Becoming Unequally Yoked

Finding Jesus can often be the best gift you’ll ever receive. It is absolutely life changing and comes to people in many forms. Whether you started as a believer and your relationship strengthened with God or it’s for the very first time, being filled with the Holy Spirit brings the ultimate fulfillment. But if your spouse isn’t on the same page, you become unequally yoked.

It’s natural to want to share it with the person closest to you. You’ve experienced the most amazing thing and because you love them, you want to give it to them too. But what happens if they’re not open to it and don’t see it the same way you do? What happens when they don’t believe in Christ, nor have the desire to seek Him?

Recently, we’ve been going through the Book of James at Churchome in Seattle during the Six Week Journey. It’s been particularly applicable to me personally, because my soon-to-be spouse doesn’t believe in Jesus.

Naturally, this presents a certain set of challenges, between pushing my faith on her and letting God take the steering wheel while we’re unequally yoked. So ultimately, what can we do moving forward?

As with everything, you’re not in control

When you come to Christ, one of the hardest things to overcome is trying to control every aspect of your life. But Paul teaches us to not be anxious about anything, even being unequally yoked.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:6-7)

Sometimes I find my mind wandering, thinking a verse or an event or great people could help her see what I see. But when I let go of that, it’s the ultimate freedom. When I stop trying to put together solutions to help her find God and just let Him be in control, my purpose has served it’s point.

We are not God, we are his servants. And he has a plan for all of us. Imposing our will on it will not improve the outcome.

You’re a resource, not a critic

There will be opportunities along this journey to be examples of God. Ultimately, he wants us to be more like Him. So our role is at all times to be representative of Jesus and his goodness.

But there’s a fine line from being a resource – doing his good work, answering questions when asked and being an overall support system – and being a critic.

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Romans 14:1-4)

This verse couldn’t be more clear. It’s true being unequally yoked can be hard. But so often, our faith comes across as a superiority complex. And it’s very much a part of our own brokenness. We judge others and ask, “Why can’t they see God?” when it’s a very obvious question.

God has a unique relationship with every human on the planet. People develop their beliefs based on their experiences, circumstances and many times, the culture around them. You’re not going to be able to unpack that.

Criticizing them and telling them they need God’s help will only drive them farther away from you. Their opinions may be strong and they may even be a knock on God, but they are ultimately not going to see Jesus through our condescending words, but rather through our great works through God only.

Love unconditionally

One of God’s greatest gifts to us is loving unconditionally. We don’t deserve his love, but he gives it to us anyway. Nothing we do can stop God from loving us.

But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful. (Romans 5:8)

As a race, we’ve killed, committed adultery, we fight amongst one another and we live with unforgiving hearts, but yet God loves us. He gives us every opportunity to change. Every opportunity to see Him. Can you imagine if he didn’t?

We must aspire to be like this. Why shouldn’t we be able to love our husbands and wives through their faults and differences? Why shouldn’t we give them every opportunity as God did for us?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)

Jesus is clear here. We’re sinning ourselves when pointing out another’s and judge, as we live in sin everyday. We are the same. We are all broken.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (Corinthians 13:7)

There’s only one option. We are capable of loving unconditionally through God, while hoping for the best and trusting in His plan. We must remember, God loved us when we rebelled against him. 

God wants you to stick with it

Much is made of Paul’s verse about being unequally yoked, but he’s actually quite clear in what we’re called to do in a marital situation.

For the rest of you who are in mixed marriages—Christian married to non-Christian—we have no explicit command from the Master. So this is what you must do. If you are a man with a wife who is not a believer but who still wants to live with you, hold on to her. If you are a woman with a husband who is not a believer but he wants to live with you, hold on to him. The unbelieving husband shares to an extent in the holiness of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is likewise touched by the holiness of her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

So here’s the deal. One day, we change and we find Jesus. It’s the best thing that ever happened, but maybe your spouse isn’t along for the ride. They may come along with time or they may never. But Paul is urging us to stick with it. This is our calling.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

When you stand back and take a Godly view, there have been far bigger miracles that have been done by Jesus than your spouse accepting Him in their lives. If God is capable of anything, you should have the comfort and trust he’s capable of this.

Be strong through your trials

Our Church has been drilling into enduring trials lately. The best things in life are often the hardest. But along the way, we start losing desire to go on. We feel hopeless. Every downturn produces fear and anxiety. We start doubting God and trusting the world. We start believing everything around us, instead of believing the one who saved us.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

We forget that our hardships and trials train us. They help us build character. We begin to endure more than we thought we ever could. Every time you profess, “I can’t do this anymore,” it’s pretty likely that you actually can.

The enemy in your head might tell you not to. But God has a plan for us. He has you right where he wants you. So it’s time to consider what He wants you to get out of this.

Speak to him. Pray and ask what he wants you to get out of this. Ask him to change your perspective and renew your mind. When you stand tall in your trials, you will receive gifts far greater than you could have ever imagined. 

Is it longing for comfort or genuine love?

When we become believers, our world is turned upside down. A nirvana takes over at times and you’re filled with the Holy Spirit. People ask why you have weird smile on your face and all you can say is it’s just Jesus. God’s peace and joy.

We meet fellow believers and develop lifelong friendships. Our soul is soothed by worship. We get involved in community and fellowship. All of these things are profoundly great.

But you have to be careful with how you channel them to your non-believing spouse. While our primary motive of trying to get them to accept Jesus is because we love them and we want the best for them, sometimes we let these life-changing events bring unrest because we’re not experiencing them with the person closest to us. We dwell on being unequally yoked. 

Simply, it’s easy to long for the comfort and convenience of being able share that with them.

You start asking, how amazing would it be if they could come to Bible study with me? How amazing would it be if they build awesome relationships with all my new friends?

If we could just both connect with Jesus, it would be so much easier because we’d have the same foundation. We’d both always go back to that.

One day, maybe those things will come to pass. But that’s not what God’s plans are for you right now and you have to trust that. When you begin to let those thoughts own you, thoughts from the enemy, you become consumed by envy.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots at the bones. (Proverbs 14:30)

Envy thaws at us. Not just in this example, but in everything in life. God gave us our own race. We have to do the best we can in what we do, not what someone else is doing over there.

Because someone has an amazing job, or a big house or seems super successful or has a great relationship with their spouse in Jesus, that’s their own race.

If we keep desiring that, all we receive is unending anxiety because we don’t have that in our lives. And when we let this affect us, we ultimately get farther and farther away from God and what He wants for us.

We stop trusting in his plan. We lose God’s peace and joy, the primary things that hold us together.

So we have to refocus, be cognizant of what’s going on in our brains, love unconditionally those closest to us for who they are and trust in God, for which we will receive his peace and joy that passes all understanding.

God has given us so much to be blessed for and our spouses are our number one blessing.