Selected Teachings on
The Dangers of Marrying an Unbeliever

Spencer W. Kimball (President)

Over the years many times women have come to me in tears. How they would love to train their children in the Church, in the gospel of Jesus Christ! But they were unable to do so. How they would like to accept positions of responsibility in the Church! How they would like to pay their tithing! How they would love to go to the temple and do the work for the dead, to do work for themselves, to be sealed for eternity, and to have their own flesh and blood, their children, sealed to them for eternity!

But the doors are locked! They themselves have locked them, and the doors have often rusted on their hinges. Someone did not teach these individuals sufficiently, or they did not study the scriptures and they did not understand, or they ignored the warnings which came to them. They married out of the Church. Perhaps he was a good man. Maybe he was handsome. He may have been cultured and well trained; but he did not have the qualification that he needed most and which they overlooked. He did not have membership in the kingdom; he did not have the priesthood, the ordinances, and the righteousness that would carry them to exaltation.

No implication is here made that all members of the Church are worthy and that all nonmembers are unworthy, but eternal marriage cannot be had outside of the temple, and nonmembers are not permitted to go into the temple. Of course, they can become members if they are interested enough and prove that interest.

Without common faith, trouble lies ahead. When two people marry who have different standards, different approaches, and different backgrounds, it is a very difficult thing. There are exceptions, but the rule is a harsh and unhappy one. Religious differences imply wider areas of conflict. Church loyalties clash, and family loyalties clash.

Paul said: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14.) Perhaps Paul wanted them to see that religious differences are fundamental differences.

Yes, a small minority are finally baptized. Some good men and women have joined the Church after the interfaith marriage and have remained most devout and active. God bless them! We are proud of them and grateful for them. These are our blessed minority.

Others who do not join the Church are still kind, considerate, and cooperative, and permit the other spouse to worship and serve according to the Church pattern. God bless them also!

Many others join the Church ostensibly for the marriage, then fail to live the commandments. Many of them are later divorced. Others, though not divorced, continue to have friction, particularly in religious matters in the home.

The majority, however, do not join the Church. Surveys have indicated that only one of seven finally join the Church-the odds are against the others. And nearly half of those who marry out of the Church become inactive. As parents give up their religion, an increasing number of their children are brought up without any religion.

So you are taking a desperate chance if you say, "Well, maybe he will join after we are married. We will go ahead and try it and see." It is a pretty serious thing to take a chance on.

Frequently young people think, "Oh, that doesn't matter. We'll get along all right. We'll adjust ourselves. My spouse will permit me to do as I please or I will make adjustments. We'll both live and worship according to our own pattern." This is not broad-mindedness, but even if it were, to be broad-minded with the Lord's eternal program is somewhat like being generous with other people's money. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.299-300)

Certainly you would not want to bring deprivation to your children, would you, even if there were no spiritual elements in this? The religious phase in your family life is most deep-seated, and young people do not always realize this fact until it is too late. They are trying to satisfy their immediate desires rather than to complete a proper pattern-a total program. They have not stopped to think that they are going to have children some day and that children are frustrated in unhappy and broken homes, and live unnatural lives in homes where there is no religious training and where the religious thoughts of parents conflict. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.300)

In isolated instances a lovely young woman might be so far removed geographically from other Church members that she would either have to marry out of the Church or stay unmarried. Some might feel justified in such circumstances in making an exception to the rule and marrying a nonmember but, justification or not, it is important to recognize that the hazards in such a marriage would remain. To minimize the dangers the girl should by all means make sure that she marries a man who is honorable and good, so that even if he cannot at present be brought to accept the gospel there is a fair chance of his being converted later. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.300)