Question: Explain unevenly yoked, my husband is from Africa and is Muslim and I am Baptist.
Answer: Unevenly yoked is a picture of maybe a horse and a cow trying to plow together, obviously it wouldn’t work very well. There is a verse in the Bible that says this very thing about a Christian married to an unbeliever. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
St. Paul was warning believers not to marry unbelievers because he knew it would not be good for them. Just as it would not work to have a horse and a cow yoked together trying to plow a field. This is a warning for Christians before they are married; this is not an excuse to leave a person once you are married. Sometimes we willingly disobey what we know are God’s commands, and other times we may not even be aware of God’s commands concerning marriage. It could even be that the person who is now a Christian was not a Christian before they were married. Nonetheless, it would be wrong for the Christian to leave the unsaved after they are married, two wrongs don’t make a right. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, as we will see in the following paragraph.
St. Paul has given us what God wants to happen when one is a Christian in a marriage, and one is not. “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) [By the way we do have a complete study of the book of First Corinthians if you want to study this subject in more detail, it would be in Part Two.]
I would like to comment on these verses here; there could be some exceptions to staying married like: For some examples, if the unsaved spouse wanted a separation or divorce, and if the unsaved spouse were unfaithful or abusive. The only case where a person could remarry though, would be if there is sexual immorality involved. Jesus said: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)
God wants us to stay married even if we find ourselves in the situation where one is saved and the other isn’t. “For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts ‘Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.'” (Malachi 2:16) Even though about fifty percent of marriages today (even among Christians) are breaking up, it is wrong, and God hates it!
Jesus had to answer questions about divorce when He was here on this earth: “The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’ He said to them, ‘Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.'” (Matthew 19:3-8) So God does not want us to divorce our spouse. The unsaved spouse may leave or divorce (or want a divorce from a believer), but the believer is not to remarry unless there has been sexual immorality.
Now, I want to make it clear that a woman who is in an abusive marriage needs to leave and find help as quick as they can before it is too late. They do not have to get a divorce, there is such a thing as a separation. The reason they should not go out and get remarried right away is because the unsaved spouse may get saved and want to be reunited. (Warning: Make sure this is not a pretend salvation to trick the wife into coming back.)
However, it does happen that the unsaved can receive the Lord after they leave, and as long as there has not been sexual immorality the Christian could reunite with him or her.
There are those that have reunited even if there was sexual immorality on the part of the unsaved, but the believer does not have to reunite when this has taken place. You would have to ask for the grace of God to help in a situation like this. Hosea the prophet in the Old Testament remarried his wife even after she had been unfaithful to him. After much prayer God would give you wisdom in a situation like this.
St. Paul goes on to speak about the unsaved spouse: “But to the rest I, not the Lord, [Jesus did not speak in detail about this when He was here, but now through Paul he is telling us this.] say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
“But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)
I know it is discouraging for a Christian wife or husband to live with an unsaved spouse and you may feel like giving up, but I have seen many saved through prayer and godly living. “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” You see you don’t have to say hardly anything, and that is the temptation, to try and preach to them. You need to love them so much that they can’t help but see that your Christianity is real! You know it is God’s will for them to be saved, even though they have a free will. If you are praying for them, God will bring all kinds of things into their lives to draw them to Himself.
I would like to close this answer with a promise from God’s Word for you: “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) If we can be saved, our whole family can be saved, this is what ‘household’ means. God loves us and wants us to go to heaven by families!
Thanks for the question,
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