Letters to Young Lovers
Shadow Over the Nest

The heart yearns for human love, but this love is not strong enough, or pure enough, or precious enough to supply the place of the love of Jesus. Only in her Saviour can the wife find wisdom, strength, and grace to meet the cares, responsibilities, and sorrows of life. She should make Him her strength and her guide. Let woman give herself to Christ before giving herself to any earthly friend, and enter into no relation which shall conflict with this.

Those who would find true happiness must have the blessing of Heaven upon all that they possess and all that they do. It is disobedience to God that fills so many hearts and homes with misery. My sister, unless you would have a home where the shadows are never lifted, do not unite yourself with one who is an enemy of God.

To connect with an unbeliever is to place yourself on Satan's ground. You grieve the Spirit of God and forfeit His protection. Can you afford to have such terrible odds against you in fighting the battle for everlasting life?

"If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven." But how strange the sight! While one of those so closely united is engaged in devotion, the other is indifferent and careless; while one is seeking the way to everlasting life, the other is in the broad road to death.

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Can Two Walk Together Except They Be Agreed?

I have been shown the cases of some who profess to believe the truth, who have made a great mistake by marrying unbelievers. The hope was cherished by them that the unbelieving party would embrace the truth; but after his object is gained, he is further from the truth than before. And then begin the subtle workings, the continued efforts, of the enemy to draw away the believing one from the faith.

Many are now losing their interest and confidence in the truth because they have taken unbelief into close connection with themselves. They breathe the atmosphere of doubt, of questioning, of infidelity. They see and hear unbelief, and finally they cherish it. Some may have the courage to resist these influences, but in many cases their faith is imperceptibly undermined and finally destroyed.

Satan well knows that the hour that witnesses the marriage of many young men and women closes the history of their religious experience and usefulness. They are lost to Christ. They may for a time make an effort to live a Christian life, but all their strivings are made against a steady influence in the opposite direction. Once it was a privilege and joy to them to speak of their faith and hope, but they become unwilling to mention the subject, knowing that the one with whom they have linked their destiny takes no interest in it. As the result, faith in the precious truth dies out of

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the heart, and Satan insidiously weaves about them a web of scepticism.

The believing one reasons that in his new relation he must concede somewhat to the companion of his choice. Social, worldly amusements are patronised. At first there is great reluctance of feeling in doing this, but the interest in the truth becomes less and less, and faith is exchanged for doubt and unbelief.

What ought every Christian to do when brought into the trying position which tests the soundness of religious principle? With a firmness worthy of imitation he should say frankly, "I am a conscientious Christian. I believe the seventh day of the week to be the Sabbath of the Bible. Our faith and principles are such that they lead in opposite directions. We cannot be happy together, for if I follow on to gain a more perfect knowledge of the will of God, I shall become more and more unlike the world. If you continue to see no loveliness in Christ, no attractions in the truth, you will love the world, which I cannot love, while I shall love the things of God, which you cannot love.

You will not be happy; you will be jealous on account of the affections which I give to God; and I shall be alone in my religious belief. When your views shall change, when your heart shall respond to the claims of God, and you shall learn to love my Saviour, then our relationship may be renewed.

The believer thus makes a sacrifice for Christ which his conscience approves, and which shows that he values eternal life too highly to run the risk of losing it. He feels that it would be better to remain unmarried than to link his interest for life with one who chooses the world rather than Jesus.

Shall one who is seeking for glory, honour, immortality, eternal life, form a union with another who refuses to rank with the soldiers of the cross of Christ? Will you who profess to choose Christ for your master and to be obedient to Him in all things, unite your interests with one who is ruled by the prince of the powers of darkness? "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

Hundreds have sacrificed Christ and heaven in consequence of marrying unconverted persons. Can it be that love and fellowship of Christ are of so little value to them that they prefer the companionship of poor mortals.

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THE LETTER TO ROSE DEALS WITH PERHAPS THE MOST DANGEROUS PROBLEM FOR YOUNG WOMEN--THE QUESTION OF MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER. THIS ISSUE IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST SERIOUS CHALLENGES TO A HAPPY CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE.

THE POINT THAT ELLEN WHITE CONSIDERS WITH ROSE IS ONE THAT EVERY GIRL MIGHT SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT--"LISTEN TO NO PROMISES." THE ISSUE OF SPIRITUAL COMMITMENT IS BEST SETTLED BEFORE MARRIAGE, NOT AFTER. AS SUGGESTED IN THIS LETTER--"IT IS A LIFE OR DEATH QUESTION."

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Copenhagen, Denmark June 3, 1887

Dear Rose:

I have heard that you are intending to marry a man who is not a believer. I am unable to write you a long letter, but I will say if you take this step you depart from the plainest injunction of God's Word and cannot expect or claim His blessing upon such a union. All the promises of God are on condition of obedience to Him.

Satan stands ready to infatuate the mind and soul to pursue a course directly contrary to God's expressed will that he may separate that soul from God, and he interposes his temptations and obtains control over the mind and the heart's affections. This is Satan's studied plan to lead souls to turn from One mighty in counsel to the persuasion of minds who have no love for God, no love for the truth.

God has blessed you with great light and the Lord expects you to study His will, to carefully follow the directions given you in His Word. You are infatuated, you are being ensnared to your ruin. You have reason to be grateful to God every hour. Rely upon Him, whose wisdom is given in counsel in His holy Word. He has a care for His children above that of the most affectionate parent. He sees the end from the beginning, and for this reason has left us promises and cautions and has forbidden His children pursuing a certain course which will be ruinous to themselves.

The apostle Paul sends down the note of warning along the line to this time. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and

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touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:14-18)

The Lord expressly has forbidden His people to marry with unbelievers. God knows what is best for the soul's eternal interest and for their present good. I warn you off from his forbidden ground.

I might tell you of different cases here that God has shown me in Europe who have made a similar mistake to that you are now making, the wretched reality they now experience of being bound to the unbelieving companions, hindered in all spiritual advancement, notwithstanding the solemn promises made that they would not in any way hinder them in their religious privileges. What are their promises worth? The most solemn promises broken! How can it be otherwise the two serving under different generals, one in deadly opposition to the other? Where, then, is the sweet harmony?

Rose, look well to your steps; listen to no promises, believe only the Word of God which will make you wise unto salvation. Trust not in your own heart for the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I love your soul for you are the purchase of the blood of Jesus Christ. He has paid a dear price for your redemption, and you are not your own to dispose of yourself as you may think best. You must give a solemn account in the judgement how you have appropriated your God-given powers.

These things call for your serious reflection and decided action in accordance with the plainest directions laid down in the Word of God. Now is your time of temptation, now is your time of trial; will you resist the enemy? Or will you place yourself in a position where his power will be exercised over you?

It is a life or death question with you, May the Lord help you to see every snare of Satan and avoid it, and cling to Jesus with heart and soul and mind and strength.

Ellen G. White.
Letter 1, 1887

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THIS LETTER TO LAURA LOOKS AT THE QUESTION OF MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER AS DID THE PREVIOUS ONE TO ROSE. SOME RATHER POINTED QUESTIONS ARE ASKED BY THE PROPHET. HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER THEM IF YOU WERE IN LAURA'S PLACE?

AS YOU READ THIS LETTER, OTHER QUESTIONS MIGHT WELL BE ASKED OF EVERY GIRL WHO CONSIDERS SUCH A MARRIAGE. ARE YOU BEING FAIR AND HONEST WITH THE YOUNG MAN WHO WANTS TO MARRY YOU?

IN THIS LETTER PUBLISHED IN TESTIMONIES, VOLUME 5, ELLEN WHITE DEFINES AN UNBELIEVER AS ONE WHO "HAS NOT ACCEPTED THE TRUTH FOR THIS TIME."

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St. Helena, Calif. February 13, 1885

Dear Laura:

I have learned of your contemplated marriage with one who is not united with you in religious faith and I fear that you have not carefully weighed this important matter. Before taking a step which is to exert an influence upon all your future life, I urge you to give the subject careful and prayerful deliberation. Will this new relationship prove a source of true happiness? Will it be a help to you in the Christian life? Will it be pleasing to God? Will your example be a safe one for others to follow?

Before giving her hand in marriage, every woman should inquire whether he with whom she is about to unite her destiny is worthy. What has been his past record? Is his life pure? Is the love which he expresses of a noble, elevated character, or is it a mere emotional fondness? Has he the traits of character that will make her happy? Can she find true peace and joy in his affection? Will she be allowed to preserve her individuality, or must her judgement and conscience be surrendered to the control of her husband? As a disciple of Christ, she is not her own; she has been bought with a price. Can she honour the Saviour's claims as supreme? Will body and soul, thoughts and purposes, be preserved pure and holy? These questions have a vital bearing upon the well-being of every woman who enters the marriage relation.

Religion is needed in the home. Only this can prevent the grievous wrongs which so often embitter married life. Only where Christ reigns can there be deep, true, unselfish love. Angels of God will be guests in the home, and their holy vigils will hallow the marriage chamber.

I entreat you to ponder the step you contemplate taking. Ask yourself: "Will not an unbelieving husband lead my thoughts away from Jesus? He is a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God; will he not lead me to enjoy the things that he enjoys?" The path to eternal life is steep and rugged. Take no additional weights to retard your progress.

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The Lord commanded ancient Israel not to intermarry with the idolatrous nations around them. The reason is given. Infinite Wisdom, foreseeing the result of such unions, declares: "For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord they God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."

In the New Testament are similar prohibitions concerning the marriage of Christians with the ungodly. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?"

Laura, dare you disregard these plain and positive directions? As a child of God a subject of Christ's kingdom, the purchase of His blood, how can you connect yourself with one who does not acknowledge His claims? who is not controlled by His Spirit? The commands I have quoted are not the word of man, but of God. 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.

You may say: "But I have given my promise, and shall I now retract it?" I answer: If you have made a promise contrary to the Scriptures, by all means retract it without delay, and in humility before God repent of the infatuation that led you to make so rash a pledge. Far better take back such a promise, in the fear of God, than keep it and thereby dishonour your Maker.

There is in the Christian world an astonishing, alarming indifference to the teaching of God's word in regard to the marriage of Christians with unbelievers. Many who profess to love and fear God choose to follow the bent of their own minds rather than take counsel of Infinite Wisdom. In a matter which vitally concerns the happiness and well-being of both parties for this world and the next, reason, judgement, and the fear of God are set aside, and blind impulse, stubborn determination, is allowed to control .

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Men and women who are otherwise sensible and conscientious close their ears to counsel; they are deaf to the appeals and entreaties of friends and kindred and of the servants of God. The expression of a caution or warning is regarded as impertinent meddling, and the friend who is faithful enough to utter a remonstrance is treated as an enemy.

All this is as Satan would have it. He weaves his spell about the soul, and it becomes bewitched, infatuated. Reason lets fall the reins of self-control upon the neck of lust, unsanctified passion bears sway, until, too late, the victim awakens to a life of misery and bondage. This is not a picture drawn by the imagination, but a recital of facts. God's sanction is not given to unions which He has expressly forbidden.

For years I have been receiving letters from different persons who have formed unhappy marriages, and the revolting histories opened before me are enough to make the heart ache. It is no easy thing to decide what advice can be given to these unfortunate ones, or how their hard lot can be lightened; but their sad experience should be a warning to others.

You are under the most sacred obligation not to belittle or compromise your holy faith by uniting with the Lord's enemies. If you are tempted to disregard the injunctions of His word because others have done so, remember that your example also will exert an influence. Others will do as you do, and thus the evil will be extended.

The very strongest incentives to faithfulness are set before us, the highest motives, the most glorious rewards. Christians are to be Christ's representatives, sons and daughters of God.

May God help you to stand the test and preserve your integrity. Cling by faith to Jesus. Disappoint not your Redeemer.

With deepest affection,

Ellen G. White .
Letter in Testimonies , vol. 5, pp. 361-368

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Will You Gamble with Your Marriage?

The unbelieving may possess an excellent moral character; but the fact that he or she has not answered to the claims of God, and has neglected so great salvation, is sufficient reason why such a union should not be consummated.

The plea is sometimes made that the unbeliever is favourable to religion and is all that could be desired in a companion except in one thing--he is not a Christian. Although the better judgement of the believer may suggest the impropriety of a union for life with an unbeliever, yet, in nine cases out of ten, inclination triumphs. Spiritual declension commences the moment the vow is made at the altar; religious fervour is dampened, and one stronghold after another is broken down, until both stand side by side under the black banner of Satan. Even in the festivities of the wedding, the spirit of the world triumphs against conscience, faith, and truth. In the new home the hour of prayer is not respected. The bride and bridegroom have chosen each other and dismissed Jesus.

At first the unbelieving one may make no show of opposition in the new relation; but when the subject of Bible truth is presented for attention and consideration, the feeling at once arises: "You married me, knowing that I was what I am; I do not wish to be disturbed. From henceforth let it be understood that conversation upon your peculiar views is to be interdicted!" If the believer should manifest any special earnestness in regard to his faith, it might seem like unkindness toward the one who has no interest in the Christian experience.

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Let those who are contemplating marriage weigh every sentiment and watch every development of character in the one with whom they think to unite their life destiny. Let every step toward a marriage alliance be characterised by modesty, simplicity, sincerity, and an earnest purpose to please and honour God. Marriage affects the afterlife both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will make no plans that God cannot approve.