Before I became a Christian I wrestled with God. The question was not whether He existed, it was why He allowed pain and suffering. I argued and screamed and cursed God through each difficulty and abuse.
When God saved me in spite of my ugliness, I wrestled through lots of scripture when I hit something I didn't understand. God was gracious to give me an abundance of strong older women who loved me but did not coddle me. They questioned me and pushed me to dig deeper. The gratitude I have for them is more than I can ever express in words. God was preparing me for something much more challenging and it would require long-lasting endurance which I am not known for in any circle.
1Peter 3 has been my main wrestling partner for a while now. Having found myself in a marriage to someone who no longer professes Christ has been difficult and I am sure he would profess that being married to a Christian is the same. There are A LOT of resources, blogs, and studies on these passages by people who are much greater theologians than I. There is also some not well-thought advice.
I am not a fan of the term "spiritually single" which seems to loosely imply a vacancy. God uses the term "unequally yoked" and that implies being bound although in an ill-fitting way which will create more struggle as you go along. What women in marriages to unbelievers do not need is an excuse to think poorly of their husband, to loosen the bind of marriage, or be petted in wallowing. So what do they need?
Women in marriages to unbelievers need encouragement, strengthening, and help in the Word. They need to be some of the best equipped members in the church. They are not going out from time to time to witness to people and then go home. They do not get to use some planned dialogue. They must live day in and day out presenting the gospel without words and without a break. They are not going to be worried about a stranger slamming the door in their face but a person with whom they are intimately connected.
They are to take into account their submission to God which requires submission to their husband, all of Proverbs 31, and they are to do all of this without fearing. Their actions everyday are not to be provoking but to seek to make their husband respected and to pour grace out even when they are faced with hurt. Their emotions are not to be the resource from which they draw their responses. It is to be God who they know hates divorce and has said that if their husband desires to stay with them, they are to do so. She is not to provoke or nag or pick at her husband and try to bring him to some understanding of his sin. She is NOT his Holy Spirit and an unbeliever does not have that understanding until God grants it.
Sometimes that means enduring a husband who is operating for his own purpose because he is not seeking God. Sometimes that means enduring hard times because she cannot submit to something that her husband has put before her because it oversteps her submission to God. In denying her husband, she needs to have much peace. Sometimes it may mean that she must confide in the church Body and the church should be prepared to step in and help.
The gray areas that lack are churches actively equipping and supporting women and men in these areas. Everything I have seen tiptoes so gently in the area of marriage to unbeliever because women are so sensitive about women who are being abused and like to throw that question out there as soon as these verses are approached. I think first we need to equip women then we need to answer questions like, "Do women need to confront their husbands when they are doing something wrong?" and if so, when is that and what does it look like? When you confront them and they get angry, what do you do?
My mind is settling in the area of being so studied in the Word that she seeks every moment to refer to it to know how to respond. If a husband is going to do something that will cause him dishonor or put him in a situation to break the law, then a wife should act to try to keep him from doing so if possible, like Abigail did for her husband Nabal. It may mean that you leave temporarily. It may mean that you bring in a mediator. It may mean keeping quiet. It NEVER means acting of fear or from feelings.
Gray areas are just as in need of light as those completely void of light.