Marriage Missions International

Why God Forbids Unequal Yoking

There are two primary reasons why God forbids the joining of a believer to an unbeliever. One is that Christians have been reborn; they are spiritually alive, whereas unbelievers are not. A person who has not received Jesus Christ as personal Savior is spiritually dead!

I shall never forget the time I heard a pastor explain that any regenerated sinner who joins with one who is not is like Doctor Frankenstein: creating a monster over which he eventually will lose control.

When a woman who is alive in Christ disobediently binds herself to an unbeliever, it is the same as amputating a leg from a corpse, then surgically attaching that dead, decaying appendage to her living body. The leg will never regenerate. Instead, it will cause infection and spread disease and poison throughout her entire being. And, she will have to live with the consequences of that action for the rest of her physical life.

The main reason God is against unequal yoking is that it is an affront to His holiness. God is separate and set apart from all that is sinful and evil. Those who belong to Him are to emulate His purity. God has commanded, “You shall be holy for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).

Intermarriage reduces the purity factor in the life of the believer and adulterates the divine institution of marriage, which should be a reflection of the Christ-church relationship. Although, in His grace, God does not look upon the Christian wife or the children as defiled or impure, He must turn His back on the unbelieving mate, who abides in a permanent state of evil rather than in Him.

God cannot commune with the unsaved mate. Positionally he is unholy— unrighteous —because he has not been redeemed, so his sin is a barrier that walls him off from the presence and grace of God.

Not only is the purposeful joining of the believer to an unbeliever an affront to God’s holiness, but the lifestyle of someone who is not a Christian also offends the Lord. During the time of the prophet Ezra the children of Israel had married outside of the faith. God’s reaction was so pronounced that He demanded that every unbelieving mate be banished from the nation Israel.

Why did God react so strongly to this intermarriage? Ezra says it was because the unbelievers committed abominations against the Lord. What were the abominations? Worship of false gods and of idols, and participation in all of the paganism that was involved in the accompanying rituals.

If you trace what happens to God’s children when they get involved with unbelievers, you will find drunkenness, murder, rape, incest, adultery, and desecration of the true worship procedures God has instituted. Reflect on David; what happened when he pursued Bathsheba?

You may recall that Solomon, who Scripture says is the wisest man who ever lived, foolishly brought heathen wives into the temple. This act almost destroyed him. He didn’t do this when he was young and impetuous. He committed this sin when he was an old man. In his twilight years he was a broken man; depressed, despondent, and guilt-ridden, because he disobeyed God’s law about intermarriage.

… God’s direct command in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God.”

These verses consist of two parts. The first is the command to not be unequally yoked. Obviously, it is addressed to Christians. The second part deals with the rationale behind why it is sinful, even unthinkable, for a believer who belongs to God and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, to link up with someone who belongs to Satan and is under his dominion.

To emphasize the impossibility of a believer uniting in a permanent relationship with an unbeliever, Paul asks several rhetorical questions. One is, “What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness?” He is referring to the fact of the believer’s position in Christ. When we receive Christ we made righteous in God’s eyes. He accepts us because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. It is, therefore, inconceivable that one who is in a position of perfection would attach herself to one who is totally sinful.

He also asks what fellowship light has with darkness. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia. It implies an intimate relationship, a communion of souls. John tells us that “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). We are ordained to walk in the light and have fellowship with the Lord. If we unite with someone who is not walking in God’s light, we are blocking His illumination in our lives, melding with the darkness of sin and choosing to live in the shadow of evil.

The next comparison is potent. Paul asks how Christ and the devil can have harmony. Obviously, they can’t. When a believer marries an unbeliever, disharmony is a natural result. The disobedient Christian is intentionally joining a child of God to a child of Satan, forming an unholy alliance with the evil one, when in reality a Christian has already pledged herself to a holy union with the living God.


The above article comes from the terrific book, Beloved Unbeliever: Loving Your Husband into the Faith, written by Jo Berry, published by Zondervan Publishing. This book could truly help those who are married to unbelieving spouses. And it can also help those who are contemplating marrying someone who isn’t a believer, as you can see from the above material. The important thing if you read it while you’re contemplating marriage to an unbeliever would be to read it realizing that the author is trying to help women who have ALREADY married an unbeliever. It’s to help them with the distressing situation they’re already experiencing because of their unequally yoked situation.

Jo knew what it was like to live with an unbelieving spouse and also interviewed dozens of women who are married to unbelievers. In this book they share the greatest difficulties they encounter(ed) and practical ways to handle the problems.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Why God Forbids Unequal Yoking”
  1. Sippy says:

    (KENYA) Hi, I totally agree with the write up and excepts from the book “Beloved Unbeliever” It is true, prevention is better than cure. I thank you for such a worthy effort of enlightening God’s children. I am 35 and born again – I have been contemplating getting married to a guy who has not yet had the guts to confess Christ as his personal savior, though he goes to church and prays and reads the word. Now I have a clearer and precise insight on what direction to take. God bless

  2. Kim says:

    (USA)  Thank you so much for this article. I am married to an unbeliever. Sad to say, I was so swept away by his kindness, that it wasn’t until (after) we were married a year later that I asked if he was saved. The answer was ‘no’. For the (entire) year there has been drama, anger, and more drama from him.

    “I’m sorry” has been a constant repetitive format. I’m so tired. I feel so drained. I want to leave and regain that peace that I once had, but I’m so afraid of letting God down with divorce. I just feel as though I want to set men aside, and focus on my spiritual growth.

    For the entire year I have encouraged him to be more gentle, to work on his anger. The other day I cried, asking him to repent and ask God to enter into his heart. He said he wasn’t ready. Tonight he broke out in another rage again. He’s never hit me, but the rage is becoming too much for my spirit. I am so lost. My children have to see this. I just want peace. I just want peace…

    • Holly says:

      (USA)  Dear Kim, As I read your post and heard your pain I can understand. I have been married for over 25 years and was not a believer when we married. The Lord showed his mercy on me and saved me 10 years in to our marriage.

      My frustrations came when again I was confronted with the fact that the only one I have control over is myself as I depend upon the Holy Spirit for strength, power, and guidance. I am reminded that I must keep my eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfector of my faith and not on my circumstances, unfulfilled longings, or weaknesses(sins) of my husband. True change begins when I surrender to what God is wanting to do in my life and accept his plan as supreme and not rely on what I think is best.

      I have wrongly thought, “Surely God wants my husband to be saved so that our marriage would reflect the relationship between Jesus and his church” and “Surely God would want biblical principles to be taught to our children and my husband to be the spiritual leader as he says in his Word”.

      What he showed me though was my own sin of unforgiveness, a harboring of past hurts against me, my unwillingness to follow my husband’s leadership, my selfishness for not getting what I believed I deserved. I had to learn that there was no short cut to godliness and that I needed to practice a dying to self; a giving up of my right to be right and to walk in the Spirit which produces love, joy, PEACE, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

      I would suggest you find at least one godly, older Titus 2 woman who would be able to counsel, guide, encourage, and teach you to walk in the ways of loving your husband and to guard yourself against bitterness. I will lift you and your husband up in prayer now. May you grow in His grace today.

    • Audrey says:

      (SOUTH AFRICA)  Hi Kim, it is September already, I hope things have been resolved, or at least have changed for you and your kids? As I am reading your message, my heart is crying. Not only because you don’t deserve it, but because I was in exactly the same position for four years. I only stayed so long in my marriage, because I was faithful to my marriage vows, that I made before God, and felt that I will never be forgiven if I leave my husband. I eventually moved out of the house with me and my kids and got a protection order. Sad to say my husband commited suicide.

      It is three years later and God has blessed me with a wonderful God serving husband, who loves, accepts and honors not only me, but my three kids, as well. Stay close to God, my friend. Never let one day pass without talking to God. Whatever you do, keep your place as a wife. I know it is hard, but that will help you focus on ‘God. Don’t expect anything in return from your husband, cause you will be disappointed. Stay strong, the battle is the Lord’s. Let us know how things are going. I am praying for you and your kids. God is busy preparing that husband for you. Keep your faith.

    • Danielle from United States says:

      Get help, and intervention. Please get help.

  3. Edith says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  Oh Kimmy, I pray that the Lord would intervene in your husbands situation. Just remember that the Lord has forgiven you and if you ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart anew again, you will experience His peace and He will begin to lead you and show you the way forward. Much love and blessings!

  4. Noxpen says:

    (SOUTH AFRICA)  Hi, I am dating an unbeliver and he fully knows there’s a God and he likes it when I share how the sermon was and he asks me always to share and explain. At times we even sing worship songs together… and he fully understands that we cannot be involved sexually until we are married… please advise?

    I have asked when is he receiving Christ as his Lord and saviour and he was like “I will.” Our relationship is a year and six months old. Regards, Noxpen

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