Here's a little bit of advice I was e-mailed by Orthodox Dynamis a while back:
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The Venerable Angelina of Serbia
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24
Gospel: St. Matthew 14:15-15:11
Christian Sexuality II ~ A Non-Believing Spouse: 1 Corinthians 7:12-24, especially vs. 20: "Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called." In the year 593 BC, a young slave in the Babylonian empire attained his
thirtieth birthday. Had he been free, he would have begun serving as a priest after the tradition of his fathers, but such was not to be. Instead, God placed His hand upon him to fulfill the special work of Prophet among his fellow
slaves and far from their native land, where they "sat down" by the rivers of Babylon and wept remembering Sion so far away and so inaccessible (Ps. 136:1 LXX). That young slave was God's holy Prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:1-3; 2:1-8). Some of us, like Ezekiel, have awakened in the course of our life to rediscover that, before and above everything else, the Lord's hand is upon us, that we are members of His People, that we are Orthodox Christians. When this dawns in us, the reality of our "first love" (Rev. 2:4) compels us to examine every aspect of our life and relationships in this world in the light of God's claim upon us.
In today's Epistle reading, the Apostle Paul directs us to consider our lives, our purpose, and God's call upon us as a result of being Christians. Whether we were united to the Lord in infancy and grew up in the Church, or
were drawn to the life in Christ as adults, makes little difference. When the consciousness of our calling from God awakens within us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and as long as our hearts desire to abide in the Lord (Jn. 15:4),
all priorities and all our relationships come into question under God's demand that "first things" truly be first. If one is married to another who does not practice the Faith or we have parents or children who are not believers, God still calls us to the struggle of being faithful where we are.The Apostle affirms the supremacy of our first allegiance - to serve the Lord, for "...he who is called...is Christ's slave" (vs. 22). Ownership defines the limits in our lives. Christ's rule over us is ultimate and not subject to compromise. Even when a spouse is not a practicing Christian, belongs to
another Faith, has no religion, or is apostate from the Church, we are not "slaves of men"(vs. 23) and must not follow them. We are to follow our Master, Christ. If false ideas, practices, and demands from our loved ones intrude on our prior call in Christ, let us remember Whose we are and to Whom we shall answer. Married persons should not consider leaving their partners who are not believers for that reason alone, even if their spouses scorn the Faith, so long as they are "willing to live with" them (vss. 12,13).
St. Paul requires us to look at the immeasurable good that God may accomplish through our relationships with unbelievers, particularly those close to us, and most especially our spouses and family members. "For how do you
know...whether you will save your husband" or your wife (vs.16)? There's the potential. As St. Peter urges, "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may
be won by the conduct of their wives" (1 P. 3:1). In other words, instead of giving up on the relationship, do as St. Paul says: "...rather use it" (1 Cor. 7:21).
Take your station in life as the field of labor which God has set before you. Participate with Him in His saving work. Let Him bring any results. The primary task for us as Christians is to serve Christ, and if possible "...in the calling in which [we are] called" (vs. 20). Of course, "...if the unbeliever departs, let him....God has called us to peace" (vs. 15). The departure may be through desertion, divorce, or by what St. John Chrysostom called a bid to "take part in...ungodliness on account of thy marriage," but it must be the other who commits the breach. Let us follow Christ in all peace with God and with all others.
Unto Thee we commend our whole life and our hope, O Master, Who lovest