“But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 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 7:12–14, AV)
As a pastor, I observed many Christian women and some Christian men who were married and yet, single on Sunday, meaning that their spouses were unbelievers. I felt bad for these faithful to the Lord who participated in worship while their husbands or wives would stay home on Sunday.
This is the way it was in our home before the Lord saved me. A small church started up in a school building near our home in Illinois and my wife started taking our children there every Sunday. I stayed home and watched the television. I believe that she, like all who leave their unsaved spouses to serve the Lord on Sunday are unsung heroes.
There are many families today in which the husband and wife are from a spiritual standpoint unequally yoked. While Paul does not deal with the reason for this, he gives spiritual advice to those who are single on Sunday.
First Paul exhorts those who are single on Sunday to keep seeking and serving the Lord, even though this is no easy task. The unbelieving spouse just cannot understand the importance of the Lord, Christian fellowship, and corporate worship. They will often make things difficult for their spouses, including ridicule, verbal and mental abuse, etc. Moreover, there is a painful disconnect between the couple in the area of spiritual life. How is the believing spouse to deal with this in marriage?
Some sects, or rather cults that call themselves Christian, advocate that the believing one should separate from their spouse. Yet, the word of God says no to this. Paul wrote that the believer is not to divorce the unbelieving spouse.
There are some special benefits for the believer and the entire family as the believing spouse remains married to the unbeliever. First, Paul indicates that the believer sanctifies the family, that is both the spouse and the children. This does not mean that they are saved for that requires each person’s saving faith. Yet, God sets that home apart for Himself because of the believer in it.
Second, by God’s grace, the presence of the believer in the home is a force to resist the defilement of sin in the family that might be introduced by the unbeliever. In particular, the children will be blessed by the believing parent. I saw this in action in our home before I came to faith.
Third, it is possible that the faithfulness of the believing spouse will have a positive influence on the unbelieving spouse. This might even bring the unbelieving spouse to saving faith. While there is no guarantee, this is what happened in our home.
So, it is like this. The worst option for the home is where neither the husband or wife is a believer. It is much better for one to be a believer even if the other is not because through the believer God’s blessing is seen in the home. Yet, the optimum home is one where both the husband and wife are believers. A home of faith glorifies God and provides the most stable and pure environment for raising a family.