“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” - 2 Corinthians 6:14
if you’re not a basketball fan, you probably know who Shaquille O’Neal is. Shaq
was one of the most dominant NBA centers of all time, helping to lead the Los
Angeles Lakers to three NBA championships. He’s in the Hall of Fame. But have
you ever seen a picture of Shaq standing next to his girlfriend? She’s a lovely
woman—but Shaq looks like a giant standing next to her. The top of her head is
barely higher than the crook of his elbow! I guess when you’re 7-foot-1, it’s
hard to find a girl your height.
you ever looked at a couple and thought, “They just look mismatched?” You might
see a woman who’s much taller than the man she’s with … or who’s so stunningly
gorgeous that you might be tempted to say, “She’s way out of his league!”
point is this: There are certain couples that we look at and say, “They’re just
not compatible.” Sometimes we’re proven right when they have a bitter breakup
six months later. At other times, we find ourselves 10 years down the road say,
“Huh! I never thought that relationship would work, but I guess I was wrong.
They’re still together and they seem happy enough.” Of course, we’re not the
best judges of anyone else’s relationship—or even our own. So, let’s take a
close look at what God’s Word teaches us about compatibility.
we talk about compatibility in Christian circles, we usually quote 2
Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” When
the apostle Paul wrote these words, he was speaking to Corinthian Christians
who had allowed false teachers to come into their church and persuade them to
water down their teaching. So, first and foremost, he was warning the
Christians not to get so chummy with false teachers who could lead them away
from Christ. However, this verse provides a timeless principle that applies to
every relationship Christians are in—including business partnerships, dating
relationships and marriage.
let’s take a closer look at the term “equally yoked.” When Paul used the term,
he was referring back to Deuteronomy 22:10, where God gives the Jewish people
the law, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.” You might
wonder, “What the heck kind of a law is that?” But as any farmer who doesn’t
own a tractor can tell you, teaming up an ox and a donkey is a really bad idea.
The average donkey weighs about 500 pounds. The average ox weighs about 2,000
pounds. How can you plow a straight furrow if you’ve got an animal on one side
of the yoke that is four times heavier than the animal on the other side? You
can’t. God knew they could not work together in harmony. So, He said, “Don’t
yoke them together. You’re asking for trouble.”
there was one other problem with yoking an ox and a donkey together. According
to Jewish dietary laws, an ox was a “clean” animal. The Jews were allowed to
eat it. But they weren’t allowed to eat a donkey. It was an “unclean” animal.
So, this obscure law about being unequally yoked wasn’t just for
farmers. It provided this timeless principle for all God’s
followers: Those who are “clean” should never be yoked together in close relationships
with those who are “unclean.” Or, to say it more simply, those who LOVE God
should never enter partnerships with those who DON’T LOVE God.
a believer marries an unbeliever, a game of spiritual tug of war begins,
because they are unequally yoked. And guess who wins the game nine times out of
10? The unbeliever. Why? Because it’s the path of least resistance. It’s just
easier for the believer to cave. It’s like the Old Sunday school illustration.
One child stands on top of a chair while the other one stands on the floor.
They join hands and start pulling. Who almost always wins? The child who’s
pulling the other one down. What’s true of kids on chairs is equally true of
Christians in marriages that are unequally yoked. The believer has already
compromised by choosing a spouse who turned their back on God. So, it’s pretty
easy for that believer to compromise a bit more by turning his or her own back
on God. Remember, it’s always easier to pull someone down than to pull someone
is no doubt that when it comes to choosing a spouse, God commands us in
Scripture to choose a fellow believer. Now, if you are already in an unequally
yoked marriage, you’re probably wondering what God wants you to do. If you were
a Christian on your wedding day and you knew your fiancé wasn’t a Christian,
you need to humbly admit to God that you sinned and ask Him to forgive you. And
regardless of whether you were a Christian on your wedding day or became a
Christian at some later date, you need to follow what God tells you to do in 1
Corinthians 7:12-16. Long story short: Don’t divorce your unbelieving spouse.
Husbands, pray for your wife’s salvation. Wives, pray for your husband’s
salvation. And ask God to open opportunities for you to lead your spouse to
Christ so that you CAN be equally yoked.
a marriage is most compatible when we follow the principles established by
God—the Creator of marriage. According to God’s Word, compatibility boils down
to three things: values, beliefs and goals. The most successful, happy
Christian marriages are those where a husband and wife are on the same page
with their values, beliefs and goals. That’s what it truly means to be equally
Dane Davis is the pastor
of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday
services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. For
more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.