Sunday, December 16, 2012

Loving and leading an unsaved spouse

In less than a week I will have the joy of marrying two young Christians who share a deep love for Jesus.  In a perfect world, Christ's grace would form the glue holding every married couple together.  Sadly, due to sin in various forms, that is often not the case. If unbelieving couples bring God grief, 'unequally yoked' couples (in which one spouse is a Christian and the other is not) invariably bring double pain: to God and the believing spouse.  One question which Christian spouses often ask is, "How can I best love my unbelieving spouse and point them to Jesus?"  Stuart Scott, in his excellent book The Complete Husband, gives men in this area some helpful guidance.  As you will see, the principles he outlines prove equally helpful for believing wives with unsaved husbands:

  • Do not leave her or send her away, but be willing to live with her and love her.
  • Be a godly witness more by your life than your words.  Be careful not to "preach" to your unsaved spouse, but model what a gracious life touched by Jesus looks like.  Do not expect regenerate behavior from an unregenerate spouse.
  • Genuinely love and care for her with humility.  Consider her preferences above you own (barring sinful choices from which you must abstain).  Many unsaved wives have bailed out of their marriages because their believing husbands were selfish, demanding and difficult to live with.
  • When you sin against her, acknowledge it, confess it, ask for her forgiveness and then change your behavior.  Preaching the Cross without demonstrating your need for it will come across as hypocrisy.
  • When she sins against you and shows remorse, be quick to forgive her and lavish her with grace.  Even when she does not show remorse or repent, demonstrate an open, forgiving attitude toward her.  Why should she believe the gospel if you refuse to model it's grace?
  • Do not expect your unsaved wife to understand her need to honor God with her life or to accept her biblical role to submit to your leadership.  When she does make God-honoring choices, praise her and thank God.
  • Remember that it is God Who saves.  Therefore, pray for her earnestly, be patient and stay hopeful.  
- Stuart Scott, The Complete Husband, pp. 138-139

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