Unequally Yoked

Q. I am wondering about the unequally yoked issue. I don’t understand the principle of an unrighteous person being made righteous because they happen to be married to a believer when they themselves are not a believer. Does the unrighteous one being made righteous mean that the believer may somehow “cover” their non believing spouse? What if there are children involved and what is the right thing according to God when the unbelieving spouse begins to teach their views against God to the children?

A. Paul’s comments on being unequally yoked appear in 2 Cor. 6:14-18 where he explained that the world view of a believer and the world view of an unbeliever are so different that they can’t be mixed. They’re like oil and water, and will eventually become a source of contention in a relationship. His admonition applies to all close relationships, of which marriage is only one.

The issue of mixed marriages comes up in 1 Cor. 7:14-16 where Paul told mixed couples to stay together as long as the unbeliever was willing, but if not let him or her go. The idea of the believer sanctifying the non believer applies only as far as the children below the age of reason are concerned. The faith of the believing spouse provides a protective “covering” for the children of the marriage.

Once the children reach the age of accountability they are responsible for their own salvation, and this is where one of the most serious problems of being unequally yoked comes in. Who will decide what the children will be taught concerning the most important question of their life. And that is, where they will spend eternity?

Paul’s statement in verse 16 confirms that the belief of one spouse cannot accrue to the other one for the purpose of salvation. “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” We should never marry someone hoping to change him/her later. It rarely works.

If one party became a believer after the marriage it’s one thing, but if a believer knowingly marries an unbeliever, it’s something else altogether. That’s why Paul preached against it.

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