“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)
A few months ago, my friend and I were stretched across her long black leather couch having girl talk with dark chocolate, licorice and hot tea when my friend dropped a bomb that gave me chills. It was a cold Friday night in suburban Michigan so naturally, it was a great time to stay indoors and talk about life, love, dating and relationships. We were at the peak of discussing some of our past (not so-great) relationships when she said “I’ll tell you one more thing I’ve learned and that’s…equally yoked also means equal convictions.” You see, it’s easy to share equal likes and dislikes in a relationship such as:
- We like action movies
- We dislike waiting in line at Walmart (me too!)
- We like going to the gym in the morning
- We like big city-life
- We dislike apple pie
- We love chocolate ice cream…etc.
However, it’s a bit different when our likes and dislikes are things called convictions and boundaries. Things get a bit more complicated.
One of the most heart-breaking stories I’ve ever heard was the story of a woman and her husband who became enraged after she tithed $10,000 to her church. In fact, he became so upset that he called the pastor of the church and demanded their money back. She was utterly embarrassed and ashamed by the ordeal, and a few months later they were divorced. The dissimilar view and value regarding tithing was just one of many things she overlooked about her husband during the dating phase of their relationship. They had a long distance relationship while dating therefore, they didn’t really get a chance to attend church together. Her husband believed in God so, she never thought to ask about his beliefs and practices within the church. Instead, she assumed that since she loved to tithe, he would too once she became his wife. Unfortunately, that never happened.
When it comes to navigating relationships, the bible offers us wise counsel on the importance of being equally yoked in order to be on one accord with our spouse or mate.
It simply says “two cannot walk together unless they’re in agreement” (Amos 3:3).
If you’ve ever seen a pair of yoked oxen or cattle you’ll notice that the actual yoke is equal on both sides to allow the cattle to walk together. If the distance between the cattle and the yoke, was off by even a few inches, it would affect the way the cattle carry their load. The ox on the left would grow tired before the ox on the right if her load was heavier, and the ox on the right would eventually move at a slower pace.
Similarly, in relationships two people with dissimilar convictions will have a difficult time progressing in their relationship. Let’s use sexual purity as an example: when one person is striving to maintain his or her sexual purity and the other is not, it slows down the pace of the relationship. It takes the relationship off course, and it causes one or both individuals not to reach their intended level of spiritual and emotional maturity. The person with a commitment to purity finds themselves struggling with guilt and regret from being thrown off course, while the other (who never really had any sense of conviction or direction in the first places) continues to walk aimlessly.
In contrast, let’s consider a couple that has been intentional about being equally yoked in their relationship. Imagine the couple sitting down and saying “hey, I’m working on honoring God with my body so I’m not going to ask you to spend the night at my home. I’m not going to wear seductive clothing around you. I’m not going to ask you to spend your tithes on an anniversary gift. I’m not even going to try to persuade you to deceive your parents so that we can take a weekend getaway together.” It may sound cheesy but imagine how beautiful and wonderful their relationship would be on their wedding day by agreeing to respect and establish their boundaries. When we make time to discuss our boundaries and consequences in the early phase of our dating relationships, we do more than just create enlightening conversations. We also set the tone and atmosphere for our relationship. We establish our character, we define our integrity and we create a firm foundation for a healthy and godly relationship to flourish.
When we establish these areas early-on in our relationships, we can avoid the feelings of regret, guilt or shame later. Being equally yoked has much to do with sharing the same religion but it has much more to do with sharing equal convictions, and agreeing on consequences when boundaries are violated.
If you’re currently in a dating relationship that you desire to see develop into marriage, ask your mate to write down his or her boundaries and convictions for your relationship. Make a promise not to cross the boundaries. Then, write down shared consequences (i.e. we will break up or we will tell a close friend/pastor) if the boundaries are violated.
When your relationship develops into marriage, you’ll have a wonderful testimony to encourage other singles and couples. You and your spouse will also have a beautiful legacy to leave for your family, children and friends.
Be encouraged to stay equally yoked in your convictions and boundaries when dating.
Scripture: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)