Part 1 of this series discussed the many difficulties a Christian woman faces when she has a non-Christian husband. This article will focus on two Scripture passages dedicated to giving guidance to this woman.
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband…” I Corinthians 7:13-14a
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;” I Peter 3:1
I have known women who have been married to unbelieving husbands. When they get discouraged about their situation, simply getting a divorce may look like the easiest solution. A woman can sink so far into hopelessness about the lack of communication and spiritual connection she has with her husband, that she convinces herself it would be best to end the marriage. However, the Bible clearly warns against this and specifically states that this woman should not leave her husband. For a man who does not know Christ, his wife may be the only chance he has to see what the Christian life is all about.
I knew a dear woman who prayed for her husband for almost twenty years. She attended church faithfully and stayed faithful in her testimony to him. Finally, after all of the heartache and prayer, her husband surrendered to the Lord. This is the precise reason why the Bible says that a woman should not leave her husband. Marriage is permanent in God’s eyes, whether or not one of the partners does not follow Christ.
The second verse may be more difficult to accept. What is a Christian woman supposed to do when her husband tells her she should not go to church, but that she should stay home with him? What is she to do when he tells her she cannot have Christian friends over to her home? Should she fight his authority, disregard his words and do what she wants anyway? It sounds pretty tempting, especially because her heart’s desire is to serve God. The Bible teaches that we are to submit to and obey our husbands. It doesn’t say that we should do this only if our husband is a Christian, we need to do it irregardless. The best thing this woman can do is honor her husband with a graceful, loving spirit, even when he is causing her emotional pain. What if the husband asks his wife to do something that is a sin against God? Personally, I would apply Acts 5:29 when Peter is commanded not to preach in the name of Christ, he responds, “…we ought to obey God rather than men.” A woman should not sin against God in submission to her husband.
Finally, what if the unbelieving spouse rejects Christ and leaves his wife? I Corinthians 7:15 says, “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.” The woman should never blame herself for her husband leaving her, nor should she pursue him to make him come back to her.
None of the things expected of a believing wife with an unbelieving husband are easy. Often it is a life of sad disappointments and discouragement. The most important thing this woman can do is to live a consistent, Godly life before Him and pray for him constantly. God can soften and change the hardest of hearts.