Unequally Yoked

[reprinted from July 2, 2010]

Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What agreement has Christ with Belial? Or what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? What agreement has a temple of God with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”     2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (WEB)

I have heard this quoted most often in reference to Believers marrying non-Believers; essentially saying – don’t do it! After over 30 years of married life I can say without hesitation that Paul was right! A person’s faith is an essential characteristic. Whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Universalist, atheist, or the many ‘places’ in between, what and how you believe is at the core of who you are. Even in business, a partnership can not survive if the partners are trying to steer their business in different directions. Faith in a marriage is surely one of the rudders that directs the marriage. If two people are looking in different directions for their support and guidance, then they are not moving in the same direction. Paul’s analogy of a ‘yoke’ brings a picture of oxen or horses and it is easy to understand that the two must pull in the same direction, even anticipating the moves of the partner.

Now Paul makes the division clear as he speaks of light and darkness and Jesus and a demon. In his time and in the church to whom he was writing, Paul wanted the readers to understand that if you were a Believer, that meant you were a Believer in Jesus Christ. You had left the worship of idols (including the idol of religion) behind and in the climate of persecution from Rome as well as from the Jews at that time, Believers of Jesus Christ should not marry non-believers. Faith truly was a life and death issue.

What about today? Should a Methodist marry a Lutheran? Should a Catholic and a Baptist marry? I do not believe this Scripture was written to judge that. A member of a denomination does not signify a Believer or non-believer.

My husband, Henry, spent time in prayer, listening and discussing with God before he called me for our first lunch date. Before beginning anything in our relationship, Henry asked God if he was hearing God’s voice. As we got to know each other, Henry again went to the Lord, spending several days seeking God’s wisdom and approval before he offered his commitment to me. I spent several days, then, doing the same. In my case, I really sought the Holy Spirit to sift through all the emotions I was feeling and to give me a clear direction in how He wanted me to respond. On the day that I stood before God and our family and friends and entered the covenant with Henry and God, I had no doubts and complete peace. That hasn’t changed in almost 11 years.

As Believers we are temples of God. God is in us. We are His people. Great and extraordinary things will happen when Believers come together as a partnership or team. An unequal yoke, on the other hand, can bring division and destruction. God’s wisdom is in copious supply. All we have to do is ask.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him.     James 1:5 (WEB)

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