The Bible Warns Against Unequal Yokes

by Kevin Burton

   This week in the last of our series Ten Questions from the Bible you get five for the price of one.  We’re looking at the issue of being “unequally yoked” from II Corinthians.

   The apostle Paul asks five questions, which are essentially the same:

    “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. (2 Cor. 6: 14-16 KJV).

   Here Paul paints a picture familiar to those who know farm life. For the rest of us, here’s some help from the website

   “A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An ‘unequally yoked’ team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.”

   Translate this to human endeavors and going around in circles is perhaps the best you can hope for. 

   Your Christian faith is the basis for all goals and decisions. If a spouse, or a business partner does not share this framework for action, you are by definition at cross purposes. You are unequally yoked.

   “If Christ is truly king of our lives, our most intimate selves should be submitted to His influence,” writes Phylicia Masonheimer on “How then can we unite a Spirit-led soul to one in rebellion against God?”

   “This rubs people the wrong way, because no matter how respectful, sweet, or loving an unbelieving partner is, he is at odds with Christ – he is in rebellion. But if we call ourselves Christians, we’re saying we believe the Bible is our final authority,” Masonheimer writes.

   “For a Christian to enter into a partnership with an unbeliever is to court disaster. Unbelievers have opposite worldviews and morals, and business decisions made daily will reflect the worldview of one partner or the other,” reads a statement from

   “For the relationship to work, one or the other must abandon his moral center and move toward that of the other. More often than not, it is the believer who finds himself pressured to leave his Christian principles behind for the sake of profit and the growth of the business,” reads the website.

   Masonheimer counsels single Christians not to date unbelievers and points to a warning from the Old Testament.
    “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly” (Deut. 7: 3-4 KJV).
   Here’s an instance, from King Solomon no less, of when the warning wasn’t heeded.

   “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 (1 Kings 11:4 KJV).

   For those in an unequally-yoked marriage, here are the words of Paul from 1 Cor. 7: 12-16 KJV).

   “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”

   “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

   “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

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