[12] 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. [13] 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. [14] For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
[15] But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. [16] How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?


In chapter 7 of 1 Cor Paul responds to questions from the Corinthians written to him regarding marriage practices. In verses 12-16 he addresses the situations where Christians are married to unbelievers.  While he is not encouraging this type of relationship, he understood that it would happen.

First notice that he is saying that these commands come through him with God’s authority as the Spirit moved him to write it and as he understands Jesus’ teaching, and not directly from the mouth of Jesus.  ‘I, not the Lord’, contrast with ‘not I, but the Lord’ in verse 10.

He commands the believer not to leave or divorce the unbeliever.  It will not make the believer more holy by divorcing the unbelieving partner.  It will not make the unbeliever saved when the Christian partner stays with them but it will give the unbeliever a chance of being saved.  The relationship gives special attention to the unbeliever – ..the unbelieving husband/wife has been sanctified through her/his believing husband/wife.

Furthermore, with the Christian partner staying in the marriage, the children are holy until they are able to make the decision on their own, where if the children were born into a family with two unbelieving partners, this would not be the case – v14 ..Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

Finally on the topic Paul tells us that it is not holy for a Christian to leave their unbelieving spouse, but if the unbelieving spouse leaves the Christian believer, the Christian is not commanded to the same covenant as a Christian marriage between two believers – to stay married or remain single unless going back to the spouse.


The application now, is exactly as it was when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians.  Speaking from experience I can tell you that as my wife married an unbeliever and she didn’t give up on me.

Some Christians told her she was unequally yoked and that she should end the relationship, but as we read in 1Cor 7, that was not biblical based suggestion.  She stuck with our marriage and showed Christ’s love to me as she was commanded to do.  I thank God for that every day.

It was through her faith in the Lord, His special favor, and through her actions and words, that I recognized and repented of my sin, realized my salvation through Jesus’ blood on the cross, and now follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.  I marvel daily at the heart change and process of sanctification as the Holy Spirit leads me.

Some of you may be in that situation and have been working diligently or waiting patiently for your spouse to fully understand, believe, and follow Jesus.  It won’t be easy and will be very frustrating at times but don’t be discouraged.  God is using you.


Lord we love You.  Thank You for your word today.  Thank You for your commands and guidance on marriage.  We know the enemy pays special attention to destroying marriages where a Christian is involved.  We ask for your help and favor Lord to fight off the attacks.  In Jesus’ mighty name we pray.  Amen.