For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. ESV 1 Corinthians 7:14
Marriage takes two. Conflict takes two. Usually having a holy marriage takes two…but it doesn’t have to. In God’s grace, He has provided a way to have a holy home, even when one partner chooses to walk away from God. That way is through the sanctifying spouse. One of the unique opportunities God gives us in marriage is the opportunity to make our spouse holy through our own faith. How does He do this?
Americans think of themselves individualistically. They assume their actions don’t necessarily impact others, and they tend to assume others’ decisions don’t impact them. Hence, when it comes to marriage, most Americans would assume both partners would need to have faith in order to have a holy marriage. However, God designed an interconnected world, not an individualistic one. As such, our actions do affect others, both positively and negatively. The negative impacts are obvious. When we sin, the consequences can hurt others. However, we often forget the positive impacts of our actions. Our positive impact in our marriage impacts others. When we love our spouse, it’s not only good for us, but also for our spouse. In the same way, when we have faith in Christ Jesus, and He makes us holy, He also makes our spouse holy (after all, they all intimately interacting with us). This should greatly encourage us when we feel our spouse is walking away from the Lord Jesus. Instead of giving up in despair, we must remember that according to the verse above, the unbelieving spouse can be made holy through the believing spouse. While I’m not sure this means salvation, it clearly means the benefits of holy living are bestowed on our families (spouse and children).
What does this mean for us? It means there is always hope in our marriage. Even if one spouse rejects Christ or strays away from Him for a season, there is hope. So long as one spouse determines to pursue holiness in the sight of God, that holiness will overflow into their marriage. Take heart my friend. Pursue holiness and let God sanctify your spouse. There is hope, even for the one-sided marriage.