Hi SUM family,
Different kinds of spiritually mismatched marriages come with certain challenges, and today I want to talk about the kind where a Christian married a non-believer, is now battling guilt over it, and analyzing the situation: 'What did I do, and what now?'
That's so hard, and if that's you, you have my heart.
We have readers who write in about this one, and some have shared they have a real question about whether it's OK to treasure their marriage now, or whether it's possible for their shared life with their spouse to be blessed, ever. That's on top of all the other challenges an unequally yoked marriage brings.
How many of you out there have walked this, I wonder? It's one of those questions our founding leaders, Lynn and Dineen, had to navigate early on in our ministry. And, over the subsequent sixteen years we've seen a lot of people's journeys and sought God's perspective. Based on that here's some collective wisdom on this particular topic: --
To reflect on our past choices is a good thing, so if you're going through that process now in relation to your marriage decision, it's perhaps part of your growth. As Christians, we do that on all sorts of matters. We ask "Did I submit to God there?" and repent of the times we didn't. So, that is a natural part of being a Christian and in your marriage you will likely have a period of time where you do look back on the decision you made and bring it before God.
However, then we must forgive ourselves for anything God has forgiven us of.
Repentance comes with Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10), and it's a process where we say "I would have done things differently, if I could go back". Once we have done that, if our repentant heart cry was genuine, God looks at us and doesn't see it again. Not in a condemning way, that is. He will still see the fact you made certain choices because you're navigating the consequences. However, in terms of his posture towards you, you can picture that what he sees is Jesus's blood all over this.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NKJV)
So now you move forward. Can you treasure your spouse? You sure can. In fact, this is now your call of obedience. You walk forward and treat your union in line with God's design for marriage: Binding. As long as there is no abuse, of course. If your spouse is abusive God does not ask you to stay, but if this is a normal marriage (with normal ups and downs) you must treat your spouse as God sees them: As your 'one' and 'the one' he is pursuing with great love himself.
This marriage is something you are to steward well and God will watch to see how you walk it. As always, you are being asked to submit to God and not sin, but this time the way you do that is by honoring your marriage covenant and walking out the unequally yoked life with wisdom.
If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him (1 Corinthians 7:12-13, NKJV)
Let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33, NKJV)
So your challenge now is to run with that with gusto: Treat your spouse as the top person in your life, love them well, be faithful until the end, get a few good marriage books, and throw yourself into trying.
Can your marriage be blessed? Experience tells us yes, it just depends on how you walk it out from now on. Nurture your own faith life, obey God by caring for your spouse, and God will respond to that. You will still walk out the consequences of a spiritually mismatched marriage, but God will bless your household in spiritual ways through your future obedience.
So those are a few thoughts on that difficult topic. Have any of you walked this particular path, and if so, would you like to share anything in the comments?
Love to you all,