Choose a number of people to ask the questions at the end of the program, or choose a panel and share the questions ahead of time.
There are "controversial" topics that face opposition whenever they are presented in the church. Among the top candidates of controversy is the subject of being unequally yoked or religious incompatibility.
Some of us take offence to the thought that the Bible should meddle in matters of the heart, especially when it goes against our love interest.
Ellen G White, in her book "Adventist Home p.61" speaks to the extremely apparent indifference that many have taken towards the biblical counsels.
"Marriage of Christians With Unbelievers—There is in the Christian world an astonishing, alarming indifference to the teaching of God's word in regard to the marriage of Christians with unbelievers. Many who profess to love and fear God choose to follow the bent of their own minds rather than take counsel of Infinite Wisdom. In a matter which vitally concerns the happiness and well-being of both parties for this world and the next, reason, judgment, and the fear of God are set aside; and blind impulse, stubborn determination are allowed to control.
Men and women who are otherwise sensible and conscientious close their ears to counsel; they are deaf to the appeals and entreaties of friends and kindred and of the servants of God.
The expression of a caution or warning is regarded as impertinent meddling, and the friend who is faithful enough to utter a remonstrance is treated as an enemy. All this is as Satan would have it. He weaves his spell about the soul, and it becomes bewitched, infatuated. Reason lets fall the reins of self-control upon the neck of lust; unsanctified passion bears sway, until, too late, the victim awakens to a life of misery and bondage. This is not a picture drawn by the imagination, but a recital of facts. God's sanction is not given to unions which He has expressly forbidden."
What Does the Bible Say?
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 KJV
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
The term unequally yoked is a new testament phrase used to represent a union between two spiritually incompatible individuals. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened across the necks to two animals such as oxen. The purpose of yoking is to utilize the power of two animals to plough or pull a cart. Using only one animal may not be adequate. The two animals chosen should be the same size and same specie to ensure efficient use of the yoke to complete the assigned task.
The old testament even advises in Deuteronomy 22:10 "You shall not plough with an ox and a donkey together." Both the size, strength and gate of an ox and a donkey are different and would not make an efficient ploughing team.
Add this video to enhance your presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TdlDN0tGTo
Pause to throw out the following questions to the audience, either as rhetorical questions or for discussion, depending on the time allotted for the program.
Was this really about relationships?
What kind of relationships?
Do we consider this a suggestion or a commandment?
Being Unequally yoked is breaking the first commandment.
The concept of spiritual incompatibility existed from the early old testament.
Exodus 20:3Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
We can see the direct relation when we continue reading the rest of
2 Corinthians 6:14-17
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
Somehow, Paul here was associating being unequally yoked with idol worship or atheism which is idol worship of science or one's self.
We see the same association of spiritual incompatibility with idol worship in Deuteronomy 7: 1-6.
When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
2 And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.
5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
6 For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
The bottom line of all of this is that who you marry will impact your salvation and that of your children.
Verse 4 emphasizes that "For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods". The reality of the faith of the children born in a spiritually incompatible marriage is an often overlooked problem that ends up having a generational impact.
If one spouse has strong feelings for their own religious beliefs, this can cause conflict in how the children are taught. The children may choose to follow one or the other, even sometimes choosing both, which usually means they have no real loyalty to either.
Even in relationships where one spouse is indifferent about religion and does nothing to dissuade the children from following their spiritual teachings, the children would have lacked an environment where the husband carries out His role as a priest to lead his family to God. The wife would be the diligent teacher, educating her children about the words the Lord has spoken for their well being.
This topic tends to bring out passionate opinions. This message can be lost if the congregation feels that this point of view does not consider their position or situation.
Create an open space for dialogue, setting aside a time at the end of the presentation for questions. Ask ahead of time for specific individuals to share questions. Some persons may not feel comfortable asking the first question. Below are a few you can distribute. You can also choose to create a panel with pastors, elders, married, single, young and old for a nice diverse discussion:
- What should I do if I am in a long term relationship, engaged or married to someone who is unequally yoked?
- There are not enough eligible partners in the church; should I still wait around?
- What if the person is a very godly individual, and is even more spiritual than I am, but of a different faith.
- I am young, and I don't plan to get married anytime soon, do I need to care about being unequally yoked with my girlfriend/boyfriend?
- I have tried dating in the church but had terrible experiences with "supposedly godly", Christian men/women. I had better experiences with genuine people who do not necessarily share my faith. Should I still look in the church?
- I don't plan to have kids, does it matter if my spouse is a Christian?
- Why should I care about being unequally yoked when the Christian marriages I see don't seem to be doing much better.
- I see someone I like who is not of the same faith; he/she is a genuine person and shows interest in God. Is it OK to start a relationship so I can better help them find the Lord?
- My girlfriend/boyfriend grew up in the same church and shared the same beliefs as I do. However, they are just not active at the moment, but he/she plans to be more involved in the future, should I continue?
- My boyfriend/girlfriend and I attend the same church. Still, we have fundamental differences in things like jewellery, alcoholic beverages and female ordination. Should I continue the relationship?