Want a Relationship? Stop Taking ‘Equally Yoked’ So Seriously

Equally yokedSomewhere out there this past Sunday, a nice Christian gal settled into her favorite pew at church with her Bible pressed into her lap and a short litany of prayers to send up to the Lord at the altar. At the top of that list: a gentle reminder to The Great I Am that she is still looking for The One. A husband. The Boaz to her Ruth. Swoon.

It’s not like she hasn’t positioned herself to find or be found. She’s registered for every conference, luncheon, and mixer hosted by the singles ministry since she made the suggestion that one should be launched. She’s prayed, fasted, and prepped herself. And she’s dutifully heeded warnings from ministers who advised her to seek a man with whom she is “equally yoked.” She has every intention to do just that. Except like many of us, she’s not exactly sure what that really means. 


“Equally yoked” is a star in the glossary of church terminology, one of those phrases that we hear actively tossed around whenever the subject of relationships is on deck. But its definition has been about as easy to pinpoint as the expiration date on a box of generic Ho Hos. The phrase has almost been reduced to nothing more than a Christian colloquialism, truth be told.

For those who don’t know — Christian or not — the concept of being equally yoked was ripped from 2 Corinthians 6:14 in Paul’s letter to the church. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided that he was talking about relationships. Maybe that individual was trying to twist and turn the Word into what they wanted it to mean. Wouldn’t be the first time that happened. But in the most popular interpretation, equally yoked means a Christian (believer) shouldn’t link up with, marry, or seriously date a non-Christian (non-believer). Mmm.

Puh-lease. The dating pool is too small out here to be eliminating folks because they don’t subscribe to the same religious practices. Single folks in the church will surely keep right on bein’ single if they 1) take the scripture out of context and try to slap it into modern-day lovin’ and 2) use it as a reason to limit themselves for who they can and cannot be with. When it comes to matters of the heart, I think we should be just a wee bit more open than that. Because honestly, the emotional health of the individuals in the couple and what makes them feel loved and honored and alive and free to pursue their passions is really most important.

Heck, even between two Christians, being equally yoked has more to do with sharing similar values and principles that can vary depending on how they were raised, their different backgrounds, and what their church affiliation is. Lord knows me and my wild tail could never be paired with a super conservative Lutheran or Presbyterian when I was brought up in a shouting, hallelujahin’, dancing-in-the-aisles denomination (that would be African Methodist Episcopal, thank you, who are close competitors to Penecostals and Baptists when it comes to setting it off in the name of the Father).

But that’s not it for the parameters of the equally yoked-ness. Some folks think it means you have to be in the same income bracket and have similar professions a ala white collar folks should only be paired with white collar folks, which may account for the rampant number of stupid inter-office romances. For other people it might mean both parties should have parallel political beliefs, vegetarian lifestyles, or spending habits. I don’t know where it ends, but there are obviously a lot of folks floating around out there who poo poo on the whole “opposites attract” theory.

Surely this pandemic of ringless folks has given us more than enough reasons to analyze, examine, and research our singledom with the same intensity as other natural mysteries like El Nino and global warming. Whether or not believers and non-believers should marry outside of their faith is fodder for all kinds of debates, just like the question of interracial hook-ups and May/December romances. But dangit, let’s just find and fall in love.

What does the concept of being “equally yoked” mean to you, either from a religious and secular perspective?

Image via The Welsh Poppy/Flickr

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