When Your Spouse Is An Unbeliever (Strobel)

 I’m working my way through this book: Spiritual Mismatch by Lee and Leslie Strobel.  It’s a book written to help the Christian who is married to an unbeliever.  To be in such a situation is more than difficult, and God’s people who are going through this difficult situation need prayer, love, help, and guidance.  The Strobel’s wrote this book to help and guide the Christian who is married to an unbeliever.  I haven’t read all of it yet, and so far though I don’t agree with everything in it, parts of it are for sure helpful.

One helpful section is where the authors discuss the fact that it is not the Christian spouse’s fault that her husband (or his wife) does not believe in Christ.   Sometimes the Christian spouse in a marriage has quite a bit of pressure put on her as if she is responsible for her husband’s lack of faith: Be a better Christian wife!  Here’s how Leslie talks about this attitude she faced before her husband came to Christ:

It took my friend Linda to set me straight one day when I was feeling sorry for myself and moping around because of Lee’s continued resistance to God.  ‘Listen to me,’ she said sternly.  ‘You’re not responsible for Lee’s decision to receive or reject Christ.  There isn’t one example in the Bible of anyone failing to come to Christ because his or her spouse wasn’t a good enough Christian.  If a wife had to be perfect to win her  spouse to the Lord, no husband would ever receive Christ!’

In his grace God does not put the burden of heaven or hell on any marriage partner.  It would be too much to bear if a wife knew that her husband’s eternal destiny hinged solely on how well she lived out her faith in front of him or how compellingly she explained the gospel.  I have seen wives who are paragons of Christian virtue and yet whose husbands are stone-cold toward God, and I have seen wives who could be poster children for Hypocrisy Anonymous whose husbands have become fully devoted to Christ.

…Be devoted, be prayerful, be encouraging – but don’t try to be responsible!  You’re not.  Your spouse is. Period.

There’s much more to the issue, obviously.  But it is a good reminder for Christians whose spouse is not a believer.  It isn’t your fault.  You’re not the Holy Spirit and you don’t have the sovereign power to change your spouse’s heart.  It is a hard situation, but by God’s grace and through prayer, “don’t weigh yourself down with a burden that God never intended you to carry.”

(The above quotes are found on pages 39-40 of Spiritual Mismatch).

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI