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When Spouses Can't Agree on a Church

When Spouses Can’t Agree on a Church


As a teenager in my local church, my stomach would churn every time I spotted a certain lady coming to church without her husband. She was wedded in our church in a beautiful, enviable ceremony. She and her groom were visibly in love, barely able to shift their gazes from each other the entire day. My friends and I were completely enthralled by the couple’s display of love. 

A few years later, the lady was still attending our church but the husband had shifted to another. I felt crushed by the turn of events in their marriage. Like most teenagers, I was greatly intrigued by the subject of marriage. Among the things I envisioned in marriage was unity, and it broke my heart to see the couple divided on which church to attend.

It’s not uncommon to find couples split down the middle on which church they should attend. One of them may, for instance, prefer a congregation inclined to liturgical worship while their partner may be sold out to charismatic worship. Couples may also differ along doctrinal lines where one partner may feel that the church preferred by the other is not doctrinally sound. How should couples proceed when pulled in opposite directions where church is concerned? 

Here are six things to put to mind as you both ferret for a solution:

1. Marriage Should Exude Unity

The scriptures teach that after marriage, a man and his wife are no longer two individuals but one flesh. God then issues a warning—no one should separate those He has joined together. Unity is one of the distinctive marks of marriage. In fact, it can be said to be the foundation of marriage since the essence of marriage is leaving and cleaving. 

And whilst two cannot walk together unless they are agreed, those in marriage have already decided to walk together. Seeing them walk separate ways when it comes to church attendance therefore goes against the grain. It’s like hearing a bird buzzing like a bee instead of chirping away. It’s simply not expected. 

Paul referred to the Corinthian church as letters of recommendation written in his heart, to be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2, ESV). Whether we realize it or not, people are scrutinizing our marriages. They yearn to see love, unity, respect, trust, godliness, fidelity, etc. They are rooting for our marriages, hoping and praying that we will weather every storm and come out triumphantly. 

Besides that, God wants the light in our marriages to shine before men so that they will see our good works and glorify him in heaven (Mathew 5:16). Our marriages should be a pattern of good works. Failing to agree on a church does not bring glory to God and we should refrain from getting comfortable with such an arrangement. Furthermore, attending different churches gets very confusing for children as they get pulled in different directions. Do they attend mommy’s or daddy’s church? 

2. Pray for Wisdom

There is no confusion that godly wisdom cannot quell. God does not want His children to wobble around, drenched in confusion, unsure of which path to tread. He is the Good Shepherd who leads us in green pastures (Psalm 23). He sent His Son Jesus so that we could have life in abundance. He wants the best for us and our families and loves to see us thrive! James taught that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to them (James 1:5-6). 

Wisdom is the ability to discern what is right and acceptable. The good news? God is generous with wisdom. If you and your spouse are finding it hard to agree on a church, seek God’s wisdom. Ask Him to lead you to the right church for your family. Remember that by wisdom a house is built, and through understanding, it is established (Proverbs 24:3).

3. Settle on a Healthy Compromise

For any marriage to succeed, spouses have to ditch selfishness and uphold their spouse’s needs above theirs. Philippians 2:3 implores us to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility, to value others above ourselves. God designed marriage as a place where Christ’s relationship with the Church would be demonstrated. That’s why Paul instructed wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord and husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and died for her (Ephesians 5:22-28). 

When both of you have different opinions regarding the church to join, it’s time for both of you to cede ground for the good of the marriage. In fact, don’t wait for your spouse to be the first to relinquish their control. Believers are called to outdo each other in showing honor. Be the first to baffle him/her with your humility.   

This could mean that the wife decides to settle for the church her husband is interested in, as an act of submission. This could also mean that the husband goes along with the wife’s church preference as a demonstration of his sacrificial love for her. Remember, yielding to another person’s will is not a sign of weakness but of strength and power. Jesus taught that whoever desires to become great shall first be a servant (Matthew 20:16). The way up is down. 

4. Be Creative

A little creativity will go a long way in helping you and your spouse settle on a church with neither of you feeling too aggrieved. Pastor Jay of the Gospel Obsessed suggests that since almost all churches record their services, you can always listen to your favorite preacher later on in the week. So you can agree to attend the church your spouse favors and still tune in to your church of choice online. That sounds like a double blessing!

Both of you can also look for a church that caters to both of your preferences. For example, you can get a church that combines both traditional and contemporary worship styles. 

5. Honor God First

What do you do if your spouse wants you to join a cult? Should you tag along for unity’s sake? As believers, our first allegiance is to God. We should not disobey God to please our spouses. In Acts 5, Peter and the other apostles were prohibited by the high priest and the Sadducees from teaching in the name of Jesus and spreading His doctrine. They didn’t mince their words on this matter. “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We too ought to obey God rather than our spouses. We have a right to differ when they implore us to be part of churches that dishonor God. We are first accountable to God before any human being. 

6. Seek Godly Counsel

A Christian counselor can help you and your spouse navigate this challenge. Christian counselors combine clinical practice approaches with religious or spiritual principles to help believers maneuver various life issues. You can also seek counsel from an older Christian couple that you trust. King Solomon observed that where there is no counsel, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/People Images

Crosswalk Writer Keren KanyagoKeren Kanyago is a freelance writer and blogger at Parenting Spring. As a wife and mom, she uses her blog to weigh in on pertinent issues around parenting, marriage, and the Christian Faith. She holds a degree in mass communication with a specialty in print media. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and/or shoot her an email at kerenkanyago@gmail.com.


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