My spouse is an unbeliever, and I often struggle over our differences. I remain committed to our marriage hoping the Lord will bring my spouse to faith one day. In the meantime, what does the Bible say about how I should approach my marriage? How do I live out my faith while honoring my marriage?
Living with an unbelieving spouse is a challenge. Often it means a marriage with different goals, driven by your faith and your spouse's ignorance of biblical truth. These challenges can be very difficult and cause significant stress in a marriage (in addition to the "normal" stresses every marriage encounters). Nevertheless, the believer is called to live in union with their spouse despite these differences, and the Bible offers copious advice to the believer for how to approach the situation.
First, Paul addresses this very topic in 1Corinthians. The church in Corinth asked him how to handle marriages between believers and unbelievers, and in his response, Paul emphasizes the importance of remaining committed to an unbelieving spouse and the necessity of living in peace:
By no means is this a simple task. Rather, living with an unbelieving spouse requires complete dependence on the Lord and His wisdom. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you face the daily challenge of living with a mate who doesn’t share your deepest spiritual commitments:
1. Commit yourself to praying for God’s word to penetrate your spouse's heart and that God will use you as an instrument in your spouse's understanding of God.
2. Be patient and show grace to your spouse.
3. Be the hands and feet of Christ in your marriage. Commit yourself to serving your spouse out of love and respect.
4. Check your heart and motives toward your spouse.
Second to God, are you putting your spouse and marriage first? Is your relationship with Christ making you a more enjoyable person to live with – or just a more religious one? These are important questions because our eagerness to study the Bible, serve the Lord and minister to others can come at the expense of someone else. This does not mean we are to stop seeking God’s truth. But, we are called be aware and sensitive to the needs of others, especially our spouse.
Are you showing gentleness and respect to your spouse?
5. Remember that God is the one who is at work in you and in your spouse.
6. Refrain from being judgmental of your spouse's reasons for questioning the Bible or your relationship with God.
Matthew 7:1 says we are not to judge others. Matthew is not talking about judging which actions are righteous and unrighteous, but rather the heart of people’s actions. Instead of judging, try to understand what it is that holds your spouse back and then pray for God to remove those barriers.
Pray for God to take your spouse on a spiritual journey that you are very much a part of. As we just read in 1Corinthians 7, how are we to know if we will save our spouse? God tells us to find a way to live in peace for His glory.