We will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.
In Nehemiah 10, we see a set of commitments on the part of the people of God. They had not been following the laws of God, but now they are committing themselves to obey the commands of the Lord. In the first clear declaration of repentance, the people of God declare that they will obey God by not intermarrying with the people of the land any longer. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, God said, “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.”
You can’t get much more simple than this command. God told the people never to allow their children to be married to the pagan people of the land. If this happened, God warned that the pagans would lead the believers astray, and this would bring the judgment of God down on the people. This was not a command about color of skin, but rather about hearts devoted to or twisted against the Lord. Thus, you would think this to be an easy command to get people to obey. But, the people did not obey this command, and they suffered for it. So, here in Nehemiah 10, they agree that they will start doing what God has said.
We have a parallel command in the New Testament that applies to all Christians. God said in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Thus, God strictly and clearly forbids Christians from marrying lost people. There is no exception listed, no excuse allowed. Christians are not to intermarry with the lost.
Now, I’m guessing that you are not deeply troubled by that command. Either you are a Christian who is already married, and thus you can’t change anything, or you are a Christian who is not married but is not really thinking about marrying a non-believer anyway. So, let’s take a step back at the larger principle at stake here.
God forbade the intermarriage of his people with pagans because he did not want his families to be led astray into idolatry and worldliness and pagan religion. So, even if your marriage is not the question today, what about your family life? Are you doing what you need to do in your family life to see to it that your household is a house of faith?
Dads and moms, grandmas and grandpas, are you directing the affairs of your homes in such a way that the children in the home are taught the ways of the Lord? Are you preventing your sons and daughters, perhaps even your grandchildren, from being corrupted by the influences of evil forms of music, books, TV, web sites, and video games? Are you protecting your children and grandchildren from the false beliefs of a world that does not know God, that declares it does not believe in God, yet which shows that it hates God? Are you making it plain that, in your home, there is no fellowship between light and darkness, between God and evil?
Christians, if we are going to repent of our sin just like Nehemiah’s people repented of theirs, we are going to have to make a move to show that our homes are places where God is honored. This may require you to make actual changes in what you do, how you schedule your lives, how you are entertained, what you allow, etc. Do what is necessary to have a household devoted to God.