This is in response to your article dated March 25, 2011. (Yeah, kinda slow in coming.) I wasd baptized into Christ over 20 years ago as a young wife with an unbelieving husband. He also chooses to be just "a friend to the church" so I think I can empathize with the struggles your writer experiences.
Here's some of what I've learned over the years:
- God does provide: Countless times I've cried out my frustrations, loneliness, and pain and have never been denied God's comfort. What feels like a gaping hole in my heart never completely leaves, but God takes away the devastating feeling of it. Sometimes it's just that: He simply takes the pain away. Sometimes God meets my need by providing Christians with extreme compassion who reach out to my husband as a friend, and not just someone to convert. Sometimes it's providing us as a couple with a Christian couple who will be our friends, as a couple. Sometimes it's allowing me to really hear and feel the heart and specific drive behind the male voice of a leader as he prays or sings or preaches.
- Every Christian is amazingly special, but no one is exempt from trials or challenging situations. We all come into God's Kingdom with some sort of spiritual challenge not of our choosing. It could be the scars of past abuse or addictions, the tug of strong family traditions, or an unbelieving spouse. Our calling is to be the best we can be with the life God has given us. Don't be blind to your specific "spiritual handicap," because Satan will try to use it to his gain. Don't use it as an excuse, either. I've learned so much about how to deal with this aspect of life by studying the inspirational lives of people with physical handicaps.
- It's been my personal experience that Christians who aren't in this situation often say the wrong thing as advice or in sympathy. Just as I can't imagine what it's like to be a single Christian desperately wanting to be married, if your spouse shared your beliefs, don't imagine what it's like to be in my shoes -- you can't. That's not to say you shouldn't give Godly advice or comfort; just be wise about your limitations.
- Here are some of the traps I've fallen for over the years:
- Jealousy towards a couple who are united in Christ. Please, confess to them if you struggle with this. I've found that often someone will think that sharing how great it is to be married to such a "strong Christian" will be an encouragement to me -- something to look forward to, perhaps. They certainly didn't intend to make me struggle.
- Be careful about the term "divided household." Satan loves to divide and this can be especially awful if you have children. Instead, focus on scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 7:14 and 1 Peter 3:2 that focus on the power a Godly wife can have in her marriage. I don't pretend to understand exactly what is meant in 1 Corinthians, but I have personally experienced God working for the good in our marriage through my husband. Which brings me to my next point.
- Submission. As Christians we are called to submit to anyone God has put in authority over us. I know it can be really scary to submit to an unbelieving husband, but ultimately God is our Shepherd. God is in control, especially when we follow his command to submit. Yes, scripture makes it clear that if my husband is asking me to do something that conflicts with God's commands then I must follow God and not my husband. But really, I can't remember a time my husband truly asked me to go against God. He has asked me to do things that I didn't want to do, and in my sin I twisted it into him asking me to go against God. The only way I know to avoid this trap is to pray for discernment, study out the scriptures, and get advice from mature Christians.
- Ultimately, it is my husband's choice whether or not he will walk with God. I have played the guilt game over my husband more than once. Others may judge me to be a "weak Christian" and I have judged myself that way because of my husband's unbelief. This is an exceptionally dangerous trap. My relationship with Jesus is a result of His mercy and grace and my response of gratitude and repentance. Prayerfully that will help inspire my husband to come to his own faith, but there is no guarantee. I look to Jesus' own earthly ministry: how many He loved and how many ended up rejecting Him. Most will choose the wide path to destruction. However, I continue to pray and I know there are others, literally all over the world, who pray specifically for my husband's salvation. And I do believe that it will come to be in God's own time.