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A Blessed Challenge

1 Corinthians 7: 12-13  But the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, with her, let her not leave him.

In almost forty years of being married to an unbeliever, I have never heard mention of this Scripture from the church pulpit. Being unequally yoked, is a commonality sure enough, but being encouraged to remain in that state and how to do it with joy and contentment is almost unheard of. Perhaps it is a subject that is just too hard to discuss, or as it is not the norm, little is known about it.

It is for this reason, that I am breaking the apparent silence and hope to encourage others, who find themselves in the same position as myself. In verse 17 of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul encourages his readers to remain in the position that the Lord has assigned to them, “to which God has called” them. God has called us to live with an unbeliever. That is not unscriptural: God did the same thing to Hosea, when he told him to marry Gomer. It is God’s choice that we be married to an unbeliever. It is no accident or mistake made by us. This is God’s divine purpose for us, until our situation changes in some way.

It is of primary importance we believe that where God leads His people, He will graciously provide. All that we need for life and godly living with an unregenerate spouse, is provided by our wonderful Heavenly Father.

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath call us to glory and virtue.

When I know as a Christian woman, that all I need to glorify God in my marriage to an unbeliever will be met by Him, I can choose to do all things without grumbling and disputing with my husband. Even when I doubt the decisions my husband is making, I am assured that God will work all the details out for the best for my marriage and ultimately what will glorify Him. This is faith in action, and this is what keeps me strong in trusting Christ’s unmovable love for me. But this growth takes time. I remember in earlier years of marriage panicking when my husband made some scary choices that rocked my inner world. If only back then I had believed the promise of Proverbs 16: 9: “A man’s heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directs his steps.” I would have saved myself a lot of anxiety and grief.

Another time, I remember crying out before the Lord when I was feeling (feelings don’t always serve us well!) unloved and misunderstood by my husband. God reminded me that my spouse was only doing the very best he could. He was unable to give anymore because he did not have the love of Christ within his heart. His love and capacity to give was limited. This was a great comfort to me! In that, from that moment on-wards, I chose to never expect more from my unbelieving husband the he was capable of giving. We would do well to lower our expectations of who we expect our unbelieving partner to be or what we want from them. They are giving all that they can.

As the years roll by and the relationship that I share with Christ grows deeper, and my husband still remains outside the faith, I am more acutely aware of the spiritual gulf between us. This saddens me, and makes my prayers more earnest for him. It has been imperative for me to have a soul friend that I can talk about the things of God with, because my husband still has no interest in the conversations that I long to have with him. He is unwise to God and His ways and yet I know that God can stir his heart to seek Him at any time. I do not preach, though I was very dogmatic and militant in earlier years of marriage, believing that ‘I could lead my husband to the Lord!’ How pompous of me to think that I could bring about the saving of a soul. This is God’s choice and God’s work alone.

In those pensive moments when I contemplate the spiritual gap between us, God faithfully reminds me of what we share in common. So much. So many good memories we love to talk over. So many travels, adventures and glorious times. And it is for these that I am immeasurably thankful. It is crucial to remember also the beautiful qualities in our unbelieving spouse. What first drew us to that person in the beginning? These are the characteristics worth rejoicing over, despite the spiritual differences. Ask God to remind you of what is good, excellent and lovely in your spouse, and then thank them for this!

I have much to be grateful for. A loving, generous husband who cares for and looks after me in sickness and in health and three adult sons who I raised freely in the teachings of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

God is always good. In His wisdom He called me to be married to Daniel and it continues to be a blessed challenge. Let’s continue to embrace this unique role, knowing that as God has called us, He will preserve us if we keep our eyes upon Him.

‘Dear Father, help me in this role to bring honor to Your name. Give me the wisdom and grace to love my spouse on the good days as well as the difficult. May you be evident in my words and actions. Thank you. Amen’

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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  1. Jennifer

    Thank you for posting and sharing this with us. I’ve no doubt that this will resonate to many couples as they read through your pertinent message.

    Although I can’t relate to this personally as my husband is a believer as well. However,I know of three couples who will particularly appreciate this, I will forward it to them. Your heart and your truth are palpable, thank you for bringing these messages to us.

    Have a blessed day~

  2. The words of First Peter 3:1-4, “Wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very previous.”

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