What do we say to the person who is a professing Christian and has married an unbeliever? First, you have violated the direct command of God. You must realize this is the case. Do not engage in rationalization. Accept the fact of your sin before God. Specific Bible texts are worth repeating. Deuteronomy 7:3-4, “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you.” 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.”
Once you understand your sin, pray that God will work godly sorrow in your heart. It is one thing to know your sin and have deep sorrow for it. It is quite another thing to know your sin and simply ignore and bury the guilt. There are two basic scenarios which touch upon only a few of the variables in these inevitably complex situations.
First, you love your spouse. You may love your spouse more deeply than when you were married. Yet God calls you to separate your past sin from your present circumstance. You sinned in taking the marriage vows. You must have godly sorrow for this sin. In addition, you must seek God’s forgiveness for this basic sin. You must have forgiveness and cleansing regarding entrance into a relationship God did in fact forbid. Perhaps the initial sin led to others as Deuteronomy predicts. For example, perhaps you have been less than faithful to worship and the fellowship of God’s people. Ask God to work repentance in your heart. Seek God’s forgiveness. Return to the fellowship of the church. Return to times of private Bible reading and prayer.
Second, you may have a profound desire to be released from marriage with your unbelieving spouse. Love seems to have vanished. There may be heavy drinking. The relationship is strained. You realize your mistake. Again, you must seek God’s forgiveness for the basic sin of entering into a marriage with an unbeliever contrary to the directives of Scripture. I repeat, you must receive forgiveness and cleansing from the initial sin of entering into this marriage. It would also be wise to get back into church. It would be wise to renew your relationship with God regular Bible reading and prayer.
What about divorce? You are married. Having rightly put your initial sin behind you, study passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 and 1 Peter 3:1-2 as described last month. On one hand, if your spouse is content to remain in the marriage, you should apply the principles of 1 Peter 3:1-3. You should live a godly life. You should seek God’s special strength to live for Him. Ask Him to fill you with love for your spouse. On the other hand, if the unbelieving spouse leaves you, Paul commands you to let him go.
Most of all, you must gain eternal perspective on your situation. You should remember repentance, God’s forgiveness, and newness of life in Christ manifested within you can clear the way to move your whole family toward faith Christ. The alternative is that you and your family are pulled away from God’s grace and favor. To be pulled away from Christ spells eternal doom for you and your family. To seek forgiveness and live for Christ, even in the most difficult circumstances, could spell eternal blessing for you and your family. Which is more important? Which would you rather see?