What Does It Mean To Be Equally Yoked?

Steven James Dixon July 11, 2011 Comments

Simple question/Complex answer: “What Does It Mean To Be Equally Yoked?” Equally yoked is a biblical phrase referred to in the Christian community that is oftentimes used to justify a decision made about a relationship or marriage. I have heard people say that they were not equally yoked with someone because of a different upbringing, decision making process, beliefs, finances, education, location and even appearance. That stuff has nothing to do with being equally yoked! What’s funny is that the phrase “unequally yoked” does not specifically refer to marriage. Actually, the phrase “equally yoked” is not even in the bible. II Corinthians 6:14 (KJV) says, “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers. . .” It doesn’t say relationships, it doesn’t say marriage but its implication is that of any relationship with another person. A relationship with another person could be a marriage. I want to answer the question at hand in a manner which provides couples with the information necessary to determine their “Yoke Status.” To get to that answer, the first thing we have to do is discuss what has absolutely nothing to do with being equally yoked.

If two people go to church together that does not mean that they are equally yoked. If two people don’t go to church together that does not mean that they are unequally yoked. If one person goes to one church and the other person goes to another church, can they still be equally yoked? Well, maybe. If one person goes to church and the other person does not go to church can they still be equally yoked? Well, maybe. Both people have to be Christians. Being equally yoked does not apply to unbelievers. Unbelievers don’t have a yoke. Reading the bible together does not make you equally yoked but we are getting warmer! Being in love does not mean that you are equally yoked. Being married does not mean that you are equally yoked. Having a great friendship does not mean that you are equally yoked. Having things in common does not mean that you are equally yoked. If you are not equally yoked can you still get married? Yes . . . if you take II Corinthians 6:14 out of the bible. If you determine while married that you are not equally yoked can you get a divorce? No. I will explain why later. If you are equally yoked with someone, do you always stay “in yoke” with them? Maybe, maybe not. Can you not be in love with someone and still be equally yoked to them? Yes. Can you be equally yoked to two people at the same time? Yes. I will explain later. . .  on second thought I better explain that one right now.

Being equally yoked initially doesn’t have anything to do with your love for another person or your relationship or marriage to another person. The first thing you have to do is be a believer in God’s word. Two people who are believers that are in a relationship or marriage ARE equally yoked. Don’t celebrate just yet! Being equally yoked does not guarantee any sort of successfulness for your relationship or marriage. Confirming that two people are equally yoked is what we should do at the beginning of a relationship. Confusion sets in when we are trying to figure out what it means to be equally yoked. In my humble opinion, being equally yoked is about two believers sharing a spiritual connection with God. For example one person can go to church and another person may not be attending church and they could still be equally yoked if they are believers who share a spiritual connection with God. (The person that does not go to church needs to be in fellowship with other Christians at some capacity on a regular basis.) I am a relationship expert but I can’t tell you if you are equally yoked to another person because I don’t know how you know God. I don’t know how your partner knows God. I definitely can’t tell you anything about the spiritual connection to God that you share with your partner either. Two couples could have two different levels of spiritual connection with God. Couple A could be on “Spiritual Connection Level 8” together and be equally yoked. Couple B could be on “Spiritual Connection Level 4” together and be equally yoked. Let’s say that we have an individual on “Spiritual Connection Level 7” who wants to marry an individual on “Spiritual Connection Level 5.” Should they get married? It depends. They will need to agree on what level they both can share a spiritual connection for God. Maybe they can meet on level 6. I know what you are wondering! “Is this spiritual connection stuff in the bible?” The answer is NO but the problem is that if I said yes, too many people would believe me. That is actually kind of funny. I cannot define for you what “Spiritual Connection Level” you are on because . . .  well, I made it up. If you didn’t know that I made it up you need to get that anointed oil in your life.

Here is an example of two people meeting on the same spiritual connection level. One of my friends goes to church all the time. I mean, she is in church all the time!!! She recognizes that the man that she may marry may not want to be in church all the time. She said that as long as he attends church regularly and that he is a praying man then that’s enough for her. She is figuring out what the lowest level of spiritual connection a man must have with God in order for her to be in a relationship with that man. It is important that each of us figure out how spiritual or religious we would like for our partners to be before we have a partner. If you don’t know what you want spiritually your yoke is going to be messed up.

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  1. Tiffany says:

    I am SO glad you posted this! I have been thinking about this very subject for more than a week or so. This has helped me so much! Thank you!

  2. Cheryl says:

    At 2 Corinthians 6:14, to whom is Paul referring when he uses the term “unbelievers”?

    At 2 Corinthians 6:14, we read: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” If we look at the context, it is evident that Paul is speaking of individuals who are clearly no part of the Christian congregation. This understanding is supported by other Bible verses that record Paul’s use of the term “unbeliever” or “unbelievers.”

    For example, Paul reprimands Christians for going to court “before unbelievers.” (1 Corinthians 6:6) Here, the unbelievers are judges serving in the court system of Corinth. In his second letter, Paul states that Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” The eyes of such unbelievers are ‘veiled’ from the good news. These unbelievers have made no move toward serving Jehovah, since Paul earlier explained: “When there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away.”—2 Corinthians 3:16; 4:4.

    Some unbelievers are involved in lawlessness or idolatry. (2 Corinthians 6:15, 16) However, not all are opposed to Jehovah’s servants. Some show an interest in the truth. Many have Christian mates and are happy to stay with them. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14; 10:27; 14:22-25; 1 Peter 3:1, 2) However, Paul consistently applies the term “unbeliever” to individuals who, as mentioned above, are no part of the Christian congregation, which is made up of “believers in the Lord.”—Acts 2:41; 5:14; 8:12, 13.

    The principle found at 2 Corinthians 6:14 is a valuable guide for Christians in all areas of life and has often been quoted as providing wise counsel for Christians seeking a marriage mate. (Matthew 19:4-6) A dedicated, baptized Christian wisely does not seek a marriage mate among those who are unbelievers, since the values, goals, and beliefs of unbelievers are so different from those of a true Christian.

  3. Article Posted to Elev8.com says:

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  4. Sunshine says:

    Can a person who has beliefs as a Muslim but does not practice Islamic religion marry a man who is Muslim and practices Islamic religion. I was raised Christian. Just wondering is that concerned unequally yoked? We both belief in one God (Allah) and that Jesus and Muhammad were prophets for Allah.

  5. Lyn says:

    Wonderful read. Just this past Friday evening myself and few of my church brothers and sisters were talking on the subject of tradition in the church. The subject of good yoke vs bad yoke was also discussed. Just as the brother has stated so eloquently and I thank you for my own edification, we including myself at times have taken this phrase out of its context causing distortion of thoughts, ideas and suggestions. Sister Cheryl you also made a very good point. Being a mature divorced woman, I appreicate being able to read and clearly understand. We must always take in to account many factors of a possible relationship of any kind.

    Even in the body of Christ there are some folk that we should not be “yoked” with and it is so important to know God and His word and how it does apply to this life though it was written many thousands of years ago. In my own opinion, I think that there would be less destruction in the union of marriage and also work, family and friends, if peoples knew themselves, understood and accepted who they were “created” to be not, whom others attempt to mold them into being. There are boundires that God gave for us to live an abundent life, he came down in the form of Jesus to remind us, of that abundent life. Moses was commanded to speak to the rock and in Moses’ anger he struck the rock (disobedience) and in doing the oposite of what God commanded, Moses would not see that promise land. So in closing, I am reminded in this reading that we must take on the Whole Word of God and use it for what it says not for what we think it says. Never a day without growth.

    Wonderful Word.

  6. Great description. There is a little missing in terms of context.

    It’s important to understand what a yoke is. It is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. It is used to keep them on the same path when treading grain.

    In the Jewish faith, a rabbi’s teaching was called his yoke. When disciples would follow a particular rabbi, they were said to “come under his yoke”. There were new disciples along with long-time disciples but they were all under the yoke (teaching and guidance) of the rabbi.

    So the context here is that when you are “equally yoked” with another person in a relationship, you are on the same path and guided by the same source. You have decided to agree on that source to be what steers your path and you go together with the same “yoke”.

    The reason it is so critical to be equally yoked is because if you don’t agree with your partner in where you are going, you will break the yoke. It’s not about agreeing in every decision. It’s about agreeing that there is one source determining your ultimate destination and guiding your path. That source will guide you both when you go off course. It will correct and put your back on the path. That where you get the expression “don’t kick against the goads”. The goads were used to jab the oxen to keep them on the path. When you fight the correction, you hurt yourself and can ultimately break free from the yoke.

    If you can agree on that source of guidance, direction and correction, you cannot be yoked together.

    1. *My last sentence should read “If you can’t agree…”

      1. Toni Wilkins says:

        That is good teaching!!!

    2. sjDixon says:

      You know what man, I know that part and I had planned on having a big featured Pastor or Bishop to discuss this concept in the article and I forgot! I found it really difficult to get a Pastor to publicly endorse a little old writer (me). All of the Pastors agree with everything that I said in an article but all said that they were too busy to write that part in the article.

    3. mike says:

      This is the truth on this matter. This is sound doctrine.

    4. MHORTON says:

      If you don’t mind, I would like to pass this on to some friends. I have been talking about this particular subject since the article about the church keeping black wormen single. This has been written so easily that it can be understood by all.


      I have gone to your websit and faved it!!!!

      1. Cool. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Whose marriage is more difficult Christians or unbelievers? | ELEV8 says:

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  9. TheDatingLines.com says:

    Feature The problem of ‘unequal yoke’ in marriage and courtship… A yoke is a specially-designed wooden bar fitted across the neck of two animals (usually cows) that are selected to plough the soil in a field for farming. These animals are carefully selected to be as equal in size and character as possible, in order …

  10. tasha says:

    hey my boyfriend broke up with me last month and he said we don’t yoke the same for the life of me I could not find out wut he meant by that well come to think about it he don’t know what it means he said it in a way that he thinks he is better then me so now I don’t feel so bad. Thankyou

  11. Mary Bowens says:

    Two people being in church and saved does not mean that they are equally yoke and should be married to one another,i believe we allow physical attraction and emotions to take over sound judgements in most relationships and we choose people for mates that GOD had no part in so we end up in God permissive will and not his perfect will for our lives,then when things dont go the way weee plan weee began to feel stuck.Thats when weee began to think about what the word of GOD says “what God has put together let no man put asunder” or seperate,we cant get alone or the two cannot come together and agree on anything,now we are ready for a divorce,maybe that husband or wife you choose to marry was not the best GOD had for you,not that they were bad people they just were not for you,they could have been send to the church to be the best for someone else,i believe we are then unequally yoke,but GOD honors the marriage bed and his word.We should seek to be in GOD’S PERFECT WILL but even when we miss it his mercy and grace allow us to be in his permissive will,