One of my clients provoked me to consider the admonition in Scripture for Christians to not be unequally yoked. Most believers would agree that it is clear that it applies in marriage – that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. But what about dating someone who is in a very different spiritual place?
To begin with, what is a yoke? It is something that ties two things together, historically a piece of wood joining two working animals. It lets them pull together and share the load. The animals need to be well matched so that one does not work harder than the other. It also helps them to be going in the same direction.
What happens when we try to pull in different directions?
We will probably get stuck or be in conflict. We will struggle to move forward. Oftentimes what are in conflict are our morals and values. How will we spend our time? What will we watch on television or see at the movies? What do we consider fun? How will we spend our money? What are the physical boundaries on our relationship? What do we believe about cohabitation?
These same questions can largely be applied to friendships as well. I believe that too much rigidity in this area produces harshness, which is not consistent with our goal of loving people. But friendships can turn into dating relationships, so we must be careful to know where to draw the line. We can have very moral friends that agree with our values, but it breaks down when we get to spiritual matters. We would not want to be married to someone who does not share our faith, our passion for God or our commitment to the church.
So where does that leave us?
We must be very careful not to form romantic bonds with someone who is not aligned with our spiritual journey. That does not mean that they must experience God in the same way that we do – some relate best to God through worship music while others are deeply moved by the study of scripture. Still others are very contemplative in their style – but the focus and the goal is the same. We must be in agreement on the essentials of our faith.
I really feel for those who have difficultly finding dates, who are lonely, and welcome any connection with someone of the opposite sex. And I also feel sad for those who have formed unequal relationships that put them in a lot of conflict with their personal values, especially those who are married.
I would love to hear any comments you might have on this subject. Please use the comment box below.