Godly Dating Principle #3: Be Equally Yoked.
“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
There is much debate as to what the Apostle Paul actually meant when he wrote this instruction to the Corinthian Church. It is safe to assume however, that at the very minimum, he meant that believers should not engage romantically with non-believers. Why? For one, Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” If one person in a relationship does not have faith, the relationship as a whole will never be able to be pleasing to God. Secondly, it just makes things so much easier when two people are coming from the same world view, for it is this view from which all decisions in life will flow: how to spend money, what your priorities are, how you value relationships, how you raise your children, etc. Sharing the same faith means sharing the same perspective, thus minimizing the chances for conflict.
But I would venture to say, being ‘equally yoked’ together goes beyond sharing beliefs, to having an equal level of maturity in the faith and being in agreement with the direction and vision of each other’s callings in Christ. Before we go any further, we must understand what a yoke is. Being ‘yoked’ to another is an agricultural metaphor often used in the Bible to describe two animals being hooked together to plow a field. When two are of equal strength, they plow a straight line and carry an equal and light load. But imagine what would happen if a horse was attached to a goat–the goat would be dragging behind and making a difficult time for the horse! Their line would be crooked and the load would be heavy to bear because they were not of equal yoke.
This picture is used to describe what can happen when two people are unequally yoked together. The journey will not be as smooth and easy as God intended it to be and the couple will plow a crooked path. God intended a dating and/or marriage relationship to be between two people of equal strength and maturity, and also sharing life goals and callings (or at least supporting each other in their separate ones). This does not mean two people will share everything in common. They can and will likely have totally different gifts, talents and personalities, while still being of equal strength and maturity. God will often purposely pair us with a person who is different but complimentary to who we are. God is very strategic that way, which might explain why the saying “opposites attract” rings true with many couples!
When it comes to calling, being equally yoked means there will usually be a synergy in where two people are headed in life. For example, if one person is certain they are called to be a missionary in Russia and the other person is called to be a banker on Wall Street, it might be that their life trajectories are headed in totally different directions. Therefore, it would be wise id they chose to stop dating. Even if they are attracted to one another and/or share a strong chemistry, pausing to take the long-term view into consideration can be a deal breaker–in a good way.
This is not to say two people must have identical callings, but there needs to be an openness and communication about where both parties are feeling called and what dreams and/or visions God has put in their hearts up until that point. One person may sense a calling to minister to unreached people groups, while the other person is called to be a nurse. Though different, the important thing is that both are in agreement with where God is leading and are willing to allow Him to weave their callings together. Not all the details will necessarily be known (and will likely not be), but it is important to pray and ask God if He is leading their trajectories in similar directions or not.It is better to discover this sooner rather than later and it could save a lot of heartache and resentment down the road.
I have a friend who told me about a woman she met in Japan who knew in her heart she was called to missions but chose to marry a man who had no interest whatsoever. Decades had passed when she spoke to my friend, “I love the man I married and God has been good to us, but I continue to grieve over the loss of my missionary call…” This is not to say she did not have a good and happy life with the husband she chose to marry. God can redeem all things and works everything together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). But she was making the point that God has an ultimate best for us in mind, and choosing a person who is in alignment with what God has put in our hearts will allow the fullness of His plans to come to pass.
Finding someone of equal yoke is not always black and white. Faith is easy to determine in the early stages, but discerning maturity levels and life trajectories takes time. Stay close to God, remain prayerful and continue to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment along the way. Be open to God showing you things about the other person and receive this awesome promise from Jesus himself:
“The Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.“ (John 16:13)
**This the third principle of Godly Dating out of a 10-part series. Please join in the conversation and share your thoughts, questions and comments! And stay tuned for next week’s Godly Dating Principle #4: Set a Pace for the Race. See you then!