Unequally Yoked


You’re sitting across from your friend who’s dating a non-believer.  You want to blurt out that Scripture that says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" and hope that’s enough to convince her to stop dating the person. Or maybe you know that’s what you should say, but don’t know how to approach the conversation. You’re 100 percent positive that’s what the Bible says, but you’re not quite as confident about why it's important. What do you really mean when you tell your friend “God doesn’t want you to be yoked with an unbeliever?”

Let’s take a step back, and a closer look at what God is communicating to us when He says “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Throughout the Old and New Testament, the term “yoke” is used to communicate a binding connection—physical, emotional, psychological—to someone or something.  The metaphor comes from the harness, or yoke, used on oxen for farming.  The yoke tied the pair of animals closely together for the sake of combining their strength to plow fields. Wikipedia defines a yoke as a piece of wood used on animals “to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs.” To apply this picture to a dating or marriage relationship, a couple that is yoked equally can "pull together.”

I can’t help but think about my running partner, Amy.  She runs considerably faster than I do. So when I run with her, we have two options if we want to keep pace together: either I speed up or she slows down. If I want to get faster, or grow, as a runner, then I need to speed up to keep pace with her.  If Amy wants to get slower, or weaken, as a runner, then she can slow down to keep pace with me.

As silly as that sounds for a runner to want to weaken or get slower, it's equally silly as a follower of Christ to want to weaken or decrease in your spiritual growth. But when you become yoked in a dating relationship or a marriage, you're bound to the other person in a way that limits your range. If you're unequal in strength and pace, then you have the same choice that Amy and I have as running partners.  You slow down in your spiritual growth or they speed up. You weaken or they strengthen.