I won't join his church to marry him


October 16, 2015

Dear Pastor,

I am having a problem. I am a Christian and my future husband is studying to be a pastor. Most of his time is taken up by his studies, so during the week we don't see each other much, but we text a lot. His denomination is very strict. He has to give account of his time. They do not know that he has a girlfriend and he is on his last year in school. The bishop has been telling him that he needs to find a woman and to get married before they would consider ordaining him.

We are not from the same denomination, but I am the woman he loves. In his church, they prefer their leaders to marry women from their own denomination, but he does not see anybody in his denomination. The bishop told him he will look around and try to help him find a wife. If they try to force him, he says he will leave the church.

Is it right for them to put pressure on him? My mother suggested that I should join the church, but I don't believe I should join the church just to marry him because people would say that I came there to get him. I told him that he should have let the bishop know that we are friends.

I told my boyfriend to take me to meet his bishop, but he is reluctant in doing so, so I would like to hear from you.


Dear M.T.,

I know you might be surprised at my comments, but I am going to give them nevertheless. I understand why the leader of your boyfriend's denomination suggested that he should get married to a woman who grew up in the denomination or has been at the church for a long time. The bishop is trying to avoid conflict. Sometimes when a pastor marries someone who is from outside the denomination, the woman takes a very long time to adjust to that church and to understand the fundamental doctrines of the church. And she might not be able to give her husband the type of support that he needs.

It is not unusual to hear pastors wives making unfortunate comments about the rules of the church and declaring, 'I am not so and so' or 'I don't belong to this church, I am only here because of my husband'.

A wise woman would try to learn as much as possible before she marries the leader of another church. So, if your boyfriend loves you, he should tell his bishop and both of you go to see him. The bishop is trying to give your boyfriend the best advice possible to help him in the ministry.

Let me put it straight to you, it is better for a Seventh Day Adventist pastor to marry a Seventh Day Adventist woman. It is better for a Pentecostal preacher to marry a Pentecostal woman. However, some denominations are so similar that it does not make any difference. A Baptist preacher might feel very comfortable marrying a Methodist or Moravian woman and live in harmony. No big thing. But think about a Jehovah's Witness marrying a Pentecostal or a member of the Roman Catholic Church. That can be a big problem because the doctrines are vastly different.

So, please, try and understand the dilemma your boyfriend is facing and both of you try to work together and go and see the bishop. The bishop ought not to choose for your boyfriend. Nevertheless, your boyfriend should be willing to be guided. Please do not join his church because you love him and you want to become his wife. That is not a good reason to become a member of a church.


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