Let’s move on in the definition.
The next part of the definition is spending quality time among two people of the same faith.
Why is having the “same faith” so important? It’s important because the Bible is both clear and direct about Christian marriage. In fact, the Bible tells us that we should not be unequally yoked together.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? —2 Corinthians 6:14
You might say, “well that verse is talking about marriage isn’t it?” The answer is yes, it is. But this is what we have to understand, there is a direct correlation between dating and marriage.
Let’s backtrack for just a minute. In the past 18 years of ministry, I have heard this comment a lot, “Well, I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am suppose to marry this person and they’re not a believer.” My response is typically in the form of a question, “How did you get to this place?” “Well, I started to date them, and I knew they weren’t a believer, but …” Well, ok. Let me connect the dots. You had to begin dating them. Often times when you begin dating someone you say, “Well, I don’t plan on marrying them. I just want to get to know some qualities that I may desire in a future mate.”
The simple truth is this, you never know where that relationship is going to lead. You’re attracted to an individual and sometimes the physical element enters into that relationship and it blurs and confuses things, it confuses the relationship. In fact, your vision of the relationships can be so blurred that you can no longer see what is good and what is not so good (when I define good, I am talking about the things which glorify God).
You say, “well I didn’t intend for it to end up like this.” I believe you when you say that. But that is just how relationships work. If we are not to be unequally yoked in marriage, we should not be unequally yoked in dating.
So the Bible says to “not be unequally yoked with one another.” What does that phrase mean? You can take that phrase and go all the way back to the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. In fact, the greek word used here in 2 Corinthians has its roots in the Old Testament. We read in Deuteronomy 22:10, “You shall not plow with an ox and donkey together.” You might say “Wow, God used a ‘shall not’ on that? He really didn’t want that going on!” Why? God didn’t want that going on because it doesn’t work.
A donkey and an ox are two totally different creatures. They operate in a completely different way and would only lead to frustration while attempting to plow a field.
In Leviticus 19:19, God also forbids the joining of two different kinds of animals. God says, “You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind …” Again, God’s emphasis this because it simply doesn’t work.
So going back to the New Testament and 2 Corinthians, why does God use this phrase “unequally yoked?” I’ll communicate it like this; the plowing through life of a believer with an unbeliever would be as difficult as the plowing of a field with an ox and a donkey yoked together or breeding an ox with a donkey. That’s the word picture that God is trying to convey when He speaks about being unequally yoked.
Just picture in your mind a field and a farmer standing behind a plow and the yoke, one side an ox and one sides a donkey. The donkey is not wanting to move and the ox is snarling and beginning to move forward while jerking the donkey. They both obey commands differently. They both hear the voice of the master differently. They operate, they function, they are, at the deepest levels, different.
If an unbeliever and a believer are in a relationship and the believer, who is listening to God says for example, “I need to pray,” do you think that is a foreign concept to the unbeliever? Or the believer may say, “I need to pray about this decision before we make it”. The unequal or unbelieving person wants to make this decision now and is wondering, “why do you have to pray about it?” The result is that tensions arise, and the relationship becomes tense and stressful.
The concept of going to church.
“Well, why do you need to do that? What’s the point of that? Couldn’t we use the time to spend quality time together? We are so busy throughout the week.”
What about the concept of needing to go to your small group?
“Well, why do you need to go to a group that is small? What’s the point of that? Why don’t you go to a big group?”
“You know I need to love on my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“What?! You need to love on who? I don’t think so!”
“I need to partake in communion at church. We are having communion this weekend.”
“Well what’s communion?”
“Well, it’s when we eat the body of Christ and drink His blood.”
“What?!” Are you in a cannibalistic cult?
I haven’t even mentioned the topic of being obedient with your tithe yet! Wait until that topic comes up. You see, it’s just different. These elements which are different in a relationship only intensify in their severity.
They only intensify as time goes on. God desires what is best for your life, for my life, for all of our lives. And God says, “that’s just not what is best”. Yeah, it may be great to have that companion, but it is not the best companion that I have for your life.
“Well, Pastor Clayton, what if they aren’t a believer, but boy-howdy they’re asking a lot of questions? They’re going to church. They’re close. I really feel any day now and I think that if I were to gamble, I could go ahead and begin this relationship. I really feel like they’re going to trust in Christ.”
Well, they may, or, they may not. So what is the harm in waiting. I realize that the concept of delayed gratification isn’t something that we like to discuss in our “instant gratification” society, but we are not talking about fast food here, we are talking about your future. Wait until they do give their heart to Jesus, pray for them, be a positive influence for Jesus in their life.Then once you know that they are a Christian, begin that relationship in a Godly way that glorifies God.