Being “unequally yoked” – what does the Bible mean?

Deuteronomy 22:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Is it referring to the mixing of the yoke (yolk) of an egg like I’d always thought? 😂 Discussing it over the weekend, I learnt something new.🤓

Clearly the verse most often comes up when talking about marital partners and not marrying an unbeliever. But what is the foundation of the verse and is there an overarching matter it refers to?

The foundation verse is Deuteronomy 22:10: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together”. Basically the verse finds its source, like so many other words of God, in nature/agriculture. 

In agriculture in the olden days (and rural areas), when you “yoke” animals together, you basically put on their neck a frame that links them together so they can pull the plough to work the land of your farm. Considering that any two animals would have different heights, different walking patterns and understanding, you want to yoke only two similar animals together in laborious duty. Yoking together a donkey and an ox, for example, is a recipe for disaster.

So this is the principle behind Paul’s caution of not being unequally yoked together. But if you keep on reading the verses, it qualifies the nature of this yoking. What you find is that it is referring to the spiritual balance of both parties or among different parties. 

The underlying question we should all be asking is what influences my and the other person(s) spiritual life? The Bible clearly gives us a long and potentially inexhaustive list, including: who you spend time with (remember the saying – you’re the average of your closest friends? 🤔); what you read; what you watch; what you listen to; what you eat; what you drink; where you spend time; where and how you spend your financial resources; who you take advice from; your religious and denominational beliefs etc.

I believe when thinking about being “yoked” in a relationship, we need to think about these things properly vis-a-vis the other party because they define our spiritual ecosystem. Paul isn’t saying we should become hermits because we live in a sinful world but that in our closest relationships, those that could most influence/define us, God’s children need to be very careful because: “Do not be deceived – bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). 👫😇

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