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Don't Marry Him, Girl

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I can't tell you how many Christian women I have met with and/or counselled over the years who are living lives of great regret, difficulty, and despair because they married a man who was not a believer, or was nominal in his faith at best. Almost to a person their stories are the same: they grew up in Christian homes; had a few wild years in their teens or early 20s; married a guy who was "dangerous" and "exciting".... who lived outside of the rules; ignored the advice of their parents/pastors/friends and married the guy; began to experience conflict; returned to their faith, especially when the kids arrived; and their husbands are still not living for Christ. Then they sit in their pastor's office, tears streaming down their faces, often mad at God (but really mad at themselves), frustrated beyond measure and thinking about "moving on". When it's with me I want so much to be compassionate and understanding, but there is still a part of me that wants to ask them "Why on earth did you ignore God's advice? Why didn't you respond to all the red flags He threw your way? Why didn't you listen to the heart of God about choosing your lifetime partner?"

Sometimes I do ask, and the answer is almost always the same: "I thought that I could change him." But God is crystal clear about who we should marry:

2 Cor 6:14-16

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?"

1 Cor 7:39-40
"A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord."

The NT makes it clear that God's heart is for you to marry a man who knows and worships the Lord! This makes the whole "one flesh" thing so much easier, since both of you will be more likely influenced and controlled by the Holy Spirit. But to be married to someone who doesn't share your love and passion for God is like trying to ride a bicycle with a mangled rim for a back wheel. It can work, but it's not very smooth or enjoyable.

So, if you're reading this today and you're considering marrying someone who is not a strong believer -- don't marry him, girl! The pain of leaving him now will be much briefer than the pain that lies ahead in your marriage.

And if you've already made this mistake, and you feel trapped in a difficult marriage -- don't leave him, girl! That, too, is the heart of God for you:

1 Cor 7:10-11
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband."

1 Cor 7:13-16
"And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (Did those of you who want to marry them and change them hear that?)

This is where the grace and strength of God come in. First, He can give you the power and wisdom not to marry an unbeliever in the first place, if you ask Him (James 1). But if you've already made the mistake, there is grace and strength for you in that as well.

God has often called people to live in difficult situations for Him. For some, like myself, it's the heartache of living with a chronically ill spouse or child. For others it's the loneliness of a painful marriage. But in each case God gives strength and grace to be His blessing there. We are not to leave just because it's been a hard ride. Would you abandon your child because they have MS or some other disability? Then why are you thinking of leaving your spouse? You are just as much "one with them" as you are with your child.

Three times the Apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove him from his hardship.

2 Cor 12:9-10
And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

If you married the wrong man (or woman), God invites you to stay strong in Him. His grace is sufficient. I've learned that for myself as I've lived with a very ill woman for many years. Have I been tempted to say "I've had enough"? You bet I have; there's been lots of times I've felt very cheated.

But it is what it is, and God can use me and bless me, and help me to be a blessing in the midst of it. And He can do that with you, too.

So, if you're ready to marry an unbeliever -- girl, don't do it. Just let him go. And if you're already married to an unbeliever -- girl, don't do it. You must let him stay.

And may God strengthen you to follow His heart with this all along the way.

Posted by Alan Harstone, an evangelical pastor

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