How do you “ask your husband at home” if your husband isn’t a believer?

Here are some very good questions I was asked recently regarding a woman “asking her husband at home”  and “learning in silence.” These questions were in response to my recent articles on Feminine Quietness and Informal Theological Discussion. But first, for background, these are the Bible texts being referred to:

 “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-37

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Timothy 2:11-15

One reader asked:

…What if a husband of one Christian woman is not a believer? Of course, in this case, she cannot ask her husband at home. What do you think about it?…

Another reader also had a good question:

…I think that the USA is a Christian country. Is this issue–marriage with a non-Christian spouse–there also in churches? If so, I want to know how believers in the USA deal with it. In Japan, most of the churches have this…

Since both of these inquiries are related, and since I thought my answer might take up a lot of space, I decided to respond with a post of its own. I hope it helps!

~~~~

While I still felt insecure about returning to church after several years of experiencing a wild detour, someone invited me to a women’s Bible study which I bravely decided to attend.

All the chairs had been stacked up along the walls, and there were about 10 round tables set up inside the main church-service area. I was assigned to one of those tables, along with maybe five other women. After listening to a lecture given from the podium by a female speaker, we participated in a discussion around our tables regarding the topic for that day. To wrap things up, everyone shared prayer requests, if they wanted to.

I don’t know what gave me the impulse to share my heart with all those women I hardly knew. I hadn’t realized how starved for Christian fellowship I had been until then. I never intended to cry, but I did. Violently. Here’s what my prayer request was:

“Please pray that Antonio [my “man”–we weren’t married at the time] would become a believer, too.”

So simple; yet voicing that request was like unplugging a hole in a dam. Once the topic was opened up, my tears flowed faster and faster. I struggled to regain composure while everyone else tried to hide their embarrassment for me, and attempted to be sympathetic. I don’t know if they understood the heart-wrenching conflict that was taking place inside my soul. Maybe they did…

If you have ever strayed from God for a time, you know the deep sorrow that results from it. The intense self-loathing, the doubt (in God’s love and forgiveness) that nibbles away at your insides day after day. Add to that mixture a dehydrated thirst to return to the Shepherd’s fold accompanied by a reluctance to leave behind the one you love most on earth.

I didn’t want to go to church if he didn’t come with me. I felt that the only way I would go would have to be if he was the one taking me. Otherwise, I thought I would be creating needless division in an already tense situation. And furthermore, I didn’t want to face all those people alone.

Amazingly, several months later my “man” humbled his heart and raised his arms in surrender to our Savior, and he’s changed dramatically in many ways since. We were able to walk with Jesus together, I continuing the journey I’d started long before, and he beginning a fresh adventure he’d never experienced in his days as a Catholic.

We married, continued having children, kept learning, and here we are today. The journey’s far from over, though. I look forward to all the joys God has in store for us, even while I cringe at the thought of future trials. But, I’m coming to understand little-by-little that sometimes it’s the trials that make the joys of life possible.

For those who find themselves in a similar situation (you’re a believer but your husband is not), here’s what I recommend.

Read your Bible at home. Your husband will probably not forbid you to do this. Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). It really isn’t as necessary for you to go to church as it is for you to soak up God’s words in the Bible. Yes, it’s important to “not forsake the gathering of yourselves together,” but if that would be problematic, just focus on your main priority for now, which is reading the Bible. I think that going to church against your husband’s wishes could damage your relationship. He might see it as defiance and disrespect, and that is not what’s going to win him over.

Ask him for advice. Yes, you can “ask your husband at home,” even if he’s not a Christian! Not being a Christian doesn’t make him stupid; true, he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit of God leading him. But, he is made in the image of God and lives in the realm of “common grace”; he has the ability to recognize what is good and right in the world because God has revealed it to him through creation and through his conscience. When you ask your husband his opinion, even on spiritual matters, you are saying, “I respect your opinion. I look up to you as my husband, as my leader. Being a Christian doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon you” (which may be a fear he has). By asking your husband at home, you will acknowledge that he is your God-given authority. He will most likely feel uplifted and encouraged, rather than threatened. However, if you are continually asking others about spiritual matters, he will feel like you think he is too stupid to lead you in this area. Even though he’s not a Christian, he still has the God-given need to be a man to his wife and children.

Learn in silence. Although a woman is not supposed to be vocal in church but is to be silent, she is still permitted to learn! Who said the only way of learning was by asking questions? If your husband allows you to attend church, you can learn from the sermon. If you have questions but can’t ask your husband because he feels uncomfortable about it, you can still read the Bible! And, you can read books on topics that you’re interested in. However, I would be cautious with book-reading: some authors are biblically accurate, and some are not. And, if you are adamant about one author’s stance, this could also be another way your husband feels his leadership is threatened. So, keep it “gentle.” Read to learn, but don’t read so you can beat your husband over the head with how much you (supposedly) know, and how much he doesn’t. Your husband may not be “Bible smart,” but he may be gifted with a lot of common sense. And where does that come from? From God! Allow God to speak to you through your husband’s common sense.

The USA is not a Christian nation (as in, we all follow Jesus), though we do have a Christian background. Many of our laws were based on biblical principles. Many of our leaders were believers, and led our nation according to the Bible’s guidelines. But, not so much anymore. We are becoming a pagan nation, full of crime, filth, and perversity. I don’t see that we’re that different than other nations, anymore. The situation of a believer having a non-believing spouse is not uncommon, either because one becomes a Christian while the other does not after they are already married, or because one was a believer and the other was not before they were married, as in my case. The Bible says to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). There’s a reason for this! If you are both joined together, but are facing different directions, it is very hard to move forward! But, if you find yourself in that place, be assured that God’s kindness and care to you are always available when you ask. And, you never know how God may bring your spouse to salvation, like He did mine. Expect a miracle!

 

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10 thoughts on “How do you “ask your husband at home” if your husband isn’t a believer?

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article to share your experience and thought about this issue. For many Japanese christian wives,it is serious problem.I agree with you that even one’s husband is not believer,he is made in image of God. Submission with respectful mind as christian wives..It can also tell him how God ask us to be.

    I think that one reason why many christian wives are so struggling is difference of value standard. For example as for alcohol,cigarettes,porn,criticizing others, etc.

    We christians think they are not real comfort,nor solution,but it’s so common in this world. When our husband ask comfort and distraction in these things,we christian wives are so apt to judge and deny him.

    One hope I have.I have seen some husbands who were not christian before marriage become passionate believers like your husband.
    When men turn their face to God one time,they seem to walk this way so honestly.This is also why I believe that God made men in His image.

    Thank you for telling about USA.But still I think that in your country,many christians with passion are left.You are also one of them! Many Japanese had faith when they lived in USA inspired by them,I heard.
    I pray that God keeps you and them in His hand always and thank a lot.
    Please pray for our brethren in Japan.

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    • Sanae, thank you for your comment! I am impressed by your sincere concern for your country. Your people must always be on your heart, and that is so wonderful!
      You know, you are right, there are still many sincere Christians left in the US. While nominal, name-only “Christians” are becoming more and more worldly, accepting contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc. there are still some who hold passionately to the truth. Many people think that to “love” people means to accept their wrong lifestyles; but others, like me, think that to love people means to tell them the truth, while being patient for them to change. Sometimes telling the truth seems unloving, but it is the most loving thing to do, in the long run.
      On the subject of Christian wives having to tolerate their husbands’ alcohol, cigarette, and porn use, here’s what I think: If a man wishes his wife to JOIN him in doing those things, she must refuse and obey God rather than man. However, even though she can tell him that those things are wrong (and she should, I think–without nagging, though), she can’t MAKE him stop. It’s a sad situation, I know. My husband used to drink alcohol and smoke before he became a believer, though he never viewed porn, which I’m thankful for. After deciding to follow Jesus, God helped him to forsake his alcohol and cigarette use almost immediately. However, it had been hard for me to tolerate before then. I know of other women whose husbands view porn. Because they can’t control their husbands, the only thing left for them to do is pray for them with much patience and longsuffering, in the hope that God will bring about a change. And those women I’m talking about are married to supposedly “Christian” husbands! What a shame! But, I hope that gives you an idea of the state of things here.
      Yes, I will pray for Japan, like I have been doing. And thank you for always sharing your thoughts. I always benefit greatly from them!
      Jessica

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  2. Excellent post. This is an issue for so many women. When I used to attend a Bible study at a large local church, they had a huge group specifically for women with unbelieving husbands. And I think there’s a book out there called “Beloved Unbeliever.” (I don’t know if it’s any good or not.) Your points are all excellent! I think that there are a number of traps that women with unbelieving husbands can fall into, and they can be very similar to those faced by wives with believing husbands: feeling spiritually superior, nagging, comparing, or latching on to some Bible teacher and making him the (virtual) spiritual leader of one’s home instead of one’s husband. There is so much that a quiet and submissive spirit can do to win a husband, or to lead an immature husband to maturity, and we can really sabotage it with nagging, preaching, etc. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Diana! Your comment is like a mini-post, it’s so full of goodies (I think I may have told you that before about another comment you had posted, but it’s true! I’m being honest, and am not joking.) I think that we sometimes think it’s only the wives who have unbelieving husbands who need to “win them without a word,” but we neglect to consider the point you made about “lead[ing] an immature husband to maturity.” Women want their husbands to be the “spiritual leaders,” but what they usually want is for their husbands to lead according to how they (the women) think they should lead! They don’t realize that their husbands already ARE the spiritual leaders, and they should respect that even if they don’t agree with all of the choices that their husbands make. And boy, do I include myself here! I need to be “quiet and meek,” too, and it isn’t always easy. I’m not saying my husband is immature, just that we don’t always see eye-to-eye.
      Thanks for your helpful comment!
      Jessica

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  3. Dear Jessica,

    Wonderful post. And I agreed with both Diana and Sanae.
    I was impressed by the following paragraph.

    “However, I would be cautious with book-reading: some authors are biblically accurate, and some are not. And, if you are adamant about one author’s stance, this could also be another way your husband feels his leadership is threatened. So, keep it “gentle.” Read to learn, but don’t read so you can beat your husband over the head with how much you (supposedly) know, and how much he doesn’t. Your husband may not be “Bible smart,” but he may be gifted with a lot of common sense. And where does that come from? From God! Allow God to speak to you through your husband’s common sense.”

    This is so true. Thank you for mentioning it. Honestly, I am in a kind of an uncertain state regarding the issues with which we are dealing, so I pray that He will help each one of us!

    with love and thanks,
    Kinuko

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    • Thanks for your comment, Kinuko!
      Actually, I’m not 100% certain about everything regarding this issue, either! I lean more heavily in one direction than the other, and I do feel that the Bible is clear on certain things; but, there does seem to be some leniency as well. So, this is something we’re BOTH working on together!
      So great to have friends to help me think this through!
      Jessica

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  4. Pingback: Deborah and Miriam | TRUTH AT HOME

  5. I think that on the whole the virtues of being a Godly wife are pretty much what all men desire in a wife. Certainly our secular friends say that ! Men like virtuous, feminine wives !

    Liked by 1 person

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