Ezra 9:1 After (the treasures were successfully transported to Jerusalem), the officials approached (the prophet Ezra) and said, “The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations…2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and in this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way.” 3 When I heard this, I (Ezra) tore my garment and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled.”
In Old Testament times God set apart certain people groups to perform certain functions among the Israelites. In other words, certain clans had certain jobs. For example, one could not seek to become a priest. Only certain clans of people were priests – by birth. A member of the priestly clan could not do something other than be a priest. Such clans were considered “holy” because they were the ones who ministered in the temple of God, making sacrifices and such on behalf of all the people. People also were directed to marry others within their clan rather than outside. Clans were thousands of people, so it’s not as bad as it might sound today.
When Ezra heard that the priestly clans had married outside their people, he was deeply distressed. That was a major no-no at the time. I’m glad things are more flexible today.
Now, understand I agree that Christian people should hope to marry other Christian people. One’s faith is a major force in how one lives life. Marrying outside the faith makes agreement in marriage more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. However, I’ve also seen that God can bring people together even if they don’t start that way.
When my wife Jana and I got married I was not much of a church person. I’d been an occassional participant in Catholic churches growing up – even being baptized and confirmed in the church. But I wasn’t really engaged in a meaningful way as a younger adult.
Yet, the Lord leveraged my relationship with my wife Jana to draw me closer to him.
Some of you may be in relationships in which your loved one is not on the same page as you regarding faith. Keep praying for them. You never know how God will move in a person to draw them closer. YOU may very well be part of God’s plan!
Some of you may have a friend or family member you’re concerned about because THEY are in a relationship with someone who does not share their faith background. Again, keep praying for them! Never forget – God is in relentless pursuit of people!
God, don’t ever give up on us or those we love. Use our relationships with others to draw us close to you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.