Non-Christian partners… unequally yoked

6 Oct

I wonder if you’ve been faced with the temptation of having a relationship with a non-Christian? It’s easily done. They are probably a lovely person, it could be that you feel they are morally more upstanding than other Christians you know. They are attractive and fun and you get along very well… what’s the problem?

It’s normally the older (and may I add wiser) Christian who will throw a painful wince as you suggest such a thing. You’re not going to pay too much attention though, they are just being old fashioned. They don’t understand, you’ve found someone you connect with and that can only be a good thing…

Normally about the time of the painful wince your older Christian friend will point out the old classic “Do not be unequally yoked to an unbeliever”….. So there you go, end of argument, no non-Christian partner. This argument comes from 2 Corinthians 6:14, and we must be careful not to take it out of context. We will get to that later.

Firstly, our own attitude is very telling on the matter. You start out with the best of intentions, you’re not turning your back on your Christian life. God is still in focus. Normally you will have reasoned with yourself along the following lines:
1) I’ll be a witness to them, get them to come to church, they might become a Christian.
2) It’s just harmless fun, nothing serious.
3) I know Christians who have had relationships with non-Christians, and they were fine.

I could spend a whole post arguing against this reasoning, but I want to focus on the root of what scripture says. I mean lets be honest, that kind of thinking isn’t about defending yourself to that dear older Christian. It’s about convincing yourself it’s fine – and it’s at that point the alarm bells should be ringing! So lets see if the passage in 2 Corinthians holds any weight with regards to a relationship with a non-Christian.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

To get this in context, we need to understand the background that Paul is writing against.

Although, the Corinthian church had turned to God, the Pagan culture that surrounded them was having an influence on the believers there. Unholy unions with idols, idol feasts, temple prostitutes and sacrifices were being practiced by the believers in Corinth, they were being sucked back into their old way of living.

And so we find in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, the Apostle Paul identifying two opposing worlds, two different kingdoms, two ways to live. One is a life of righteousness, light, Christ, believers and the presence of God. The other is described as lawless, dark, satanic, occupied by unbelievers and the presence of idols. Two societies, utterly different, utterly distinct, completely incompatible and at polar opposites.

The ‘Yoke’ analogy, is from a concept back in Deuteronomy Where Israel were to live in a certain way. One way was that they were not to plow with an ox and an ass yoked together. And the reasons for that are obvious. Those two animals have two different natures. They don’t have the same strength. They don’t have the same kind of instincts. You can’t yoke them up and expect a straight furrow.

Paul is borrowing off of that analogy and highlights how there is no possibility for people in these two kingdoms to be bound together in common work, no partnership, no fellowship, no harmony and no agreement does or can really exist.

This then is the situation Paul is highlighting in the church at Corinth. They can only live one way, they can’t have one foot in and one foot out. It’s all or nothing! And since they have chosen to follow God, they must recognize that a change of lifestyle is needed.

The Principal from this passage is that we should choose our partnerships carefully. The simple truth is followers of Christ have a totally different outlook to unbelievers. Our lives are about glorifying God, not about gratifying self. Our lives are focused on making God the centre, not living for those drink fuelled weekends.

It is impossible for believers to be in close union with unbelievers, the lifestyles, outlooks and attitudes conflict.

Does this passage specifically refer to not having a non-Christian partner? Well, no.

Should this passage be regarded as a warning not to be in close union with an unbeliever, absolutely. Not just on a romantic level though. Consider, close friendships, business partners etc… This is not to say we hide away from unbelievers, definitely not, scripture is clear on our being in the world and a good witness. But we should not seek out anything or anyone that would compromise our relationship with Father God. (scripture deals separately with varying circumstances i.e. Married when one of the couple becomes a believer).

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6 Responses to “Non-Christian partners… unequally yoked”

  1. Lashon Bush July 28, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    MR AVERAGE CHRISTIAN,

    Great article on the difficulties and conflict that can arise when we go against what God would have us to do as Christians. I had this very same conversation with an aunt of mine, as she basically told me to take the opportunity that was being presented, by a rocky situation in my marriage, “to run as fast as I can from the marriage”, calling in to mind the unequallly yoked principle set forth in the scripture. I would like to fancy myself a Christian and my spouse is someone who God has not yet (at least as far as I can tell), if he plans to at all and I pray that he does, revealed himself to in the form of Jesus Christ. I quickly called to mind:

    1 Corinthians 7:13-16 (King James Version)

    13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

    14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

    15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

    16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

    I believe this scripture speaks directly to the “varying circumstances” that you spoke of within your article and it is a comfort for not only those that have become believers after they are married, but to those who have made the bad and costly judgement of getting involved with an unbeliever when they knew that the scripture warned against it.

    I guess all the things that God would have us to do may seem tedious at times but as I read elsewhere within you blog, it’s just like God says in: Jeremiah 29:11

    For I know the plans I have for you: ” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    As Christians we are going to suffer in this world, as everyone one suffers even non believers, but when we make decisions that are not in accordance with God’s will we bring the pain on ourselves. I am gratefull that God can take a shortcoming and turn it around for his Glory!

    God is faithful towards his people even though we are unfaithful at times. We have the promise through various scriptures in the bible that he will never forsake his people, but restore them through discipline and chastisement as a loving father would a son…. as the scripture tells us in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

    Great Blog and God’s Blessings in Jesus Christ Name. Stop by my website “giveyourwitness.com” and leave your personal testimony on how you came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior under the “personal testimonies” category as a comment, if you care to share or just leave a comment on one of the articles that are meant to edify, strengthen and build up the body of Christ.

    Lashon

  2. Bob February 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I completely agree with the unequally yoked principle, since I am an old Christian. The key is the yoke; that is marriage and joining of lives and life’s work. I consider myself a liberal, but I am not so legalistic as to say avoid people of other religions, doctrinal beliefs, or other exclusionary items. It may sound like a contradiction, let me explain.
    It is my belief that God puts people in your life that are not like you (or me) for the purpose of being an example of a godly life. If the attraction is there, it is not a sin to date. Of course, your dating should not be sexual or other impure motive dating. If God puts someone in your path, they shouldn’t be dismissed as something less because they have not come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. How will they ever know, if someone does not show them? Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman, and outcast of soceity. I believe this is a great example of reaching people not accepted in our world.
    It may be a little contrversial in your mind, but creating rules to stop the possibility of sin is not correct. Jesus had issue with the Pharisees about their additions to Scriptures.

    • Mahwa April 16, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      You are right God wants us meet with other people for the sake of ministry, and we can be their friends and show them love, then they will know that we are Christians by our love. But we are not called to form a union with them. It is highly discouraged in several Scriptures to form a union with those who are not put right with God.

      I’m not sure how other Christians in the world do this but in the Christian societies that I have been part of, we never date for fun. We only date when you strongly perceive it in your Spirit that the other person might be your soulmate & in most cases this usually result in marriage. Which is why we dont concentrate on dating and admiring other people, because the Scriptures tell us that we should seek first the Kingdom of the Lord and his Righteousness, and the rest will be added unto us. So if the Lord know that we need someone, then he will provide when the timing is perfect. You dont need to hunt for a partner and go for many dates.

      Also, another thing is that it is God’s desire is that you grow in Faith and Spiritual matters. And so God will bring someone in your life who is Spiritually mature to run this race with you, since you both have the same vision. He will not bring someone who is still seeking. This is so because God wants each and everyone of us to acknowledge that he is the main person in our lives first. Then after this, he can give you other things which if you have not accepted Christ as the main person, will trap you and make you feel that they are the most important things. These things involve Wealth, partners (marriage), etc. So as a Christian, you will never be torn between serving 2 masters, God or your partner because you know who is greater, because you are saved. But if you are not saved, you will think that your life is centered around your partner. So God wants those people to seek him first and appreciate that he is the one active in their lives.

      So until one is in a proper place with God, they are not yet ready to handle another person in their lives. Because their lives are still in darkness and still need Jesus.
      And coming to God should not be so because you feel thats the way you can keep a relationship with someone, but should be entirely from your heart.

  3. aboveaveragechristian May 22, 2012 at 4:54 am #

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    lucifer and he helps me sacrifice small children to jesus. we’ve got it to work.

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