Monday, September 7, 2015

Unequally Yoked

Scripture Texts: 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 2 Corinthians 7

Paul's admonishment to not yoke ourselves to unbelievers has long been cited as the reason a believer should not marry a person who does not believe. This certainly is important to the conversation of marriage, however marriage is not the only focus of this teaching. In every aspect of our lives we need to be careful about our interactions with those who have a different belief system than us.

Taken to the extreme, this has lead to people not having even friendships with people of other faiths, or even spending time in the same place. It is safe to say that is not what Paul intended when he shared this with the church in Corinth. Rather, Paul wanted the people, and us, to think about the partnerships and depth of relationships we have with other people.

When in a relationship with a person who has a different belief system there may be many points of commonality. At the same time, there are going to be places of profound difference. We must be certain to not make the differences about what is right or wrong. A difference is simply different, no value statement needed. Still the difference must be dealt with.

If you are a follower of Jesus and you are in a relationship with a person who is Hindu, there needs to be great respect for the belief and understanding of the other person. There must also be a recognition of a significant difference. These differences create a dissonance when it comes to the values at the core of our beings. Following Jesus, and being a resurrection person has some serious dissonance with the belief of reincarnation.

When we look at a marriage relationship, if there are two belief systems at work in the marriage there is a great challenge to the union of the Spirit God desires for marriage. This does not mean that each person must believe exactly the same. It does mean there has to be similarity on the core issues. Challenge is ahead for the follower of Jesus that marries someone who does not have Jesus as part of their faith Journey. Likewise for a person who follows Buddhism to marry someone who is Mormon, there will be some serious challenges to their life together due to the difference at the core of their belief and being.

If you are a follower of Jesus, cultivating a healthy marriage starts at having a common belief. We have encountered many people who are followers of Christ who married people who are not, and there is a constant struggle. It is easier for two people who do not follow Jesus, than to have a split household. This is true of any belief system. Being unequally yoked rarely results in a long-term, thriving relationship where each person feels they are all God has created them to be. Further, being unequally yoked rarely leads to a marriage of great depth and fulfillment.

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