“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” -2 Corinthians 6:14
The decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord remains the most important decision of a person’s life. The second most important decision remains a believer’s choice for a spouse. A spouse will either aid your spiritual growth or become a detriment to it. In the above passage, Paul instructs believers to be careful who they are “yoked” within this life. The challenges brought about by marriage remain difficult even for two dedicated believers, much less one as an unbeliever. Here are the most likely three possible outcomes if a believer marries an unbeliever:
1. The most common outcome will be for the Christian to push Christ to the margins of his or her life. This may not involve renouncing our faith but in matters of practicing our faith. Examples of practicing our faith include: our devotional life, hospitality to believers (Sunday School events and small group meetings), missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers, church attendance- that thing will have to be minimized or avoided in order to preserve peace in the home.
2. Alternatively, if the believer in the marriage holds on to a healthy Christian life and practice, the non-believing partner will have to be marginalized. If the unbelieving partner can’t understand the point of the Bible study, prayer, missions, hospitality, or church attendance, then he or she can’t or won’t participate alongside the believing spouse in those activities. The profound unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person’s most significant commitments.
3. Either the marriage experiences stress and break up; or it experiences stress and stays together, achieving some truce that involves one spouse or the other yielding in some areas, but which leaves both parties feeling lonely and unhappy.
Does this sound like the kind of marriage that you want? One that strangles your growth in Christ or chokes your growth as a couple, or both? Think back to 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being “unequally yoked.” Most of us no longer live in an agrarian culture, but try to visualize what would happen if a farmer yoked together an ox with a donkey. The heavy wooden yoke, designed to harness the strength of the team, would be askew, as the animals are of different heights, weights, walk at different speeds and with different styles. The yoke would rub and chafe both animals since the load would be distributed unequally.
An unequal marriage is not just unwise and outside God's will for the Christian, it is also unfair to the non-Christian, and will end up being a trial for them both. Marriage carries enough challenges without extremely different exceptions for the marriage from each person involved.