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Living in an Unequally Yoked Marriage

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            It’s hard to live with a man of faith…but it’s harder still to live with a man who has no faith.

            Marriage is God’s design.  When lived according to His blueprints, it is a wonderful and fulfilling relationship.  Blessed indeed is a holy union…and there is heartache indeed when it is an unholy union.  You really can see the wisdom behind the words when Paul wrote, “Don’t be bound together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).  When you don’t have the commands of Christ to guide you (husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church; wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord), you are left to face the selfish, brunt edge of a carnal (unspiritual) personality that runs wild in of us who have not died to the old man/woman and been raised a new man/woman in Christ.

            Whether you were ignorant of what the Scriptures teach when you got married, or you married out of the initial, blissful love, or you became a believer after you married, the Bible still gives us direction with wisdom as to how to live with an unbelieving spouse.  Praise the Lord there is a lighted path when road gets the roughest.

1.      What instructions does the Bible give marriages in general in 1 Cor. 7:10-11?

2.      What are the instructions does the Bible give us for unequally yoked marriages in 1 Cor. 7:12-16?     What does it mean by an unbelieving partner is sanctified by the believing partner?  (The marriage union is sanctified; it does not mean the soul of the unbelieving partner is sanctified – that is done by an individual choice to claim Jesus as your Savior.)      What “bonds or bondage” is referred to in verse 15?      According to verse 16, what is the purpose of staying married if you find yourself unequally yoked?

3.      Verse 16 is a perfect bridge for the next section of verses we want to explore.  1 Pet. 3:1-6.
Insight: In marriage two people become one.  Yet there are two intellects, two sets of emotions and two wills that have been joined to make one.  To keep the union from fracturing and destroying itself, God has charged the man with the leadership in the relationship, and he has charged the wife with submission to his leadership.  This is God’s design.  That design has worked for millenniums, yet when man tries to improvise on it, it results in heartache.
Insight: “Submissive” carries the idea of servanthood, willingly responding to your husband, willingly yielding to his leadership.

4.      Notice verse 1 starts with “in the same way, you wives, be submissive…”  That phrase indicates that the topic of submission is not newly introduced to wives only, but is a continuance from what he wrote earlier.  What is it?  (See 2:13, 18)
Insight: This verse does not require women to be subordinate to men in general, but to their husbands as a function of order within the home.

5.      What is the purpose of submission even to an unbelieving husband according to verse 1?  (That they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.)

6.      How is it possible for a wife to win her husband to the Lord without even saying a word?
Insight: There is more power in a sermon lived, than a sermon preached.  Conviction falls upon an unbelieving heart much faster when they witness powerful purity lived out in their wife.  See if you can see this wisdom in a parallel passage in Titus. 2:5

7.      Since we are not talking about sermons that will convict and convert an unbelieving husband, let’s look deeper at the unspoken testimony lived out in the believing wife.  What does winsome loveliness look like according to Peter’s pen in verses 2-4?
Insight: Notice the attention here is taken off of the outward appearance of you women, and the spotlight is put on the inner beauty.  Peter says to dress up your countenance with a gentle and quiet spirit, respectful behavior, and a beautiful heart.

8.      According to 1 Pet. 3:3, you women have a choice to make.  There is a choice of adornment…outer or inner.  Which adornment captures the eyes of men?      Which adornment captures the eye of God?      Which adornment will soften the soul of your unbelieving husband and bring him to the Lord?
Insight: The word for “adornment” in the original Greek is kosmos.  It literally means order in the world.  With that understanding, verse 3 says, “Don’t just be ordered outwardly in how you look, but make sure your life is ordered inwardly.”

9.      What is it going to require for a woman to display a gentle, quiet spirit when her husband is less than loving (to put it mildly) towards her?  (The gifts of the Spirit – Gal. 5:22-26; also, living out agape love – 1 Cor. 13:4-7.)

10.  Ladies…do you spend as much time on the beautifying the inner person as you do the outer person?  1 Tim. 2:9-10

11.  Do you think the power here is that such a spirited woman as described above earns a mutual respect from her husband, and thus he listens to her testimony of how she reacts with such beauty when his behavior is ugly?      What are your thoughts here?

12.  A woman who has her spirit under control in difficult circumstances demonstrates much power…and 1 Pet. 3:4 says it “is precious in the sight of God.”  This verse brings to thought that such a woman captures God’s attention and He is looking down upon you with much favor when you do so.  Does that encourage you women?  How so?
Insight: Our society prizes women with costly clothing and gold jewelry.  Beautiful indeed is the woman in the sight of the Lord who has concentrated on her inner beauty.  Such a woman will experience the loving embrace of her husband no matter what age does to the outer shell.
Does it encourage you to know that such beauty of the inner spirit never fades? never wrinkles? never goes out of fashion?  1 Tim. 4:8

13.  What does “chaste conduct in the fear of the Lord” look like?

14.  To illustrate the beauty of a submissive spirit, Peter turns our attention to the example of holy women in former times, and in particular, Sarah.  How did Sarah model submission in a sacrificial way?
Insight: For sure, Abraham is one of those “less than perfect husbands.”  During a famine (Gen. 12), Sarah follows her husband to Egypt instead of him relying upon the Lord.  While in Egypt, Abraham, afraid of his own skin, tells Pharaoh Sarah is his sister.  She is taken into Pharaoh’s harem.  You might say, “Is that what I get if I submit?!”  But even though Abraham made a hurtful mistake, God protected Sarah.  God was her sufficiency!  God was her strength!   Ps. 37:3-4


            Wives, the best way to get your husband to come to the Lord is to encourage him.  Criticism won’t do it.  Guys are devastated by criticism.  Control won’t do it.  Control will only result in a messy tug-of-war.  When you look at the greatest need of a man in marriage, biblically you’ll find it is to lift him up.  Prov. 31:23, 26 

            Just as Jesus is looking for praise from His Bride, so does a husband look for encouragement from his bride.  So ladies…that gentle, quiet spirit…that incorruptible beauty is lived out through the power of praise and encouragement.  It will melt the unbelieving heart and produce a husband whose heart will yield to the love of God as he sees it lived out through you.  A submissive, faithful wife makes the gospel believable.  How a believer lives in our most intimate relationship helps make the love of Christ believable.  The heart that is fashioned in the likeness of Christ will break away any stony heart.  You have God’s promise.  Bank on it.

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