'Unequal Yoking'

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      It appears within a single verse in Scripture.  We find the apostle Paul sharing it in his second letter to the Corinthians -- “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (6:14a).

   There is a timeless message here that can be connected to marriage.  There are certainly risks involved in such a union that should not be ignored. 

   Paul throws in a follow-up question that lends itself to a helpful discussion -- “What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (vs.15b).

   One needs to consider that the spiritual side of marriage should be the predominate aspect of this union that originated from God (a key component of this spiritual perspective).  A sad reality is that this spiritual side of the marital union is often discussed the least.

   Going back to our question, we need to consider that a “believer” and “unbeliever” will likely have differing views about --love…children…sex… church …morals…fidelity…and the list goes on.  It becomes obvious that there is a lot to be talked about when “unequal yoking” is a reality for a couple.

   In a similar way there can be inherent challenges for believers and “under”-believers.  What is common is that the bride-to-be has a stronger spiritual life than the husband-to-be.  Often the latter has some background in the Bible and the church, but it is not a current priority in his life.  Some of the same differences can be present in this scenario…and subsequent challenges. Paul’s “Do not be yoked together” should not be ignored (which is a common strategy for such couples).

   So we come to a central challenge -- Where will the wedding take place?  The popular choice of the “church” poses its own, spiritual challenge -- the ceremony will be before God -- as the Primary Witness.”  In an “unequal yoking” situation, only one of the two has a relationship with Triune God.  Here a belief in “other gods” only intensifies the dilemma.

   Many couples will sacrifice the “church wedding” for the sake of their personal version of what will suffice.  Any Justice of the Peace will do…to at least fulfill the legal side of the marriage. God, and His Word can be ignored.  

   As referenced earlier, the spiritual side is ignored, or made secondary.  Here a word of warning needs to be considered -- God can’t bless what He has not placed His seal of approval on (which occurs through the Christian vows).

   Unequal yoking” is complicated…and these complexities need to be discussed openly before the engagement takes place. When the differences are significant, pre-engagement counseling is recommended. 

   The Author of love (and marriage) rejoices in holy, harmonious marriage.  God invests greatly in marital success.  He welcomes two, “equal” partners to help insure lasting marital love.

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