And if you are married, stay married... If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be left out; as it is, they also are included in the spiritual purposes of God. (1 Corinthians 4:10, 14 The Message)
This was me for 18 years. I was the woman with an unbelieving husband. Well, not that he did not believe in God, it was just that believing did not make a significant difference in his life. Both of us were living like that when we got married in 1981, but for me, in 1988, my faith became alive and suddenly Jesus made a difference in everything.
At first, although Al did not share the passion for God that had ignited in my heart, he loved me, so we stayed together. When I found these verses, they gave me hope.
It is hard to hold tight to your faith when those in your household do not. But it is my experience that this is true: your presence allows others around you to be touched by the holiness. It's like reverse contamination. As Jesus touched the leper and healed him in Matthew 8:2-3, the Holy Spirit within us will bless those around us in our home. The NIV calls this sanctification, and the Amplified expands on it: the unbelieving husband is set apart (separated, withdrawn from heathen contamination, and affiliated with the Christian people) by union with his consecrated (set-apart) wife.
By us staying married, being an Excellent Wife to a husband who is unable yet to be a Christian husband, we are giving him the best gift ever: we are allowing him to be sanctified, to be made holy too. It was 2006, 18 years later, when Al came alive to faith in Jesus. Through the mercy of God, I was able to continue in faith all that time without him.
During those 18 years, every day that I loved Al and trusted Jesus brought Al one step closer to a saving faith. It was long. It was hard. It was so worth it.
If you are married, stay married. Because God is faithful. He will bless you, your husband and your children.
Father, thank You for holding onto me and bringing others around me to comfort me and pray for Al when I was losing heart. His conversion has encouraged me more than anything else in my life. Because it took such a long time, it became a huge miracle.
Remind me this principal works for all those around me: my presence with them means the Holy Spirit is present too and having an impact in their lives. Continue to strengthen me to be an influence for Your Kingdom!
Read more about our coming to faith: click here.