In this sermon, we discuss what the Scriptures say about dealing with an unbelieving spouse.
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 commands us not to partner with unbelievers but what happens if you’re married to one? Do you separate, divorce, and remarry? The Bible has something to say about that:
Instruction for wives
1 In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some [unbelieving husbands] refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.
3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 6 For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do (1 Peter 3:1-6 NLT)
Instructions for both men and women
10 But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.
12 Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.
13 And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. 14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.
15 (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) 16 Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? …
39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:10-16, 39).
Divorce, remarriage, and adultery
11 He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12 NLT)
“For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)
- Be the best spouse you can be to your unbelieving spouse. Be blameless so you might win them to Christ.
- If your unbelieving spouse is peaceful and is willing to live with you, stay married.
- If they are not peaceful, and they want a divorce, let them go.
- Physical or metal abuse is unpeaceful.
- Physical or mental abuse is a good cause for separation but not divorce.
- Infidelity or adultery isn’t a cause for divorce but separation may be needed to heal.
- God hates divorce but you’re not going to hell for it if you decide to divorce.
- Whoever initiates the divorce can not remarry without it being considered adultery.
- Wives can not remarry even if they didn’t initiate the divorce, else it’s considered adultery.
- Husbands can remarry if their wives leave or divorces them.
- Whoever initials the divorce is the one who is divorcing. Signing divorce papers when you don’t want a divorce is not your agreement to the divorce in God’s eyes only the State’s. By signing the papers, you’re legally letting them go.
What if the unbelieving spouse wants to stay with you to make your life a living hell?
Understand and accept the following:
- You’re still called to peace as God says.
- You’re valuable and not made for abuse.
- You should withdraw and separate
- Don’t be manipulated into sex by Bible verses and you’re not going to hell for that especially given the circumstances you’re under.
- The separation may cause the other spouse to file for divorce or rethink their behavior and change.
- Hold on to the power of God and consult him about every decision if you have an unpeaceful spouse.