Married to an Unbeliever

But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace (1 Corinthians 7:12-15).

Yesterday, I discussed marriage between two believers and talked about how believers should deal with problems in their marriage relationship. Today, I want to discuss marriage between a believer and a person who isn’t, or a person who says they are, but never acts like it!

In the verses above notice that Paul strangely says but to the rest, I not the Lord, say. He said this because this is the first time in scripture that a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever is mentioned (In the Old Testament, and in the gospels, marriage is addressed in the context of two Jewish believers and the law). When the church age began, those who were converted and already married found themselves in this situation. No believer should marry an unbeliever!

Then Paul basically says that if a believer has an unbelieving spouse, they should remain together as long as they get along and treat each other with kindness and respect. As long as the believer is in the home with the unbeliever, there is an influence of righteousness that speaks into the life of the unbeliever and sets an example for the children. And the unbeliever may come to the Lord!

Those who do not get along have to weigh their options. If the unbeliever is abusive or hurtful to the spouse or children, then the believer has to make the choice of what should be done. Are the actions so bad that they warrant leaving? These matters should be discussed with church leaders, and be treated with much prayer and caution. Rash decisions and hurtful actions by a parent can leave a child scarred for life!

God’s ultimate will is for the unbeliever to come to the Lord in this relationship. And if the believer will pray and live a godly lifestyle, then that may just happen!

This is a day to carefully guard our marriages and families with much prayer. Our nation needs strong families. Our children need the example of those who do it right! Let’s pray for families today. Let’s believe God for His best in life where we find ourselves right now. Don’t waste time brooding over the past. Look ahead from today, and let’s give God our best!

5 thoughts on “Married to an Unbeliever

  1. I've obviously hit a nerve here in addressing the issue of marriage problems and divorce. Let me make a general statement here. I've been in ministry since 1981, and I've seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between when it comes to marriage issues and problems. Sadly, many church leaders do not deal appropriately with serious marriage issues in counseling. If you've sought help, and have been instead wounded by a pastor or the pastoral staff of a church, you have my heartfelt compassion. My comments in my blog today are general comments based clearly on the teaching of the scriptures. When it comes to issues regarding spousal abuse there are many variables that need to be discussed in order to get a clear pictures of what's going on. That was not the purpose of today's blog. Let me state very clearly here that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT GOD EXPECTS A WOMAN (OR A MAN FOR THAT MATTER)TO LIVE IN A SITUATION OF ABUSE. According to 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, abuse fits the situation of a person NOT BEING PLEASED TO DWELL WITH THEIR SPOUSE. I have personally assisted in the removal of abusive spouses from a home so that a lady and her children could live in peace and without fear of harm.

    When it comes to emotional abuse, this is much more difficult to quantify, and needs much prayer and wisdom on the part of those helping an individual in this situation. I've dealt with situations where there was mental and behavioral problems that diverted from the norms of human interaction and this can get messy. If you attend a church and you feel that the pastoral staff is not adequately dealing with a serious issue, then by all means, address this with the senior pastor, and then go find some help. A seasoned counselor or even a seasoned lay counselor can usually see when there are problems that border on emotional abuse.For me, when I see that a situation is beyond my expertise, I refer the person to qualified professional counselors in our community that can intervene. I've even paid the bill when I saw the seriousness of a situation and the person just could not afford it.

    So, if you are currently separated or divorced from a volatile situation that was emotional abuse, rest in the mercy and grace of our loving Father. He can mend wounded hearts, and help a family onto a stable and peaceful way of living.

    Again, understand that my blog today is addressing the haphazard way marriage and divorce is dealt with in our 21st century culture, and is not intended to deal in depth with the complex issues of physical or emotional abuse. God Bless!

  2. Well stated Pastor. In my first marriage, I was a believer, she was not. At first it was not much of an issue because we were young, and "in love." Later when it came to our child, there was a big riff in how she would be raised and under what belief system. Then before long the wheels came off because of my stance in my faith, which led to many other difficulties.

    Thank goodness the youth of our day and in our church receives the correct teaching and understanding about being equally yoked. Not just in one area… You can believe in the same God and still not be equally yoked.

    I would says give a great amount of time in prayer and meditation in the word, so that you can know and rely on the voice of God to tell you "That's your spouse!"

  3. I appreciate your posts concerning marriage. Although this is a very sensitive subject, it should be addressed. Christian marriages should not follow the norm, rather they should be the exception. Marital woes are spiritual attacks from the enemy, therefore, we must retaliate with the Word and stand strong. A troubled marriage leads to a troubled family and on to a troubled society. From personal experience, I know that the Word is a strong tower and a safe place. No one should be abused, physically or emotionally, and sometimes intervention is necessary.Yet God is able to avail any situation.

  4. I am thankful that I have a pastor that is not afraid to speak the word.

    My interpretation of the blogs over the past few days is that divorce is often used as an easy out in all marriages and should not be. We make a commitment before our future spouse and God for better or worse, or something along those lines, and all too often we do not adhere to that commitment/covenant.

    When things are tough in your marriage, don't bail out. Seek God and His wisdom for the situation.

  5. What a slippery slope this is. While not shocked at what I read, I feel this is a bigger problem in churches as a whole than we might realize. The Word is interpreted many different ways and often leads to confusion and in many noted cases spiritual abuse from church leaders and members of the congragation. Spiritual abuse can have far more damaging affects than emotional abuse from a husband.

    I believe at Victory the Word is rightly divided. I would just hate to see "Law" prevail over relationship and what the Father may speak into the heart of a woman being abused. If she is at peace with The Father about being free from her abuser, than that is good enough for me. Who I am to tell someone that did not hear from God?

    Pastor, this would be an excellent topic for Pastor Talk.

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