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God ’s Promises for the Mismatched Marriage and Home

In Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, he talks about the differences between a spouse-based marriage and a God based marriage. I believe these characteristics are vital for us to understand in a spiritually mismatched marriage as well and can make the difference as to whether we are struggling or thriving in our spiritual mismatch.

Spouse centeredA spouse-centered marriage is performance based. In other words, I’ll do something nice for him if he does something for me. Or, why should I do that for her? She never does anything for me? And how about this one: He was grumpy last night. No way am I going to be nice to him today. This is conditional love and is self-motivated. Basically, as long as our spouse is performing to our standards, and meeting our needs, we will love them, help them and be a good spouse in return. As soon as they stop meeting that standard, we withdraw our affection, love and help. The focus is on a person and whether or not that person is meeting all of our needs, even the ones designed to be filled only by God. This is a form of idolatry. And in a spiritual mismatch there is a risk of idolatry when we focus completely on our spouse’s salvation and allow it to define the marriage and how we treat them.

God centeredIn a God-centered marriage we love our spouse, because that is what Jesus has asked us to do—love one another. We serve our spouse as an act of serving God and put concern for their needs first. We love them whether they are grumpy or happy (though we may need to hold them accountable for their behavior). And we help our spouse without the expectation of getting something in return. The focus is on God, with prayerful consideration as to which expectations are to be met by our spouse and which expectations need to be met by God. See the difference? I know this isn’t easy, especially if you’re in a difficult marriage. Even a marriage where both the husband and wife are believers will experience conflict if they are more spouse than God centered.

In a spiritual mismatch, as we keep our focus on God, we are able to catch a glimpse of who God created our spouse to be. And when we love them with that image in our hearts, we are partnering with God to release their destiny, the salvation God placed in our hearts for eternity (Ecc. 3:11). This is what unconditional love and acceptance looks like and must be God-motivated and activated. Only through the Holy Spirit can we love a person this way.

SMM MarriageIn a spiritually mismatched marriage, I believe it’s even more important to work toward a God-centered marriage. In fact, your efforts and commitment will be the very thing God uses to show your pre-believer who He is.

  1. When we love our spouse from the motivation that we are serving God—being obedient to God—God sees our efforts. Our spouse may not, but God sees. And He is faithful to meet our needs (Phil 4:19).
  2. In some way, our spouse will be affected on some level. They may not respond right away. They may not respond in a way that you’d expect. But when we are loving our spouse from the motivation to serve God—in essence, if we are loving our spouse from a place of loving Jesus—we become a conduit for the love of Christ to reach our spouse. That’s powerful! We are what the Bible calls the “aroma of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14-16).

But here’s the best part—a promise from God that is ours as the believing spouse in a spiritual mismatch:

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. — 1Corinthians 7:14

My exploration of this verse led me to find out what exactly “sanctified” meant in each use in this verse. The Greek word used in both places is hagiazo, which means to make holy, consecrate. In my Bible commentary I found this wonderful explanation of what sanctified means in this context:

“The word “sanctified” does not refer to moral purity—Paul is certainly not teaching that the unbelieving partner is made morally pure through a believing spouse. What the word emphasizes is a relationship to God, a claim of God on the person and family to be set apart for Him. The tense of the verb stresses that the unbeliever who is in a Christian family has already become and continues to be a part of a family unit upon which God has His claim and which He will use for his service.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Abridged Edition)

The commentary goes on to even reference our children as being covered much like the children of the Israelites were included in God’s covenant with them. Jesus also makes reference to this in Acts 2:38-39 when He says salvation is a promise not just for us but for our children and “for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” This leads me to conclude two things:

  1. God made a covenant with the Israelites, which covered their children and each generation after. God also sees marriage as a covenant, without qualification. Does this mean we can take our marriage as a covenant with our spouse as also a “covering” for our unbelieving spouse? Could this be what Paul means when he says our unbelieving spouse is also sanctified through us, the believing spouse? I believe it does.
  2. If the point above is true, this makes our marriages uniquely different from a marriage of two unbelievers. I see us as that middle place between a marriage between two unbelievers and a marriage between two believers. In a spiritual mismatch have an edge over the first. If what the commentary says is true, then our pre-believing spouse has been set apart by God.



FamilyWhich then brings me to this conclusion: Our place in our marriage is not just about what we pray, what we do, or what we think. It’s also about who we are. As children of God, born into the family of God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, our very presence protects our spouses and our children. No, that doesn’t mean they are saved by association, but it does mean God has a special interest in our marriage and the salvation of our spouse and children that goes beyond the norm. There’s a covenant involved, and we know how God feels about covenants.

So, my dear friends, we can commit our marriage and our family into God’s hands with the full confidence that He’s laid a claim on you, your spouse and your children. He is smack dab in the middle working. On those days that you wonder and doubt, remember this commitment and profess God’s truth—you belong to Him and through you, God has sanctified all those under the umbrella of your faith.

Claim this promise, SUMites! God placed in the Bible for a reason and it's up to us to choose to live in this truth and believe that God is faithful to keep His promises through the generations.

Love you dearly and honored to be on this path with you! Dineen