“Unequally Yoked”Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations
2 Corinthians 6:14 is one of those passages that seems to lend itself more to discussion of what it doesn’t mean than what it does mean. Everywhere I’ve been, brethren have been adamant that it does not mean that it’s wrong per se for Christians to marry non-Christians. I agree, but that still leaves us asking what kind of relationships we’re supposed to avoid.
Most commentaries will say that the metaphor in the text (“Do not be unequally yoked,”) has to do with putting a strong ox and a weak ox in a yoke together. The strong ox will pull harder than the weak ox, and the wagon will go off course.
Notice, though, that there are two elements here that make the situation problematic. First, there has to be a yoke. The two parties have to be joined in some way. Second, there has to be an inequality between them. Logically, I think this has to mean that the unbeliever has more influence over the Christian than vice versa. After all, we generally call a Christian influencing an unbeliever for good “evangelism”.
This does not apply to every marriage between a Christian and an outsider, but it does apply to some. If you are considering marrying a non-Christian and you know in your heart that eventually they will lead you to fall away, you should not marry them! On the other hand, I know plenty of Christians who have been married to unbelievers for decades. That’s probably not the wisest decision, but if the believing spouse still is on course for heaven, clearly the yoke has not been unequal.
I think this principle also can be applied profitably to the political realm. Recently, I’ve seen a number of Christians warning against conflating “black lives matter”, the slogan, with “Black Lives Matter”, the political movement. Semantic disputes aside, the former is a conviction that every Christian should share. Do black lives matter? Yes!
However, Black Lives Matter does not merely stand for the inherent value of black people. It also stands for expanding abortion rights (behold, here is irony!), normalizing transgender behavior, and various other unrighteous goals. The concern is that a Christian might be led by their godly convictions into an association that will influence them to accept or at least wink at ungodliness.
This seems to me like an example of unequal yoking. After all, no individual is going to exert more influence on BLM than BLM is going to exert on them. The only question is whether yoking has occurred. Has our connection with BLM become so strong that our allegiance to it overrides our allegiance to Christ?
I do not, of course, speak with reference to BLM, which is too radical to be appealing to most brethren. Instead, this is a danger that arises whenever we join ourselves with any political party. There are none righteous, no, not one!
For every godly policy a political party promotes, there is another that is ungodly. For every morally upright political leader in a party, there is another who is a scoundrel. If we become so filled with a partisan spirit that we ignore the ungodliness and excuse the scoundrels (while loudly pointing out the ungodliness and the scoundrels on the other side), we are unequally yoked.
This is not to say that we cannot hold political convictions or vote. However, we must maintain a wary detachment while doing so. Even as we cast a ballot for one side or another, we must not put our hope and confidence in them. Politics can’t save the world, but it can cost us our souls.
It is easy for us to separate ourselves from the parts of the world that disgust us. When it comes to the parts of the world that allure or even inspire us, separation becomes more difficult. However, it also is then that separation becomes most important.