You’re digging him. You think she’s dope. Then you discover you’re not equally yoked. Or are you? What does it mean to be equally yoked in dating? The answer may surprise you!
Most of the singles I work with think the term equally yoked means the two partners are equals. They look at things like similarities in income levels, education, personal or spiritual growth, fitness, and other lifestyle qualities.
In fact, when many Christian clients come to me looking for a mate, they’ll say things like, “I want him to be as ambitious as I am…and, I want him to have a flat stomach like I do because fitness is important to me. I want to be equally yoked.”
Because most Christian singles don’t have clarity around what it means to be equally yoked in dating, they overlook great potential partners! I want to help you avoid this mistake, so grab your Bibles and turn with me to 2 Corinthians 6:14.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (KJV).
The scripture we just read shows 3 important things that most people overlook.
1) The term “equally yoked” is not used here at all. In fact, it’s a cliche Christians made up! Paul says to not be unequally yoked. This isn’t about splitting hairs. The word choice is important!
2) The scripture was not written about relationships or even marriage for that matter. Paul wasn’t telling people not to marry an unbeliever. He was talking about something different entirely.
3) To get a clear understanding, you need to know what yoking was all about.
So let’s break it down, shall we?
Back in the Bible days, farmers yoked animals together to plow fields and carry heavy loads. They were taught not to connect a donkey with a horse, or a cattle with an ox. Why? Those animals would be unequally yoked because they differed in size, strength, purpose, and ability.
One of the animals would control the other, taking it in the wrong direction and the job wouldn’t get done. Farmers would have a big mess on their hands!
You still with me?
So when Paul is saying not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, he’s teaching not to be so emotionally and spiritually connected with an unbeliever that he or she has the chance to pull you in another direction or influence the way you think, talk, and behave.
When it comes to purpose, life’s direction and core values, you and an unbeliever can be as different as light and darkness or a donkey and a horse. This doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with or even date someone who believes differently than you at all (especially since Paul wasn’t talking about friendships or marriage). It just means that you understand there are fundamental differences that will matter at different points in your relationship.
Hang on in there. I’m getting ready to close!
So what does this mean for you in dating and relationships?
1) You shouldn’t necessarily look for someone who is “just like you,” believing that you’re equally yoked. Instead, see if the person has what it takes to make a relationship work. See if they are fit for the institution of marriage. Look for things like: emotionally availability, communication skill, the ability to forgive, a healthy view of sexuality and more.
2) It’s not a sin to date (or marry) someone who isn’t a believer. But it can be challenging!
In fact, Paul taught believers what to do if their spouse was an unbeliever. But you’re going to have challenges if you choose this path. The challenges usually go deeper than just, “I’m a Catholic, you’re Pentecostal” or “I was raised Baptist and you’re agnostic.”
The problems have to do with a lack of shared values. You may want to go to church every time the doors are open and he only thinks it’s necessary to go on Easter Sunday. You’ll have conflict over how to spend your time, how to communicate, and how to give each other space and grace to be an individual. This will cause relationship breakdowns.
Or, maybe he thinks the Bible is fiction, while you turn to it as a guide for daily life. You want to make major decisions after praying and seeking God, while he relies upon what he “feels” is right or what he knew to be true from the way his family did it. You end up with more conflict, less communication and the collapse of a relationship.
Being equally yoked needs to go beyond “I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian, or I’m successful, you’re successful.” Look into how well your values are aligned and whether you both have what it takes to make a relationship work.
Can I get an Amen?
BMWK let’s talk. Would you date someone who didn’t have the same religious beliefs as you?
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