As we sat down for dinner, my husband laid his hand on the countertop, palm up. Knowing our prayer routine, I placed my hand in his and waited for him to pray. Before he uttered a word, tears threatened to come forth, as a thought flashed through my mind: This would not have been possible eight years ago.
A Dramatic Salvation
Rarely will an unbelieving couple come to faith at the same time, and this was true in my marriage. I came to faith first in 2014 because of God’s dramatic saving of my eternal life. Because of my sin, lack of biblical knowledge, and virtually no relationship with Jesus, I spent at least ten years dabbling in the occult. Not only did I read books written by psychic mediums, I also saw them at in-person events. I then spent an additional two years harnessing and actively developing my psychic ability. I did all these things while professing to be a Christian.
My time in the occult ended with a vision of a dark hooded cloak image superimposed over my reflection in the mirror. In that moment I lost all sense of rationality and was tormented by a voice in my head that repeatedly told me that I was going to Hell. I was involuntarily committed to the mental unit of our hospital and spent five days there.
I came home a new person, one that never wanted anything to do with the occult spiritual world ever again. Where did that leave my marriage? I became a Christian that was married to an unbelieving husband. God became my authority while my husband’s authority was himself. The struggle of two people living under two different authorities surfaced rather quickly. How can a marriage like that thrive and grow?
You may be in a similar situation in your own marriage. Perhaps you trust in Christ for your salvation, but your husband does not, and this creates not only heartache for you, but even discord in your marriage. What does it look like to live out your faith when unequally yoked?
A Vertical Perspective
First, trust in God, his plan, and the work of the Holy Spirit in your husband’s heart. God’s ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8). What we may think is an impossible mismatched union, full of too many challenges, is what God ordained and declares holy. We must change our view from focusing only on ourselves and our wants—horizontally— to focusing on God, his glory, and his plan for the salvation of his people—vertically. God can and is working good through this marriage (Rom. 8:28), and nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). These are truths we can cling to.
Second, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 that when an unbeliever is married to a believer, the unbeliever is made holy because of the believer. The holiness refers to the sanctity of the marriage union. The marriage is still considered a holy matrimony because they were united under the holy ordinance of God. Having a holy marriage does not mean that the unbeliever is guaranteed entrance into Heaven; but, if the believer has submitted to God’s authority, he or she has been given the opportunity to give and reflect the greatest proof of love—the unconditional, self-sacrificial love of Jesus.
Third, be an example of love. A question to ask oneself daily is, “How can I bring glory to God in this marriage union?” In 1 Peter 3:1-2, Peter gave an example of godly conduct for a wife. He said that the unbeliever can be won without a word coming from the wife, because her living example of Christ’s love towards her husband will speak for her. What might that look like in daily living?
- Refrain from preaching to your spouse because their ears can’t hear (Matt. 13:15) and God’s word is folly to them (1 Cor. 1:18). We are not to put pressure on our spouse to become a believer. That will only inspire anger and resentment in their heart.
- Instead, have a meek and quiet spirit. This means don’t join in or start conflict (1 Peter 3:4). God can use our humility and godliness to bring peace within the marriage.
- Serve your spouse. Paul wrote in Philippians 2 that we are to follow the example of Christ’s humility who left the glories of heaven to live as a servant. He exhorted, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (vv3-4). In this way, our spouse sees Christ through us.
Lastly, the most powerful thing we can do is to pray. We pray for our spouse’s salvation. We pray for the Lord to be at work in and through us so that our spouse would see the light of Christ in us. We also pray through the times of discord and misunderstanding. We depend upon the Lord to do a good work and not on ourselves. We pray through our own sin, confessing and turning from it. We persist in prayer, waiting, hoping, and trusting—as long as it takes.
After two years of daily prayer, my continued dependance on and submission to God, and gradual conformity to Christ, God called my husband to confess his faith in Jesus. As we pray together today, I am grateful for the Lord’s rescuing grace, in delivering me from the clutches of the occult and in bringing my husband to himself. May the Lord show his mercy and grace to you and your marriage as you keep your eyes fixed on him.
Editor’s note: To learn more about Susan’s story of coming to faith, read her book Heaven’s Joy: The Seeking and Saving of a Runaway Psychic.
Photo by taylor hernandez on Unsplash