The ideal marriage would be between a Christian husband and wife, both striving to serve and love God first and one another second. However, not everyone who is a believer in God now nor in the past has had this ideal situation in their marriage. In fact, most women in the Bible, and even many women in other parts of the world today, have very little choice in the matter of who they marry. Paul addresses the situation of a Christian married to a non-believer in I Corinthians 7:12-17, but he also gives strong advice to those who are currently single to choose wisely if they seek to marry. He uses strong language advising both men and women to marry a fellow believer. He gave some very good reasons for this advice.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial [Hebrew word for Satan]? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” II Corinthians 6:14-16 NIV
Here Paul used strong language to get his point across to the Corinthians that Christians and non-believers in Jesus have completely opposite world views. Their priorities will be completely different and as such will make marriage much more difficult than it will be if both the husband and wife have their relationship with God as their first priority. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he stated,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. I Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.
God dwells in our bodies as Christians, so we in turn ought to value our bodies as a sacred place – a place where we worship God. Someone who does not believe in God doesn’t do this, and should not be yoked with one who does honor God. Instead, all that we say, do, and believe as Christians is influenced and shaped by our belief in God the Father and in Jesus the son who died for our sins – so that we can be in a right relationship with God. So, Paul gives this advice:
I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
I Corinthians 7:35 NIV
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. I Corinthians 7:39 NIV
Paul’s desire for the Corinthians is for them to have an undivided devotion to the Lord. If we desire a healthy marriage, this should be the priority for both the husband and the wife. Sometimes a spouse will need to choose to obey God and not heed and follow a spouse’s lead if that spouse is not advocating a wise or correct course.
For further study look at Abigail’s story in I Samuel 25:2-42, Esther’s story in Esther 4:1-5:4, and Job’s conversation with his wife in Job 2:9-10. Note the choices each spouse makes, the words spoken, and the implication of prayer and desiring to put God first. Listen to what God is saying to you about your situation through His word.