I don’t think I can leave this passage without touching on an application that people often use when quoting this passage: dating and/or marrying a non-Christian.
Some people say that this passage means we should not date non-Christians.
I will say straight out that while I don’t think it’s necessarily sin, I think it’s a bad idea and it can lead to sin. I have seen three situations in the past 5 years or so where it turned out for the good. But I have seen many others where it did not.
As for dating a non-Christian, I think the main question I would ask is this: Who is influencing who? Are you in every way influencing the other person to draw closer to Christ? Or is little by little, the other person drawing you away from Him? Are they starting to become attracted to Christ through you? Or are they starting to chip away at your spiritual purity?
Are you finding yourself, for example, skipping church to go out on dates? Are you finding yourself losing way too much time in the Word or in prayer because of the time you spend with them? Are you finding that you’re compromising yourself sexually?
If the answer to any of these is yes, I would say it’s time to break off that relationship.
That’s a hard saying, I know. Why is it so hard for a person in that situation to accept it?
The problem is that such relationships quickly become not simply an intellectual issue, but an emotional one.
We were created to bond with people of the opposite sex, not just physically, but emotionally.
And so when you start dating someone, that emotional bonding begins.
“He likes me! I like him!”
“She likes me! I like her!”
Everyone that has ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend knows the thrill of that realization. And it only goes stronger the longer the relationship lasts.
The question then becomes, can you hold on to your convictions in the face of those emotions. And that is very hard to do.
It is a very strong (and rare) Christian indeed who can stand firm on all their convictions in the face of pressure from their non-Christian boyfriend or girlfriend.
And I don’t know a single Christian that wouldn’t go through heartbreak, strong Christian or not, if they were forced to break off the relationship because of their convictions.
To take off on something that Paul once said (although the situation he was referring to was completely different)
But those who [date non-Christians or marry them] will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. (I Corinthians 7:28)
Is it possible that the other person may become a Christian? Yes. But it’s just as likely, if not more likely that you will compromise on the One who went to the cross for you. And as I said, I’ve seen that far more often than I’d like.
I think the situation is doubly tough as a Christian woman dating a non-Christian guy. I believe scripture teaches that the husband is to lead in a relationship. And that should start in the dating/courting stage of a relationship. But can a Christian woman afford to let the non-Christian lead the relationship in everything? If she does, she is definitely being unequally yoked. If she doesn’t, however, there will always be something off in the relationship, since that is not how God created us to be.
It goes without saying that any Christian that goes ahead and marries an unbeliever is definitely unequally unyoked. And at that point, I think they are definitely in the area of compromise and sin, because they have disobeyed the very words of God we have just read.
So what am I saying? Be very careful about starting any romantic relationship with an unbeliever. Because emotions get involved at a very early stage, it can become very easy for you to fall into compromise and sin.
How about you? Are you unequally yoked?