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What Does it Mean to be ‘Unequally Yoked’?

What does it mean to be “unequally yoked”?

I addressed this very issue in my book, Intoxicated with Babylon:

Paul is referring here to an obscure law, which forbade the yoking of an ox with a donkey. (Deuteronomy 22:10) They aren’t compatible and cannot accomplish a synchronized plowing of a field. Yes, the ox and the donkey can graze together, but they can never work side-by-side in a yoke.

Now Paul applies the law’s principle to a believer and an unbeliever. A true Christian has undergone an enormous inward change. God has transformed his values, beliefs, and perspectives, and thus his lifestyle; all of which are now diametrically opposed to those of unbelievers around him. There is no possibility of reconciliation between the two.

Paul then asks, “For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” How can those who are submitted to God intermingle with those who are part of a system which is in rebellion against God? How can the kingdom of light—that place of holiness, purity, and truth—co-exist with the unholy, impure, deceptive kingdom of darkness? They are two different kingdoms eternally separated. THERE IS NO GRAY AREA BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL.

Paul is targeting worldliness among believers and probing such issues as,

● Should a daughter of light be married to a son of darkness?

● Should a man who is governed by the precepts of heaven be yoked in a business partnership with one who has pledged allegiance to this world’s system?

● Should believers fraternize with unbelievers?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding, “NO!” As Paul admonished the Corinthians before, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (I Corinthians 15:33)

The one who has been truly saved recognizes the effect bad company has on him, and he consistently avoids unhealthy relationships. He lives his life for the kingdom of heaven and is not enthralled with the world’s charms or its charmers. He “...does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers,” (Psalms 1:1) because he understands his vulnerability to their influences. This is the separated life of a true believer.

This commandment does not mean that a person who is already married to an unbeliever should seek a divorce. Paul addressed this issue in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.

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