I got up out of bed, had devotion with my wife, made some breakfast and proceeded to check my email. As I was going through my emails, one of them got my attention. The subject was, and I quote “Help, my husband is a non-believer, and it’s driving me crazy.” I proceeded to read the email, and I was very intrigued by what the person had to say. Her frustration seems to come to a boiling point of which she mentioned walking away from the marriage. When my wife and I receive emails from our followers, we often pray and ask God to give us the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to give sound biblical and practical advice to help them change their lives or see a different perspective concerning their problem. Her question drew me into prayer, seeking God for information that would help her. While I was searching the scriptures, I could hear the voice of God telling me you need to write a blog about this so that others can learn from the information.
In this blog, I want to address this problem because it has become a significant issue for most Christians. I am writing to both husbands and wives since this is a problem both wives and husbands are dealing with. Living with an unbelieving spouse can be a tough challenge to undertake. This often means a marriage with different goals and visions. What I have found out through scriptures will help those of you who are dealing with this issue. The Bible says “My people are destroyed because of the lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
I would like to talk about living and dealing with an unbelieving spouse
I think in most cases we believe that being unequally yoked means the person we are marrying is not a Christian. Someone can be a Christian and still not be compatible as a mate. But for the nature of this blog, I will stay on the subject of dealing with an unbelieving spouse.
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Paul urges believers not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; that means do not form binding partnership or relationships with unbelievers because this might weaken your Christian commitment, integrity, and standards. It would be a mismatch like trying to yoke two oxen who are not equal in size, height and strength to plow your land; it is not going to work. A farmer is smart enough to know that won’t work.
Here is a scenario: You have a couple who are not believers, and one of them decides to give their heart to the Lord, but the other is not ready to commit. They do not want to do church or have anything to do with your Jesus. What do you do? Do you get a divorce or do you try to win them to Christ? And what if your effort is in vain? Like the lady in our email, most of you deal with this issue from an emotional and frustration point. So here are a few pointers that will help you.
If your spouse is not a Christian, you can’t change them. Your job is to fulfill your biblical role in the marriage and God will do the rest. Your responsibility should remain the same whether your spouse is a Christian or not and that is to love, honor, and cherish them.“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife sees that she reverence her husband.” Ephesians 5:33. The Bible teaches that being unequally yoked does not in itself break a marriage vow. “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.” (1 Corinthians 7:12, 13) Second, just as the ox and mule together in the yoke weren’t able to plow a straight line, in like manner, the believing spouse’s attempt to forcibly bring the other around will never succeed. You are going to frustrate yourself and your spouse.
“As long as your spouse is honoring the marriage covenant you have a right to make the marriage work.”
The believing spouse often tries to play the role of God when it comes to their non-believing spouse. I know you have a strong desire for them to experience the relationship you have with God. However, you are not in any position to save them from their sinful state. That is not how Jesus and the disciples win others to God. You are frustrating your spouse and yourself with a responsibility which was given to the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, you start to use the spirit of manipulation to get them to come to God. The word of God says that a man cannot come to God unless the Holy Spirit draws him. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, and they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) What you should be doing is setting an example; let your Christian walk will be that light which leads them to Christ.
If your spouse is faithful in the marriage by way of honoring you and doing what is right, what are you worrying about? I know you are concerned about their spiritual life, but when they stand before God, you won’t be standing next to him or her. It is going to be them and God on the Day of Judgment. What matters most in a relationship when one of the spouses are not saved, is how they treat you in the marriage. If they are not cheating, being disrespectful, or physical and verbally abusive, what is your problem? Your bills are paid, he is a great provider, he buys beautiful and expensive things for you, he loves to take you on exotic vacations, and sexually your needs are fulfilled. She honors and respects you in the marriage; she’s everything you want in a wife.
Did you say you have a BIG PROBLEM? CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW ALL OF THESE COMING FROM AN UNBELIEVING SPOUSE IS AN ISSUE? You should be thanking God for that man while praying and asking God to save him. Don’t allow your religious beliefs to cause you to walk away from a good marriage, and in turn you never get a chance to win your spouse to the Lord.
There are husbands and wives who are active in the church and they have never missed a service, yet their marriage is a lie. Before their pastors and church members, they are so in love; they can’t keep their hands off each other. They put on a nice show for the people to see, but they are living a lie. Behind closed doors, they live like cats and dogs. They don’t have a relationship with each other. They sleep in separate bedrooms, and they have a sexless marriage. Is that the kind of life you want? Because someone is a Christian it doesn’t mean they are honoring their marriage vows. I have seen people who are Christians, saved, sanctified, water baptized, and filled with the Holy Ghost, also with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and acts like a Jezebel to her husband and the husband acts like a wicked wizard to his wife. I have seen these types of people end up in divorce. Please know that both spouses knowing and having a relationship with God is essential to a successful marriage. However, if they are not honoring their marriage vows, and if the covenant of the marriage is not followed, whether you are a Christian or not, your marriage won’t last.
If you want to win your spouse to God, you have to let go of the spirit of manipulation. Love and honor your spouse with sincerity. You might be saying to yourself how can I do that? He or she is not a Christian. God did not call you to negotiate with your love; it should be unconditional. Show love and affection to your spouse. Just because they are not a Christian does not mean you are sinning if you have a sexual encounter with your spouse. Now that you are filled with the Holy Ghost you think you can’t have sex with your spouse; the devil is a lie, and you need deliverance from that Jezebel spirit. 1 Corinthians 7:14 says “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean, but now are they holy.” This means that you can have all the sex you want; you are not dishonoring the bedroom.
Both spouses must now deal with the fact that you are now living a different lifestyle. You used to drink, party, and hang out at the club on the weekends, and now all of a sudden the only thing you want to do is go to church, and you don’t want to have intercourse with your husband because you think it is not Godly anymore. You are now both frustrated and he doesn’t seem to get you anymore. He hates your music, won’t go to church, and both of you have nothing in common anymore. You have to be patient and not isolate yourself. Encourage him or her and let them know that you love them and this new found love in Christ is only going to strengthen your marriage and relationship. Now that you are a Christian, your lifestyle should draw your spouse to want to know the God that you serve.
Because of your new found love for Christ, most of you put everything before the need of your spouse. Many of your new found roles in your ministry becomes a priority over your husband or wife. It is crucial to be attentive to his priorities while continuing your Christian growth. You can find encouragement from this Scripture: “Let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]” (Ephesians 5:33, Amplified Bible). I trust the Lord will help you walk the fine line between reverence for him and honoring your spouse.
Now that you are a Christian and going to church, you start to see couples you admire and think are great examples of a godly marriage. In your mind, you are thinking you wish you and your spouse were like that. The first lady and pastor edify each other, and you admire that. You look to your right in the church, and there goes that couple, sitting together, worshiping God, and you wish that were your story. After church dismisses, you storm out, enraged which anger. By the time you get home, all kinds of thoughts already went through your mind. It did not take much for your spouse to feel your frustration. Then you started to compare them with what you experienced at church. You start saying things such as “I can’t keep doing this alone; I think I will love you more if you come to church with me; I see Deacon James and his wife sitting together, and I wish that were you and I.” These comparisons cause him not to want to have anything to do with your Jesus because you put him down rather than lift him up.
An unbelieving spouse can reject all of their wife or husband’s efforts, but the power of faithful prayer is unstoppable. “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Prayer can reach your spouse even without their permission. You do not need permission from them to put them on the throne of God. If you want your spouse to know God and develop a relationship with Him, stop fighting them and love them with the love of the Lord. Pray for them and go to war in the spirit, on their behalf. Tell the devil you will not quit on your spouse, but you will be the example for them to follow. Go to war for your husband in prayer; go to war for your wife in prayer.
“Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your 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.” (1 Peter 3:1.2) It is time to give up trying to change your spouse, which causes a lot of problems in the home. It is time to start believing God instead. What God wants to do if you would get out of his way and let him. God wants to convert your spouse through you, but by your actions and not by your mere words. God wants your actions to be Christ like, they must speak louder than what comes out of your mouth. They must see the display of Christ in your life; then they are eager to come and meet the one who changes their spouse in such a profound way.