Unequally Yoked, Or Not? A Study In Context.

Step Out On Faith.

*sighs* Here goes nothing.

I try to maintain a certain distance between my personal life and my writing. But sometimes the best inspiration comes from the pain of life lived and love lost. So today we are going to explore one of the most misinterpreted concepts in the Bible: Paul’s command to not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. And believe me, this is a concept with which I am well experienced.

There is nothing more attractive to me than a spiritual woman. More than intelligence, more than beauty, a woman who has a moral compass grounded in the commands of God is a quality of the highest value. And through the years, I have met, befriended and courted several of these types of women in the hopes of forging a long-term relationship. But eventually, the path with every one of these very different women took identical turns: I was told quite simply that we were not “equally yoked,” as plainly and casually as one might say, “your shoe is untied.” As hurt as I was, I was more incensed because I do consider myself a Christian, although I’m not the holiest roller in the congregation. So I started digging, and what I came up with gave me an opening, not closure.

The concept that each of these Queens quoted to me (either with words or actions) was 2 Corinthians 6:14, in which the Apostle Paul states, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” Phrased this way, it would seem as if Paul is warning Christ’s followers to maintain strict social separation from non-Christians or less-Christians. That interpretation couldn’t be wronger (no typo). For confirmation, lets look at the entire passage to get a better perspective.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.”

At first glance, I was hurt because I felt that these women were indirectly saying that I was not righteous enough for them-which in essence, they were. Even worse, it seemed that there was a biblical scripture to support their argument. But as I began to research, I discovered that this passage has absolutely NOTHING to do with relationships, and EVERYTHING to do with atheism and idolatry-that is, the worship of other gods. And this is a textbook example of how the CONTEXT of a scripture can be the difference between a proper interpretation and complete perversion.

To give you some *context*, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addresses a specific set of issues for a specific community. The newly-formed Christian community in Corinth (only about twenty or so people) was having difficulties establishing a coherent doctrine in an environment that was somewhat hostile to the Gospel. Paul’s letter to this community was intended to encourage them to maintain their faith, and clarify a new doctrine that had been attacked while still in its infancy. Belial (“What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?”) is the name of a demon in the Bible, one of the four crown princes of hell. It is also a term used to describe utter wickedness  and evil. What Paul was trying to do was keep his community from abandoning their faith in God and turning away to follow empty teachings and those who worshipped gods of wood and stone.

But somewhere along the way, Christians in present day snatched that idea out of its original *context* and used it to apply to Love, the ultimate symbol of unity, not division. Women and men who were steadfast in their faith began excluding those who were not at the same place on their spiritual journey. This is a huge tragedy, because the Bible speaks of Love as having the power to overcome all things, even spiritual differences. To illustrate this point, consider this scripture-also from Paul-concerning Love and marriage:

“To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” -1 Corinthians 7

If anything, this passage is a more fitting command for Christians because it specifically addresses Love, relationships and marriage. I used to say to these women all the time: “I understand your point about being yoked. But how do I make you FEEL inside?” Do I make you smile? Are you intrigued by my conversation? Do I make you feel like a good woman? These are all matters of the HEART, and no man-made doctrine can be placed above it. In fact, religious commands are set up in harmony with the heart, so that it FEELS RIGHT when you live it. I always had the feeling that these women were fighting against the basic impulses of their hearts when they rejected me. Sure, I like to enjoy a drink every now and then, and I listen to rap. My speech isn’t the cleanest all the time, but I love God, and I love Love. I would never do anything to distract you from your religious journey. For what man can contend with God?

A true man or woman would never dissuade you from developing your spiritual growth. Indeed, they will add to it. But just because someone isn’t where you are in your journey doesn’t mean that they are not a good fit for you. God doesn’t always drop the blessing in our laps, oftentimes He simply presents it and if we dont pursue it, it goes away. Dont allow your religious duty to make you neglect the needs that we all have in this life: Love and companionship. Learn the difference between drinking and drunkenness: the former is a physical pleasure, the latter is a sin. Do not become so dissociated with the world that you forget that you have to live in it. Its a thin line between righteousness and SELF-righteousness. Besides, we are all sinners and therefore unworthy of salvation, aren’t we?

Peace and Blessings to you and yours, and may your cup overflow with the blessings of The Most High.


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6 Comments Add yours

  1. WendyJC says:

    I finally had the time to come back to this … i saw it this morning and new i needed to read it and now i am so happy that i came back and made the effort .. I am single and argue with myself often.. thinking and praying for companionship and always when i meet someone they are not christian.. now that i have read this it makes me think are we not to show the world our Lord and Savior through our lives and can that possibly include loved ones who need guidance and through love might actually alter their own journey .. this is wonderfully written God Bless you from Australia 🙂

  2. Olea jackaon says:

    Wow! Jontae this is so good! But one pount I may aegue is that once you are married than that makes all the difference. Its when dating that you dont want to make a sudden move of marrying someone who is not a believer of the most high. One thing I do believe is that if im deep in my walk and I meet someone who is a willing christian, then I know that where he lacks, because if my prayers and anointing he will come up that we may move at the same pace in christ Jesus. One last point is I love how you broke down just who paul was speaking to. Its important to get the complete understanding of why it was being said. Love you much and keep writing;)

    1. Jontae Grace says:

      Thank you Queen! You are so right, and I am glad that you are willing to give a man a chance to grow with you. Everyone is in a different place on the path, but the best way to bring someone along is to BE the example instead of pointing out someones faults. And also prayer with each other for God to give harmony to the relationship goes a long way to unite a couple. I just wish I had the words to say that to an old flame when she told me what she told me. Maybe I could have saved us. Love you too Queen, stay blessed!

  3. You know you’re right when you say that “it’s a thin line between righteousness and SELF-righteousness”. I’m sorry that you had some bad experiences but in a way you’ve saved yourself from a whole heap of trouble if that is what the women you were dating believed. I believe that in terms of marriage, it is two imperfect people coming to agreement to be together. Why do I say this? Because you all have different experiences and strengths. You aren’t called to be the same but to be complimentary to each others weaknesses and strengths. It takes a lot of maturity to see it this way. You’ll find someone who we compliment your weaknesses and strength one day. Contextualizing about being unequally yoked can also be used as an excuse to say “I’m more spiritual than you and you aren’t seeing things MY WAY … so I can’t hang with you”. That’s very hurtful and at the same time this self-righteousness that rises in the women you have encountered may be the types that cannot compliment you in the first place. It is hurtful that they did what they did to you but consider this, you were revealed their true character in the grand scheme of things and you’ve saved yourself from more pain than necessary. Keep praying for that person who will compliment you one day and you’ll find her. Trust God in all this. Thanks for this post. I’m going to share it with some of my friends. 😀

  4. veehcirra says:

    I would like to know your take on Christian and Muslim relationships…I have never heard about accepting non-believers as your second bible verse states,the first one 2 Cor 6:14 is the more popular one and the one I have heard over and over again, appreciate the information.

    1. Jontae Grace says:

      I think Christian and Muslim can marry and have very successful relationships. I personally LOVE Muslim women and I think they are some of the most beautiful and moral women anywhere in the world. I know a Jewish/Muslim marriage that is very successful, and we all know how much tension those two communities have had over the years. If they can do it, I believe anyone can. The problem is when people put more emphasis on their religion than they do the people they love in life. People have to understand the difference between GOD and religion. GOD is in everyone, because he made everything, and everything belongs to Him. Religion is a man-made system that allows men to worship God. It is a social makeup. Once people learn the difference it will be much easier for us to come together no matter what religion or ethnic background we follow. Thank you for reading!

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