The unequal yoke

Summer couple holding hands at sunset on beach. Romantic young couple enjoying sun, sunshine, romance and love by the sea. Couple on summer vacation travel holiday

Question: I am dating a non-Christian and I see in him all the qualities of a Christian though he does not believe in Jesus, at least not yet. I would like for him to share my faith. But even though he does not believe, will he not make a good husband, considering that many who claim to be Christians may not have the qualities I see in my friend?

Answer: It is sad but true that many who call themselves Christians may not be Christ-like – and many who are not believers can put us to shame by their commendable qualities. Obviously, you have decided on the qualities you want to see in your future husband, and you seem to have found them in your friend.

 But you may want to bear in mind two things. First, remember: falling in love has a way of blinding us to the realities of life. As the song ‘Love Changes Everything’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber warns us:

“Love bursts in and suddenly

All our wisdom disappears

Love makes fools of everyone

All the rules we make are broken…”

Second, do not forget: if your friend does not profess faith in Christ, you may have issues with him later in your marriage – such as when you start a family, manage finances, raise children, and face unexpected crises. Such experiences may put the both of you, your beliefs and values to the test.

Lee and Leslie Strobel have written a book about their mismatched marriage, and how Leslie eventually won Lee to the Lord. Despite the happy outcome of their unequal yoke, they caution:

 “Resist the temptation to do missionary dating. The problem with stories about Christians dating unbelievers and then leading them to Christ is that they are the exception to the rule. The chances are high that you will be pulled away from your faith than he or she will embrace what you believe. Remember that it is wrong to knowingly violate God’s injunction against unequally yoked relationships.”1

Is there hope for a relationship with a non-Christian partner? Yes, and no. Yes, if the non-Christian partner professes no faith and expresses an openness to explore your faith. No, if he or she is already a staunch believer or serious practitioner of another faith, or if the person cannot decide where he or she stands on matters of faith. Either way, it is best to refer your friend to someone of the same sex to find out more about your faith.

No matter how much we find commendable and compatible about each other before marriage, life after it may launch us out of our comfort zone. Our eyes will be opened to things we have not seen before. We will face challenges we have not expected: an autistic child, a life-threatening illness, an act of unfaithfulness or a business collapse. If your faiths are different, you may find it harder to deal with these issues from a common platform.

When the Bible warns us not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) and marry “only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39), it is for our good as well as for God’s glory. Not only will common faith and shared spiritual values strengthen our marriage, it will also provide a place where our faith can be passed on to the next generation.

Reprinted with permission from IMPACT Magazine, Feb/Mar 2014, Vol. 38, No. 1.

The Rev Dr Wong’s book, The Unequal Yoke: When Two May Not Walk Together, published by Armour Publishing, is available in Christian bookstores.


The Rev Dr David W. F. Wong –

is the senior pastor of Zion Bishan Bible-Presbyterian Church. He has been in the pastoral ministry for over 40 years. Lyricist to six musicals and author of 12 books, he is married to Jenny, and they are blessed with two daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.


1 Lee Strobel and Leslie Strobel, Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage (Zondervan, 2002), page 205.

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