nations? And should not this oblige us to maintain the dignity of our character?’’ Note, The consideration of the unity of the church in Christ, its founder and Father, should engage us carefully to preserve the purity of the church and to guard against all corruptions. [3.] They were dedicated to God, as well as distinguished from the neighbouring nations. Israel was holiness to the Lord (Jer. 2:3 ), taken into covenant with him, set apart by him for himself, to be to him for a name and a praise, and upon this account he loved them and delighted in them; the sanctuary set up among them was the holiness of the Lord, which he loved, of which he said, It is my rest for ever, here will I dwell, for I have desired it; but by marrying strange wives they profaned this holiness, and laid the honour of it in the dust. Note, Those who are devoted to God, and beloved of him, are concerned to preserve their integrity, that they may not throw themselves out of his love, nor lose the honour, or defeat the end, of their dedication to him.(2.) How treacherously they dealt, notwithstanding, They profaned themselves in that very thing which was prescribed to them for the preserving of the honour of their singularity: Judah has married the daughter of a strange god. The harm was not so much that she was the daughter of a strange nation (God has made all nations of men, and is himself King of nations), but that she was the daughter of a strange god, trained up in the service and worship of false gods, at their disposal, as a daughter at her father’s disposal, and having a dependence upon them; hence some of the rabbin (quoted by Dr. Pocock) say, He that marries a heathen woman is as if he made himself son-in-law to an idol. The corruption of the old world began with the intermarriages of the with the daughters of men, Gen. 6:2 . It is the same thing that is here complained of, but as it is expressed it sounds worse: The sons of God married the daughters of a strange god. Herein Judah is said to have dealt treacherously, for they basely betrayed their own honour and profaned that holiness of the Lord which they should have loved (so some read it); and it is said to be an abomination committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; it was hateful to God, and very unbecoming those that were called by his name. Note, it is an abominable thing for those who profess the holiness of the Lord to profane it, particularly by yoking themselves unequally with unbelievers.(3.) How severely God would reckon with them for it (v. 12): The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, that marries the daughter of a strange god. He has, in effect, cut himself off from the holy nation, and joined in with foreigners and aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and so shall his doom be; God will cut him off, him and all that belongs to him; so the original intimates. He shall be cut off from Israel and from Jerusalem, and not be written among the living there. The Lord will cut off both the master and the scholar, that are guilty of this sin, both the teachers and the taught. The blind leaders and the blind followers shall fall together into the ditch, both him that wakeneth and him that answereth (so it is in the margin), for the master calls up his scholar to his business, and stirs him up in it. They shall be cut off together out of the tabernacles of Jacob. God will no more own them as belonging to his nation; nay, and the priest that offers an offering to the Lord, if he marry a strange wife (as we find many of the priests did, Ezra. 10:18 ), shall not escape; the offering he offers shall not atone for him, but he shall be cut off from the temple of the Lord, as others from the tabernacles of Jacob. Nehemiah chased away from him, and from the priesthood, one of the sons of the high priest, whom he found guilty of this sin, Neh. 13:28 .2. In contempt of the marriage-covenant, which God instituted for the common benefit of mankind, they abused and put away the wives they had of their own nation, probably to make room for those strange wives, when it was all the fashion to marry such (v. 13): This also have you done; this is the second article of the charge. For the way of sin is down-hill, and one violation of the covenant is an inlet to another.(1.) Let us see what it is that is here complained of. they did not behave as they ought to have done towards their wives. [1.] They were cross with them, froward and peevish, and made their lives bitter to them, so that when they came with their wives and families to worship God at the solemn feasts, which they should have done with rejoicing, they were all out of humour; the poor wives were ready to break their hearts, and, not daring to make their case known to any other, they complained to God, and covered the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying. This is illustrated by the instance of Hannah, who, upon the account of her husband’s having another wife (though otherwise a kind husband), and the discontent thence arising, whenever they went up to the house of the Lord to worship fretted and wept, and was in bitterness of soul, and would not eat, 1 Sa. 1:6, 1 Sa. 1:7, 1 Sa. 1:10 . So it was with these wives here; and this was so contrary to the cheerfulness which God requires in his worshippers that it spoiled the acceptableness of their devotions: God regards not their offering any more. See here what a good Master we serve, who will not have his altar covered with tears, but compassed with songs. This condemns those who left his worship for that of idols, among the rites of which we find women weeping for Tammuz (Eze. 8:14 ), and the blood of the worshippers gushing out upon the altar, 1 Ki. 18:28"
OB: Write 500 words in the style that Matthew Henry used by picking several verses that teach something about who a Christian should or shouldn’t marry. Then comment on both the Biblical context and how that would apply to Christians today.