The Unbelieving Spouse Who Wants A
Copyright © 2007
If your spouse leaves the marriage it can be a
devastating time. Sometimes they may want to get a divorce and bring
papers for you to sign. But God says we are not to divorce an
unbelieving spouse. In marriage, even if only one spouse is a believer,
God says the marriage is sanctified and set apart for His purpose.
According to the state you are divorced, but according to God you
are still married.
If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and
she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 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. (1
Corinthians 7:12-14 NIV)
God’s ideal is for couples to stay together and
try and make the marriage work. The believing spouse should try and
bring the wayward spouse to Jesus Christ. Since God does regard your
marriage as sanctified by the presence of just one believing spouse, the
believing spouse should do what they can to help the unbelieving spouse
come into the light and accept Christ.
But if the unbeliever leaves let him do so. A
believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.
(1 Corinthians 7:15 NIV)
(this does not mean you can get a divorce though)
The above verse is often misunderstood and misused
in society. It is not a loophole for divorce. However,
if the unbeliever insists on leaving the marriage, what can you do?
Paul says we are to let him or her go. The only other choice
would be to deny your own faith to preserve the marriage. The message
here is that couples are to seek harmony if at all possible. He does not
want us to seek out ways to divorce or separate from our spouse.
God wants the believing spouse to work with the
unbelieving spouse if it does not compromise his or her own faith and
beliefs. Not bound in such circumstances does not
mean it is okay to divorce your unbelieving spouse. It means that you
are not bound to try and make the unbelieving spouse stay with you if it
is going to compromise your beliefs in the process.
You cannot make an unbelieving spouse stay in the
marriage. But there are a few things you can do to
help them to see their erring ways, and come to Christ. Be an example to
the unbelieving spouse. Being a good influence has far greater spiritual
power than you think.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak
knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be
disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12,13 NIV)
Believers have a responsibility to the marriage if
they are truly living for Christ, as they claim to be. Your example
should make it easier for your spouse to believe in and follow Jesus. If
your example makes the unbelieving spouse confused and misled, they will
not see Jesus in you. Sometimes you might not feel
well enough spiritually or emotionally to be a good example for your
spouse, and this is why you need to always stay focused on Christ for
your own strength and comfort. Then you can use that strength to help
the unbelieving spouse find their way back home again where they belong.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and
to be holy; without holiness no one will see the lord. (Hebrews 12:14
Pray constantly for the unbelieving spouse. Let
them see their erring ways not by what you say to them but by how you
live your own life. In many instances it is good to bring their erring
ways to their attention in a good way so as to restore him or her to
God. Don’t talk the self-righteous story with them
by telling them how sinful or rotten they are. Don’t say you are a
Christian and they are not. This kind of behavior will make them run
from you as fast as they can.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he
repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and
seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
(Luke 17:3,4 NIV)
Last but not least, and I think this is very
important, do not allow the unbelieving spouse to take advantage of your
good graces and mercy. There will be times you will need to detach from
them and you can do this in a loving way. If they are doing something
that goes against your conscience, do not be a part of it or allow it to
carry on in your presence. Be humble but strong. Be
discerning but compassionate. Be careful that the unbeliever does not
bring you down with them. Always stay focused on the Lord and He will
keep you protected and strong in your time of suffering and need.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your
ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in
it.” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)
Questions to Ponder
1. Why do you think God
2. How can you influence
your husband to accept Christ for his life?
3. Do you think that by
making your husband go to church or to pray with you will make him into a
believer? Why or why not? Explain
4. What things can we do
to show a good Christian example to our spouse?
4. How can a
self-righteous attitude make our unbelieving spouse not see Jesus Christ
5. If the unbelieving
spouse does not want a divorce is it still ok to get a divorce?
No, it is not ok.
Scripture says...If any brother has a wife who is not a believer
and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 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. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14