October 29, 2011

Unequally Yoked: The Great Debate

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
--2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV

This is the Bible verse thrown at so many of us during our younger years, when we were dating and considering marrying someone. It's not simply a young person's concern, because many Christians are re-marrying  at all ages for all kinds of reasons (death of a spouse, abandonment by a spouse, etc.).

So the question remains: is it ever better to marry someone who is not a seriously dedicated Christian? I am not counting in on "professors" who may state a belief of faith just to win over a wavering potential spouse. I am referring to the question of should a dedicated Christian who truly seeks God in all areas of life ever marry someone who does not share this commitment?

Isn't it true that if you share educational background, common upbringing, or career/family/life balance issues, you could still live with someone in peace? Isn't it true that we often work with and for people who are not Christians and get along well with them? Isn't it true we learn how to accommodate relatives who aren't Christians? What's the difference? If we can get along with all of these other people who aren't Christians, isn't it true that we could make a good home life with someone who isn't a Christian?

Isn't it true that even Christians are getting divorces these days? Doesn't that prove that just because someone is a Christian, it doesn't mean the marriage will be happy or successful? Isn't it true that one can find adultery, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, gambling, drinking, drugging, etc. in marriage involving Christians? What's the difference?

All of these are real issues and some of these issues lead to the destruction of marriages. I have never taken the position that Christians cannot divorce under any circumstances. There are some circumstances that make divorce necessary. 

But when one looks to begin a new chapter in life, it's a good idea to give yourself every possible advantage. It's a good idea to follow what God lays out as a basic ground rule. it's a good idea to know that you can enter into a covenant without any hesitation or second-guessing about what to do if things "don't work out."

There really is no place like home. 

When we leave work, neighbors, other relatives etc., we go home. Home should be our best place, our sanctuary from the world, a place where we can be our best and worst selves, and know that we will find the love of God in ourselves and in those with whom we share our home.

There is no denying there are many real advantages to being married. There are all kinds of statistics out there telling us married people live longer, are healthier, more financially secure, etc. Supposedly married men are happier than single men, but married women with children are often reported to be the least happy of all. (!) Society is still arranged around the idea that people are married, or at least partnered off. Many, many churches still don't know what to do with a single person over thirty and under sixty. These are real facts. There is real pressure in some circles to get married and to stay married no matter what. Nobody likes to feel "un-chosen", that they are not attractive to the opposite sex, or that nobody wants them. That is the message society and the world often sends to singles.

Still, I am coming down on the side that says it really is better to live on your own than to enter marriage with someone who does not share your view of the world, God, time, eternity, and why we are here.

Many people have prayed for a godly spouse and received one. Others have prayed and have not. I don't know that there is any formula that explains why and why not. I naturally doubt people who try to use formulas to explain God's work in our lives.

I have learned to trust that what God says is always true, even when it doesn't look like it. Faith relies on that in every circumstance and for every question.

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