Q. I know there are several verses that talk about not being friends with people who are unbelievers or who are living in sinful lifestyles. I have acquaintances that I spend short periods of time with occasionally who definitely live in ways completely opposite of how I would ever live. Some are homosexual and some are sexually promiscuous. But, when hard times hit, I am the one they always call and I point them to the truth of the scriptures and encourage them to change how they live. So, my question is, am I not permitted to be acquaintances with such people according to scripture?
A. In 1 Cor. 5:9-13 Paul said he was referring specifically to believers when he advised us not to associate people whose behavior isn’t consistent with Christian standards. His admonition against being yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-18) applies to a more formal relationship like a marriage or a business partnership. Oxen were yoked together to achieve a common goal through combined and cooperative effort, and Paul said that believers and unbelievers really have no common goals because while we live to glorify God, they’re focused on self glorification.