Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Beware the Unequal Yoke

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness: and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

         As a prohibition to “mixed marriages” (by that I mean a Christian and non-Christian), one could not ask for a more straightforward verse. But to limit it to this, when no such specialization is given, is to miss the greater truth here.

         The metaphor of a yoke denotes any relationship that binds two or more people together. As I say, marriage is the most obvious example, but such things as business partnerships, contracts, living arrangements, even close friendships, can position one in an unequal yoke that will be uncomfortable for both, unless one of them changes his or her “pace” to accommodate the other. And guess which one will be expected to do a two-step, if necessary, as a show of “Christian love.”

        The verse explains that the problem here, the reason for the imbalance, is that there is no fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness. And just to point out the absurdity of it, Paul says it would be like a room full of both light and darkness. They are mutually exclusive. 

         Undoubtedly, a balance is called for here, and recognition of what constitutes a yoke. Jesus was said to be “a friend of sinners,” and He never contradicted that. But do you think they were friends in the same way his disciples were? I don’t. If we are aloof to the lost, with a “holier than thou” attitude, we will never influence them for God; but if we find ourselves more comfortable with the children of the world than the children of God, something is drastically wrong. I may enjoy the company of lost friends; but I only find fellowship with the righteous. I will have a meal with an unsaved friend or neighbor; but my true communion is with the people of God. And most important of all, I will make sure that any yoke I take—temporarily or permanently—is a balanced, equal yoke.

An uneven yoke makes an uneven walk. 

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