So what happens if one has become born again, the other has not. They have been living together for 5 years, have children… Can they marry or do they both have to become Christian?
It’s a complicated situation, but the good news is that salvation has come to you, and this is the most important thing. Here’s what I advise you to do:
1. Tell your concubine about your new birth and its implications
I suppose you have already spoken with him, but if not, then you must go and tell him that you have wholeheartedly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, that you have received forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life and that you have chosen to live for the rest of your life in complete obedience to the Savior. Explain him well what the New Covenant means and be ready to answer all the questions that he will ask you. If you do not know the answers, perhaps it is better to invite the pastor or a preacher or a spiritually mature Christian who will be able to answer all questions of your concubine, so that he may also repent and enter into the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus.
2. Explain to your concubine that your present relationship is a wicked one
It doesn’t matter that you have sexual relationship for many years and that you also have children. The fact that you have not entered into the covenant of marriage and you have officiated this covenant neither in the Church through the religious ceremony nor at the registration office through the civil ceremony, it is evident that your sexual relationship is outside marriage and therefore – is fornication. And God said very clearly:
You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)(NASB)
And He also said:
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)(NASB)
You have defiled the marriage the marriage bed having sexual relations without being married. So, now your status is fornicators and God’s judgment is upon you. You have to …
3. Stop sexual relations until your situation is clarified
Because you have found God’s truth, because you entered the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus and because your sexual relationship is lawless now, being outside of marriage, you can not continue like this. The Scripture says:
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Ephesians 5:3)(NASB)
And it also says:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that youabstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)(NASB)
So that you may not expose one another to temptation, it is good and necessary to look for a new place to live if it takes longer to solve the problem with your marital status.
4. Explain to your concubine your conditions for marriage
Now, as you are the child of God, you can not marry accepting any conditions from your concubine. Therefore, you must explain that the ideal option is that he enters the New Covenant with the Lord Jesus to be saved. But he must not do this just to be together with you, and it must be his heart’s desire to have a personal relationship with God and to be saved.
If it is not ready to do this, then you should tell him that you chose to be a disciple of Christ Jesus and that you obey the Lord Jesus in all things, above all things, because this means to be a disciple of Christ. Explain that this means a life lived just for God, expressed in a systematic reading of the Bible and living by its teachings, going to church, prayer, worship and raise your children in the teaching of the Lord.
If he fully accepts that you are and live as a Christian, then you can enter this covenant of marriage, as it is written:
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 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)
The text says that there are two reasons why a believer should remain married to an unbeliever, and this is sanctification, which means the repentance of the unbeliever, but also the sanctification of the children, that means the possibility to be raised in the teachings of God and led to Christ.
5. If the concubine does not accept you as a Christian and wants to divorce – you do not have another choice
It would be ideal that the concubine receives the Lord Jesus in his heart, enters the New Covenant, and thus, you can register your marriage and follow the Lord Jesus Christ with joy for the rest of your life. However, if he does not accept this, then at least he may accept you as a Christian and give you and respect your right and freedom to raise your children according to the Christian teaching. If, however, he does not agree with any of these conditions, in 1 Corinthians it is written:
Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has calledus to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (1 Corinthians 7:15-16)(NASB)
In such a situation you can not get married and you can not stay together because you will succeed neither to worship God, nor to save your marriage partner, nor to raise your children in obedience to the gospel.
6. Think of your children
Like I said, it would be ideal that your concubine is reconciled with the Lord Jesus and you can marry as Christians. If not, he should at least totally accept you and have respect for you as a Christian and for your worship and your life as a Christian. But if he does not want to live together with you, since you became a Christian, you have a duty to think about your children and provide them the necessary material and spiritual support. Take care to always contribute materially to their maintenance, to continually visit them and spend as much time as possible with them, by giving them teaching from the Word of God, because this is your duty as a parent, as it is written:
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)(NASB)
And it also says:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)(NASB)
I realize that after reading this article some readers will have at least this …
Objection: A Christian has no right to marry an unbeliever
True, but in this situation, given that this couple have been living together for a long time and have managed to give birth to more children, it seems to me that they viewed their relationship as a marriage, even if they had neither the civil ceremony at the registration office nor the religious ceremony in the church. In other words, in their consciousness, they viewed their relationship as a marriage and not as fornication, at least this is how I think. But, I agree that every situation is different and must be addressed individually. Therefore …
7. Counsel with your pastor or priest
He can and will be obliged to know more details about your situation, to understand your condition and then advise you according to God’s word how to get started properly. Do not rely only on what is written in this article but go to your pastor or priest, and explain your situation and ask for advice and help. God help you in the decisions that you will make and give salvation to your concubine and your children.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru