By LaShunda Calvert, Ph.D.
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
Are there certain things – like shared hobbies or a similar sense of humor or compassion – that are absolute prerequisites for a good marriage?
Healthy and happy marriages are not made up of two individuals who share most things in common like passions, hobbies, talents, education status, religious affiliations, interests, race, income, career, etc. Healthy and happy marriages consist of two people who are sometimes the complete opposite but can come together and support each other because of their shared love for one another and God. God clearly illustrates in His Word that the only prerequisite that Christians should have before tying the knot with anyone is not marrying someone who is a non-believer (non-Christian).
2 Corinthians 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
God uses light and darkness to compare what a marriage between a believer and a non-believer is like; what does light and darkness have in common? Answer is absolutely nothing. A non-believer and a believer have no Godly connection. God isn’t at the center of the marriage, and they have nothing in common as it relates to serving and seeking God. In other words, one can enjoy watching sports together, both can love jazz music, both can love bowling, and love each other with all their heart. But, according to God’s Word, they are still unequally yoked because they don’t share Him together.
A yoke is used to join two oxen together to till the ground – if one ox weighs 100 pounds and the other weighs 400 pounds, then the lighter one can’t carry the weight that the heavier one can carry. An unsaved (non-believer) individual is weaker than a saved individual (believer). Notice, it takes two oxen to till the ground – digging up the ground, making room to grow, and producing goods. How can an unsaved spouse help pull the weight of your marriage in a positive direction if he or she is not connected to the One who gives you the strength and the ability to pull?
There are many unequally yoked marriages struggling and going around in circles because only one is carrying the marriage, which can eventually lead to separation and divorce if God doesn’t intervene and save the unbeliever.
What is an equally yoked marriage? An equally yoked marriage is between two individuals, who both have confessed with their mouths and believed in their hearts that Jesus is Lord, that he died, and rose from the dead. Why is it so important for two people to be equally yoked? Being equally yoked is necessary for praying together, learning about God, growing in God together, seeking God together, and attending church together. Imagine being married to someone who doesn’t believe in God, and you do. Will the unsaved spouse understand and support your need to pray to God, fast, attend prayer meetings and Bible Study, listen to Gospel music, and attend church on Sundays? Or will there be conflict, strife, division, and a digression of you following Christ?
So, what happens if you are in an unequally yoked marriage today? Should you separate or divorce and count it a loss? No, God’s Word clearly states that the believer’s wife or husband sanctifies the unsaved spouse, meaning that, based on how the believer’s spouse live for God, this can possibly help the unsaved spouse get saved. Also, if a non-believer wants to walk away from the marriage, he or she is not obligated to stay. Pray that God will save your spouse daily.
1 Corinthians 7:14-15 – “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.”
Wives, did you know that your behavior (conversation and actions) can be influential in helping lead your husband to Christ?
1 Peter 3:1 – “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”
All in all, should married couples enjoy doing activities together or supporting each other’s hobbies, activities, and interests? Although one may not enjoy watching football, writing poetry, singing, etc., spouses should be willing to support each other in whatever Godly ways they can, which sometimes means making compromises and sacrifices. It should never be a one-sided effort of one spouse supporting most of what a spouse does and enjoys and then that spouse is never willing to support their efforts, goals, and initiatives. For instance, one spouse may enjoy watching action movies, while the other spouse doesn’t, but because of their love for their spouse, they are willing to eagerly watch the action movies with them. However, that same supportive spouse may enjoy watching romantic movies while the other spouse may not ever watch the movies with them due mostly to selfishness and unwillingness to sacrifice. This is unfair, and this will not make for a healthy and happy marriage. It will eventually make for a sad, dreadful, and unhappy marriage.
In conclusion, marriage should never be about one person. Marriage should be about two people collaborating to make memories together doing what they both enjoy doing. Love is an awesome reason to get married, but it is not enough to get married if you are unequally yoked.