The marriage equality debate somehow took our eye off another issue, that is the Christian's perspective on what is commonly referred to from the Scriptures as being "unequally yoked".
For years I had never really understood why the bible counsels us not to be involved in a relationship with a person that is not of the same Christian faith. I always questioned why and didn't quite understand the reasons behind this request.
Even if my partner hadn't surrendered his life to Christ and chosen to live by God's principles, indeed if I continued to attend church, read my bible, attended bible study and simply continued to do all that I always did to remain close to God, then why couldn't I be in a relationship with a person that does not share in my Christian faith (i.e. a non-believer)?
Some years ago now a Christian friend that found herself involved in a relationship with a non-believer. She longed so much to be married, that in her quest for a partner, she met a non-Christian man. She was of age and was worried that if she didn't form any meaningful relationship at that time, that she would never be married and have children of her own.
Her argument for being with him was that he was willing to come to church with her, and that she hoped that one day, he would become a Christian too â€“ in any case, he was such a good person so why not give him a chance? So they began to date.
Things seemed to be going well the first few months. She continued to attend church and bible study. But soon I began to notice that I didn't see her at church as much as I used to, and if I did see her, she would come to the church service on her own. She didn't seem interested in as many church activities as she previously did and her small group study attendance began to dwindle. When I asked her about her scarce Sunday service attendance, she always seemed to have an excuse for her absence.
She came to me one day and revealed that she had been recently praying about her relationship with her partner. She had been battling many questions in her head and needed some answers. She felt that the relationship wasn't heading in the right direction, and she had to end it. She sat me down and began to explain her reasons for her actions:
Different sources of guidance
She said, "I came to realise that it would be difficult to make the relationship work. How could we both head in a similar direction and do life together if we had different sources of guidance? I in God, and he essentially in - nothing. If I base my life principles on the living word of God, and he doesn't, how do we share in our life principles? If one day in our marriage, we were blessed with children and I would like to bring them up with the same Christian convictions I have, how can we bring up our children in a way that does not cause division, with such conflicting views of God?"
She thought that the only reason why her partner had offered to attend church earlier in the relationship was just to win her over. Now all she wanted was to be with someone that is a committed Christian and will encourage her in her walk with God.
A popular verse that comes to mind in this situation is found in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 14-15 (NIV): Do not be yoked together with unbelievers...what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? ... what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? This verse is not exclusively referring to marriage, but I would like to suggest that it applies in this situation as well.
So often we can be rush to make foolish decisions because of our impatience and failure to wait on God. You see, my friend became so caught up in her desire to be married, that in her trying to fulfil her own desire, she didn't seek God's guidance and made the inappropriate choice. She thought that while together with the non-believer, she would still be strong enough to resist the temptation of omitting the things of God in her life, but was so easily led astray without even realizing it.
Seeking God's wisdom
Through her experience I came to understand that it is imperative that with the word of God, we prayerfully consider and ask God for wisdom (James chapter 1 verse 5), understanding and direction in choosing a life partner. I think it is important that the person I choose to marry understands that God is first and foremost in our lives and is willing to live by His principles alone.
Now the possibility of never being able to share in my passion for God with the person I choose to spend the rest of my life with, has become an unbearable thought.
There are probably a number of examples out there of a union between a Christian and non-believer that have followed a completely different pattern to my friend's, and have turned out well â€“ I acknowledge that. But I would much rather make a choice in obedience to God (just as Peter and other apostles did in Acts chapter 5 verse 29), than make a choice that displeases God, isn't clear in my conscience and comes with unpleasant consequences.
I believe that a wife or a husband is a blessing from God. I pray that just as I seek God's guidance in my life, that if God wills for me to be in a life union with someone, that I would choose to be with a committed Christian that loves God and seeks Him first above all else.
Kandima Awendila was born in Mozambique and lives and works as an IT Service Desk Engineer on the Gold Coast. Kandima Awendila's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/kandima-awendila.html