Getting into an unequally yoked relationship is something that many single Christian women are worried about and for a good reason.
While visiting the rural areas of Zimbabwe, I saw for the first time two unequally yoked oxen. It's not an uncommon sight as many people don't have large herds of cattle to choose from and so they are forced to make the best with what they have available. As a result, they end up yoking together two animals that are two different sizes.
The more significant the difference in size, the more absurd it looks. When I first saw it, I laughed and realized this is precisely what some of our relationships look like from God's perspective.
The truth is that unequally yoked animals are capable of pulling a scotch cart or plow together. That's why people continue to do it. They make the best of what they have and do what they have to to survive.
Many people do the same thing in their relationships. They make the best of it and do what they think they have to do to get by. But this is far from ideal.
The unequally yoked verse comes from 2 Corinthians 6:14.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV
Many suggest that unequally yoked teams can't work together, and for a long time, I thought this was true. However, it turns out that they can.
Thus the law. God wouldn't have to command us not to do something if it was impossible to do it. In Deuteronomy, God commands that a donkey and oxen can not be yoked together to plow.
Clearly, people must have been doing this. And the reason was that it would work, but it does a lot of damage in the process.
God is love. God is compassionate. He has compassion for the donkey, who is seriously injured when yoked to an ox.
How much more love and compassion does God have for you when you're yoked to someone who is not your equal.
Now, I would like to offer you a fresh perspective on this argument.
Many would argue that Christian women should not date non-Christians. I'm afraid I have to disagree. Here's why.
Dating and marriage are two different things.
A lot of damage has been done by blurring the lines between dating and marriage. Dating is simply a series of meetings in which two people investigate whether or not there's a connection between them.
I would argue that dating is a valuable learning experience for women who need to learn to guard their hearts. It is not something to be avoided. Instead, women should date with great deliberation and intent.
But we have this crazy idea that the next person we date should and will be the one that we should marry.
Can you imagine if we used this logic in the hiring process?
If an employer sought an ideal candidate and searched for that person, and expected that the next person with a resume might be the one, that employer would be sorely disappointed.
Instead, we see employers consider what they want in an ideal candidate and then broadcast that the position is available. Then they allow a wide variety of people to apply for the job. After a series of interviews, they choose the right person based on what they had set out to find.
Dating for Christians should follow a similar blueprint.
In other words, single Christian women should Not take dating so seriously. Slow down and take the pressure off yourself. You don't need to marry the next guy who buys you a cup of coffee.
Take your time and have a good look at ALL your options.
What does this have to do with being equally or unequally yoked?
Well, as a Christian woman, you need to do a lot of inward work to know what it is you're looking for.
If you're going to be equally yoked, that means that you're going to have to find your equal.
Too many women set the bar way too low by just trying to find a Christian boyfriend and turn him into a husband.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul is talking to Christians about getting into covenant relationships with unbelievers. That means any relationship that is binding, legally, spiritually, or maritally.
But I would encourage you to take a broader look at this Biblical truth. Finding someone who shares the same faith as you is just the beginning.
Although I believe it's okay for a Christian to date a non-Christian, I'm not at all convinced that it's okay for a Christian to marry an unbeliever.
Unequally yoked marriages are catastrophically damaging to both parties. Like the donkey who is yoked to an ox, someone is going to get hurt.
Think about it this way; a donkey and an ox can graze together (go out for coffee) but can not be expected to make a lasting and effective pair (marriage).
The primary reason that people get into and stay in unequally yoked relationships is fear.
It's not that they love each other, although many would argue that's the case. The truth is that we're afraid. We're living with the belief that this might be as good as it gets.
The truth is that if we believed that God loves us and wants what's best for us, He would not want us to settle for less. He wants you to know that as a child of God, there is someone out there who is your equal and well-suited to help you carry the heavy loads of life and the Gospel of Christ.
The goal is to be equally yoked in marriage.
For a wise woman, this goes far beyond just marrying a Christian. To have a healthy, thriving marriage, you need to look for someone who is your equal.
I know many people say that opposites attract but in marriage, we need more than attraction. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, and it's worth it to take your time and to date a wide variety of people to discover more about yourself and what you want.
Please note: I teach women to approach marriage in 3 stages, dating, courting, then marriage.
In my opinion, dating should be extremely superficial.
It is casual and an opportunity to learn more about the other person. It's an opportunity to practice guarding your heart while practicing your relationship skills. There are no promises or commitments.
Courting is the stage at which you decide that you would like to select this person as a candidate for marriage. It is a probationary period during which you choose as a couple where this relationship is going, and you are developing a relationship with the intention of marriage. There is no commitment. However, there is an expressed agreement that the relationship is destined toward marriage soon.
Finally, we get to covenant marriage. Marriage is the only point at which there is a binding commitment. You have to draw the line somewhere, and the Biblical place for that is at the alter.
Does this mean that you're supposed to find someone who's exactly like you?
No, of course not. But you must agree on your mutual core beliefs.
On the surface, my husband and I are nothing alike. We come from two different cultures. He is a little older; I'm a little younger. He's louder, and I'm quieter. He likes tea, and I like coffee. He enjoys sports while I am a bookworm.
The important this is, we share a lot of core values. First and foremost, we both submit to Christ. Secondly, we both hold education, hard work, and integrity, and adventure as core values.
These mutual core values make decision making relatively easy. We both want the same general things for our marriage, our children, and our businesses. Although we are different in many ways, we are equally yoked.
Therefore it is entirely possible to be unequally yoked even though you both believe in the Lord Jesus.
One of the main reasons we have so much divorce is because we get into relationships and believe that these differences won't matter. We foolishly assume that the grace of God will bridge the gap for us.
And of course, it can, but too many people don't allow God to do it. They want the other person to change. Instead of letting God make up the difference, we want God to fix the other person, which He isn't in the habit of doing.
When your marriage is unequally yoked, it will be challenging to make decisions because there will always be a power struggle. If you want fundamentally different things, then you will be continuously forced to compromise.
I am against the idea of compromise. It always leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Whenever you compromise on the truth of God and cave into the pressure of another, including your husband, you know in your heart, something is wrong.
In marriage, a husband and wife should harmonize. They should strive to see things from the other person's point of view. Instead of compromising on the truth of God, they should both be equally yoked, standing side by side as equals to carry the burden of light and love of the Gospel to the world. And of course, the best way to do this is by being an example.
If you're not yet married, but you're in an unequally yoked relationship, then I would strongly encourage you to be honest with yourself about that.
God gives us his commands from a place of love. He knows what an unequally yoked relationship will do to you. Get into agreement with Him. Adopt the mind of Christ and choose to see your relationship the way he sees it. Repent, change your mind, guard your heart, and continue searching for someone who can compliment you as an equal partner.
If you're already married, you will need to do some deep prayer and soul searching with God.
Here are some things you might want to consider.
How to make an unequally yoked marriage work.
You may decide for various reasons that you're going to make your unequally yoked marriage work. Perhaps for the sake of the children or because he is a loving partner or some other reason. I believe that the grace of God is sufficient. But be aware of the challenges that are inherently present in such a situation, and be kind to yourselves.
You may also decide that you've made the wrong decision. That the marriage is not a covenant marriage and that God is not in it. You might be legally married, but that does not mean that God recognizes the union. For example, I do not believe that God hates divorce if someone identifies as gay, repents, and chooses to divorce their partner.
If you conclude that you must end an unequally yoked relationship, know that God has your back. He is for you and not against you.
It can be scary to end a relationship, even when we know it's doing more harm than good. As Christians, we must be mindful of what is right in light of eternity. Far too often, we believe that we might never find love again. We believe this was our only chance. Maybe we're too old, or too scared or too, something...
Do not let fear hold you hostage in a relationship that does you harm.
Know that you have the power in you to create joy and happiness, whether you're single, married, have children, a job, money, or not. Satisfaction is your choice.
If you're unequally yoked, don't stay in the relationship forever "waiting on the Lord" to change him. God has given us free will and does not take that away from us just because you're a prayer warrior.
If someone does not come to Christ on their own, you need to respect their decision. Do not try to manipulate someone into a false confession of Christ as their Lord.
When you're unequally yoked, consider what got you there. Study yourself. What were you thinking and believing that led you to that decision? Reflect on this because if you decide to end the relationship, you don't want to run the risk of making the same mistake twice.
Unequally yoked relationships break hearts. They led to a great deal of disappointment and discouragement. You may stay in a relationship for a long time trying to change the other person. Praying for them, telling them about God, making them go to church with you, and pushing them to act Christian.
But God sees people's hearts. God knows what we truly believe. He knows if we love him or not. Don't waste your precious time trying to make someone do something they don't want to do. Let them be themselves and then decide if you can have an equally yoked relationship or not. Don't make the mistake of choosing based on who you WISH they would be.
I know how difficult of a topic this is for many Christian women. If you want help thinking through this, I want you to book a free coaching call with me. I help Christian women adopt the mind of Christ so that they can make decisions with integrity and grace.
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My goal is to help Christian women like you enjoy a healthy, thriving relationship with God and pursue your God-given desire for marriage. If you have any questions, thoughts, or opinions, I would love to connect with you in the comments below.
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