Unequally Yoked


I am looking at this phrase in 2 Corinthians 6 and have read many opinions on its use and wanted to ask here. Does it involve all relationships with non-believers? Is it for marriage only? It was originally part of a letter to the Corinthians about specific issues in their church and culture. How does it apply here and now?




Here’s the thing: if it was intrinsically wrong to be unequally yoked, none of us would be saved.

Jesus invites us to be yoked with Himself. That isn’t an equal yoke. But without being yoked to Jesus there is no salvation for us.

And so far as acting in dedication to us, Jesus even goes the distance in unequally yoking Himself to us before we even agree to it! He doesn’t wait for us to be faithful to Him before faithfully loving us.

Is faithfully loving us unto His own death the same as being unequally yoked to us? Yep: the whole cultural point to unequal yokage as a warning, is that the weaker beast will kill the stronger beast; the stronger beast will die pulling the load while the weaker beast does practically nothing.

Volunteering to be unequally yoked in marriage, consequently, is a gracious act of self-sacrifice. But it also probably means you’re going to feel like you’re being scourged and crucified!

It’s definitely safer, and so a wiser decision (in that sense), to be equally yoked. It’s also a wiser decision in the context of growing a stable Christian community–if everyone was unequally yoked there would be too much chaos.

But it isn’t more ethical. God might even directly call someone to be unequally yoked to a spouse. Two cases in point off the top of my head: Joseph and Asenath; Hosea and Gomer.

One of those marriages went swimmingly well (so far as we know, to the point that a famous and beloved romantic religious allegory was written about it in the early 1st century or thereabouts. A text that Christians also loved enough to maybe give it some updated tweaks here and there!)

The other one was hellish agony for the stronger yoked; but by God’s grace things were expected to turn out all right for them in the end.


I agree with Jason above. I also want to add the understanding that unequally yoked means to be placed in a position where you are not productive or being utilized properly for the purpose you were created, either as one who prepares and plants the seed, or one who harvests and meant to eat the seed.

When Paul made the allusion to not be unequally yoked, it refers to being attached to a ploughing tool. Remember Paul speaks heavily on the purpose of God’s workers in 1 Corinthians and we cannot take a verse out of the context it was written but read both letters in whole, as the first relates to the second and the second to the first.

Paul starts 2 Corinthians 6 in verse 1, " As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain."

To understand this allusion of yoked, a team of eight oxen were attached to the tool, yoked four abreast. If the soil was light, four Oxen were attached to the tool, yoked two abreast (half plough); if the soil was very heavy, ten to twelve oxen were attached five or six abreast.

The purpose of ploughing the soil was to get it prepared for the seed which was to be planted. To be unequally yoked means for light soil having a team of twelve, and for heavy soil a team of two. They are ineffective and unproductive, unequally yoked for the purpose in which they were created. If the land is over-ploughed or under-ploughed the seed is planted in vain, since it will not grow, or get choked up and die.

The oxen, are the co-workers of God; the seed is the Gospel, God’s grace; the land is the world of which the Gospel is sent to feed and give life.

Now, we move on to 2 Corinthians 6 verse 14 “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”

If the oxen are paired up with goats, sheep or dogs, the oxen become unproductive and pull the weight of the ploughing disproportionally because goats, sheep and dogs were never meant to plough the land. The oxen get burnt out, and the land once again will not allow the seed to grow, or it will get choked up and die. That very seed was meant to feed the goats, sheep and the dogs and they will go hungry and die.

The oxen, are the co-workers of God; the seed is the Gospel, God’s grace; the land is the world of which the Gospel is sent to feed and give life; and that which is not oxen, the unbeliever, was never meant to be part of that work.

This is not talking about marriage, culture, etc. This is talking about encouraging one another and honour those who have been sent out ahead to plough the ground and not hindering them by adding or subtracting to the Gospel entrusted to them, and secondly not putting a yoke on those who were meant to be fed by the Grace of God and were never meant to be yoked with God’s co-workers in the first place but when the harvest is ready, are to be fed by it.

I hope this helps.


But his yoking to us immediately transforms us, does it not? Through His Spirit working in us we immediately begin to do the things that please God, though we are far from perfect at it. But I would argue that Jesus condescends to us, doesn’t force us to do anything beyond the level we are currently at, and doesn’t plow ahead furiously leaving us in the dust.


Being unequally yoked can really mess up your omlette.




When I was a 21 yo single evangelical I thought it meant not to marry an unbeliever, and I didn’t.
Now, a few decades later, with a 28 year marriage of two professed believers which has been extremely difficult under my belt (coming close to adding to the high divorce rate among Xans) I don’t think its necessarily talking about marriage at all. If it is, it should be taken as a statement about being equal in marriage. Forget every “complementarian” message you ever heard.

Thinking about this from ** within** marriage, I hear not to allow myself to be restricted by my affections. “you are restricted by your own affections”

What does “restricted” mean?

4729 stenochoreo {sten-okh-o-reh’-o}

  1. to be in a narrow place
  2. to straiten, compress, cramp, reduce to straits
    2a) to be sorely straitened in spirit


As a woman of God, thinking about this passage helped me see that I need to get out of the BOX where “the church” (and my husband in the bad old days) seems to want me.

What does “separate” in “come out from among them and be ye separate” mean?

873 aphorizo {af-or-id’-zo}

  1. to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate

I don’t think it necessarily means to separate physically or divorce from the husband, partner, church, etc.
I think it means (in part) having good boundaries, being emotionally “separate”.
I did not have good boundaries; I let my affections RESTRICT me!
Being separate brought me out of the cramped place into the BROAD PLACE.