“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? ” 2 Corinthians 6:14
A number of my friends of recent years have turned away from God, either partially or completely. Usually it’s been at a time of crisis in their lives where they have simply not been able to hold onto the Faith through the storm of life. But how do you deal with it when the one struggling and falling away is your spouse?
Are You ‘Unequally Yoked’ If, After Marrying A Christian, Your Spouse Loses Their Faith?
Time for a little testimony. Mine.
In 2010 my wife and I had everything going for us. We were mid-30’s, planning a family with a very successful business we ran together (my wife as the doctor and me doing the business management side of things).
It worked well in that we lived well and had everything we could need or ask for.
Then my wife had a relatively routine operation.
The operation itself was ok, but the wound-site became infected and she needed antibiotics to treat the infection. These in turn triggered another infection which is life threatening if not treated correctly.
We went back to her surgeon many times and despite being an “expert” he ignored the symptoms she was displaying. She went for scope after scope to find the problem, each time a gastroscope (from the mouth to the stomach) despite the problem clearly being in her lower bowel and was told she was being too sensitive.
After five months of suffering she went to a colleague she refers to as a specialist gastroenterologist surgeon. Before we had got her fully into his room – just three days after being given a clean bill of health by the other “expert” – he picked up the phone and told the hospital he was sending over an emergency admission. He took a brief history and sent us to the ward where she was admitted, put on IV antibiotics, painkillers and an additional antibiotic tube through her nose directly into her stomach, the site of the infection. Samples taken showed she was in the late stages of an illness called Clostridium Dificile and Pseudomembranous Colitis. Individually they are life threatening. Together they are devastating.
She was in hospital for a month, most of that in isolation, on a continuous nasal drip of antibiotics. Her faith began to falter.
The day after she was admitted, the doctor took me to one side away from her and told me if I’d waited just one more day to bring her to him he would not have been able to save her life.
She was discharged eventually but was too sick to return to work straight away. Business costs mounted and it became obvious if she couldn’t return to work we would need to close operations.
After four months she was able to begin working part-time again and by March 2011 we were ready to start fertility treatment.
Then she had a major relapse. Too sick to work for fear of passing on the infection, or contracting something else as well, we decided to literally give away the business so her patients would receive ongoing care. More of her faith was stripped away as she went from being an independent woman to being completely reliant on the generosity that God poured out from some very unexpected places.
I went to work for a major company in South Africa where the promises at interview were large, but the reality was no resemblance. The fast-promotions I had been assured I would receive never came and after two years of sacrificing my own health to do a job, I resigned on instruction from my doctor. Our income now was completely dry.
Over the following two years our medical expenses were astronomical as we both fought physical and emotional illness to overcome the issues we faced. Where I began to see patterns of God’s hand providing for us, my wife saw only the losses we suffered.
First we lost our car. A man we trusted told us he could sell it for us, and managed to barter the initial offer made by the buyer down to less than what a dealer would have paid us for it. Then we lost our home and had to move in with my mother. It was supposed to be for six months while we arranged to move to either Canada or England where we would both be able to work and receive a living wage. Canada and England were enthusiastic until they heard about her post-op infections, at which point her applications were rejected.
Her faith fell even lower.
We decided we had the equipment to open a new practice, so we did. For six months. Then the fire department told us our landlord had failed to meet the basic fire-safety regulations and we were closed immediately.
After another six months we found another set of rooms to work from, and in July 2014 we began trading. In November we began looking for others to join the team to turn our little room into a proper medical center. There was a lot of interest and eventually we had a team together.
Then another relapse. And faith effectively died for my wife.
With what little money she had left she applied for two jobs which would subsidize our income until numbers picked up. Neither came through.
So now I sit, unequally yoked. The woman I married is buried under so much pain and loss she can’t begin to trust God to provide for us. She expects herself to be the “primary” income, but she struggles to have the strength to work even half days.
I have moved into a new phase regarding my faith where I am finally registering my own ministry, Eagle’s Wing Ministries, as a non-profit organization and my personal blog, eagleswingministries.blogspot.com have resulted in over 40 church leaders contacting me asking me to help them in their churches. To do so effectively I need a more permanent staff around me so I can focus on what God gives me to do.
My wife cannot see how a ministry can hope to provide for us. And her faith is all but dead.
Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that faith is the substance of what we hope for. She has lost hope after so many blows.
I have dug my heels in and fought every step. Sixteen years ago I was at the verge of suicide and faith pulled me back. I will never doubt it’s power.
But the yoke is unequal. My wife speaks of us separating, even divorce – not because we don’t love one another, but because when we said “For better, for worse,” apparently she didn’t think “worse” would happen. Hope flickers and faith wanes. And suddenly I carry the load alone.
To a couple starting out, “you’re not spiritually compatible. A Believer and a non-believer have no place together,” applies. After twelve years of marriage it’s not so simple. Especially when there is still hope, it’s simply that one party has reached a place so dark in their mind that the light of hope is extinguished.
So what do you do when you’re faced with that choice? Are we unequally yoked and, if so, should I leave my wife?
For me the answer has been simple. I made an oath, not only to my wife, but to God that I would stand with her through good and bad times. The enemy has provided no shortage of young women across my path in the last few years since this started and my wife first said I should leave her for someone who could make me happy. Temptation lurks at every point in my life. Friends who hold deep affection for my wife have suggested I would be better off leaving her for them.
How can I sin against God and do this thing? This is the question Joseph asks when Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him. I find myself saying the same thing.
The yoke may appear unequal for now. But God has a habit of turning things around. My advice, based on my life experience and what I see in the Bible:
- Stay with your spouse.
- Pray for her/him, that s/he will receive the strength s/he needs to get through today.
Winston Churchill gave a speech, the entirety of which was, “Never give up! Never give up! Never!”
I believe God would say the same to us.
Never give up.