by WILLIE AND ELAINE OLIVER
Q: If my marriage is making me unrighteous instead of righteous, what should I do?
A: Thank you for your direct question. We wish we had more background to the question you are asking so we could be more directly aligned with your concerns. However, we will trust God to lead us to an answer that will help you and others who want to live in His will.
Because you associated the question about the unrighteousness you are experiencing to your marriage, someone may think the obvious and logical response would be to terminate your marriage so you can be righteous. However, it is important to note God’s regard for marriage, and His intention from the beginning for it to be a permanent relationship between a man and a woman, until death separates them from each other.
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus said about marriage, in Matthew 19:4-6:”And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’. So then, they are no longer
two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
If you are a Christian married to an unbeliever, the Apostle Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16: “…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?”
So rather than having your marriage challenge your righteousness, the Word of God says your relationship with God should impact your marriage in a positive way. To be sure, the Bible is clear that righteousness comes from God, and anyone who wants to be righteous needs to be connected to God each day. On the other hand, we are all unrighteous, without having to do much. It is a part of our inheritance as members of the human race. In fact, Romans 3:23 shares in a matter-a-fact way: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, whether or not your marriage is making you unrighteous, you already are by default. But the good news is the message found in Romans 6:23 that states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So, eternal life is a gift from Jesus when we accept Him by faith. To have access to this gift, we need to be righteous, but that righteousness is also a gift from Jesus when we accept Him as Lord of our lives. Ephesians 2:8-10 offers: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Today, we offer you the hope of righteousness that is found in Jesus which no one can take away, unless you choose to give it up. That choice is one you must make every day, and if you choose Jesus, His power will even impact your marriage and give it the righteousness that will so much desire.
This leads us to the message of hope found in Jude 24:25 that declares: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”
You and your marriage will continue in our prayers as you trust God to make you a blessing each day.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE and Elaine Oliver, MA, LGPC, CFLE are Directors of the Department of Family Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.