Q: I would like to get more information on being married to a nonbeliever.  —Mary

A: If you are asking if it is permissible for a Christian to marry a nonbeliever, then the answer is no. The Bible makes it clear that our marriage partner must be a believer in Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:14-16), one who “loves the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39) or as NIV puts it, one who “must belong to the Lord.”

If after marriage you came to believe in Jesus, but your spouse remains an unbeliever, then 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 provides some directions on how to live with a non-believing spouse. Paul urged believers to be faithful and to honor the marriage commitment, if possible (1 Corinthians 7:12-13). He explained that the “Christian [spouse] brings holiness to the marriage” (1 Corinthians 7:14). Paul did not mean that the unbelieving partner is saved by this marriage. To be a Christian, one must personally confess his or her sins, believe in, and receive Jesus as Savior. Paul taught that the unsaved spouse is placed in a position of special privilege and spiritual potential through living with the Christian spouse, for the nonbelieving spouse has come under the believing spouse’s influence (1 Corinthians 7:16).

There is always the hope that the believing spouse will convince the unbelieving spouse to come to faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 7:16). For example, a non-Christian man who has a Christian wife faithfully praying for him and living an exemplary life before him in the home is in a position where conditions can be favorable for his salvation to become a reality. That’s why Peter encourages believing wives to live godly lives before their unbelieving husbands so their “godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives” (1 Peter 3:1-2). Not only does his wife influence him, but fellow Christians who know the man’s spiritual state will also join in praying on his behalf.

To help you in your marriage, you may want to read these resources online:

Building Blocks To A Strong Marriage

What Is The Promise of Marriage? —K.T. Sim

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