by Shayla Asselin
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
“Be ye not unequally yoked” is a verse I grew up hearing. But before I get into what I’ve heard and learned from that passage, I’d like to define what a yoke is and what it was used for. A yoke is a wooden bar that joins oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker ox, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker and shorter ox would walk slower than the stronger and taller ox, causing the load to go around in circles. So instead of working together, they worked against each other.
Paul used this illustration to demonstrate to the church at Corinth the unprofitability and unbiblical union of believers with non-believers. Although some may not believe it, God has always been concerned about the relationships His children establish. In Deuteronomy 7, Moses instructs the Israelites not to form a relationship with the people of the strange land.
“2…thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.” Deuteronomy 7:2-4
Skip ahead to Judges 3, and we find that the Israelites rebelled against God, married the Canaanites, and served their gods. The consequences of these rebellious unions are scattered all throughout the Old Testament. While it may not have seemed like a big deal to them at the time, their actions caused God to forsake them. Not only did they have to pay the price of their sins, but so did their children, and their children’s children.
Fast forward to present day, and I see so many Christians falling into the same trap. If Christ is really the Lord of our lives, how can we choose to unite our hearts with someone who lives in rebellion against Christ? I don’t mean to rub anyone the wrong way by saying that, but if they are living without Jesus as their Lord, they are at odds with Him. No matter how sweet, cute, or charming he may be, it is not God’s will to pursue a relationship with an unbeliever. The Greek meaning of the word “fellowship” in 2 Corinthians 6:14 means contact or intimacy. The inspired words of Paul clearly and emphatically state that there are to be no relationships between a believer and a non-believer.
I’d also like to interject here how important it is to find someone who is more than just a “seat-warmer.” Going to church is simply not enough. As I mentioned earlier, a team of oxen was considered “unequally yoked’ if one was weaker or shorter than the other. Both animals were oxen, but not of the same caliber. If you are interested in dating someone or you are already dating someone, here are a few questions I always encourage single ladies to ask themselves:
“Is he interested in the ministries at his church? Does he voluntarily participate in church work days? Does he know how to pray? Can he be the spiritual leader in his family? Does he encourage and strengthen my walk with God?”
If the answer to any of these questions were “no,” I earnestly ask you to prayerfully consider the relationship and the direction you should take. Marriage should not suppress ministry.
And remember, ministry doesn’t always look like a preacher in a pulpit. Sometimes, it’s teaching a Sunday School class, volunteering in the bus ministry, feeding the homeless, or joining the church cleaning team.
Please know I am not trying to portray that I am a marriage expert. Nathaniel and I are still newlyweds, but I can say from personal experience that being involved in the ministries at our church has been such a unifier. Kingdom-minded marriages are solid. Marry someone inside of God’s will. The impact of those God-ordained marriages is undeniable and powerful.
While this post is mostly directed towards romantic relationships, this verse also applies to all relationships. According to 2 Corinthians 6:14, your best friend, advisor, or confidant should not be a non-believer. “But Jesus ate with sinners and sat with an adulterer and talked to a prostitute…and the list goes on.” How many times have I heard this excuse to justify unbiblical relationships?! While each of those statements may be true, after each initial encounter with Christ, the unbeliever was completely transformed from darkness into light. No longer were they an unbeliever, but rather a believer in Christ.
It bothers me when people use Christ’s ministry as an excuse to enter ungodly relationships.
Please, understand me clearly. I am a strong supporter of evangelism. I would never suggest that Christians should never talk to, sit with, or eat with a non-believer. Because after all, Jesus did. In fact, I think it is important for Christians to be accessible to non-believers who want to encounter Christ. What good is our light if it can’t help someone find their way home? But, I do not encourage casual, non-mission oriented lunches, coffee-dates, phone calls, etc. The reason is that those times spent together are stepping stones that lead to the unbiblical relationships Paul warned against in 2 Corinthians.
I’m not trying to be harsh, but I am trying to clearly explain God’s boundaries as defined in Scripture. Boundaries are not set to prohibit us, but rather to protect us.
If we find ourselves “offended” by the boundaries God has placed, we should check our hearts. It may be we are actually feeling convicted and the word “offended” is deflecting the change God is wanting to do in our heart.
If you want to talk about anything I’ve said, please feel free to message me through our website or our social media platforms. I’m always here for you.