Finding God's Winning Spirit

Equally Yoked

October 24, 2014 | Greg Smith | Marriage


I was in session with a client the other day and she made the statement that she was not sure that she and her husband were "equally yoked" as a couple. In her words she felt like she was more mature in her faith than her husband and that this was part of their marital problem. She then asked me to share my understanding of the term "equally yoked"  

As you can probably guess the term "equally yoked" comes up occasionally as Christians talk about marriage and comes up even more often during Christian premarital counseling. I felt pretty comfortable sharing my understanding of the term as I had done it many times before.

The more we talked, and the more she asked me specifically about this term, the more I began to question my understanding of what Paul meant here about being “equally yoked” (I have always said I learn more from my clients than they do from me). I have since done some research.

It is in 2 Corinthians 6:14 that we read, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?”  I am not sure why we have always related this quote to the institution of marriage as Paul is not directly talking about marriage in this context at all.  Paul is writing to the new Christians in Corinth about the importance of standing out and being distinct on how they live their lives as new Christians.

Paul starts this discourse in verse three by saying, "We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way….”  Paul ends this section by writing, “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate says the Lord”.  Paul’s point here is that the new Christians of Corinth need to embrace the differences in being Christian, that Christians and non-Christians together are like the righteous with the lawless, light with darkness, believers with unbelievers and temples with idols etc. – Christians should guard against losing their uniqueness; they should stand out.

The word for "unequally yoked" is  heteerozugeo in Greek and is only found in this passage in the Bible. The definition of this word (coined by Paul) means unequally bound together. The word partnership (metoche) in the Greek means sharing, fellowship or partnership. It is quite clear to me that Paul's advice to the new Christians in Corinth was to not associate with  (fellowship), go into business with (partnership) or enter into agreements with nonbelievers.

This is not really a new message as we told in Leviticus 19:19, “You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seeds….” Deuteronomy 22:10 says, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together….” God has always wanted His people to stand out – to be set apart.

So my client is going to ask me next time what I found out about "equally yoked" and does it relate to marriage? The simple answer will be yes you can use it in reference to marriage because it's a relationship and it’s a partnership etc. Because Paul specifically addresses the marriage of believers and unbelievers elsewhere (1 Corinthians 7), I would tend to think that “unequally yoked” here relates more to how we interact with others in our world.

So what's the big deal you say? Well it's not a big difference really, but we have to be careful that we do not miss the primary message here from Paul. Sure, 1st Century Corinth was a lot more confusing and religiously chaotic then than now and Christianity is not still fighting its way into existence. But one thing is the same and that is the importance for us as Christians to stand out.

We need to be aware of who we associate with and not be seduced into living the lives of those who do not follow Christ. We need to be aware of the motives and practices of business partners and alliances formed for the wrong reasons with the wrong people. I think it would be unwise to think this passage, and Paul’s warning, only applies to the new believes of Corinth. We need to ask ourselves, “Are we setting the standard for others or do we tend to compromise our faith to fit in?”

Please email back . Needing some martial advice
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