Starting at the Source
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.
As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
There will always be battles between the Church and the World. This is not merely a “culture war”, because the Gospel is foundationally “counter-cultural”, and will never exist in harmony with sinful human nature. Yet so often the battle lines are drawn over a conflict of lesser ideas. In a conversation I just had today, “you can’t convince someone of the sanctity of marriage without a knowledge of the Savior, the One who created the covenant of marriage.” In other words, you can’t begin to see things from God’s Perspective until you are “born again” (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23) by His Spirit. Until then, one is “blinded” to think in ways that oppose our Creator (John 12:40, 2 Corinthians 4:4).
The passage at the beginning is usually used to described marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian, and rightly so, although there are a number of other applications. The 2nd part of it comes from the Old Testament, and refers to the Israelites remaining holy and separate from the other nations to be a witness to them of the God of Israel. The apostle Paul takes that and applies it to the Christian Church, which consists of Jews and Gentiles. The “unequally-yoked” part is all in regards to one’s relationship with Christ!
The application of the passage is simply this: Before you can see “eye-to-eye” in regards to any kind of morality, they must come to faith in Christ, the Source of that morality. You can argue about the social benefits of a mutually-exclusive monogamous marriage for life, but even if that is agreed upon, they will have to fight against overwhelming forces that seek to break them apart, without the strength of the Advocate who established the very purposes for it …which go far beyond just the two of them!
Paul in 2 Cor 5:11, says, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” The “persuasion” he is talking about is not about any kind of “morality”, but about “the judgment seat of Christ”, namely, judgment that will come upon the world for those who will not receive the Gospel, the Truth of what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross! So we can battle in a world of ideas, such as for the meaning and importance of marriage, but persuasion will not take them very far without getting to the Source of it all. What is the Source, the Root of all identity and purpose?
It is this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27) We are thus created by Him, in His image (which gives us valuable, intrinsic worth), and also for Him! Jesus even affirms the Plan of God for marriage in this, in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:8, yet the depth of it far exceeds human expectations!
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (from Genesis 2:24) This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-32)
So not only are we created for special relationships that last forever, but God gave marriage as a picture of something far greater! Marriage itself is a picture that points to the eternal relationship between a God of Love and the perfected Bride of Christ, the Church! Thus, human marriages are not merely there to make us happy, but as Gary Thomas would put it, “more like a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him for more fully, and love him more dearly” (Sacred Marriage) EVEN as we learn to love our spouses, and sacrifice ourselves on behalf of that significant other.
Let us lead others to the Source of it All, even as we ourselves model that blessed reality in relationships that seek to honor our Lord & future Bridegroom.