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 Vol. 8, No. 10 

October 2006

Priscilla's Page *Editor's Note*

~ Page 16 ~

Image The Cost I Paid
Married to an Unbeliever

By Marilyn LaStrape

My husband Joseph and I met in May 1970 in San Diego, California. We were both in the Marine Corps at that time. We were married two years later. The first 6 years of our marriage were rocky because of our religious differences. Our marriage was solid, but we could not discuss religion at all without the discussion erupting into a terrible argument! We had virtually no understanding of each other's religious backgrounds. We finally decided avoiding religious conversations was the best thing to do.

One of my biggest disadvantages in dealing with this problem was I had never been taught that it was wrong to marry a non-Christian, even though I was "brought up" in the Lord's church. My unfaithfulness to God at the time further compounded this problem. I was totally unaware of the passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 which states, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"

I was soon to learn that ignorance of God's Word does not eliminate the consequences of disobedience. I would reap what I had sown; I would have to return to God in humble repentance; and I would have to learn from God's Word how to deal with this problem.

One of the most difficult passages of Scripture for me to embrace by faith was 1 Peter 3:1: "Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives." That part of the verse 'without a word' was the part that was killing me! I had plenty of words to tell him I felt he needed to hear to get his life together! It took me a while to come to the spiritual understanding of that verse.

I came to realize I had to show him that God and the church came before him. To tell him God's expectation of me was to put him and his kingdom first was saying and meaning absolutely nothing to him! Several of my friends who were members of the church could not understand what the problem was since we "loved" each other. I found myself trying to explain there was no correlation between romantic love and having different religious backgrounds.

My marriage would have never taken place if I had been in the spiritual intimate relationship God's Word demands. This intimacy is our up-close and personal Bible based knowledge of who God is and what his expectations are of us. I was much like the prodigal son in the far country. Because I had no spiritual relationship with God, my marital misery was inevitable. We loved each other dearly, but this looming problem of our religious differences would haunt us.

When Joseph became a Christian in the 6th year of our marriage, I could hardly believe it, but I was so thankful! He would later tell me it was due to my perseverance and example. He further admitted he knew I was right, but he simply was not ready to make the commitment.

All aspects of our married life became better because we both finally had the same spiritual goal for ourselves and our children. Our relationship truly was transformed from darkness to light. We have been married now for 34 years. Since his conversion, he has served as both an elder, a deacon and is currently serving again as an elder! The convicting power of the Word transformed him into a servant in the Lord's church. He is still reminded from time to time of where he was and where he is now.

Experience can be a merciless teacher! The chastening of God that is spoken of in Hebrews 12:3-11, I found to be very exact. What are the enduring lessons I have learned from the experience?

Make sure your relationship with God is as close and pure and strong as it can possibly be at this stage in your life. Continuing spiritual maturity is an absolute must to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray to be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Prayer calls down the power of God in any and all situations and those prayers must be in total trust with no doubting.

Do not allow yourself to become emotionally involved with anybody who is not a faithful member of the Lord's church! Once your emotions are involved, spiritual reasoning is often totally ignored; when that happens, the Spirit is no longer leading you.

Do not allow him to tell you he will become a member if you will marry him. This type of emotional blackmail serves no useful purpose whatsoever. It shows he has no understanding of his need for salvation, which has nothing to do with romantic love.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you will change him after the marriage. The preacher's wife who was my mentor, told me years ago the only way to change another person is to change you! It was one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn!

If and when he does become a member of the church, continue to observe his behavior and lifestyle. The motivation for obedience to the Gospel must be rooted in biblical faith. This faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

As his children, God wants only the best for us since we are his constant concern. He instituted the marriage relationship. Everything we need to know to make that relationship the absolute best is revealed in his Word, which ensures our happiness.Image


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