Yoked Together

Posted: January 24, 2012 in marriage, Ministry, Weddings

[This post is in a series of posting about marriage and weddings.  You can find the first three posts here, here, and here]

Most of the people I minister to and hang out with aren’t farmers.  I have nothing against farmers, but my life is rooted in a city and I just don’t have a lot of farmers around me.  As a result, some of the agricultural metaphors and language that the Bible uses, is often missed.

One such metaphor is the language of a yoke.  It is the wooden beam-like object around the neck of the two oxen.  The purpose and need for a yoke was essential in farming.  Every ox was different.  Some were stronger, some were weaker, some were faster, some were slower, one wanted to go this direction, the other wanted to head in a different direction.  What kept them together – moving at the same speed, and the same pace, and sharing the burden of the load/work was the yoke.  Without it, the oxen would find themselves going in totally different directions, with different speeds, and different levels of strength.  They would ultimately (if they were trying to pull a cart or a plow) find themselves pulling in opposing directions.  And the result – tension, conflict, added burden, and wasted expenditures of energy.

Jesus uses this metaphor when he speaks of our life of discipleship.  He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

The apostle Paul uses this metaphor as a warning in regards to our most intimate and personal relationships, including marriage.  He says in 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

I know this is the most controversial of topics when it comes to marriage.  I can’t tell you how many Christians (especially women) have spoken to me years later with regret – who thought they were the biblical exception and married someone who wasn’t a Christian and didn’t share in their faith assumptions.  At the time they were so “in love” that they thought it wouldn’t really matter.  Or they thought they had some arrangement worked out (then the kids showed up).  Or they thought their husband-to-be would come around and join them in their faith (which we still hope and pray for).

In the end, I just can’t get around this passage in 2 Corinthians.  And there are times that I want to get around it for the sake of people who I love and who have found “someone.”  And every time I have gone ahead and officiated a wedding between someone who was a Christian and someone who wasn’t – more often than not, I have regretted it, and more importantly, the couple regretted it.  They regretted it because they found they were living a life with a spouse who was perpetually pulling in an opposite direction.  And it often ended in either divorce, or out of pure exhaustion, caused the Christian to give in.  Years later they find they practice almost no faith at all.

I want to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching.  Not because I like it all the time.  Not because I don’t want there to be exceptions.  Not because I have moments of “but they really do seem great together” kind of thoughts.  But simply because I’ve pledged, in life and vocation, to be faithful to its teachings EVEN when I might wish otherwise.

  1. Melissa says:

    It’s unfortunate that single, Christian men over the age of 20 are in such short supply.

  2. @Melissa – I’m working on it here at LSC. Maybe we will end up being a single Christian man factory! Not that that helps me at all. 🙂

  3. the other ed says:

    @Sam….I know what our catch phrase could be…”Have you ever wished your boyfriend was a Stoner?”

  4. Jennifer says:

    And this is why my friend if I ever decide to marry, he will have to pass the Sam, Kelly, and Sarah test. I know that all 3 of you would be objective with this and make this subject top priority! This is what makes you a great Pastor. This is why I miss LSC so much!! There is acountability in truth and love. You preach not because you want to please people, but because you want people to be better. Thank you for teaching me that I am not the biblical exception!! 🙂

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