What counsel does the New Testament have for marriages divide by religion? 1 Cor. 7:12-15; 1 Pet. 3:1-2.
The blessing of being a Christian partner. In 1 Corinthians Paul responds to converts’ concerns that staying married to an unbelieving spouse might be offensive to God or bring defilement upon themselves and their children. Not so, says Paul.
The sacred state of marriage and its intimacies are to continue after a partner’s conversion. The presence of one Christian partner “sanctifies” the other partner and the couple’s children. The word “sanctifies” should be understood in the sense that unbelieving spouses come into contact with the blessings of grace through living with their Christian partners.
Heartrending as it is, the unbelieving partner may decide to abandon the marriage. Though consequences will be serious, the merciful word of our God—who always upholds human freedom of choice—is “let him do so”. The believer “is not bound in such circumstances” (1 Cor. 7:15, NIV).
Called to live in peace. The clear preference of the Word of God is that despite the challenges of a spiritually divided home, a way might be found for the peace of Christ to reign there. The hope is to keep the marriage intact, to give evidence of the triumph of the gospel in the midst of difficulty, and to promote the comfort of the partner with whom the believer is one flesh, though he or she be unbelieving.
What might be the limitations of a spouse’s responsibility toward a nonbelieving partner?
Lovingkindness, unwavering fidelity, humble service, and winsome witness on the part of the believer create the greatest likelihood of winning the non-Christian spouse. Submission in a Christian marriage arises out of reverence for Christ (compare Eph. 5:21). When a spouse relates with Christian submission to an unbelieving partner, the first allegiance is always to Christ. Faithfulness to the claims of God on one’s life does not require a spouse to suffer abuse at the hands of a violent partner.
|Is someone in your church struggling with an unbelieving spouse? If so, in what practical ways could you possibly help?|