“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith” (1 Timothy 5:11-12 ESV).
In addition to the admonition against breaking a vow or pledge, one source draws our attention to another important application from this passage…
“Paul did not condemn young widows for wanting to get married, only observing that many unmarried women are so hungry for marriage and companionship that they don’t conduct themselves in a godly way in regard to relationships. Many people get into a bad romance or spoil a friendship, because they are desperately needy for relationship. It’s a common occurrence that Paul warned against.” (1)
This leads us to a different audience for these verses: the person who chooses to abandon his or her faith in Christ (or “casts off her first faith”) in order to pursue a marriage relationship with someone who has little or no interest in following Jesus…
“Paul’s harsh words against widows who remarry initially appear inconsistent with his command for younger widows to remarry (v. 14) and his teaching elsewhere (Rm 7:1–3; 1 Co 7:39). However, the text probably referred to a widow who remarried an unbeliever (2 Co 6:14), abandoning her faith under the spouse’s influence. ‘Original pledge’ (lit. ‘first faith’) refers to the widow’s former faith in Christ.” (2)
Perhaps the best-known Biblical warning against this course of action is found in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians…
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
A “yoke” is a device that is placed between two animals that unites them when pulling a wagon or a plow. Much like the challenges faced by those who attempt to yoke two mismatched animals, this passage warns us that problems are certain to result whenever a Christian is harnessed in marriage together with someone whose first priority is something other than Christ.
While it’s possible for a Christian marriage partner to exert a positive spiritual influence upon his or her spouse, the opposite is often more likely to be true in these types of relationships. Thus, we are provided with the Biblical admonitions given to us in the passages quoted above. Those who disregard these warnings in pursuit of such relationships do so at great risk.
(1) Guzik, Dave, 1 Timothy 5 – How To Treat People In The Church, https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/1-timothy-5/
(2) Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1805). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.