In this article, I want to answer the question I was asked:
How should a woman treat her husband when she is not allowed to become a Christian?
The Lord commands that the wife not be separated from the husband
In Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians, the Corinthian church was a young church, and most people had recently become Christians. Some of them faced this problem, for example, there were men whose wives did not want to become Christians or vice versa. They wanted to know how to relate to their marriage partners. They wanted to know if they could stay in the marriage and if they should stay, how they should behave, what they should do, because in many marriages when one partner chooses to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, the other can create big problems. Here is what the apostle Paul tells them:
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made of no effect. (1 Corinthians 1:17 NASB)
This is a very important principle that God leaves in the Holy Scriptures, that is, not to initiate divorce. If a woman is separated now, she must remain unmarried or reconcile with her husband in order to re-establish her family. Of course, this assumes that the man is not married to another woman, because if he is married, he will not go to divorce again to restore his family first. Definitely not, it’s not about that.
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If the unbelieving husband wants to live with his faithful wife, do not part with him.
From verse 12 it says:
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if any woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not divorce her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14 NASB)
Here, in these verses, I have to give some very important explanations. Some people believe that since they live with a believer, he is automatically sanctified. Definitely not. It is not true that children in a Christian family automatically become saints. All the apostle Paul means to say is that since you remain living in the family with your unbelieving husband, who accepts and respects your faith, it is very likely that one day your partner will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and enter into the New Covenant with Him. That is how he will be sanctified. We see many couples in which one believed first, then over a period of time the partner also believed.
Verse 14 assumes that your partner does not stop you from practicing your Christian faith, does not stop you from going to church, but respects your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he says here that if they do not stay together, it is likely that these children will be unclean, because if you divorce, they will stay with the other partner, so they will no longer have the opportunity to grow in the teaching of the Lord Jesus, to become Christians. Whereas now if you are together and your spouse respects your faith and your right to educate your children, then it is very likely that seeing that one parent is a Christian and is living a good Christian life, then this child will one day be able to also become a Christian.
If the unbeliever wants to separate, do not stop him. God has called us to live in peace
From verse 15 it says:
Yet if the unbelieving one is leaving, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15 NASB)
There are many couples in which since the wife has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the husband forbids her to go to church. We, as Christians, must not submit to such a thing. It is true that Scripture says that “the wife should be subject to her husband as to the Lord,” in all things, but often the husband stops her from attending the church services and does not allow her to study the Holy Scriptures. So if your husband asks you to do something outside the bounds of God’s Word, you can no longer obey him. Such a relationship can no longer be allowed. A Christian woman who is in a similar situation will continue to go to church, continue to worship the Lord, and serve Him. If the unbeliever wants to divorce on the grounds of faith, then they should separate.
The believer is called to live in good understanding with the unbeliever, to take care of the family, to fulfill his duty, but not in such a way that the unbeliever limits him in his relationship with God. You can’t force the other partner to live with you in the family. Jesus does not allow anyone to love a person more than He loves Him. God says to become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, to follow His teaching, and if your partner prevents you and does not allow you to do so, you cannot accept it. You only have to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not require you to remain in such a marriage. However, God does not allow the believer to take the initiative in divorce. He will make every effort to keep the family, but not with the price of faith and the relationship with God.
I pray that God will remember those who create such difficult situations. May God enlighten the minds of spouses who are ready to go almost to divorce because of their partner’s faith. I pray that God will give them light so they can believe the gospel.
Translated by Didina Vicliuc