Let me preface this post by saying – I have not been in this position. It would be a very difficult position to be in as a wife. And I greatly admire the many wives who are respectful to their unbelieving husbands and who cooperate with their leadership as they pray for their husbands’ salvation. It requires a VERY strong faith to do this. Sometimes the rewards aren’t seen until heaven in these situations.
If you are in this position, or you have been the wife of an unbelieving husband and you would like to share how God used your obedience to Scripture to heal your marriage and bring your husband closer to Christ – please leave a comment to encourage the wives who are still struggling. Thank you so much!
I CAN RELATE SOMEWHAT
There were times before God changed my heart so dramatically when I doubted my husband’s salvation. I scrutinized him and criticized his spirituality – I am ashamed to say now. I would point my finger at his failures and his habits and think so self-righteously that I was much more spiritual and godly than he was. I did NOT obey I Peter 3 and I did NOT see my husband grow closer to God and closer to me until I finally DID obey this passage.
Sadly, I think that my husband probably had many more reasons to doubt MY salvation than I found to doubt his. My husband was patient – I was not. He was very forgiving – I held grudges for years. My husband was humble – I was prideful beyond belief. And I was disobedient to a lot of scripture. So – I am sure my husband should have doubted my salvation. I didn’t have the fruit of the Spirit. I was constantly worried, afraid, overwhelmed, anxious, critical and judgmental. I didn’t have much faith. I was a very immature believer. I believe I was saved – but there were so many areas where Christ was NOT Lord of my life. I did not have the power of the Holy Spirit full blast – my sin had blocked it to a thin trickle. And I didn’t see it at all. Everything was “normal” to me.
So – only God knows each person’s heart. And we are all wretched sinners in DESPERATE need of the blood of Christ to wash away our sins.
FOR WIVES WHOSE HUSBANDS AREN’T BELIEVERS OR ARE DISOBEDIENT, IMMATURE OR WEAK BELIEVERS
I Peter 3:1-6 is God’s prescription for you! This needs to be your central focus for as long as it takes, in my view
Wives, in the same way (as believers submit to government and believing slaves submit to masters) be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet (peaceful) spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
HOW WILL RESPECT AND NOT TALKING ABOUT GOD HELP?
God knows that words are for women, not men. Men are not won over by words. Men need to see real authentic faith in their wives. They need to see a cooperative wife, one who doesn’t argue all the time, one who doesn’t preach and nag and lecture at him. They need to see the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) in their wives over an extended period of time. These are the ONLY ways a believing wife can influence her husband for God.
A wife who is willing to
- respect her husband’s God-given authority (he is still the leader and authority in the marriage, even if he isn’t a Christian)
- only resist him (but still with great respect) if he asks her to sin
- have faith in her man as a leader
- cooperate with his leadership decisions
- be silent about the things of God
- have a gentle and peaceful spirit that does not give way to fear
puts her husband in the direct line of God’s intervention. He will be in the closest possible position to hear God’s voice and he will be the most receptive to God’s Spirit.
We as women DO NOT like this passage! We don’t like being quiet. We want to talk and talk about God, the Bible, what the pastor preached about on Sunday – we want to win our husbands over with words. Words don’t work on men like they do for women. Plus, all those words are likely to come across with arrogance and pride, that we are saying we are so much more godly than our men are. That is a huge reason I believe God said for us not to use words to win our husbands over – it doesn’t work! Our words push them farther away from us and farther away from Christ.
If your husband refuses to live with you – please refer to I Corinthians 7:10-17
To the married I give this command (not I , but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will safe your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will safe your wife? Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.
The closer your husband is to God, the more he can hear your words. The farther your husband is from God, the more your words will repel him even further away.
WHAT TO DO?
I believe that a wife in this position will have to be EXTREMELY careful to be HUMBLE. And I believe a wife in this position will need to wrestle with and come to accept the idea that God is big enough to lead her through an unbelieving husband. Even though he is not Spirit filled – God is still sovereign over his life. And God plans to use him to lead you and speak to you. Our God is THAT powerful!
There is a great chapter about this in Gary Thomas’ “Sacred Influence” about a wife who has been married to an unbeliever for 20 years. She used to preach at him and lecture him and try to MAKE him accept Christ – and he didn’t budge at all. Then she accepted God’s commands for her as a wife to respect and submit and to win him without a word. And as of the time of the writing of the book, he was still not a believer. BUT, she had peace. And she told many stories of how God would mold and shape her character by speaking through her husband about her bad attitudes, her impatience, her tone of voice, etc.
A LONG ROAD
This is not a journey we would choose to go on. And I pray that young Christian single women would understand how critical it is to marry a growing believer in Christ who wants to live with Christ as LORD on a daily basis.
BUT, God does give victory on many levels in a marriage where a wife obeys Him. AND, this is your ONLY shot at helping your husband find Christ. If you refuse to obey God’s word here – you are going to make it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for your husband to accept Christ – EVER.
Ultimately, you cannot control your husband. He has to decide for Christ himself. BUT, you can make Christianity appealing by obeying God’s Word and being willing to lay down your desires and your wisdom and seeking God’s will and obeying Him in all things.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOUR HUSBAND WANTS YOU TO DO?
Think about things your husband has asked of you that you have been refusing to do?
- Go to the church he prefers (if it is a cult that does not teach Jesus is the only way to God through faith – a gift from God that cannot be earned, then you must gently but firmly and respectfully resist him. But otherwise, you go where HE wants to go – cheerfully and without complaining.)
- not go to so many Bible studies during the week
- not criticize him so much
- not complain and whine about things he wants you to do
- spend more time with him
- give the amount of tithe/donations to church he wants to give (And if he is upset about giving money to charities or a church, that is his call to make. God doesn’t need you to go against your husband to give to His work. God might decide to use us – but He doesn’t NEED us. He desires our obedience more than $100/week or whatever dollar amount it is we want to give. AND – God is able to change our husbands’ hearts and create in them a desire to give to His work. So we pray and trust God and wait. Joyfully.)
- support his parenting
- not withhold your body from him sexually (it is a sin against God and our husbands when we do this – unless he is being unfaithful or you have some serious medical issues going on)
I don’t know what your particular husband has been asking you to do.
But you have a LOT of power here when you obey God and are filled with His Spirit. And you can expect miracles to happen. We serve a MIGHTY God! He is sovereign over our marriages and our husbands. We can trust that when He gives us commands, He knows what He is doing and we will be greatly blessed when we obey.
CHOOSING FRIENDS WISELY
Please choose GODLY friends who will:
- support your husband’s leadership
- respect your husband and help point you towards respecting your husband
- pray with you and for you for yourself and your husband and children
- set a godly example of biblical submission and respect
- NOT run down your husband or encourage a spirit of discontentment and disrespect in you!
YOUR BIGGEST TEMPTATIONS
In my view, some of the BIGGEST temptations for a Christian wife whose husband is not a believer or is far from God will be:
- discontentment with your current lot in life, wishing things were different. Imagining being with another man or imagining divorcing your husband.
- resenting your husband for not accepting Christ
- envying wives who have believing husbands
- respect for godly men and leaders in the church that could easily turn into infatuation or romantic feelings
- wanting to disobey I Peter 3 and try to use WORDS to tell your man about God and tell him what to do
HERE IS A MESSAGE FROM A WIFE WHO LIVED THIS SITUATION FOR 20 YEARS IN HER MARRIAGE. PLEASE PRAYERFULLY CONSIDER HER WISDOM!
My husband was a non-believer for 20 years. When we married I had fallen away from God as I was saved as a young child. After having my own children, I came back to God and recommitted my life to Jesus. My faith had become stronger than ever. This was really difficult because my husband was still not a believer.
There are four main suggestions that I have;
1) Respect your husband even if you don’t think he deserves it. This can easily start by finding a simple thing he’s done around the house and praising him for it. Keep finding more and more things to praise him for and to tell him you’re proud of him for. Doing this will make him want to show love in return and will make him more open to God and church.
2) Lead by example; don’t nag, push, preach, or get angry. Have a gentle and quiet spirit living your life for God. It may take years of doing this as it did in my case but it works. Stick to it an don’t give up. This really worked with my husband. He will see Jesus through you. My husband saw the supernatural elements of my life and it opened his eyes.
3) Find a church where your husband will feel like he fits in even if it means moving your children from a youth environment that they like. It WILL be worth it in the end. My husband never felt that was good enough for church until we found a contemporary church that embraced him without the self-righteousness. It just clicked.
4) pray fervently for your husband’s salvation daily.
My husband was saved about 3 years ago and his faith grows more and more every week.
Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Keep the faith.
CHECK OUT MY PEACEFULWIFE BLOG FACEBOOK PAGE! I’m talking about idols today!
OTHER HELPFUL POSTS
A biblical method of increasing our respect for our husbands as we pray http://wp.me/p28uul-BB
A wife profoundly impacts her husband’s ability to grow spiritually http://wp.me/p28uul-nI
conflict resolution by Rev. Harold Weaver http://wp.me/p28uul-lk
When is it ok to disrespect my husband? http://wp.me/p28uul-vh
When a wife strongly disagrees with her husband http://wp.me/p28uul-mq