Quite some time ago, I asked a question about inter-faith marriage.

I recently received an edit notification, checked it, and saw that my question had been closed as primarily opinion-based.

Caleb provided the following clarification:

Yes questions about the Bible are considered opinion based


A case might be made that this is not such a question, but your negative wording probably didn't help. Try editing to make this less about what the Bible says and more about a specific doctrinal position held by .... whatever the position is and whoever holds it.

He also referred me to his answer here which does fill in a lot of the blanks about the differences in policy between then and now.

However, I'm still confused about how this question can be saved.

He said that my "negative wording probably didn't help", but I'm not sure what that refers to. I see that the edit which brought my attention back here changed my question from "does the Bible address whether a Christian may marry a non-Christian?" to "what passages in the New Testament prohibit a Christian from marrying a non-Christian?", which certainly is more negative than my original question.

Is this the negative wording referred to?

I'm not a Christian, but my wife is, so I'm interested more in generalities, but if I must pick a specific doctrinal position in order to make it on topic, does saying my wife is Lutheran, and I'm interested in what Lutheran doctrine is on inter-faith marriage, improve the question?

Is "Lutheran" specific enough? Honestly, it feels too specific to me, as I'm more interested in what biblical quotes cover the topic, but if the consensus is that "Christianity" is too broad a mantle, due to the very different nuances and interpretations that individual Christians can hold to, and therefore "what does the Old/New Testament say?" is too vague, I can understand that.

But if "What do Lutherans say about inter-faith marriage?" is more appropriate, that seems less useful to Catholics, Protestants, etc.. Would it be appropriate for people in similar situations to myself to ask close variants of my question based upon the particular faiths of their partners?

Am I on the right track at all, or is my question fundamentally no longer a good fit for the site?

  • 1
    It's been reopened, it seems. "Biblical basis" as a question type is pretty well defined. Just search here on meta to read about it.
    – user3961
    Apr 28, 2016 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


Your original question title was:

Are inter-faith marriages prohibited by the Bible?

After it was closed, you edited it to:

What does the Bible say about inter-faith marriages?

Neither question is a good fit for this site, for essentially the same reason: both are "primarily opinion based" and/or "too broad."

It might seem that asking "what the Bible says" would be a "neutral" way to ask a question. Unfortunately, self-identifying Christians have disagreed with each other from the very beginning over the meaning of biblical texts. Some hold what the vast majority would call fanciful interpretations, but in such cases this site doesn't "reject" views simply because they are minority positions.

As a result, your questions are understood here in one of two ways:

Primarily opinion based:
Do you think inter-faith marriages are prohibited by the Bible?
What do you think the Bible says about inter-faith marriages?

Too broad:
Do [all] groups that self-identify as Christians believe that inter-faith marriages are prohibited by the Bible?
What do [all] groups that self-identify as Christians believe the Bible says about inter-faith marriages?

Hopefully it's clear why such questions are off-topic here. The first case is excluded because we are interested in the documented beliefs of groups that self-identify as Christian. The second set of questions is off-topic because the sheer number of "Christian" groups is so high that any answer to it would almost certainly be incomplete.

So now, to your question: how do you salvage it? There are three common ways for this type of questions:

  1. Ask for the biblical basis for one view or another
    • This type of question is acceptable because in many cases Christians who hold a particular view defend it using the same passages
    • What is the biblical basis for inter-faith marriages?
    • What is the biblical basis against inter-faith marriages?
  2. Ask for the view of a particular tradition
    • This type of question is acceptable because it asks about the position of a definable, narrow group. The selected tradition must still be sufficiently narrow; "Protestant," for example, is often considered too broad, depending on the question.
    • What is the Roman Catholic position on inter-faith marriage?
    • In this case, the same question could be asked for a variety of Christian traditions.
  3. Ask for an overview of positions
    • This question type can help turn a "too broad" question into something answerable. Often there are two or three major views on a particular issue in a particular theological tradition, or Christianity as a whole, with several more fringe views. An answer to an overview question covers the major views in summary fashion, while ignoring or only briefly mentioning the minority views.
    • This type is often best used in conjunction with the previous one, as follows:
    • What is an overview of Protestant views on inter-faith marriage?

Given the answers that your question already had, I think editing it to take the "biblical basis against" approach was best. You could similarly ask a question asking for the biblical basis for inter-faith marriage. And if you'd like to learn more about the views of a particular tradition, like Lutheranism, you can ask a new question asking for that.

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