Moving Forward From A Marriage Mistake

Moving Forward From A Marriage Mistake

If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.
–1 Corinthians 7:12-13

God’s Word is very clear: we are not to marry a non-Christian. But what if you have already made that mistake and married an unbeliever? Should you divorce your mate and go look for a Christian to marry? Fortunately, God’s Word also has a clear answer on that: not on your life, 1 Corinthians 7 says. If you are married to an unbeliever, and your mate wants to continue the marriage, you are to stay in that relationship and pray that God will allow you to win your mate to faith in Christ. If you have violated God’s command in this area, either knowingly or unknowingly, first of all, admit your mistake to God. Second, try to have the very best marriage you can, following God’s precepts from this point on.

My dad became a Christian while he was in the service. When he was twenty-one, he came back to Dallas and went to Southern Methodist University under the GI Bill. There he met my mom, who was not a Christian. They got married, and my dad did everything he could to win my mom to Christ. He would take her to church at First Baptist Dallas, but she did not want to have a thing to do with it. Finally, he dragged her to a Billy Graham crusade in Dallas, and there she gave her life to Christ.

You might say, “Well, Pastor, there is a good example of a Christian winning a non-Christian to Christ. Are you saying that is wrong?” Yes, it was wrong. My father was a new Christian; he did not know you are not supposed to marry a non-Christian. He should not have done that. If he had followed God’s instruction and waited to get married until my mom became a Christian, perhaps they would have had an even better marriage. But God forgave him of that mistake, and He still used that mistake to bring about His ultimate will.

Now, that is not an excuse to disobey what God has commanded. Some people think, “It is okay if I ignore God’s instructions–God is sovereign. He is bigger than my mistakes.” No, that is an abuse of God’s grace. If you are on the front end of a decision about whom to marry, a proper understanding of grace says you should follow God’s rules. Marry only a Christian, and you will have a much better marriage than if you ignore God’s statutes. But if you have already made that mistake, ask for God’s forgiveness, and try to have the best marriage that you possibly can.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Marriages” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.