In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns about couples being unequally yoked. To be unequally yoked means for two people to have different opinions when it comes to their faith in God. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” A yoke is a harness that farmers will place on two oxen to keep them together. When one ox pulls its head, the other follows. Because of this yoke, one ox can lead the other in a completely different direction from where it’s supposed to go.
It’s the same in the marriage relationship. A Christian who marries a non-Christian can easily be swayed into going down the wrong path. Unbelievers can sway believers or compromise on their faith practices. No one is immune; even the strongest Christian can fall away from the faith if not careful. Christians must surround themselves with other Christians so they can do life together. Jesus always paired disciples two by two. There is nowhere in the Bible where anyone did anything alone. Being alone makes us susceptible to the enemy’s schemes. A couple who chooses to get married should be on the same page regarding their values and faith.
Here are five reasons why it’s dangerous to be unequally yoked:
1. It Will Separate You from God
Not only do Christians need to have a personal relationship with God, but this relationship with God is also especially important because one partner teaches the other about Christ. There’s no coincidence that when Jesus sent out his disciples in Luke 9:1, he asked them to go out two by two: “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Jesus knew it is easy to be swayed by the enemy when you’re alone. It is important to be in community with those who have like-minded faith and values, so you don’t waver from the work God is calling you to do.
2. It Devalues Your Partner
A Christian’s marriage partner is not their charity case. It is not fair for a Christian to believe they can change the other person when they get married or that the person will change their values once they get married. A couple should love each other for who they are. They can simply point each other to Christ, who will transform them into more Christ-like characters. It is best for each person in the marriage relationship to choose each other and keep their faith their priority. This is so there are no disagreements regarding regular church attendance, raising kids, or their views on religious practices that may or may not contribute to their salvation. Each religion has its own views on faith, salvation, and who God is. It is important that the couple shares the same Christian views so one does not try to change the other’s worldview in the future.
3. You Will Not Hold the Same Values
Even if you get away with not sharing the same view or your own personal faith journey, it is important when children become part of the family. Both partners need to have a united view on how they will raise their children when it comes to religion. Will they be more free-range and allow the child to choose? Will they follow the scripture and “train a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6)? Even if one partner is more spiritually mature than the other, both need to commit to reading the Word and praying together so their values will align. A couple not in unity over how to raise their kids will be disappointed when their children stray from the faith when they become adults.
4. It Will Hinder You from a Vibrant Relationship with God
Not only will your partner not hold the same values as you when it comes to faith, but he/she may also hinder your personal relationship with Jesus. One partner can be easily convinced by the other to skip church for one week. But as those habits develop, one week becomes one month, which becomes one year, and soon after, you won’t be able to remember when you last went to church. Without a local church to anchor you in the Word of God, and without a faithful prayer life, it will be easy to be swayed and your viewpoints altered more by your tv screen than your Bible. Prolonged exposure to cell phones, tv screens, and game consoles will alter your understanding of morality in God’s presence in the world. It will become easier to forget that God is in control of everything. He asked us to abide in his Word and abide in him so that through him, we can do the work that he is calling us to do.
However, if you choose to marry someone you think will change over time, make sure you are clear regarding your expectations involving your faith. Let your partner know that you choose to read the Word and pray regularly, want to attend church faithfully, and raise your children to do the same. Anyone who doesn’t hold that view is not someone you want to be with for the rest of your life. Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Divorce should not be an option unless necessary. Make sure you marry someone you can spend the rest of your life with.
5. It May Alter Your Calling
It is one thing not to attend church together or pray or read the Word regularly, but it is quite another if one person feels called into some sort of spiritual ministry. People who feel called into the pastoral ministry need to have a partner who feels equally as called. One partner that does not feel called will distance themselves from the church, and the church will suffer as a result. A church who hires a pastor deserves to have a couple who is equally as dedicated to the ministry. Although the couple may take on different roles, they both need to understand the priority it will take in their lives. Sometimes pastors are awakened in the middle of the night to visit a church member in the hospital and preside over funerals or weddings on weekends and other special days. A family makes great sacrifices when a person is in ministry. This is also true if a couple is called into mission work. Each partner must feel called into missions work, or else the ministry will suffer as a result.
For a marriage to be successful, both partner needs to share similar views on many different topics of life. But none is as true as their faith. If faith is a priority in your life, you want to marry someone who holds the same value. Hebrews 10:24 says: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Not only will the two of you together be able to do sufficient work for the Kingdom, but you each will also grow and mature in your faith because of each other’s presence.
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Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.