A husband and a wife attending separate churches is a situation that is more common than one might think. It’s also common for the children of such a couple to be divided between the two churches, thereby creating a rift in the family that is never healthy. In order to determine whether or not it is “wrong” for a husband and wife to attend separate churches, we must first look at marriage as a relationship instituted by God.
Genesis 2:24 tells us God created man and woman to become “one flesh” when they marry, not two separate beings who go their own separate ways. There is a unity in marriage that is unique and holy. Moreover, marriage is the picture of Christ and His church (believers) as described in Ephesians 5:31-32. The marriage covenant between a man and a woman is symbolic of the covenant between Christ and those for whom He died. His is an everlasting covenant and one that is holy and sacred, just as marriage is to be holy, sacred and unbroken. This unity of two people into one reaches its most sacred in the spiritual realm, where the two are to be of one mind regarding the basic doctrines of Christianity – God, Christ, sin, salvation, heaven/hell, etc. This unity of understanding through the ministry of the Holy Spirit unites a husband and wife in a bond unlike any other on earth.
While it’s possible for a husband and wife to have differing tastes as far as music, preaching or worship styles, children’s programs, etc., none of these things are significant enough to break up the family into two parts so they can attend different churches based on tastes. It is clear that if both churches are Bible-based and Christ-honoring, there is no reason why one spouse can’t bend a little and put his/her personal preferences aside. An even better alternative is for the couple to join together to seek a church where the Word of God is preached as the only guide for faith and practice, where the entire family can learn the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and where the family can fellowship with like-minded believers. In this, the husband, as the spiritual head of the family, should take the lead and make the final decision, lovingly taking his wife’s input into consideration.
Sadly, the two-church family most often crops up in marriages where one spouse was raised Roman Catholic and the other was raised in a Protestant denomination. In situations such as these, it would have been wise for the couple not to marry. Please read the following article: Should Christians of different denominations date or marry? If a marriage has already taken place, the couple should strive for spiritual unity. Two people entrenched in their different doctrinal positions often find it very difficult to compromise and reconcile, but with God, all things are possible. A couple in such a situation may be forced to attend different churches, especially if one or both spouses consider the other spouse’s beliefs to be unbiblical. In such a situation, both spouses should commit to praying that truth be revealed and spiritual unity be achieved.
These doctrinal conflicts must be resolved in a family before true unity can be achieved. A couple attending different churches must be willing to hold everything they are taught up to the light of Scripture and be ready to discard anything that is contradicted by the Bible. They must “test all things and hold fast to that which is true” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).