The Evangelical Universalist Forum

friendship with unbelievers


In 1 Corinthians Paul condones eating with unbelievers, but later in the latter says not to be yoked with unbelievers. What do you guys think?


Well… our Lord Jesus Himself befriended tax collectors and prostitutes, and had dinner parties where He ate and drank with them.

In his own words, He indicates the accusations against Him:

These “accusations” were true. Jesus was the Friend of sinners!

There is a huge difference between befriending non-Christians and being “unequally yoked” with them.

Jesus Himself was IN the world but not OF the world. He belonged to a higher realm, but did not separate Himself from people in this realm on that account; rather He was a friend of sinners, and through His love for them, did all He could for their benefit.



What’s the difference?


A prominent example of the “unequal yoke” is marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian. This example is “close to home” since my Christian mother married a non-Christian, as did one of my Christian sisters. How can such a union be a unity? Such a union usually results in conflict. If you tie the tails of two cats together and throw it over a clothesline you have union but you don’t have unity.

Another example might be A Christian entering into a close business relationship with a non-Christian. The non-Christian partner might wish to use some dishonest tactics in order to increase business, whereas the Christian (hopefully) would have strong moral compunctions against doing so.


How did things work for your mom and dad (or step dad?)? It’s funny you bring up marriage, because Paul actually condones marriage between Christians and unbelievers!

Regarding “unevenly yoked”, does it come down to simply having a *majority * of friends who are Christians? That sounds kind of legalistic.



Other than the situation in which a Christian should not divorce an unbeliever, I’m not aware of when Paul says it’s acceptable to pursue marrying an unbeliever.


No. A team of horses that is “unequally yoked” implies that they can not pull a load together; one goes ahead and the other lags behind, and so the load cannot be pulled by such a “team”.

To be unequally yoked with non-Christians also implies that you cannot pull together. You do not have the same values, aims and objectives, and moral standards. But none of this implies that you cannot be friends with them.


I think the fact that Paul said an unbelieving husband or wife is made holy by their Christian spouse implies that there’s nothing sinful about being married to an unbeliever. I personally would never marry a non-Christian, because I don’t think my wife or I would be happy, having a mate with such different values, but I don’t think such a marriage would be sinful.


Qaz, I don’t think that implies that early Christians married unbelievers. Rather, when Christianity was new, and many Gentiles became Christians, there were a significant number of cases in which either husband or wife but not both, became a Christian. So Paul was addressing those cases in which the couple had married before one of them became a Christian, and said such things as the following:

  • …If any brother has an unbelieving wife and she is willing to dwell with him, let him not separate from her. And a wife has an unbelieving husband, and if he is willing to dwell with her, let her not separate from him. (1 Corinthians 7:12,13)*


So paidion, would you say your interpretation is this? That there’s nothing wrong with being friends with unbelievers as long as you can resist the temptation to embrace their values?


My God… many of the folks we commune with every Sunday would be considered unbelievers… Thank GOD we can have friendship with them :astonished: :open_mouth: :laughing:

And thank God for those that have realized Christ’s place in our being brought into God’s fold. Unbelievers are just waiting for us to tell them about the incredible thing that God through his son did for us. Yes they are waiting :smiley: :smiley:


As I showed in my first post to this thread, my Lord Jesus was a friend of sinners, and so I think that qualifies His disciples to be friends with sinners also. I could even embrace some values of non-Christians while rejecting any participation in sinful ways of life.

And Maintenance Man, there are many matters about which we disagree, but I think that in this matter we are in perfect harmony.