COREY - Could you give me your opinion on 1st Cor 7:12-14 - Does this mean an unbelieving spouse can be exalted through a beliving spouse?
JOEL - Many interpret it that way but it is not what Paul was talking about. Here are the scriptures:
"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." (1st Cor 7:12-14)
First of all notice that Paul seems to be offering his own opinion on the subject rather than the word of God when he said, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord". But of course since everything in the Bible should be considered the word of God there must be some lesson to learn from this.
In the Corinthian Church, some evidently held that when the husband, or wife, had been converted, he, or she, ought to abandon the unconverted partner as unclean and contaminating. In Paul's opinion this was wrong. Paul's intent, as explained in Doctrine and Covenants Section 74, was that the teachings of the Law of Moses should not be maintained in families in the Church that had a mixture of believers and non-believers. It was very difficult for the Jewish members of the Church to forsake all of their traditions and turn from the Law of Moses, and from circumcision, all of which were were fulfilled by the coming of Christ. It was the doctrine of the Jews that uncircumcised children were unholy. This Paul wished to correct. It was Paul's opinion that male children in such families were not to be circumcised, and as long as the husband and wife remained together, the children could still be considered holy, being sactified through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Sanctification is a personal reward that follows personal righteousness. The good works of one person cannot be transferred to another. We are all primarily responsible for our own individual salvation and even though we might be deserving of exaltation, that condition will not bring about the exaltation of an undeserving spouse.
However, one might say that, if possible it is better to stay with an unbelieving spouse for the sake of the children and because we should never give up on our spouse. Perhaps over time and through the love and influence of the believing spouse, the other will change and be believing (sactified) again.
Return to top