Should Evangelistic Wives and Children Submit To Unbelieving Husbands and Dads?


I got this great question from an evangelistic wife and mother who wanted some advice on doing the right thing. What do you think of my answer, Christians? Atheists, what say you?

I also posted her follow-up email (with her permission).

My son is 12 years old and he is following the commandment of the Bible in Mark 16:15 [: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.] He does one to one conversations  on a weekly basis but would also like to do open air preaching.

My husband  (who is not a Christian) says that if he does [preach] the [Government] will take him from us. I know your kids open air preach. Have you ever had any problems with [Government agencies]?

My answer: We’ve had no problems at all. This is still a free country. They can’t arrest you for that. (Well they can, but it would be unlawful.) If they do ever arrest your son there are plenty of free lawyer groups.

Out of respect for your husband, I would counsel you to not allow your son to open air preach…at this time. You want to be a blessing to your unbelieving husband. Thank God he allows him to witness about Christ at all. If you submit to him as to the Lord you may win him over without a Word, and that’s the most important thing.

Here is her reply back:

Good morning Pastor Steve!

God works in marvelous ways. A while back I asked you about open air preaching. My son, who is 12 wanted to do it, but my husband does not approve of it.  You recommended that we should listen to my husband. We did. My son has been doing one2ones and I have been video taping them for his blog and to show them to my husband.

Well, yesterday, we uploaded a video clip to send to On The Box for their new segment Atheism is Stupid. Within the first two minutes, we got our first comment from an atheist. The funny thing is that he has had his blog for months and no one had left a comment, and now we upload this Atheism is Stupid clip and atheists are watching it. He has now found a way to attract atheists to watch his witnessing clips without even trying. And the most amazing thing is that my husband approves of it! He said “You keep getting those atheists, Joshua.”

Here’s Joshua’s simple video:


  1. Well, speaking as an atheist, I’m a bit confused by the family situation being described here. The mom is a Christian; the boy is a Christian; the Dad is, presumably, not an atheist… but a believer in something.

    So I’m not sure that it’s all that surprising that he would approve of “getting” atheists; among other things, that allows him some common ground with his son. Likewise, if the father is a naturalized (rather than native born) citizen, then it’s understandable that he’d be worried about government reaction to open-air preaching. So it’s not all that amazing that he’d approve of the boy making these videos; if he were seriously opposed to Christianity itself, I doubt he’d be married to a Christian. As far as the father’s concerned, this isn’t exactly a miraculous turn-around.

    As far as your advice goes, Pastor Steve, I think it was basically good – maybe not for the reason you gave, but it evidently helped, and obviously they were able to work something out.

    The video is… Honestly, I was hoping to hear more of what the boy had to say. Most of it was just the curly-haired young man pointing out that without faith, the stories of the Bible are no more or less valid than any other myths and legends. So I was kind of disappointed with that. To my mind, it doesn’t show that atheism is stupid so much as that young adults aren’t generally as clever as they think they are. (To be fair, that’s probably true of the rest of us, too.)

  2. Believing the government is going to take away your children for proselytizing is, well, paranoid. But, I’m making assumptions here, as no location was given out. They may live in a more suppressed country where such fears are not unfounded. I would be more worried about having the kid go out [i]alone[/i], which could be dangerous depending on where they live.

    After that is settled, it comes down to the kid. If the mother is is simply guilting or manipulating into doing it, then I side with the father. If the father simply doesn’t want his boy practicing a religion, well, tough.

    Your side got thoroughly beaten in the video. No wonder they had to resort to insults. Gotta make yourself feel better after being unable to defend your faith having been compared to Harry Potter.

  3. Sorry, why would the Government take the kid away?

  4. Wait so Ray’s so bored with Atheism he’s starting an Atheism is Stupid segment on his TV show?

    Well ok, whatever.

  5. @Steve

    I think you have given some sound advice. Sometimes people are more concerned with being respected than obeyed. By this I mean that they want to feel that their opinion has some importance and they would like to be consulted. Also if a person wants to win someone over to their point of view it certainly doesn’t hurt treating the other person in a kind way.

    Regarding the boy, Joshua, if some police officer arrested a kid for street preaching that would definately make some news and a PR nightmare for the Police Chief or Sheriff. How far is the Hemet DMV from where the boy and his mother live?


  6. Steve, your reply was up to the point. However, the question concerning govt, as others mentioned, was absurd, and the dealing with the husband part depends ultimately on their personal relationship. I guess some people still need advice and yours were good!

    Concerning the clip: I think the kid who compares HP to Jesus has a very good point. He does not try to prove that Jesus is not real, or anything like that, he simply exposes the idea that you need more than just telling a story for people to believe the story. The only thing fundamentalists reply to that is usually along the lines of what the kid answered, I hope you are right, or else..

    Other side remark: Joshua (12), Nicole (7) and Toni Alvarez all commentated here, on this blog a few weeks ago.

    How come the emails you exchange with the lady seemed to imply that it’s just 1 kid, with his mother struggling with 1 dad. Something does not add up.

  7. Michael,

    In your worldview myths and legends are perfectly allowable. Just as this ‘Harry Potterite’ teenager posits a fictional character to support his world view and you call this a victory.

    Books such as the Iliad and the History of Alexander the Great where written hundreds of years from there original dates of occurance. Yet, you do not call them myths and legends but factual.

    The Bible is not a collection of myths and legends. It contains the history of the Hebrew nation, it contains words of wisdom, it contains poetry, it contains prophecy, it contains the eye witness accounts of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and it contains God’s ultimate plan of salvation. Your argument is full of fallacies, ambiguity and presumptions.

    Most of all it contains the reason why you don’t believe “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that mean are without excuse”.

  8. Atheism is a religion according to a Supreme Court case decision. And guess who was arguing that it was not a religion; a Christian family attorney. And guess who wanted to be classified as a religion: atheist prisoners.

    Additionally, ‘secular humanism’ is also a religion. It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian.

    Better file for your tax exempt status.

  9. Hugo,

    She only asked about the one kid because he wanted to preach.

    Nothing nefarious.

  10. Richard, honestly now, can you name one person here who has defended the Iliad or “the history of Alexander the Great” (not even clear exactly what you are even referring to there) as factual?

    Seriously now.

  11. Also Richard, do you know what is in the Iliad, if we took it as factual, then we would clearly be theists, as we would believe in the Gods of the Greek Pantheon.

  12. Richard,

    Actually, no. I didn’t call it a victory. I said I was disappointed in the video. The, um, “argument from Harry Potter” isn’t a particularly strong argument against Christian belief, and it comes off as someone trying to be clever (or perhaps annoy a proselytizer into going away) rather than as a serious refutation. What that video shows isn’t a victory for anybody; it’s just people talking past each other.

    For that matter, I don’t call the Iliad factual. It may have some roots in actual facts, but I don’t seriously believe (for example) that Achilles was completely invulnerable except for that one spot on the back of his ankle where his mother was holding him when she dipped him the Magic Bath of Unkillableness. Admittedly, I can’t absolutely prove that that isn’t what happened, but I still feel pretty confident in calling the Iliad a mythological account.

    The Bible is not a collection of myths and legends.

    Well, that does get the heart of the difference in our views. Do you believe that Jesus cursed a fig tree, and on the next day the disciples found it withered? Do you believe that when Jesus returned from the dead, the veil was rent and various noble dead went back and forth through the city, amazing the people who met them? To me, that sounds like mythmaking. But I don’t have faith, and as Pastor Steve has pointed out before, you have to have faith in order to understand that these things are true.

    Regardless, I would certainly agree with you that the Bible is more than a collection of myths; there are a lot of other things gathered in those books as well.

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that mean are without excuse.

    Since this is a Bible quote (Romans 1:18-20 for anyone who wants read it in context), I seriously doubt you’re going to take my word for this. Nevertheless, I tell you honestly that God has not made any such thing plain to me. If He had, we wouldn’t be discussing this; I may not be the smartest person on the planet, but even I know better than to challenge an all-powerful entity.

    Again, for the record: I’m not an unbeliever because I’m angry at God, or because I had a bad experience with the Church, or because Christians made fun of my name in grade school, or because I don’t want to give up my sins, or because I’m in some sort of rebellion.

    I’m an unbeliever because I don’t see any reason to believe. It really is that simple.

  13. Also… Romans 1… wasn’t that written by Paul? Isn’t he the same guy who had to be struck down by the blinding force of direct revelation before he started to believe? He doesn’t really seem like the best guy to be talking about how God’s divine and eternal presence is unmistakably obvious in the world. As the story goes, God Himself basically had to hit him over the head to make him convert, and even then Paul still had to ask who it was. (Acts 9:3–9)

    • Michael,

      The victory belongs to the Lord in the story of the son who obeyed his mothers and Steve’s advice. Now the father is saying go…

  14. She only asked about the one kid because he wanted to preach.

    Nothing nefarious.

    No problem, what solved the “mystery” for me is that I did not know Toni could be a woman’s name in English… and I also noticed that she says ‘A while back I asked you‘ so the email exchange is not recent, which had to be the case since Joshua and Nicole commented here about doing a lot of encounters and passing out tracts.

    What remains surprising though is that the dad is not Christian but the mom and the 2 kids seem to be really involved; little girl even performed the 10 commandments teaching at a Christian talent show…






  16. Hi Steve…thanks for this post. I am married to an unbeliever. He’s not an atheist…he is just ambivilant about Christianity. He believes in God, but I don’t think he views Him as being a holy and righteous Judge. (I wasn’t a Christian when we got married) I am a street evangelist. Because we live in a very small community (pop 1500) he has asked that I not be too visual with my evangelism efforts in the community and I submit to him and work “under the radar” here.

    He is very supportive of my activities out of town and when we go away on vacation, I usually try to connect with other evangelists in that community and spend some time evangelizing with them. He meets the people with me and then takes off for some other activity and then returns to pick me up or to go out for lunch with my evangelist friends. He has actually helped me carry tubs of books and DVDs for handout to the venue as well. Really…for not having a Christian husband, God has blessed me with a wonderful man. He enjoys hearing my stories and sometimes even says…Hey…this would be a good place to leave one of those tract thingies. :O)

    He’s been very gracious by agreeing to let me travel from Canada to the US without him many times to attend training and conferences. I don’t think he’d be so agreeable if I disrespected his wishes and openly evangelized here in the community.

    Our daughter is 13 and I don’t think is yet saved, although she attends church with me. He fought that when I first started going to church when she was a baby…but is far more open about it now. I don’t think he’d object to her evangelizing if it ever comes to that…as long as she was safe.

    God bless you Steve.

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