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Don’t be unequally yoked

What is the Bible is talking about when it says, “Don’t be unequally yoked”?  It conjures up the image of a big cow and a little cow yoked together but the big cow doing most of the work. I have often felt that way during my ministry career – it’s no way to run a partnership between two peo…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
What is the Bible is talking about when it says, “Don’t be
unequally yoked”?  It conjures up the image of a big cow and a little cow yoked together but the big cow doing most of the work. I have often felt that way during my ministry career – it’s no way to run a partnership between two people.
The phrase is most frequently applied to marriage as in, “don’t marry nonChristians.”  But it has nuances that go far beyond that most basic of litmus tests. It has a lot to do with why you’re here on this earth and where you’re going with your life.  What do you believe about God and how important is that to you really?
If your values are kingdom values, that is, if you believe in
an open home, a faith-filled perspective, in covenantal friendships, and
in a lifestyle of worship and outreach, then you’ll want to find someone else who lives their life the same way. After all, if you’ve absorbed that way of living deeply
into your spirit, but you’re partnered with a mate who is resistant or
even indifferent, your relationship isn’t going to be a happy one.
Yesterday I blogged about Dennis and Zwakele, a couple who though they come from very different backgrounds, are equally yoked because of their kingdom perspective. Nationality is not a significant part of their value system, but citizenship, as in kingdom citizenship, is of essential importance.
Now that my kiddos have entered a season of extreme eligibility, we’ve been thinking a lot more about such matters.  This past weekend Estie just arrived in town to introduce us to a young man who seems to like her a lot.  You can bet that I asked him a lot about the kingdom and the things that are important enough to him that he’d die for them.  In Estie’s value system, thankfully, I get to help determine what “equally yoked” means.  Years ago she gave me a small key with a note attached to it explaining that she was giving me the key to her heart and that when at last she went to be married, I could then give the key to her future husband.

The biggest cross-cultural gap in marriage one can face is not people from two different countries.  Rather, it’s the gap between a
kingdom-minded believer and an agnostic or a “social Christian.” Inevitably the believer will
either convert the agnostic or be dumbed-down by him or her. There is
no middle ground for someone whose life and worldview has been
transformed by Jesus and his way of doing life.  Such a union would indeed define what it means to be unequally yoked.

Comments (14)

  • St. Mark of the Cross

    Such truth. I have seen so many young people’s lives ruined by this very subject of unequally yoked. Whether it be in relationships as teens doing things together or in marriage. I always ask “Who is evangelizing who?” Most of the time I find good kingdom people being evangelized by those whose mind set is not that of Jesus Christ. I must look into my own life and ask who I have been evangelized by? I pray daily that Matt & Mary will continue to honor and obey our desire for courtship based on kingdom principles. So far they are very “choosy” about who the hang with – it limits them somewhat, but they are finding their purpose here on earth. Good word Seth…

  • Because God has that key to some’s heart, there is no compromise. Ministries MUST compliment one-another. Even if it means being single for a life-time, one should NEVER settle!

  • Amos chapter 3 v 3

    “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”

    God has a life plan, a road for people to walk on. If you dont trust God to find the “equally yolked” partner who is walking the same path as you then you will always feel the pressure of “two oxen who are pulling in oposite directions” instead of strolling peacefully in the same direction.

    If you have a partner who is on the same path but is much “weaker” than you in the faith. It will make your path so much more of a struggle. One will be constantly pulling the other partner along which would be hard work. This partner will be tired at the end of every day because of this process. The other partner who is weaker will be struggling to keep up, also getting tired every day by this process.

    Equally yolking in marraige, or even a business partner is vital if you want to live in the fullness of Christ and experience His “yolk is light”. Christians have often thought that if the other person is a christian then its ok to get married. My advice for any christian is let God join you together with His wisdom. Trust His choice for your life and if you find that you are still single then that is so much better than being unevenly yolked with all the heart ache that follows.

    I have personally experienced the pain of uneven yolking. I have experienced the regret of not trusting God in this area. I have had to repent of “doing my will and not His” and has left me with 2 failed marraiges in my wake.I have learnt the hard way when I believed I knew better for my life than God did.

    I am blessed that now, older and wiser and into my 3rd marraige I have trusted God(thank God for His grace and mercy on my life). It was only when I let it all go and said “Lord, my life belongs to you. I dont care if I remain single till the day I die. I just want to serve you. Its not about me anymore. Its all about being obedient to you.” it was only when God brought me to that place did He bring me a “shepherd after His own heart” a mighty warrior of God who speaks “my language”.

    Now we walk the same path as husband and wife.

    I know the difference, and would strongly advise anyone in this area to take it seriously.

  • Thanks, Seth.

    They key to effective marriages is to have common things you are willing to die for and a passion to find oneness without feeling that means “sameness”.

  • My husband and I were unequally yoked when we married. Unfortunately, instead of me lifting him up to where I was, I was brought down to his level. By the grace of God I received a new start with God, but my husband was not willing to go that route. We recently divorced because of this matter among many other things. The whole thing brings such heartache to a person. I’m looking for a mate with different eyes now. I know God will be faithful to me in this area of my life. I just wish I would have trusted Him with this before now.

  • Seth, thank you for this article! I began my search on here regarding this topic, and yours was the first thing I clicked on.

    Sue, your post ministered to me and I thank you for it.

    God bless you those who responded to this…I was blessed by this thread.

  • I just recently taught a one-week class at my daughter’s Christian high school which incorporated this subject into the curriculum. I was led to teach the class due to my husband and I being unequally yoked, and I “should have known better” before we got married. However, I really did not understand the concept because I took for granted my parents’ marriage and the work they had to put into it, and when I married I was making God-less decisions in my life therefore making it impossible to know God’s will for my life at that time. I am thankful for my husband’s willingness to raise our children in a Christian school and in the church, but I am still yearning for him to be the spiritual leader in our home. This is such an important subject for young Christians especially in the spiritually and morally frivolous world in which we live.

  • this was so profounding!! this is why we need the Holy Spirit to guide us into All Truth. thank you for sharing.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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