The hardest part of a marriage in which the husband is not a Christian is balancing spiritual leadership roles, say relationship experts and authors Lynn Donovan and Dineen Miller.
Donovan and Miller, who co-authored the book Winning Him Without Words, spoke today about cultivating a healthy marriage in part two of a Focus on the Family radio broadcast titled: "Thriving in an Unequal Marriage."
Both women made it clear on the broadcast that they do not condone Christians marrying non-Christians, but their book and website seek to help spouses who have found themselves in the unforeseen circumstance of an unequal union after marriage.
Donovan shared that at first she struggled with questions such as: "How do I let him make decision when I have different moral values? How do you walk that out? You want to respect your husband, and want him to be leader."
Donovan and Miller seem to equate being a believing Christian with living in a patriarchal nuclear family, which is about what you'd expect from Focus on the Family. You don't usually see it put out there as a problem like this, though.
Perhaps I'm missing something? Do women really want a "watcher on the wall" to tell them what to do?
What's odd here is that we actually do have some advice in the New Testament on what to do about mixed marriages:
If any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
I don't see anything in there about the husband naturally being the spiritual leader, do you? In fact, the idea of "spiritually unequal" marriage would probably have struck Jesus (if not Paul) as a rather odd concept. Faith isn't power to be racked up in a competition. It's more like a gradual opening to the world, becoming more of who you are and were always meant to be. On that score, it seems rather beside the point who's Christian and who's not.