Unequally Yoked

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God
(2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

This weekend while at Campus Challenge, I experienced firsthand the devastating effects when a Christian dates an unbeliever — more specifically, what happens to the Christian after that relationship ends. Whereas the Christian falls away from church and fellowship during that dating relationship, the consequences are devasting to one’s personal and spiritual health. When one choses to satisfy their own selfish desires over satisfying God’s desires, their relationship with God is amputated. After the dust settles and nothing is left but a war-torn ruined heart, praise God that He is faithful to forgive and give life to His children who were lost — the Lord Himself unilaterally seeks after those whom are His and rescues us from the pits of our own self-centeredness.

Scripture is very clear on the issue of dating/courting for Christians: we are not to have such intimately romantic relationships with non-Christians, unbelievers. Plain and simple. Period. Where God has been clear about the issue, we therefore must not be unclear about it.

However, when we get passed this as devoted Christ followers, we also need to live out the biblical principle found in 2 Corinthians 6. Even within the household of Christ, I believe Christ calls us not to be unequally yoked.

There is a 3-fold meaning in this principle.

Firstly, for men: Do not date/court a girl who is significantly spiritually less mature than yourself. She will pull you down and keep you from growing unhinderedly in Christ. In as much as we want to be a MAN and do the right thing, be a leader to the girl and have her learn and follow us as leaders, if you are not strong enough to keep on running the race swiftly then you probably should not be with her. I can say from first hand experience that even if you think you can, there is a very high probability that when she stumbles in her faith & ability to resist the temptations of intimacy, your strength can only go so far until you give in to your own fleshly temptations.

Furthermore, it is quite unbiblical for the man to be dating a significantly more spiritually mature woman. For if we consider Christian dating/courting as a relationship that should be seeking to discover whether the couple is right for each other in marriage, we must also consider headship in the dating/courting relationship. This is not to say that the boyfriend is the head of the relationship to the girlfriend, but eventually, he must be the head in the relationship once marriage ensues. In the home, Biblical headship is the husband’s divine calling to take primary responsibility for Christlike leadership, protection, and provision. And so it is quite the usurping of biblical headship for the girl to be the spiritual leader in the relationship.

For women, this means you must find a strong, spiritually mature man who can and will lead you in the dating relationship, and in the future once you’re married. For if we consider that the wife’s divine calling is to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts, she thus should be dating a man who will allow her to exercise her God-given gifts of service. (I am very hesistant to say “submission” here because, like Rob Bell has rightfully put it, our culture has completely misunderstood this biblical term; furthermore, I would even add that Bell’s emerging interpretation has missed the point.)

I am not saying that in dating a spiritually mature man means completely surrender her will to him, nor should such be the case in marriage. Rather, I think it is about being in a proper position of biblical femininity to yield to her future husband’s guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership (as he in turn first submits to Christ’s authority in his life). Hence, it is here that I see tremendous importance that my Christian sisters be seeking for a man — a leader in the church, and one who is building himself to be a responsible man in his own household in the future.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

(Ephesians 5:22-27)

For relationships between us Christians, we thus must to be relatively more equally (than unequally) yoked. Not that he cannot be a younger Christian than her, or that she cannot be an older Christian than him — but that he should love her and give himself up for her, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. If he cannot sanctify her, or cleanse her by the washing of water with the word — who else can we expect to do this?

Furthermore, I am finding it very important for the man — even if he lives out a good form of biblical manhood — to believe and uphold hisotric Christian orthodoxy. These 3 words stringed together have a whole bunch of connotations and meanings, but without going further into the nitty gritty details, I think it is of utmost importance for the man as a leader in the church to be a true Christian who bears the fruit of Lordship Salvation, and a Christian who goes to a true Church.

By this I am very well implying that there are Christians who do not bear the fruit of submitting to Christ’s Lordship, and there are those who do not attend a true Church. Such include those Christians with aberrant beliefs about faith that do not align with the mainline denominations, and those who are not baptized confessing believers of an protestant, evangelical church. I say this because I do not want a new kind of Christian in evangelicalism–the evident influx of these “non-Christians” is rampant in todays mega- / giga-churches and too many have only confessed their belief in God in order to get a ticket to heaven.

Where true, confessional Christians who have submitted their lives to Christ’s Lordship and accepted His free grace of redemption by faith, many still are members of cults and occults that are inaccurately grouped into the term “church”. These churches do not bear the characteristics of a true church and do not hold to the justification by faith alone through the Scriptures as God’s authoritative and inerrant Word. (I reckon many of these churches to be known by their acronymns.)

In short, we need men and woman of God who uphold biblical manhood and womanhood in creed and in practice, who bear the fruitful of true followers of Jesus and who are committed members of a true church. And from here, the glory of God will continue to fill the earth and we will more effectively change our society into one with a Christian worldview.

8 thoughts on “Unequally Yoked

  1. Mmmh. Interesting perspective; definitely very right-wing, but good “backing-up” with Scripture.

    Arthur from Ryerson 🙂 and I just led a Sunday school discussion on the topic about two weeks ago and it became a neat forum for people to share their opinions.

    Funny enough, the majority of people were okay with their Christian friends dating a non-Christian (as long as the person was dot dot dot fill in the blank), but they personally wouldn’t do it themselves.

    Arthur coming from your point of view; me coming from the other point.

    I’m in class right now haha, so I don’t really have the mind-space to draw out my points, but good topic!

    Anyways, check it out:
    http://thirdfloorbalcony.blogspot.com/2007/05/rule-of-attraction.html

    This guy is one who has encouraged me to stay faithful to Christ throughout my years in university… 🙂
    Enjoy!

  2. You go to the same church as Arthur Lui?!

    Yes, I am very right wing:P But you should’ve known that already:)

    As funny as it may be, I think it’s just a sign of how far we’ve fallen from grace as a generation, an emerging culture that does not want to accept what God has plainly commanded — because we just don’t like what He’s said. We subject God’s Word to our own desires and basically de-throne the Lord.

    The reasoning often is, “Oh, just let me have him God, and I’ll be sure to evangelize & convert him before we get married!” When this happens, I’ve seen God simply remove his restraining grace from us and let us do what we want — His way of punishing us by letting us go further into sin (ala Rom 1).

    Hope you’d never, ever consider dating an unbeliever.
    SDG

    • I have a question. How do you apply that meaning to the scripture 1 Cor Chapter 7, verses 12-16? It states

      12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

      15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

      This seems to indicate that not only is it okay to marry a non-believer, but you should not divorce your spouse if they do not believe. However, if they would prefer to end the marriage, you are free to find another spouse. How does this scripture apply when compared to 2 Cor Chapter 6 14-16?

      • Thanks for your question, WonderingM.

        1 Cor 7:12 speaks of a Christian who is already married to an unbelieving wife, so that in a situation where it he is already in covenant marriage with her, he must remain with her–so that she may be sanctified through him, and come to a saving knowledge of Christ. 1 Peter 3:1-4 is especially applicable here:

        [3:1] Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word (viz., not a believer), they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, [2] when they see your respectful and pure conduct. [3] Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— [4] but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
        http://esv.to/1P3.1-4

        If you, being a Christian, are not presently married/in a significant intimate relationship with a nonbeliever, the Lord in these passages is not telling us to go marry an unregenerate sinner–he is not approving of such behavior at all, but rather, to remain set apart for Him. God never desires us to break His commands in order to obey His will.

      • I did a little research myself and came up with the same answer you did. Thank you!

        I am currently in love with a girl that is not a Christian, and I wanted to see what God said on the subject. In short, I interpreted it as the following-

        God’s command here has the purpose of making sure you don’t stray from the right path. If your closest friends and relationships are not Christian, you are likely to be influenced by them in a negative way. We are still allowed to hang out with unbelievers, as Jesus did, but the ones we turn to for help the most should be followers of Christ.

        It all boils down to influence. The girl I care about is not a horrible person- in fact, she’s morally more correct than myself. She just isn’t a Christian because she has grown up completely uninformed. I believe I can still continue dating her as long as I am not tempted to sin and as long as she does not make me stray in any way from my Christian faith. Since she is not a negative influence, I have no guilt with this. She talks about God and praying, and she’s a very kind person. She’s just like most of society- they don’t know which God to follow. They see God as an ethereal being. I believe she is just as good of an influence as my Christian friends, and completely intelligent and open minded. I am sure that I can bring her to Christ.

        However, if it comes time to marry her, and she refuses to believe in Christ, I will have to make the decision to choose God over her, and end the relationship.

        Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your wisdom.

      • Thanks for your humility in sharing, WonderingM. Your desire to seek wisdom, in order to follow Christ better, is evident.

        The significant intimate relationship (viz. dating/courtship) between a believer and nonbeliever involves more than negative influence, but an imposing of a Christless worldview from the nonbeliever to the believer. If there is not any detrimental influence in your life, there will be with time. You will want to be more deeply involved with her, and that results in the sharing of worldviews, especially her views on sin, righteousness and judgment.

        Isaiah tells us that even our seemingly good, moral actions are as filthy rags: “[6] We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV). The issue here is of her unregenerate nature, as a sinner, without any good in her. If anybody is not of Christ, they are in many ways against Christ. Without faith in Christ and repentance from her sins (incl. those filthy rags), she is not born again and cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3).

        It would be arbitrary to set a double-standard for ourselves: drawing the “line” at marriage, and not dating. Let us not justify walking in passive sin, but let us actively flee from sin and temptation.

        Boundless.org has a few good articles that I recommend to you:
        http://www.boundless.org/2005/answers/a0001232.cfm
        http://www.boundless.org/2005/answers/a0001617.cfm

        I pray that you may flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV)

  3. You stated-

    “The significant intimate relationship (viz. dating/courtship) between a believer and nonbeliever involves more than negative influence, but an imposing of a Christless worldview from the nonbeliever to the believer. If there is not any detrimental influence in your life, there will be with time. You will want to be more deeply involved with her, and that results in the sharing of worldviews, especially her views on sin, righteousness and judgment.”

    I agree that our views will be different. We have discussed this and I have shared my views with her. She really doesn’t have any solidified beliefs of her own. And any small ideas she does have on morality are vague and it would be nearly impossible for them to influence my evidence driven and core ridden beliefs. In fact, I would go as far as to say she could not influence me with her views even if I wanted her to. In turn, I am starting to influence her with mine, which I see as a positive thing. If she did even begin to influence me in a negative way, I would of course end the relationship.

    Then you said-

    “Isaiah tells us that even our seemingly good, moral actions are as filthy rags: “[6] We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV). The issue here is of her unregenerate nature, as a sinner, without any good in her. If anybody is not of Christ, they are in many ways against Christ. Without faith in Christ and repentance from her sins (incl. those filthy rags), she is not born again and cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3).”

    I see the point of her being unclean, and that the deeds and ideas she might deem as correct are probably wrong. But as stated prior, I will not let this affect my beliefs and my salvation. As for her not entering the kingdom of God, I am aware and ardently working on that. It seems selfish to let sinners be in their own group and not associate with them on a deeper than acquaintance level. Perhaps God put me in her life to save her, and the relationship is only a strong starting basis for that. If I end it with her, it’s possible she might not get another person who can convince her to change her ways. I do not think I could have the same strong influence on her as a friend as I do now. It seems selfish to abandon her and the relationship in order to make sure I’m saved, while possibly damning her.

    You finally stated-

    “It would be arbitrary to set a double-standard for ourselves: drawing the “line” at marriage, and not dating. Let us not justify walking in passive sin, but let us actively flee from sin and temptation.”

    We have to set a standard somewhere since the scripture is not clear cut and is possibly interpreted multiple ways. I believe it is much harder to bring someone to Christ when you are not close with them. People are more apt to listen to their closest friends rather than people they simply know. That being said, it is dangerous to become close to people and not be influenced. To be “in the world but not of the world”. It all comes down to what an individual can handle. The question is, can I handle dating someone who is not a Christian without having that influence me to believe their beliefs and sin? My father thinks I can, and I do as well. Other people might not be able to handle that. Or perhaps I am wrong, will make mistakes, and eventually regret my choice. Fact is, I believe it is incorrect for one to be so concerned about his own spiritual path that he neglects to get close to those who need guidance as well. One’s closest relationships should be Christians- the ones we lean on for help. But that does not mean we cannot become close with sinners to save them. Most cases, we must do exactly that. As long as we put God before sin, we should be okay.

    • Hi, after reading your post i felt a strong urge to reply to you. First let me start by saying i am a christian woman married to a non-believer. Unlike you, you know shes an unbeliever and your willing to do an amazing thing. My husband and myself also talked he assured me yes he was a believer. I believed him and instead of taking the time to truly get to know his heart and soul I rushed into a marriage that did not take me long to realize he was not honest to me about being a believer. God is the most important thing in my life, I want to please GOD in everything I do. I have been married now for 4 years and i have to tell you it has been the most difficult time in my life, I love my husband and I want to be the best example to him so he will want to seek GOD out. 4 years later nothing has changed but has gotten worse. He has walked out on me and the kids. I know that is GODS will and I know its for the good cause GOD is good and only GOD knows what is best for me. I pray for the both of you. You are going into this with your eyes open. Isn’t it so easy for us believers to love others believers. But when it comes to loving a non-believer so many have such a hard time with that and some just plain refuse to be around them. If we as Christians love only Christians and not even attempt to help the non-believers, what good are we really doing?

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