“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is a tough verse. It’s tough mostly because of its implications. I don’t think Paul’s point here is that we need to cloister ourselves off from the world. Rather, we should not attach ourselves to the world in such a way that we are depending on it for the things for which we should primarily depend on the Lord.
And, since this particular verse is primarily applied to a certain situation, let’s go ahead and address that. It is deeply unwise for a believer to pursue a marriage relationship with an unbeliever. Now, if you’re already in this situation, divorce isn’t a solution and you don’t need to fear you’ve somehow sinned. What’s more, your goal going forward needs to be twofold: Finding ways to be intentional about strengthening your own faith via a strong connection to a local church and a small group community within that church, and by your godly submission and humble love gently shepherding your partner in the direction of Christ. But, if you aren’t already there and are thinking about it, think again.
Here’s why: As a follower of Jesus, you don’t have the same worldview as an unbeliever. Why would you enter into the intimacy of marriage with someone with whom you are going to be necessarily divided on a number of critical issues? Your approach to life and what is good won’t be the same by definition. This is an unwise situation in which to put ourselves.
As followers of Jesus, we need to do things that actively encourage and strengthen our commitment to Him. When we are bound in the covenant of marriage to someone who is not a Christian, the natural pull this person with whom we are engaged in the most intimate of fellowship on a regular basis will be away from Him. This applies to dating relationships as well where the unbelieving partner will likely see nothing wrong with pre-marital sexual activity to the point of actively encouraging it, thus actively enticing the believer into sinful behavior. If our spouse (or boyfriend or girlfriend) isn’t similarly attached to Christ, when they naturally and rightly pull us in their direction that will be a pull away from our Lord. What good can come from this? Yes, we will be exerting a pull in the other direction, but this isn’t something to count on happening. Marriage wasn’t intended to be an evangelistic exercise. Neither was dating. Let us not treat them as one.