What should a Christian do if he or she is married to an unbeliever?

Question: "What should a Christian do if he or she is married to an unbeliever?"

Being married to an unbeliever can be one of the most difficult challenges in a Christian's life. Marriage is a sacred covenant that joins two people together into one flesh (Matthew 19:5). It can be very difficult for a believer and an unbeliever to live in peaceful harmony (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). If one partner becomes a Christian after the marriage, the inherent struggles that come from living under two different authorities become very apparent.

Often Christians in this situation will look for a way out of the marriage, convinced that this is the only way to truly bring honor to God. His Word, however, says the contrary. The apostle Paul said, "You must accept whatever situation the Lord has put you in, and continue on as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches" (1 Corinthians 7:17). It is very important not only to be content in our situation, but also to look for ways to bring glory to Him out of our challenging circumstances.

The Bible specifically addresses those who are married to unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 7:12-14: "...If a Christian man has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not have a Godly influence, but now they are set apart for him."

Christians married to unbelievers will need to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them profess Christ and live in the light of God's presence (1 John 1:7). They should seek God's transforming power to change their hearts and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian wife is obligated to have a submissive heart, even toward her unbelieving husband (1 Peter 3:1), and she will need to remain close to God and rely on His grace to enable her to do so.

Christians are not meant to live solitary lives; they need to find support from outside sources, such as through church and Bible study groups. Being married to an unbeliever does not alter the sacredness of the relationship, so it should be the priority of every Christian to pray for his or her spouse, and set a good example, allowing Christ's light to shine brightly before the world (Philippians 2:14).

Recommended Resource: Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee Strobel.

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Related Topics:

Is it right for a Christian to date or marry a non-Christian?

What should be done if a husband and wife disagree on tithing / how much to give?

What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?

Is abuse an acceptable reason for divorce?

Does a wife have to submit to her husband?

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What should a Christian do if he or she is married to an unbeliever?