2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Illustrated

A new believer named Ronni needed some relationship advice, so she did the only logical thing and turned to Pat Robertson.

Robertson is giving a biblical answer for a change. He’s referring to 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?  What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

It’s not a blanket prohibition on “hanging out” with unbelievers. How are we supposed to evangelize if we’re not permitted to hang out with unbelievers? The idea of a “yoke” is a rabbinical term referring to various interpretations of the Hebrew bible. A rabbi was said to teach and follow a specific “yoke.” It’s similar in terms to a Christian denomination of today, but not exactly. For example, a rabbi who came up with a new yoke (rather than teaching an existing one) had to have his new yoke blessed by the laying on of hands by two other rabbis.

What “unevenly yoked” means is that a person shouldn’t have a very different set of beliefs than their spouse.

My wife is an Arminian, and I’m a Calvinist. I’ve heard that that doesn’t work very well. But that hasn’t been my experience so far. Calvinists and Arminians agree on the basic premise that faith in Christ alone is what is necessary for salvation, and that is exactly what my wife and I plan on teaching our kids. The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is in how the person arrives at saving faith–through God’s action alone (Calvinism) or by God’s response to a free will decision (Armininism).

The real problem for Ronni in the video is that her fiancee is an atheist. It probably isn’t impossible for such a marriage to work, but my concern would be for any future children that the couple would have. How does one decide what religion the children will be raised to believe?

Ronni’s fiancee, as an atheist, probably believes that the Bible is a collection of myths rather than historical facts. He also likely denies the Resurrection (perhaps even the historical person of Jesus). Ronni, as a Christian, is going to want to teach her children about the existence of God and Jesus, that the Bible is a reliable history book, and that Jesus died on the cross and rose again on the third day to defeat sin and death.

I don’t know many atheists who would want their children to be taught such “nonsense.” In that scenario, mom teaches one thing, then dad undermines it behind mom’s back. The kids are going to be confused.

An additional problem presents itself. The church, as a whole, fails in apologetic instruction. I doubt much that Ronni has any way to counter the arguments that her fiancee will expose the kids to: contradictions in the Bible, Jesus never existed, there is no evidence for God, evolution removes the need for God, and other atheist talking points. The kids, in this scenario, are far more likely to be atheists since the atheist is able to present and defend his reasons for being so, while the Christian is left with “You just have to have faith.”

Unless the fiancee is going to agree to not interfere with the religious upbringing of the children, and if he is going to agree to be supportive of Ronni’s Christian faith, then this might be fine. But I don’t know many atheists who are willing to do such a thing. At least, the impression I get from the commenters on this site.

So, what say you, atheists? Am I wrong? Could you be supportive of your spouse if your spouse was religious and wanted to bring the kids up in that religion?

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on August 15, 2010, in God, Marriage and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This one is personal for me, and to a degree quite painful. But this cuts both ways, this is not just the religious who should be fearful for the children’s lack of faith, it’s the atheist fear of having their own children grow up alienated from them through indoctrination. (And I shouldn’t need to remind people that kids are drawn to fantasy and funny stories a lot easier than they’re drawn to reason and other boring stuff like science …)

    The golden middle way is to teach both sides (explaining epistemology along the way), and let the children shape their own opinions. It’s a good exercise in epistemology, if nothing else, albeit a scary one for both sides; it requires that parents take their kids seriously without acting selfishly or stupidly.

    But then, that’s just it; it can also segregate a marriage into two parts, which I think both camps would discourage. This itself comes with a host of challenges, not so much for the children, but for the adults. There needs to be give and take, and a bucket-load of understanding and compromise to how their union should be administered.

    As it says on my wedding ring; “omnia vincit amor”, a sentiment both sides vehemently believes in.

  2. “The kids, in this scenario, are far more likely to be atheists since the atheist is able to present and defend his reasons for being so, while the Christian is left with “You just have to have faith.” ”

    I don’t know if you’re being ironic there, are you really admitting that? But maybe you mean that the woman in the video isn’t capable of defending her own faith.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t mind marrying a believer, but, as said above, I think the children should be allowed to form their own opinion. I wouldn’t pretend to believe, but I wouldn’t push my (lack of) beliefs upon the children. If they ask me questions, I would answer. The only reason I wouldn’t just outright pretend to be a believer is because I think religion is harmful to a certain degree; for instance, I’d prefer my children not be raised with the belief that homosexuality is a sin, something even worse if one of them is a homosexual.

    And I’m not sure the children would be non-believers at the end of the day. Religion can be more appealing. Daddy would be the grumpy bad guy, héhé…

    The website looks pretty different…

  3. Both interesting comments. First, just to clarify, I’m saying that most Christians don’t have the capacity to defend their beliefs to challenges beyond saying “You just have to have faith.”

    Typical conversation:

    Christian: You run a ministry?
    Me: Yes, an online apologetics ministry.
    Christian: Apologetics? You apologize for being a Christian?

    That’s a composite conversation, not a real one. But I recently had a similar exchange on Facebook. I mentioned my apologetics ministry and was told by a friend not to apologize for being a Christian. My point is that most Christians don’t even know apologetics ministry exists, let alone what to say in defense to a question like, “Why won’t God heal amputees?” or a statement like, “There’s no historic evidence for Jesus, let alone God, and archeology proves the Bible is nothing but fairy tales.”

    I do, or can at least point the seeker in the appropriate direction to find an answer.

    The primary reason that I think atheist/theist is a bad mix is because of the Gospel itself. I believe, wholeheartedly, that faith in Christ leads to eternal life with God. I would have a serious problem if I thought that my spouse was undermining my son or daughter’s chance for eternity with God by answering questions in ways they feel are “honest,” but I would have a much different opinion of the underlying philosophy.

    In matters of systematic theology, I am a Calvinist. I don’t care if my kids end up Calvinists (although it would nice not to be the only Calvinist in my entire church!), as long as they have a strong, saving faith in Jesus Christ. My wife agrees with me on that, and we will strive to raise our children to believe in God and to love Christ.

    If I thought that someone was undermining my children’s spiritual health, I would react much the same way as I would to a person who threatened their physical well-being. It’s that big of an issue to me.

    It’s not that big of an issue to some people, though. By inter-marrying faiths this way, you’re effectively saying to your children, “This is mommy’s truth, and this is daddy’s truth. You need to find your own truth.” Well, I don’t like that. Truth is truth, regardless of what a person believes. Presenting a consistent picture of spiritual truth to a child is important, I believe, for a variety of reasons.

    This is turning into a whole separate post. Maybe I should just stop here for now, and expand on this at a later date. My son wants food, I haven’t seen my wife all day, and she needs the computer for important stuff, too–like paying bills and applying for some additional government aid for us. Oh, yeah, and Farmville. Of course.

  4. I could probably marry a believer, although if she was particularly conservative that could be a problem. I can’t see myself ending up with someone who believes homosexuality is a sin or that I’m off to hell for not sharing their faith.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t have a problem with it, or with the kids being brought up in it, as long as they were allowed to make their own decisions when they were older.

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