PAUL, in 2 Corinthians 6 vs 14 says: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This is the instruction the Bible gives to Christians. A yoke is a device used to join together a pair of draft animals, for example oxen and donkeys for the purposes of pulling a plough or scotch cart.
For maximum efficiency, one cannot yoke together two animals of different strengths. The animals have to be of the same type, same strength and even same size. When animals are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they find themselves at odds with one another.
This is usually the advice given to young adults about the type of person they should marry. Christians take this to mean that you are not to marry someone who does not share the same beliefs as you. One should choose a spouse that they can be equally yoked with, in terms of beliefs, spiritual strength and some even bring it down to belonging to the same church.
Moses, in Deuteronomy 22: 9 says: Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. He repeats this in Leviticus 19 vs 19 which reads: “You are to keep my statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together’’.
It seems to me that the Bible does not like intermixing of any kind. Its teachings seem to imply that for anything to succeed we must not mix different things. If we apply this to people it simply means that we must only associate with people with common interests, goals, values and standards.
When I see all the non-working relationships and marriages around me, I cannot help but think that everyone, including non-believers, needs to take this advice. When two people are unequally yoked, it is unlikely that they will succeed in whatever it is they seek to achieve. This unequal yoking is not limited to spirituality.
Being in different income brackets can be one indicator that a couple is unequally yoked. Finances have always been one of the biggest problem causers in relationships. It is worse for couples who find themselves earning extremely different amounts, especially where we find the woman earning way more than the man.
Our culture demands that a man must be the provider, but due to the evolution of society we find ourselves faced with situations where women earn more than some men. It is my humble opinion that men must shy away from women who earn a lot more than them unless they find themselves in this situation long after the ink has dried on the marriage certificate. Some women cannot handle earning more than their men and this can get to their heads, leading them to be uncontrollable, disrespectful and abusive.
Girls must also be advised to steer clear of men who earn less than them. Very few men have the maturity to handle a more accomplished woman, especially when it comes to money. Most ladies find themselves having to be apologetic about earning more and having to live way below their means in order to nurse the ego of their poor husband. Some women find themselves with husbands who will take all their hard earned money, leaving them bitter and resentful of having to take care of a fully grown man. I am sure there are cases where this can be fruitful, but the best thing is to avoid this situation at all costs!
Couples can be unequally yoked in terms of education, intellectual capacity, or simply put, intelligence. It is better for boys and girls to consider this when choosing a partner because people of different levels of intellect have totally different ways of approaching situations. The way we think differs according to how well educated we are. Our reasoning capacities are different and this is a cause for serious friction for many couples. This is where you find yourself having to take your spouse to a work function and they just can’t fit in with your colleagues and their spouses. Or you find yourself with an idle spouse who will turn up at your workplace at the most inconvenient of times because she/he does not understand what it means to be at work. When you find yourselves unequally yoked education wise, it is best to upgrade each other to avoid feelings of embarrassment and inferiority.
The culture in which someone was raised, their beliefs and religious inclinations should be carefully examined and understood by a potential spouse to avoid future problems. Imagine their child falling sick and one partner wants to take them to Jotsholo to a famous healer who he knows will heal the child without a doubt and the other believes the fate of their child lies in the hands of Father Ndlovu at the opposite end of the country. These are issues people should discuss before tying the knot.
Unequal yoking is exposed by the values, principles and standards of a couple. You must know what your significant other would do when faced with desperation. Are they the kind of person who believes you must work hard and live within your means? Do they believe in get rich quick schemes and are not afraid of credit? Most couples find themselves deep in debt because of a spouse who cannot control their spending habits and is not afraid of debt. Would your partner steal if he had the chance? Is she capable of committing fraud? Most people exhibit these traits early on in the relationship but for some reason, we choose to ignore the signs.
I know most people believe that “age ain’t nothing but a number” and one is free to marry anyone of any age as long as they are above the age of consent. Well, that is fair and fine but I have come across too many women who regret marrying that extremely older man or younger boy. It is wise to get married to someone from the same generation as you. Most older men are insecure as they are afraid their young wife will be snatched away so they “imprison” them and do everything in their power to clip their wings. Everywhere their wife goes, they want to be there and if they can afford it they fill the house with groceries so that the wife cannot even go to the shops to buy chewing gums.
While several inter-marriages are working, we need to realise and accept that they are difficult and need a lot of work to succeed. Children also need to know and understand why it is advisable to marry one of the same tribe, race or nationality. When all is said and done, we must understand that all relationships are compromises and what works for couple A, might not work for couple B. There is no formula for love and marriage; but there are lessons we can learn from the experiences of others. Where one can, it is beneficial to avoid being unequally yoked with those one wishes to spend forever with.