Posted by: Serena DeGarmo | March 14, 2012

Unequally Yoked: What Do I Do When My Husband is an Unbeliever?

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14 ESV). I’ve heard this passage applied to dating relationships quite often, and rightfully so, in my opinion.  We should definitely be careful in who we join ourselves to as Christians.  The passage goes on to say, “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  When we are following Christ we shouldn’t even be attracted to the old ways of flesh or  people who could pull us back into darkness.

But, what if you find yourself in a marriage, now, unequally yoked?  Some may claim you can leave when the going gets tough.  Your unbelieving husband may drink too much, argue too much, lie too much, or cuss too much.  He may look at too much porn, treat you disrespectfully, and be a lousy father. It makes sense that God would want you in a better situation where you could be happier. It may make sense to us, but let’s take a closer look at what God really says.

But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.  (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the Christian husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches. (1 Cor. 7:10-17)

Amazing! Scripture speaks directly to the situation of a marriage that already exists between a Christian and a non-believer. Remain in the marriage.  Do not leave.  You might be able to save your husband’s soul.  Save his soul!  Why, if you believe in the truth of God, would you leave for “happiness” and jeopardize eternity for someone you once committed your life to? Stay put right where you are. God certainly has placed you there for His purpose.

Well, you might be staying put, but how are you feeling about it?  Are you resentful, bitter, or condescending to your husband?  Do you let him lead in the areas he is willing, or do you stifle his masculinity with mistrust and nagging. Let’s look at another gem of scripture.

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives (1 Peter 3:1-2).

Excuse me one second while I reread that.  Did he say “without ANY words”? Oh. I guess he did.  The admonishment is to win over a disobedient husband by leading a Christ-imitating life.

Even though Daniel, my husband, was a “Christian,” there was a time a few years ago that his walk with God hit a road block. I met his struggle with a cold shoulder and a sharp tongue. God wasn’t able to bring healing to either of us until I starting obeying this very thing. Today, our marriage isn’t perfect, but we are centered on God and totally transparent with each other. It’s a MUCH better place to be.

If you are a woman struggling to serve God against the current of an unbelieving/disobedient husband, let me encourage you with this.

  • Love your husband’s soul (Matt. 22:39)
  • Clothe yourself with gentleness and quietness (1 Pet. 3:4)
  • Rely only on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:4)
  • Remember God will reward you (1 Pet 3:14)

For more of Serena’s writings, visit A Wordy Woman.


  1. These are very challenging, but extremely important thoughts, Serena! I know it’s easy to for me, as a husband, to say that a wife should submit to God and to her husband under these circumstances, because I’m not a wife and don’t have to deal with this. But, I was a husband who once fought for his wife when she didn’t want to be fought for and have experienced the joy and victory that come through obedience. We don’t have to like God’s way. We just have to obey it.

  2. Lot of people develop a lot of bitterness on the spouse because of the extramarital relationship. And this is actually difficult to overcome when ignored. Working with our own thoughts is really important and understanding the root cause which pushed the spouse or the partner to have the affair has to be known. Additionally this gives a greater understanding of the specific situation.
    Have a wonderful day.

  3. I think being in this situation is much harder than people realise. People at church flippantly say “god will save him” but never really encourage people to stand and keep on shining. It’s hard to be Christ like in your home day after day with seemingly no reward, when it seems unnoticed but I have doing that through this God has been so faithful and is changing who I am I’m the process… There is a big reward in just being comforted and rewarded in your faithfulness to God in this area, don’t give up and stay close to God and pray everyday and never give up that what you are building in the spirit God will cause to come to pass!

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