Living Unequally Yoked

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

I am occasionally presented with cases in which there are believers in relationships of all kinds with unbelievers. It could be marriage, a working relationship, a friend or neighbor.

In a marriage relationship, the usual presentation is that one party has come to Christ in the course of the marriage and the other has not. I do occasionally get a situation where a woman has willingly and knowingly married an unbeliever. I have also been involved with cases where one person in the marriage has made a false profession of faith and married a believer.

None of these cases is the ideal. These marriages are typically difficult and tumultuous for both parties. If there are children involved the difficulties are magnified exponentially.

In any relationship between a Christian and non-Christian the reasons for the ongoing discord are clear; the born again person has been transformed; they have different thoughts, values, standards and beliefs than the unbeliever. Their goals, motives and principles are different.

We look at life with an entirely different perspective than an unbeliever does. Our hope is in a different place, and our thoughts are focused on eternity rather than the temporal.

Our perspective on life is radically different than that of an unbeliever. Because of this, we do not have the same harmony or degree of fellowship in our relationships with unbelievers as we do with our believing family.

If you have entered into an unequally yoked situation, I suspect you realized early on that your relationship would never reach beyond the level of the superficial with this person. It grieves us deeply as we realize that they cannot share in the things that have come to mean the most to us in the entire world. Sure, we may share holidays and community with them, social events and sporting or recreation interests, but deep down the difference is radical. We realize that the difference is actually opposition.

Even in a marriage, the closest and most intimate human relationship we have as adults the believer and unbeliever are on the heart level diametrically opposed to each other. In the believer’s heart, Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior, Master.

To the unbeliever Christ may be a good man, he may be someone recognized in religiosity or ritual, he may even be someone treated with indifference or scorn. He may be viewed by the unbeliever as the one who messed up the perfect spouse, an intruder, a spoiler. The believer has oriented his or her life around godly pursuits and the unbeliever has as his focus “self” and the pursuit of comfort, monetary gain, and success.

With all this in mind, is it any wonder there is discord and strife in these relationships? How do we handle with truth and grace these people we love so dearly, or once loved so deeply who now are in opposition to everything we believe in? There is a misconception in this area that “God wants me to be happy” and “God doesn’t want me to live like this” that cannot be scripturally validated.

Women married to believers sometimes seek a way out. They come to our counseling center wanting a second opinion, a church validation that what they were told elsewhere was right and ask us to in essence rubber stamp their decision. Corinthians 7:12- 13 is clear that we cannot divorce our husbands for being unbelievers.

I find this to be a difficult and heart wrenching situation. I want to be compassionate and recognize the difficult situation the woman finds herself in. I was once in an unequally yoked relationship and I understand the misery and difficulty that is involved.

There are no easy answers for this situation. It requires much wisdom and seeking after the Lord for comfort, direction and strength. Tomorrow we will look at some specifics for living in an unequally yoked relationship.