Is A Non-Christian Saved When He/She Is Married To A Christian?
"But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?"
Some people have made the misapplication from 1 Corinthians 7:14 that whenever a Christian marries a non-Christian, then that non-Christian automatically becomes a "Christian" (that is, saved in the sight of God). This is not true for several reasons as we will show.
In this section of the Corinthian letter, Paul is answering questions that the Corinthian brethren had asked him. From examining the context, the question that was asked in 1 Corinthian 7:12-15 was: "Should a Christian spouse leave the non-Christian spouse?" The answer is negative. Christian spouses must do all they can to uphold their marriage.
- First, it would contradict 1 Peter 3:1-7. In this context, Peter is stating that a Christian wife needs to be submissive to her non-Christian husband (as long as it aligns with God's will - Acts 5:29). If she shows a chaste and holy life, her husband might become converted to the truth. This obviously proves that he did not automatically become a Christian as soon as he married the Christian or as soon as she obeyed the gospel during their marriage
- Second, the idea of someone being saved through the obedience of someone else (proxy salvation) is a doctrine contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Acts 2:40; 22:16; Philippians 2:12; etc.)
- Third, Paul shows a clear distinction between "unbeliever" and "brother or sister", indicating that the non-Christian is not in a state of belief or salvation. Jesus will take vengeance on all unbelievers when He comes again, whether they are married to a Christian or not (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 21:8).
- Fourth, the word "sanctified" means "set apart." While this word is often used in respect to salvation, it can also be used in other ways. Here the word means that the Christian spouse will be able to have an influence that is separate/distinct from the world and its evil influence (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1,2). Spouses and children growing up in a home where there is at least one godly influence have a light/salt/pillar that could lead them out of the bondage of sin and into the cleansing blood of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; Matthew 5:13-16; 1 Timothy 3:15).
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