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Question:
I have remarried my ex-husband and he is now incarcerated in another state. I want to hold on to my marriage. He says he has turned his life over to God. I pray this is true but wonder if it’s because he is locked up. Any advice?

Answer:

First of all I commend you for wanting to keep your marriage together even in difficult and uncertain circumstances.

Incarceration is not grounds for a divorce. While some may argue this is tantamount to abandonment, I think that is quite a stretch especially if the spouse is not seeking divorce (sincere motivations or otherwise). Granted, I’ve been around long enough to know that people in no-win situations (be it imprisonment, drug addiction or similar circumstances) can all of a sudden start making promises that often have no lasting foundation.

However, it seems that combined with your wish to keep the marriage in tact, your husbands current state of “finding God” at least seems to open the door for some spiritual possibilities.

I would send him plenty of good solid Bible teaching about Christian character, integrity, work and family. I would find other Christian men who will visit him, correspond with him and hold him accountable for his Christian walk and responsibilities.

1Cor 7:16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

In context, this isn’t specifically about your situation, but the principle can certainly be applied. Through your example as a faithful, loving, dedicated Christian wife, even if your imprisoned husband’s new found “religion” isn’t genuine, your example may very well be what God uses to show him TRUE Christianity.

So take heart. Even if your efforts don’t “pay off” in the long run relating to your marriage, God knows your heart and you will be eternally rewarded for your love and faithfulness.

Remember, your husband’s salvation is even more important that your marriage. So your first priority is to “imitate Christ” (1Cor 11:1) so that your husband can know what a real Christian looks like. By doing so, God can use your example to penetrate your husbands heart, and bring him to true salvation if he is not already there.

If he is truly saved, then your faithfulness will come with double reward in the form of his salvation and your restored marriage.

The alternative offers nothing. If you give up, you break your marriage vows, you give up on being God’s instrument in your husband’s possible salvation, and if your husband is sincere at this point, you destroy a marriage that was on it’s way to be healed by God’s love.

Pray for him. Encourage him. Keep him fed with solid Christian teaching. Let him use this time to grow spiritually. Find men in your church who will mentor him and hold him accountable.

Should everything fall apart anyway, and his “faith” be found empty in the end, you will have a clear conscience that glorifies God because you will have done everything “right” that you knew to do.

You are welcome to print off and bind any number of my devotionals for him if he is allowed to have them.

READERS: I’m sure there are those of you out there with more experience with these prison situations. Visit the message boards and give everyone some good ideas about how to minister to prisoners. Go here…

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