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Married to a Non-Christian
by Dr. Clyde M. Narramore

Aslender, dark-haired mother slipped into the last remaining seat in the back row at the morning church service. She snatched a glance at the uneven horizon of heads and shoulders around her. Her head dropped. Her eyes rested unseeingly on the black leather bag in the pew beside her.

Why can't my husband be at my side? she wondered. He often came with me before we were married. A tinge of defense welled up within her. Now he'll have no part of it.

How It Happened
Today, thousands of Christian men and women stand on the threshold of loneliness and discouragement because their husband or wife is not a Christian. Every situation is a little different. But most unequally-yoked marriages fall into the following patterns: 

■ Both the husband and wife were non-Christians when they married. Later one of them came to know Christ personally. As this one grew in faith, he or she realized that the two were miles apart in some of the most important areas of life. The Christian spouse longs to share his or her deeply meaningful faith with a spouse but these desires fall on deaf, disinterested, or even angry ears.

■ When the couple were married, one was already a Christian. He or she disregarded God's instructions, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (II Corinthians 6:14). For a while, the glow of marriage covered over a fundamentally different set of values and ways of living. But now a big spiritual chasm has been revealed.

■ When they married, the wife thought (or hoped) that her groom was a Christian. But as time went on, she was disappointed to realize that he did not have a personal relationship with God and failed to share some of her most basic Christian values. Today, their differences are threatening their marriage.

The Real Difference
What is the difference between a Christian, and a non-Christian?  Sometimes it's hard to tell one from the other. I often think of a neighbor I once had. He was pleasant, thoughtful, and a nice guy. His childhood was non-violent, non-abusive, and in many ways, desirable. He married a kindly wife. He entered a profession for which he had talent. So his life moved along rather smoothly.  But if you should ask him if he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, he would say no. If you should talk with him further you would see that he did not believe the Bible is the Word of God or that we can have a vital relationship with God. He was rather well adjusted emotionally, but not a born-again believer.

Actually, there is a world of difference between a committed Christian and a non-Christian. For one thing, Christians are very much aware of the fact that we are all sinners and need a Savior, and that we will struggle with our sin nature until we go to heaven. Unfortunately, many non-Christians, no matter how well adjusted emotionally they may be, don't acknowledge the fact of their sinful nature, and that we all struggle with this problem. Denial of this can and does contribute to marriage conflicts. 

The Committed believer has a very
different life experience, direction
world-view and values than a
spouse who is not a christian.

But God in His mercy has provided a way whereby we can obtain forgiveness of sin.  Romans 10:13 reads, "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

When a person genuinely commits his life to Christ, God's Holy Spirit invades his being and resides there. I John 4:13 says, "By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit." God's Holy Spirit brings great changes in one's life. Priorities and values change. As he develops meaningful relationships with other Christians (fellowship), and studies God's Word and applies it to his life, he gradually becomes more mature. This is spoken of in the Bible as being made "conformed to the image of His Son [Jesus]" (Romans 8:29).

The non-Christian, on the other hand, cannot understand spiritual values, experiences and beliefs. To him, they are wishful thinking, unnecessary and/or figments of one's imagination.

In summary, the committed believer has a very different life experience, direction, world-view and values than a spouse who is not a Christian. And their commitments are at their very core of life, not the periphery.

Can My Mate Change?
God can truly change your mate!  He "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Ephesians 3:20). Fortunately, many unbelieving mates have come to know Christ, and many are being saved just now!

Through cooperation with God, and a spouse's effective witness, an unbelieving wife or husband can be brought more readily to the only place of safety and peace—Christ Jesus! 

Actually, God is more eager to see unsaved loved ones come to know Him than we are. It may take time and patience, but God will reward us if we remain faithful and call upon Him.  "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). No one is beyond God's reach.

Continued on Page Two

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