"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy" 1 Corinthians 7:14.

Ezra 9:2
"For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness."

Malachi 2:15
"But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.

1 Corinthians 7:13
And if a woman has an unbelieving husband and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.

Mark 10:12
And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

1 Corinthians 7:12
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.

1 Corinthians 7:14
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

A Sanctified Spouse

1 Corinthians 7

Code: BQ102612

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:14)

Christians married to unbelievers were not to worry that they themselves, their marriage, or their children would be defiled by the unbelieving spouse. On the contrary, the very opposite was the case. Both the children and the unbelieving spouse would be sanctified through the believing wife or husband.

Being unequally yoked, one flesh with an unbeliever, can be frustrating, discouraging, and even costly. But it need not be defiling because one believer can sanctify a home. In this sense sanctify does not refer to salvation; otherwise the spouse would not be spoken of as unbelieving. It refers to being set apart, the basic meaning of sanctify and holy, terms that are from the same Greek root. The sanctification is matrimonial and familial, not personal or spiritual. In God’s eyes a home is set apart for Himself when the husband, wife, or, by implication, any other family member, is a Christian. Such a home is not Christian in the full sense, but it is immeasurably superior to one that is totally unbelieving. Even if the Christian is ridiculed and persecuted, unbelievers in the family are blessed because of that believer. One Christian in a home graces the entire home. God’s indwelling that believer and all the blessings and graces that flow into the believer’s life from heaven will spill over to enrich all who are near.

In addition, although the believer’s faith cannot suffice for the salvation of anyone but himself, he is often the means of other family members coming to the Lord by the power of his testimony.

A young woman came up to me after the service one Sabbath morning and told me that when she was growing up her grandmother was the only Christian in the family. The grandmother used to speak of her love for Christ and witnessed to the family in what she said and by what she did. Eventually, three of the four grandchildren came to know the Lord, and each one declared that their grandmother had the greatest influence on their decision for Christ.

When God was about to destroy Sodom, Abraham pleaded with Him to spare the city if fifty righteous people lived there. “So the Lord said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account’ ” (Gen. 18:26). When that many could not be found, the patriarch reduced the number to forty–five, then to forty, thirty, twenty, and finally ten. In each case the Lord agreed to spare the city, but not even ten righteous could be found. But God was willing to bless many wicked people for the sake even of a few of His own people in their midst.

Furthermore, God looks on the family as a unit. Even if it is divided spiritually, and most of its members are unbelieving and immoral, the entire family is graced by a believer among them. Therefore, if an unbelieving spouse is willing to stay, the believer is not to seek a divorce.

The Christian need not fear that the children will be unclean, defiled by the unbelieving father or mother. God promises that the opposite is true. They would otherwise be unclean if both parents were unbelievers. But the Lord guarantees that the presence of just one Christian parent will protect the children. It is not that their salvation is assured but that they are protected from undue spiritual harm and that they will receive spiritual blessing. Because they share in the spiritual benefits of their believing parent, they are holy. Often the testimony of the believing parent in this situation is especially effective, because the children see a clear contrast to the unbelieving parent’s life, and that leads them to salvation.

"He doesn't get me! He hates my music, won't go to church, and we have nothing in common. How is this marriage supposed to work?" She wept as she bared her soul. "No one understands this loneliness. No one!"

As a life coach, women invite me into their struggle. Little did my new client know she had just entered mine. I can understand the depth of her pain because I, too, love a man who does not love my Lord.

New Faith, New Struggles

Thirteen years into our marriage, I accepted Christ. As of yet, my husband has not acknowledged his need for a Savior. He believes there is a God and resents being labeled an "unbeliever," but he thinks I've taken "this thing" way too far. My passion to follow Jesus seems to have led us down different paths, and we both admit that the spiritual chasm in our marriage has caused tension. Yet, I also know the Spirit has come to comfort and guide me in ways I never thought possible.

When I became a Christian, my life changed. I listened to different music, made new friends, spent Sundays at church and evenings in Bible study. Suddenly I wasn't the woman he had signed up to marry! In addition, I claimed to love someone else—Jesus—and to my husband this new love seemed like a real threat.

Looking back, I see times when Scott felt abandoned and when his justifiable feelings of jealousy and rejection were projected as resentment and silence. My desire for him to follow me into this new life actually pushed us farther apart. And in my own lonely, empty places, I began to lose respect for my husband.

I claimed to love someone else—Jesus—and to my husband this new love seemed like a real threat.

Take the Initiative

Yet if I was lonely, how much more lonely was Scott? In the midst of my divine ache, I turn to Scripture, worship, godly friendships, and prayer—but where can he turn? If I am the Christian, shouldn't Ibe the one who reaches out to him?

For those of us in spiritually mismatched marriages, we are called to be the one to take the initiative toward strengthening the marriage. If we are honest, our battles are often with our own pride. In fact, sometimes we may even use God as an excuse not to change.

In 29 years of marriage, I've spent 16 years pursuing Christ, but only the last 6 years pursuing my husband. My eyes have been opened to see Scott in the same way God must have seen me: a lost soul in need of his grace. It hasn't been easy and I certainly don't profess to have all the answers, but through learning God's Word and wise counsel, I've come to a place of renewed love and respect for my husband. After years of trying to change him, I realized it wasn't Scott who needed to change—it was me! I've made many mistakes along the way, but I've also learned some valuable lessons.