Here's a 37 second clip when I was asked how I dealt with the years when I was a Christian and my husband was not yet a Christian:
Of course, the power of the Gospel was changing lives in the New Testament times (which includes our day and time!) When the book of Corinthians was written, people were becoming Christians after they married which raised a dilemma. Were they supposed to ditch their current spouse to find one that they could share the commonality of their faith with? What about us today?
The Bible is clear—the answer is no, if your spouse is willing to live with you.*
1 Corinthians 7:13-14:
"And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
But what if the husband leaves? In verse 15, we read, "let him leave."
"But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace."
Verse 16 tells us this also applies the other way around, too—the husband can become the Christian first, and the counsel if the very same. It goes on to say in 16, if the nonbelieving spouse chooses to stay, how do you know that they will not become a Christian in the future? How do you know that because you now have the light of Christ in you, that they will be wooed to Christ through your life?
So how does a Christian woman act who is married to a non-believer?
I had seven years practice at this one.
Now don't think for a minute I was the ultimate Proverbs 31 Christian wife (Proverbs 31 describes a godly woman who has lived through many seasons of life) and won my husband into the faith at twenty-six years of age.
It's more like Christ won Him in in spite of my messing it up! Aren't we glad God's will is accomplished among us unfaithful, fickle, and weak members of the human race because He is the faithful, unchanging, mighty God that's in total control of the results of our step of obedience? (My step was I was willing to live with him after I became a Christian and he did not—I'll be posting more on this in a video clip later this week)
Our job is to trust, His job is to work.
The passage that was my cornerstone passage for seven years was 1 Peter 3:1-4 (and I tell women that it's for Christian women if your husband is not a Christian or if he is a Christian—but not acting like one):
"Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight."
I've writtten an entire book on this subject, in which I tell our story and share encouragement from God's word for those who are separated or facing separation. Please pray for my publisher who has had some delays, and we are unsure of the launch date.
*In other places, the Bible talks about adultery as grounds for divorce—but the intent of this blog is not to unpack that today. I'll mention while divorce is allowed, if reconciliation is at all possible—lives can still be repaired and families restored through forgiveness.
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