The truth I want to share with you, the truth many teens and adult singles and families choose to ignore, the truth that is disregarded in many of today’s churches is the doctrine of being unequally yoked. The proof text is found in Second Corinthians 6:14-18: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK IN THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Wherefore, COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord, AND TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING; AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU. AND WILL BE A FATHER UNTO YOU, AND YE SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, saith the Lord Almighty.”
Allow me to do a bit of expository teaching here, in an attempt to convey the seriousness of such a doctrine, and why God chose to put such a teaching in the Bible, with both Old and New Testament examples. If you review the above passage, God makes five contrasts that serve as examples of areas in which two people can be unequally yoked. Let’s look at them in the order in which they appear in the text.
First, righteousness versus unrighteousness could be explained this way. Moral versus immoral. Holy versus sinful. Should a Christian go to a party where drinking and sexual promiscuity will be present? Of course not. So if one is a Christian, one should never accept an invitation to such an event. That’s a no brainer. So it’s the parent’s responsibility to know what your children are doing and where they will be while they are out with friends for the evening. Teenagers, young adults, and everyone else, the Bible clearly instruct us in 1st Corinthians 10:31 that we need to do all to the glory of God. You can’t go out in mixed company and engage in ungodly activities and obey 1st Corinthians 10:31. So be mindful of that.
Second, look at the contrast between light and darkness. Consider this to be referring to the knowledge Christians have of the things of God. For example, so many churches are getting away from believing and teaching a literal seven-day creation of the world by God as recorded in Genesis. Churches are beginning to blend creationism and evolution in an attempt to make the truth of God’s Word fit with the lies of evolutionary theory. These churches call it “intelligent design.” Basically, there is a god behind nature, but it has evolved under the watchful eye of this god. Bible-believing Christians ought not to be buying into theories such as these. Have no part with them. Separate yourselves from them. As individuals, our lights need to shine and we need to bear witness to the truths to whomever we are engaging at the time.
A third contrast is between Christ and Belial. The word Belial may have different meanings (wickedness and the like) but here it refers to Satan. The same root word is used here as in 1st John 2:13,14. Whose lordship are you under? If you’re a Christian, can you claim the name of Christ and still willingly be under the tutelage of Satan himself? Satan is the god of this world. Who do you grow in knowledge the most? Do you spend much of your time learning the precepts of God by reading His Word or do you spend your time watching sitcoms, going to R-rated movies and listening to unholy music until you become desensitized to sin to the point where you say, “Oh, I know that movie scene depicted fornication between two unmarried young adults, but it was tastefully done.” Or what about this compromise, “Oh, I don’t listen to the sinful ungodly lyrics, just the music.” God says we ought not to be under the tutelage of the devil. (It’s probably time I inventory my CD collection).
Fourthly, he that believeth versus an infidel admonishes us to understand that to get together with anyone, whether it’s for business partnership or a romantic relationship, we should be of one accord with respect to faith. Faith, in this case, refers to the saving knowledge of Christ. One who has faith in his heart that Christ is the Savior is a believer and those who ignore, disregard, or just plainly reject the Gospel of Christ unto salvation is an unbeliever, heathen, and infidel. It’s difficult enough for true believers to always be in one accord, even when they all possess the Holy Spirit, but to attempt to have good fellowship on a regular basis with someone who rejects Christ and the importance of salvation is ludicrous. You may be faced with the temptation to get involved in an unscrupulous business practice, or, in the case of a teenager, you may be asked to engage in immoral activity while out on a date. Why put yourself in that position in the first place?
Last, we have Paul’s inspired epistle contrasting the temple of God versus idols. What do we worship? As Christians, we should be worshipping the one and only true living God. We should be worshipping the God of the Bible. We should be in church on Sundays (at least). We should be attending mid-week services and prayer meetings and fellowships and Bible studies and so forth. But do you skip church out of convenience or even less legitimate reasons? I have. At that point in time I made wrong choices. These excuses became idols. Oh, I never bowed down and worshipped them, but on those particular days, they were more important than God. Christian, do you work six days a week and play golf on Sunday? Both golf and money are idols and have the pre-eminence in your life if you sacrifice church for the pursuit of those things. We need to turn down Sunday morning tee times and tickets to the pro football games that are notorious for being held on Sundays. The world has their idols and we should not be partaking in their “worship.” Teen, how would you handle the most popular boy in school asking you to go out to breakfast with him on Sunday morning? Businessman, how would you handle one of your suppliers offering to take you to their luxury box at Gillette Stadium one Sunday for a game? One compromise can lead to further compromises and before you know it, the world takes precedence over the things of God.
This doctrine of unequal yoking has a very good visual depiction in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 22:10, God instructs that, “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.” Think about it. As for the task at hand, plowing the field, the ox is far superior for that task than the donkey. God equipped the ox to complete the task for which it was called on to do. The donkey, though strong in its own right, and a generally good choice to perform many of the tasks a farmer may have, is no ox. Here’s where the analogy is so pertinent. The ox and the donkey are not of equal strength or resolve. The ox will be held back by the added weight of the donkey, which will not pull and heave anywhere near what the ox is able and willing. The ox will be less effective because of the donkey. So too will a Christian be less effective for God in many ways should he allow himself to be yoked up with a heathen person.
You may say to yourself, “If a Christian comes in contact with an ungodly person he should be strong enough to influence that person for Christ.” That may appear to be a reasonable expectation given the fact that Christ Himself sent us out into the world to teach and preach and make disciples of all men. However, the Bible clearly warns against being among the heathen in common endeavors that are not godly. Consider the unity of the church at Corinth that was in jeopardy because sin, though in small amounts, was present in the church. Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 5:6, “Your glorifying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” Again in Galatians, Paul exhorts the church to understand that “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). If Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write something twice, you better believe it’s important. A very plain warning that the ungodly can harm the testimony and witness of a believer is found in 1st Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The analogy in Deuteronomy 22:10 is validated by 1st Corinthians 15:33. If left together, the donkey, though overall less powerful than the ox, will hinder the work of the ox and soon the two will walk and work as one…but at the donkey’s pace.
The implications to this doctrine are too numerous to detail, but here are just a few as they relate to the family from a woman’s testimony about being married to an unregenerate person:
· If Christ is the center of a believer’s world, it’s not so for the unsaved.
· If your morals are based on the Bible, you better research upon what your potential mate bases their morals and values.
· If you marry and have children with an unsaved person, will you have the freedom to raise them as active members of a church?
· Will you be strong in your devotionals or will you eventually become inconsistent?
· How are you going to explain stepping out in faith when you believe God has asked you to do something for Him?
· Will it be easy to give up mutual activities that may not be glorifying to God as you mature?
· Can you become obedient to God in tithing as a family?
· What about Sunday morning brunch vs. going to church?
· Are you willing to risk all these things because you’re sure that over time your potential mate will get saved?
Just like Israel, God has called us to be separate from the world (Romans 12:2). Remember the Old Testament illustration of the ox and the donkey in Deuteronomy 22:10? Consider this twist…to the Jews, an ox was a clean animal and a donkey was considered unclean. Here, God reiterates to the New Testament believers not to touch the unclean thing, referring back to Deuteronomy’s example. Interesting how God teaches. Now let me give this final exhortation to teens, young adult singles, and parents…
We’re to let our light so shine to bring others to salvation. We can’t do that while getting into improper relationships and putting ourselves into situations where we will have to choose whom to follow…God or the world. Don’t forget that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1st Corinthians 15:33). None of us are perfect so don’t put yourself in a situation that will only make it easier to prove that concept. Don’t give the devil a foothold by dating (or allowing your child to date) an unsaved person.
Consider these two examples: First, Samson, who was a Nazarene and military leader of Israel and was raised in a godly home (Judges 13 finds his father Manoah praying several times). He was then raised by God to deliver the Israelites from the hands of the Philistines. But Samson became infatuated with a Philistine woman and married her (Judges 14:1-7). But he didn’t stop there. He went into Gaza and spent some time with a prostitute (Judges 16:1) and eventually got caught up in immorality with Delilah who robbed him of all his power by having her servants cut his hair while he lay sleeping on her knees (Judges 16:3-22) rendering him powerless. One value and moral compromise after another until he was drained of all his power and all he could do was one last mighty act for the Lord, but only by dying in the process.
Then there’s King Solomon. He had many, many wives. But these wives were not all Israelite women. No, many of them were from neighboring countries given to him as gifts in return for political or military favors. But many of the countries did not worship the God of the Israelites. He compromised many times over many issues and it eventually cost the entire nation, and Israel’s prominence decreased and the country began to fall on hard times. 1 Kings 11:4-6 tells the story of Solomon’s spiritual demise: “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.”
So there you have it…two godly men appointed by God to do mighty works for Him. But they fell victim to the truth spoken of in 1st Corinthians 15:33. These men led godly lives but were corrupted by the evil associations they kept (Samson and his women; Solomon and his wives). If it can happen to these adult godly men, why do teens and young adult singles think they can handle having one foot in the Bible and one foot in the world when it comes to friendships and relationships and potential marriage partners. And parents…with these two glaring examples before us…how can we not unapologetically get involved in every aspect of our children’s lives that may hurt them spiritually (as was the case with Solomon) or even prove to be deadly (as was the case with Samson).