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How to Handle Being in a Relationship With an Atheist When You Are a Christian

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Nurturing a relationship can be a difficult task, and is more difficult if you do not share the same basic beliefs, such as a Christian in a relationship with an atheist. The Bible has two passages that deal directly with this issue -- 1 Peter 3:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 7:12–16, and the example of Abigail in her marriage to Nabal found in 1 Samuel 25:2-42. If your relationship is “unequally yoked,” there is hope.

Godly Example

Peter tells Christian wives married to unbelievers that their godly lives will provide an opportunity for the unbelieving spouse to be won to the Lord. Paul counsels Christian wives not to leave their unbelieving spouses if the husband is open to continuing the relationship. Both apostles believed that your life can be more effective in converting the husband than words. This can also be true in an unmarried relationship, although in 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul clearly states that Christians should not marry unbelievers. Behaviors of a godly woman in this situation include honesty, faithfulness, goodness, kindness and compassion.

Loving Behavior

Demonstrate a deep and caring relationship with your partner by loving him to the best of your ability. Don’t repay evil for evil or harangue him for not being a believer. Observe Abigail’s marriage to Nabal. When he was rude and disrespectful to David, Abigail took the initiative and gave David and his men what they were due and apologized for her brutish spouse. Her kindness and loving behavior prevented David from harming Nabal. She understood that telling Nabal what she had done when he was drunk would not be productive or prudent, so she wanted until he was sober to confess how she had dealt honorably with David.

Sharing Your Faith

If your atheist partner is open to discussing faith issues, Peter and Paul do not forbid you to share your faith. You can talk about what you believe and what your faith does for you. You might explain how your faith governs the way you live your life and how you treat him. If he isn’t open to talking about faith issues, don’t antagonize him by trying to do so. If you have children, you can share your faith with your children, such as taking them to church, reading them Bible stories and teaching them how to live a godly life. You can do that when he is not around if your spiritual instruction of your children makes him uncomfortable or antagonistic.

Godly Attitude

Do not approach your partner with a judgmental or superior attitude, counsels Courtney Joseph, author of “Women Living Well,” a book about living with an unbelieving spouse. Treat your partner with respect and appreciation for who he is, rather than what he is not as an unbeliever. Pray blessing on your partner and encourage him to be all he can be as a man. Be the best partner you can be and encourage him to be the best he can be.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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