HOUSMAIL HM#131 -     Unequally Yoked                                                                                          May 2009

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean hing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty”. (2 Cor 6:14-18)

A couple of months ago I wrote a Booklet entitled “EQUALLY YOKED” which was directed specifically to the needs of young Christians seeking God’s help to choose a marriage partner. In order not to distract attention from that main topic, I deliberately chose to ignore other areas where it is also possible for believers to become “unequally yoked” with unbelievers.

In this short article we will concentrate on a different aspect, ignoring the Marriage question. If you want to read about that, you can get a copy of the Booklet “EQUALLY YOKED” from my Web Site at:
http://home.pacific.net.au/~amaxwell/booklets/Equally Yoked.pdf

One significant area where Christians can become unequally yoked is that of Business Partnership.

Christians who take the verses quoted above seriously, should NEVER enter into business partnerships with Unbelievers.

The logic is quite simple. Believers and Unbelievers have different life goals and values.

The Believer lives to serve God as his first and absolute priority. His business decisions will always be made with that in mind. He will ALWAYS be willing to “go the second mile”, above and beyond his legal contractual obligations. He will be prepared to suffer loss, rather than disobey God...

The Unbeliever is not subject to those constraints. He does not have the same commitment to obey God at any cost. Even if he is a “good man”, he is still an UNREPENTANT SINNER! He lives to serve himself. It is virtually inevitable that conflict will arise when hard decisions have to be made about ethical questions.

When that happens the Christian will find himself under pressure to resolve the conflict by compromising his principles. If he has “equal voting rights” and stands firm, it may even become necessary to dissolve the partnership, in order to remain obedient to God and avoid responsibility for any sin involved. If he is a MINOR partner, he can be outvoted in areas where, to remain obedient, his only final recourse will be to leave the partnership in disadvantaged conditions. That can often result in the need to close the business altogether, with considerable financial loss. And of course there can also be serious consequences for employees for whose welfare the Christian employer is responsible.

All of that can be avoided by obedience to God’s commandment about “Unequal Yoking”.

One area not always recognised as BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP is that of SHAREHOLDING in companies.

Christian Shareholders are in fact in partnership with all the other shareholders in the company. Their money is being used to finance the company’s activities. They are responsible to God for what is the company does with their money. And they are VERY unequally yoked with those other partners in their voting power.

All too often companies engage in activities which a Christian should not condone. Large companies are often owners or shareholders of other smaller companies where the majority of shareholders are not even aware of the nature of the business. E.g. many large companies own shares in arms manufacture, or tobacco, or gambling, etc. Some companies often legally “cut corners” in Tax issues where the Christian would choose differently. And employees can often commit the company to “legal” activities which Christians could never condone. Because of his investment, the Christian becomes an unwitting PARTNER in these activities.

The only safe way to guarantee staying “squeaky clean” is NOT to hold shares at all!!

There are many different sorts of “clubs” and “organizations in this world, which been formed to provide services and promote the common interests of members. Some of them were formed for very worthy causes and do many “charitable works” for the community at large. Others provide useful services which make our world a better place to live in. And some help people use their leisure time in organized ways. They include Business Associations, (such as city “gentlemen’s” clubs, trade associations, Unions, etc.) Sporting Clubs (such as horse racing, football, cricket, netball, athletics, etc.) Charitable and Community Organizations, (such as Apex, Rotary, Lions, etc.)

This article does not set out to question their motives or usefulness. Nor are we about to make a “black list” of organizations which might be “unsuitable”. But we do flag the possibility that membership of some of them might involve Believers in a form of UNEQUAL YOKING which is incompatible with true Christianity.

For Believers, the question is NOT whether the purpose of the club is “good”. The real issue is whether or not there can come a time when there will be a conflict between Christian values and the will of the majority decided by “democratic majority vote”.

It is essential that believers read an organisation’s constitution carefully before committing themselves to membership. And it is also essential that they be prepared to resign their membership if situations arise in which the actions of the organisation are in obvious conflict with the values taught by Jesus.

To remain a member in such situations, is to become responsible for the actions undertaken by the democratic majority!

Clearly the principles outlined above mean that it is possible for true believers to be VERY unequally yoked in their membership of some churches!

Many Churches today are little more than “social clubs in which members have little interest in Bible study, and are even less interested in creeds and constitutions. Many church members have never even read the STATEMENT OF FAITH which defines what thir Church stands for, or the CONSTITUTION by which it is regulated. Especially in the Mainstream Churches, these often include things which are in direct conflict with true Bible teaching. Some Churches require a public confession of acceptance of these before admitting people to membership. Some are even more strict, requiring a formal signature on a document which affirms their acceptance of the conditions.

Just a few examples of problems commonly encountered are:

1. Teaching which says that the Trinity is essential for salvation and that those who do not believe it are lost.
2. Teaching that says Believer’s Baptism is not necessary for salvation.
3. Teaching that says believers should fight for their country in time of war.
4. Teaching that condones divorce and remarriage in situations which Jesus clearly labels as adultery.
5. Teaching that promotes the swearing of oaths contrary to what Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount.
6. Teaching that says men and women are born with an inherited “sin nature” which prevents them from
     obeying God’s laws.

In the absence of any clear statement to the contrary, Churches are entitled to assume that those who seek their company, agree with their CREEDS and CONSTITUTIONS. They extend fellowship on the basis of that assumption, and most would NOT offer the same "privileges" if they did know about the differences. To deliberately allow them to remain in ignorance, in order to be "accepted" by them, or be awarded a "ministry" amongst them, or to receive the benefits of things they offer, is a serious form of deception, which also denies Jesus before men. (Matt 10:32-33; Rev 21:8; 22:15)

Note carefully that we are NOT talking here about differences of opinion about issues which clearly do not affect salvation. But for those issues which the Bible does clearly define as essential for salvation we should be asking ourselves some hard questions before seeking membership.

Can there be a REAL “equally yoking” between true believers and a Church which promotes fundamental errors about the meaning of the Gospel, conditions for salvation, and the nature of the works inspired by true FAITH in Jesus? How is it possible to show true sacrificial love for them and work amongst them whilst ignoring things which might affect their salvation?

Our Watchman’s duty requires us to sound the warning trumpet! (Ezekiel 33:1-9) Failure to do so might cost us our own salvation!

We should note carefully that God makes His offer to be our Father CONDITIONAL on getting all of this right! (2 Cor 6:14-18)

That makes it a very serious issue! We ignore it at our peril.