Should an Adventist marry only another Adventist?
I had occasion to answer an inquiry similar to yours several months ago. In my reply I quoted from Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, chapter 43, “Marriage With Unbelievers”—a very helpful chapter. The inquirer asked not only about whether an Adventist should marry a non-Adventist, but also what constitutes an unbeliever. On that occasion I wrote the following:
To Mrs. White, what constitutes an unbeliever? Is it someone who does not believe the Christian message at all, or might it also apply to someone who has adopted the Christian faith but not the Adventist message?
It turns out that Mrs. White addressed this very question:
Though the companion of your choice were in all other respects worthy (which he is not), yet he has not accepted the truth for this time; he is an unbeliever, and you are forbidden of heaven to unite yourself with him. You cannot, without peril to your soul, disregard this divine injunction (Testimonies for the Church, 5:364).
According to this statement, someone who “has not accepted the truth for this time” (an expression Mrs. White used for the Adventist message) is an unbeliever, one with whom we should not unite our lives. How can one who believes that Jesus is coming soon and who believes we have a world to warn and to win to the distinctive, last-day message of Seventh-day Adventists unite in life’s strongest tie with someone who does not share that passion? When you think about it in that light, it really does not make sense to marry someone who doesn’t share our convictions and mission.
What is the church’s stand on its ministers marrying an Adventist to a non-Adventist? The Church Manual says, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church strongly discourages marriage between a Seventh-day Adventist and a non-Seventh-day Adventist, and strongly urges Seventh-day Adventist ministers not to perform such weddings” (2005 ed., 183).
The Seventh-day Adventist Minister’s Handbook agrees, devoting nearly two pages to these matters. On the specific point of the minister’s performing the ceremony, it concludes, “If a member chooses a partner who is not a member of the Church, the Church hopes that the couple will realize and appreciate that the Seventh-day Adventist pastor, who has covenanted to uphold the principles outlined above, should not be expected to perform such a marriage” (1997 ed., 261).