Recently, I’ve been very grieved over the number of believers, both Jewish and Gentile, who have told me of problems regarding their relationship with their unsaved spouses.
The other day a woman approached me after I spoke at a church, and told me that while she would like to support Jews for Jesus, her Jewish husband would forbid her from even receiving our newsletter. She went on to describe how difficult their life together has been because of his hostility to the gospel. I asked her how long they had been married. She replied that she had been married to him for three years. I then asked her how long she has been a Christian. I was surprised to learn that she had been a believer most of her life. It should not surprise me because I hear it so often. But I can’t help it. It just never would have occurred to me to marry a man who didn’t share my belief in Jesus. Perhaps that’s why it took me 36 years to meet my husband Wayman. But it was worth waiting for God’s best for my life.
Inside I cried out, “Why didn’t you listen to the command in Scripture, not to be yoked together with unbelievers. I didn’t say it outwardly; it was, however, a very loud thought. If I thought it would have helped her in any way to admonish her for a choice she made years ago, I would have done so. But I was a guest in her church and after all she was in a painful situation. I let her know that I would be praying for the two of them, especially for her witness to him.
Later I thought of my friend “Rachel.” Her husband was a believer when they married, while she was not. One day her husband admitted to me that he never should have married someone who did not share his commitment to Jesus, and that if he had it to do over again he would not have done it. He wasn’t saying he didn’t love Rachel, but he wondered if he had broken off the relationship, whether she would have seen how vital his faith was and explored Jesus’ claims for herself. All of this he stated in her presence. I was a little taken aback and wondered how she would respond. But it was said with such love and conviction that she was very moved. That day she prayed to receive the Lord!
You see, Rachel’s husband humbly understood the mistake he had made. I’m not sure the woman I met that day in church understood. At the time, I felt that I was not in a position to point out that she had been disobedient. But it is important to speak the truth in love.
I’m not saying that we should always point out every mistake a brother or sister in the Lord makes. And when we do point something out, it should be with the understanding that we have all made our own mistakes, and the God who graciously forgives us wants to extend that same grace to others. But He gives grace to the humble. I saw how God used Rachel’s husband’s admission. The woman at the church might or might not have found it helpful had I shared the story with her. The marriage had already taken place and she was struggling. It is difficult to know if it would have been kind or cruel to say much at that point.
But I will speak out to any believer I know who is contemplating a serious relationship with an unbeliever. We should be able to tell our brothers and sisters that darkness cannot have fellowship with light—it is in God’s Word and is meant to be taken seriously.