My Husband Has Left the Faith, What Should I do?

How should a Christian wife handle it when her husband abandons his Christian faith? How should she deal with her children in regard to their father? Recently one of my regular commenters, a woman who goes by the handle livinginblurredlines, wrote the following about her husband who once professed faith in Christ:

“hubby has decided to become a philosophical Odinist….meaning he doesn’t believe Odin and all the other Norse gods actually exist, but that there is an All-Father that encompasses all faiths that believe in a high deity, and he follows modern Odinism philosophies that embrace strength of self, traditional families, helping your fellow, and nationalism. So, he has no desire to find or attend a church, anymore. So, what shall I do concerning this and our children? When I married him 20 years ago I never thought I’d be faced with this issue!”

What follows are answers to several important questions that Christian wives who find themselves in this situation may be asking.

Can I leave My Unbelieving Husband?

The answer to this question is found in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16:
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

So, as you can see from the Scripture above, if your unbelieving husband wants to stay in the marriage with you, God wants you to stay with him. And the Bible tells us that in staying with him, you may actually win him to Christ.

Regarding the case of a woman whose husband has left the faith he once professed. We must realize that a true believer can never leave the faith as they are kept by the power of God. In 1 John 2:19 we read the following of those who made professions of faith and then abandoned them:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

So, in this way as a Christian wife, you must forget your husband’s past participation in church or other Christian activities. Do not dwell on it. Wipe the slate clean in your mind and deal with him as you would someone who has never dawned the doorstep of a church.

Does God Still Want to Me to Submit to My Unbelieving Husband?

The answer to this question is found in 1 Peter 3:1-2:
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”

So, the answer to this question is yes, God absolutely wants you as a Christian wife to submit to your husband who is disobedient to the Word. You win a husband, whether he be an unbelieving husband or a Christian husband who has some areas where he is disobedient to God in some way. You win him without a word, without preaching at him, nagging at him or complaining at him. You win him with your actions and your life before him. You win him with your submission, your pure life and your reverent attitude toward him.

My mother is a living example of 1 Peter 3:1-2. My mother became a Christian while married to my father. She completely changed her ways toward him. She submitted to him, lived a different life in front of him and reverenced him. And these actions by my mother brought him to Christ and this enabled me to be raised by both a Christian father and a Christian mother. My father would go on to study the Word of God and become my mother’s teacher. This can work ladies!

Can I still teach my Children the Gospel?

In Acts 5:26-29 we read the following story about the Apostles:
“Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

We can see from the story above that even if your husband forbids you from teaching your children the Gospel you can and should still do that. I would suggest you do this in private settings with your children. But you can show them you love and respect their father, but that this is something that goes beyond your relationship with their father and that having a relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in this life.

What If My Husband Forbids Me from Taking the Kids to Church?

If your husband forbids you from going to church, you can privately seek the teaching of God. While he is at work, watch sermons from Bible teachers online. And you should privately read your Bible and pray. Let your children watch Bible teaching when Dad is not around. Have them watch Christian movies and shows that teach them about God.

But Isn’t It Wrong to Keep Secrets From My Husband?

A tenant of humanism is “complete transparency in any relationship”. No secrets. None at all. But this is not how God sees things. God keeps secrets from us, and sometimes it is necessary for us to keep secrets from each other.

In Proverbs 28:13 the Bible says He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”. But then in Proverbs 27:12 we read “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished”.

And then in Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus made the follow statements:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Jesus reveals that it is not wrong to do good things in secret. Whether it is doing good for others or even good in obedience to God. It is only wrong to do evil things in secret or to try and cover something that is a sin against God.

Conclusion

The humanist atheist and the humanist Christian would both find the advice given here to be absurd because they hold individualism as the highest ideal. Nothing is more important than each individual being able to live their lives out in the open, exactly as they want to live it (as long as that life style does not violate humanist principles in any way of course).

Humanists love the word “transparency” and regularly apply it to relationships. They don’t like secrets. Whether it is the government keeping secrets from its citizens, husbands keeping secrets from wives or wives keeping secrets from husbands.

Of course, humanists always have some exceptions to their rules. For instance, humanists have no problem with women not being transparent with their husbands about murdering their unborn children. But I digress.

So, the humanist would say “If the husband and wife cannot find a way to openly live out their beliefs with one another and tolerate their differences then they should just divorce. But by no means should the wife have to live a secret life as a Christian or keep these kinds of secrets from her husband”.

But for us a Biblicist Christians, we know that there are more important things than our individual wishes and desires. We know that the institution of marriage is more important than the individual happiness of either the husband or wife. We know that marriage is based on a covenant, not total transparency. And we know that we can also find joy in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

In Matthew 6:1-6, Jesus tells us that being totally transparent in regard to our thoughts or actions is not always the best thing. In fact, he tells us that doing good things toward God, for God or for others in secret can be virtuous. And in Proverbs 27:12 we read that it is “prudent” to sometimes hide ourselves or our actions.

It is utterly disappointing for any Christian wife to hear from her husband that he has left the faith and he is not the believer she thought he was. But God can still greatly use such a Christian wife in the life of her unbelieving husband. And she can still have a vibrant personal faith and have an impact for Christ on her children and on others.

God tells Christian wives in 1 Corinthians 7:13-16 that they must remain with their unbelieving husbands if the husband is willing to stay.

And yes, it will be more challenging in the area of submission. But God makes it clear in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that wives still have to obey unbelieving husbands and he says that wives may win their husbands by their submission, pure lives and reverent behavior.

Christian wives who find themselves married to unbelieving husbands may have to practice their faith in secret. But Jesus shows us in Matthew 6:1-6 that not only is it not a sin to do good toward God and others in secret, but that such actions can be virtuous.

Some Christian wives abuse the Acts 5:29 principle that “We ought to obey God rather man” in order to openly defy their husbands at every turn. But as a Christian wife married to an unbelieving husband, you should make every effort to not have to openly defy your husband.

11 thoughts on “My Husband Has Left the Faith, What Should I do?

  1. I went through this kind of journey before really knowing God of the bible. He probably was trying to please you and be a good person in his own strength. It is obvious because of what he is doing now. Remember how God took 12 disciples that abandoned their faith after he was crucified. God will reveal himself to him in a way you can’t imagine or think. It is important to not allow this to shallow your faith but strengthen it in harmony with God’s love for him and your whole family. This is a challenge for you but you and God win!
    Also, battle for his soul because the enemy is like a roaring lion seeking to devour. Satan’s main weapon is deception and twisting truth. Do the closet warfare and stand on the word for your family. Put on the whole armour and destroy the work of the enemy. Get other women in a circle of prayer and intercede for your husbands and watch the power of prayer do it’s work.

  2. I did write a big response. It said I posted it, but I guess it got sucked into internet wasteland. So, I’ll nutshell this one.

    Thank you, first of all.

    Secondly, don’t worry, I have and never had any intention or thought of leaving him or not submitting to him over this.

  3. livinginblurredlines,

    Sorry you lost your big response. That has happened to me in the past trying to post a comment. So I learned a valuable lesson, that most of the time I remember. If I am going to type a bigger response, I type it in a Word document and save it first. Then I copy and paste into the comments. If the post fails to go through, it is no loss for me, I just copy and paste again until it goes through. Just FYI for your benefit.

    As far as your hubby goes, I have seen enough comments from you over the time you have been on here to know you had no intention of leaving your husband or not submitting to him. 🙂

    Some of those questions and answers I gave were for other women who may not be where you are. They might have been thinking of leaving their husbands. Many women think they don’t have to submit to their unbelieving husbands. And again I know you are not one of those.

    But I think the section that does apply to you, and goes to the question you asked in your previous comment was, what do you do with your children? How do you conduct your Christian faith with a husband who is a non-believer?

    So if he is willing and allows you to teach your kids about the Gospel and Christianity and watching preaching online then you don’t have to keep anything secret from him. But if he will not allow these things, you may have to do them in secret and there is no sin in doing so. I just wanted you to get that important message.

  4. @BGR…is he still my and the children’s spiritual leader? How do I navigate that? Currently, I am allowed to teach the Christian faith, but without his Christian leadership, the children aren’t very accepting of it. Instead, they follow his lead away from the church.

  5. livinginblurredlines,

    Under the ideal circumstances as God would have them, the husband is the spiritual leader of his home. Unfortunately, because we live in a sin cursed world, sometimes husbands are the heads of their homes and wives but not the spiritual leaders due to unbelief. We have many leaders in many areas of life whether it be in the political world, business world or for those in the military that world. We will have leaders who are not Christians, who do not approach life from a Christian world view. Yet God ordains them over us.

    So you follow your unbelieving husband in all areas, whether it be sexual, financial, and even moral as long nothing contradicts with God’s Word. God can still use unbelieving men to do his good will and even to work in our lives as those under their authority.

    But your husband cannot lead you in a Bible he does not believe in, nor can he guide you in how to properly follow a Savior he does not believe in. For that you will have to look to other godly men until hopefully one day, God brings your husband to a true saving knowledge of Christ, regenerates him and then makes him not just head of your home, but also your spiritual leader.

    I know it is very hard to teach your children and have them accepting of your faith when your husband does not support it. But keep doing it. Pray for your children. Every day. You being submissive to their Dad and showing him respect despite his unbelief speaks volumes to your children whether they acknowledge it or not. And it might take years for them really apply what they saw in you.

    And speaking of children let me just say this. Even if your husband were a believer and on fire for God, I have known many young people with two good Christian parents who still made bad choices and turned away from God. Don’t blame yourself. Your children are responsible for their own decisions. You are responsible to be the best influence you can, and then pray for them and leave them in God’s hands.

    Just keep doing the good you are doing. And recognize God’s sovereignty each and every day in the lives of your husband and your children.

  6. Hey BGR,
    I was going to reply to this an email, since I never replied back, but after reading this article I thought I might be able to ask this here. Is the “but isnt it wrong to keep secrets from my husband wrong?” part of this article applicable to the advice of wearing a headcovering in private, if my husband disagrees with that biblical principle? I honestly don’t see how that could be a good thing. Isn’t keeping secrets from your husband going against your husbands wishes and therefore disobeying him? Whether your husband has left the faith, or your husband seems to want no relationship with God and follow his commandments, I dont see how keeping things from your husband is a good thing. I for one know that if my husband caught me wearing a veil while praying privately he would be livid. At that point he wouldnt be mad at me for wearing one, but rather going against him and keeping it a secret. It would betray his trust in me.

    I understand that it is better to please God than men, but wouldn’t it be better to be open about it than being deceitful? My husband would call me a deceitful woman if I went behind him and did something in private he told me not to do.

    Overall, I agree with this article, but just dont see how that section could be good advice. I would love to know what made you come to that conclusion and have you explain it to me.

  7. TheEducatedWife,

    I actually just posted this comment on my head coverings article and I will post it hear again for your edification:

    While I am still very firm in the main thrust of this article that God does wants women to wear headcoverings for prayer and worship, after a recent study I did on in Matthew 6:3-5 I have altered my view slightly when it comes to opposition of husbands to head coverings for prayer and worship:

    “”But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”
    Matthew 6:3-5 (KJV)

    Christ says it is not a sin do good deeds toward God or others in secret, or to pray in secret. Therefore I do not believe it is wrong for a woman to cover herself in secret or in secret ways.

    I agree with Soul sister’s approach. She covers her head with her hand, and she veils secretly in an effort to not openly defy her husband, while still obeying what God wants her to do.

    We must remember that believers have worshiped in secret for centuries since the beginning of Christianity, and there is no sin worshiping and praying in secret when you have a husband opposed to not just head coverings, but even to Christianity itself.

    My point is that woman of God should do everything in her power not to have to openly defy her husband. And if God provides a way to do something in secret, then she should do it in secret.

  8. TheEducatedWife,

    I am sure you aware that since the beginning of Christianity and to this very day in some countries around the world, Christians must pray, worship and practice their faith in secret. Keeping a secret from the government, your Pastor and yes even your husband is not sinful if its for good and in obedience to God. My church has missionaries that work in Muslim countries. And they cannot even tell us where they are. They have to go into the countries under false pretenses as secret agents for Christ. Sometimes women in those countries become Christians and they must hide this fact from their father or even husband. There is no sin in this – Christ makes it absolutely clear that it is not sinful to worship or pray or exercise our Christian faith in secret if the circumstances demand it.

    Yes there is a time to be public and even to martyred for Christ. But there is also a time to hide one’s self as well. We see both in the Scriptures.

    You need to understand that the whole “a husband and wife must be open and transparent about all things and secrets are ALWAYS bad” is not a concept that is found in the Bible. Hiding sin is definitely wrong. Hiding our mistakes like spending money we should not have, or disobeying otherwise lawful commands from our authority, hiding these things are wrong. But hiding our prayer and worship of God and the exercise of our Christian faith is not always wrong, in fact in can be the right thing to do.

  9. TheEducatedWife,

    At the end of the day, I am not sure I will convince you. I am convinced of the concept of secret prayer and worship, that is a very Biblical concept and applies to all areas of one’s life, even marriage if a wife is forbidden from worshiping and praying to God as she believes she must.

    You may feel that the cost is too high, the cost of having a secret from your husband. And having as secret from him may be more or less bearable to you than wearing a head covering. But I would humbly ask that you to mediate on Matthew 6:3-5 and think about it. And also consider the Muslim wives who have secretly become Christians and lead an entire life to God in secret without their husbands knowing.

  10. BGR,

    I apologize for the late response, but I wanted to allow time to meditate and think on this. I just wanted to let you know that after praying and further reading in God’s word, I have come to see your point and agree with you in this matter. I have started to practice covering my head in private.

    I am very thankful for your blog, and I wish more people would read it. I dont agree with you in some things (a very, very little minority), but you are very wise and I’m happy I found your blog last year. I learn so much from your articles, comments, and correspondence. Thanks again!

  11. I’ve been following you for quite some time…but I’m just curious as to what you’d say to a husband OR wife who was involved in a marriage with someone who was Dark Triad.

    And it’s curious to me as to why you focus on WOMEN who should suffer and endure and put up with all kinds of ungodly and unholy crap in their marriage, stuff that grieves the Holy Spirit, that is abominable, detrimental to the family, and is clearly a deplorable witness to Christ?

    I know MEN who are dealing with Dark Triad women who have been told to suffer and endure and put up with all kinds of ungodly and unholy crap in their marriage, stuff that grieves the Holy Spirit, that is abominable, detrimental to the family, and is clearly a deplorable witness to Christ? And I tell them to SEPARATE from these filthy and unclean women. Why don’t you do the same?

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