'Being unequally yoked': Why is this a big deal?
What comes to mind when you hear the term unequally yoked? What does it mean? And What dangers does it pose, if any? Elisha Marie Levy provides some insights into what the Bible says about the matter.
Come with me to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (AMP):
14 Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
"The promises linked with our obedience to this command, tells us why we are commanded not to yoke ourselves with unbelievers because we hinder His presence"
This scripture reminds us that we are temples of the living God therefore our relationship choices need to reflect a clear distinction and ‘separateness’ from anything that is not in line with God's will. In 2nd Corinthians verse 17 God commands us to 'come out from them and be separate' and 'He will be a Father to us and we will be His sons and daughters' (verse 18). The promises linked with our obedience to this command, tells us why we are commanded not to yoke ourselves with unbelievers because we hinder His presence.
"The Yoke not only keeps them in one accord, it keeps them fit for purpose. They no longer walk individually, but fastened together by the yoke, so therefore they walk as one"
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, A yoke is “A bar or frame that is attached to the heads or necks of two work animals (such as oxen) so that they can pull a plough or heavy load”. The Yoke not only keeps them in one accord, it keeps them fit for purpose. They no longer walk individually, but fastened together by the yoke, so therefore they walk as one. Believe it or not, the yoke makes the burden lighter. For one Oxen to plough the field on its own, is a big job, but two ploughing the field with similar strength, makes for much easier work. However, you wouldn't yoke an oxen and a dog together now would you? Not only would they be unfit for purpose, because they are built differently, but ultimately one would carry more of the burden; potentially causing the other to totally pull back and stop. Within the context of a relationship between a believer and an unbeliever, one may end up moving away from their faith and/ or the relationship, due to the differences in their focus and direction.
As an unmarried woman, it was only right to get a married persons perspective, so I sought the counsel of my Pastor. Her wisdom was one of confirmation and revelation. She began to break down the power of association, citing scriptures such as the infamous Job & his wife (Job 2:9) and the friendship between Jehoshaphat & King Ahab (see 2 Chronicles 17-19) among many more. In both examples we see the danger of partnering, whether in friendship or marriage, with someone who has a belief in opposition to ours, as it puts us in danger of compromising our faith, our standards and straying away from God’s purposes and will for our lives.
"There’s nowhere in His word where He says, 'I understand there’s a lack of Christian men/women, so go ahead and join with an unbelieving partner’"
We live in a world where everything is negotiable, and must be discussed – there are no longer any absolutes and everyone must have an opinion. Yet when you give your life to Christ, God’s word is now your truth, your 'opinion' and your foundation. We approach it as if it can be negotiated; as if the state of the world or our marital status gives us permission to negate God’s word, as if God’s word bends to our wants, needs and desires. There’s nowhere in His word where He says ‘I understand there’s a lack of Christian men/women, so go ahead and join with an unbelieving partner’. There’s always a consequence to our disobedience. God's word speaks of believers being in a marriage with unbelievers and if one of the spouses becomes a Christian in marriage they are instructed to stay, (1 Corinthians 7:12-17) but we are not told to knowingly walk into a relationship with the awareness that they are an unbeliever.
I get it! I get tired too and as a young Christian, I would walk into dating relationships that I knew God didn’t want me to be in. I would get excited if I was sent a scripture in the morning, and was already at the altar if he prayed, yet I knew that his heart, (and mine), were far from the Lord. I'm not saying that we should not have unbelieving friends, as we all have family and friends and a whole world of unbelievers' around us, but we are to not closely attach ourselves with them. I pray you understand what I mean here.
We can be encouraged by couples in public ministry such as Cornelius & Heather Lindsey, David & Joyce Meyer, and more closely to home our Pastors who are living for a cause bigger than themselves. For one to believe and not the other, can you imagine what a loss to the body this would be?
"We can’t blame the lack of Christian men or women in the church as the reason for our disobedience. We just can't. We’re promised that if we do not get weary, in due season, we shall reap a harvest if we don't give up (Galatians 6:9)"
We have to be resolute and trust God's word and not our circumstances, body clocks, impatience or what society says. "We can’t blame the lack of Christian men or women in the church as the reason for our disobedience. We just can't. We’re promised that if we do not get weary, in due season, we shall reap a harvest if we don't give up (Galatians 6:9)".
Be encouraged, if we find ourselves in these situations, pray and ask God for wisdom of how to proceed and obey what He says. As we continue to be led by God through our relationships, remember to allow God to take the wheel by trusting His word and His promptings. He is merciful, He knows we'll make mistakes, He knows we won't get it right all the time, but His word is there for our guidance and His Holy Spirit for our comfort and total reliance.
Written by Elisha Marie Levy
Business manager and founder of No Ordinary Woman: a ministry encouraging excellence through devotionals, blogs and recipes. Visit Elisha's blog by clicking here.