As I try to whittle down the books on my “to read” shelf, I thought I would do a comparative review of two books that I have had for many years but have only recently read. They both cover the same topic (Christian women married to non-Christian men), but their treatments of the subject matter are very different.
For those readers who do not know me personally, I should explain that I have been married for over 20 years to a wonderful, non-Christian man and have been walking with the Lord for over 15 years. So I have a little bit of insight into this subject, at least from a personal perspective.
Of the two books, Michael Fanstone’s Unbelieving Husbands and the Wives Who Love Them offers a more surface treatment of the issue at hand. The overall tone of the book is depressing, focusing on how bad the problems in unequally-yoked marriages can be but offering very little Biblical advice. At times, I felt like the content bordered on psycho-babble. Fanstone also presents a very negative view of the church at times, going so far as to say that the church may make things harder for wives of unbelieving husbands. This certainly has NOT been my experience and I feel very sorry for the women who may shy away from seeking support in churches as a result of this kind of advice.
Verdict: Skip it
In contrast, Jo Berry’s Beloved Unbeliever goes deeper into the heart issues involved and offers practical and helpful Biblical advice. Although Berry explores the same problems as Fanstone does, the overall tone is more hopeful and encouraging. I appreciated that Berry stressed the Biblical responsibilities of the wife to love her husband and be a helper to him, regardless of whether he is a Christian or not. As I read through this book, I didn’t come across any information that I didn’t already know, but I think it would have been very helpful if I had read it 10 or 15 years ago. I would not hesitate to recommend it to any Christian woman married to a non-Christian man.
Verdict: Recommended for any Christian woman married to a non-Christian or for anyone ministering to women in this situation