The name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. And she was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance; but the man was harsh and evil in his doings. (1 Samuel 25:3)
I have known too many young people—especially ladies—who have attempted missionary marriage. They meet some old boy—they think him charming and good looking—and are attracted to him. The spiritual side of the equation is set aside as the romance develops. They decide they can charm him into receiving Christ. Her (and sometimes his) thought is, “If I marry them, I will get him (or her) to go to church with me. I’ll pray real hard. God will save him (or her) and we will have a Christian home!” That seldom happens. Usually, rather than pull the unbeliever toward Christ, the unbeliever pulls the Christian down. It is a recipe for strife and sorrow. This is why God in His infinite wisdom warns in His Word, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor.6:14)
There are other occasions where two unbelievers wed, and then one comes to faith. It was a situation fairly common in the first century as the Gospel came to the Gentile world. The question then arose, “Should I stay in the marriage?” Paul addressed that in 1 Cor.7:12-16, essentially saying that if the unbeliever will remain in the marriage, then the Christian should be faithful to his or her vows. The Christian may in this instance be the channel of grace to win the unbelieving mate to the Lord. Even if not, the child of God is to honor their marriage, unless the unbeliever decides to divorce. Then, you let them go.
Marriage can be a messy business. Even at its best, there will be challenges in fusing two individuals into a single unit. When there is an unequal yoke, then the difficulties can be exponential. An Old Testament illustration of this is found in 1 Samuel 25. We read of a charming woman of character by the name of Abigail, who wed a self-centered, arrogant jerk named Nabal. His name meant, “Fool,” and was an appropriate description. Yet, Abigail remained faithful to him and trusted God to work things out.
When Nabal mistreats David, and the future king of Israel is on his way with a band of warriors to kill Nabal and all the males of his household, Abigail intercedes for her husband. It would have been easy to sit back and say, “Let the fool get what he deserves!” That is not the nature of love, and she shows the sacrificial nature of true love. There will be those occasions where a believer’s intercession for God to spare their sinful spouse the judgment they deserve will lead to that person’s eventual salvation. If you are unequally yoked don’t stop praying!
Abigail not only shows love, but she demonstrates faith. She does the difficult thing because it is the right thing—trusting God to take care of her. God does! When the drunk Nabal sobers up and realizes how close he was to death, he has a stroke, becomes paralyzed and dies within days. Abigail was then free to remarry, and David knows a good thing when he sees it!
If you are considering a marriage to an unbeliever—don’t! If you are married to one already—stay! Love them and trust God—faithful to your commitment to Christ and your vows.