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What It Means to Be “Unequally Yoked”

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Is it a sin to marry a non-Christian? I'm dating a woman who isn't a believer, and my parents and friends keep quoting the Bible: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers." But the context and original Greek language of that verse suggest that Paul is writing specifically about believers' avoiding idolatry.

You’re probably right to suggest that Paul wasn’t thinking primarily of marriage when he wrote, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV). But that doesn’t mean the principle can’t have broader application.

It’s always important to ask ourselves — in every area of life —  how a believer can have any kind of partnership with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:15). This is particularly true in marriage. An unbeliever doesn’t follow the Lord — doesn’t worship the one true God — so everything else in their life is an idol. Including their spouse.

Remember: The call of Christ is to deny yourself and follow Him (Mark 8:34). How can you follow a Master who demands absolute allegiance if you choose to become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24) with a person who ignores His truth?

Set aside for a moment the question of whether it would be a sin to marry a non-Christian. Common sense alone says it would be unwise. Why? Because the success of the marriage and the spiritual health of the believing partner would be at serious risk.

Who you choose to marry will have a profound impact on your future. It’s a choice you can’t take lightly — second only to your decision to follow Jesus. So we urge you to be cautious and prayerful. Be humble, and listen carefully to the advice of those who know and love you best. You won’t regret it.

Want to talk more? Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our staff of licensed or pastoral counselors would be glad to help in any way they can.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The First Five Years of Marriage: Launching a Lifelong, Successful Relationship

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know

The Bible Answer Book

Marriage Alive

Christian Research Institute

Insight for Living

Red Flags in a Relationship

Strengthening Your Marriage

God’s Design for Marriage

Spiritual Intimacy

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