Do Not Be Bound Together With Unbelievers: Does 2 Corinthians 6:14 Apply to Marriage?

2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers.”  Among the most common questions asked regarding this text is, “Does it apply to marriage?”  A fundamental rule in the proper understanding of scripture is almost always broken when it comes to this question regarding Paul’s universal, straightforward command to the saints at Corinth.  Why?  Because it is falsely interpreted through the lens of an ancient, popular, and destructive supposition that divorce is always biblically prohibited, which twists the passage’s clear meaning so that it will not be applied to marriages.  Sadly, this leaves believers unable to repent of their sinful marital unions in obedience to the ubiquitous command throughout God’s word to separate from the world of the ungodly.

Does This Passage Apply to Marriage?  “Do not be bound together with unbelievers”      2 Corinthians 6:14-7:2

To properly understand this text regarding its application to marriage one merely needs to be disciplined, as always, in avoiding interference from suppositions and especially presuppositions (supposition thoroughly believed).  Virtually every saint from the day Paul penned these words until the present time would agree that this text clearly applies to marriages except for the fact that this obvious interpretation strongly conflicts with the view held by so many that divorce is not permitted as a remedy for believers bound in marriage to unbelievers.  Tragically the church has traditionally favored a strict prohibition against marital divorce over the necessity for the saints to be separate from the sons of disobedience.  Precious few verses (“God hates divorce”, “What God has joined together let no man separate”) have been used as platitudes that have effectively operated like a sledge hammer forcing theologians into a man-made doctrine restricting divorce where God’s grace and mercy commands/allows it.  (Most of the biblical texts used to improperly form these awful presuppositions are addressed within the articles of this blog).

How Could This Passage Not Apply to Marriage?

Can marriage be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman?  Does marriage bind or yoke two people together in order to share the burdens of life?  Of course it does.  Paul uses the following five words to make his point: Partnership, fellowship, harmony, commonality and agreement.  He masterfully instructs the saints in the knowledge that these qualities cannot be in any relationship between a believer and an unbeliever.  He does not teach that these will be hard to come by, but rather they cannot exist within unequally yoked relationships.  What kind of marriage has no partnership, fellowship, harmony, commonality and agreement?  Binding a man and a women together in an unequally yoked marriage incapable of having these qualities is like strapping a dead human carcass to the back of a living person and calling it a marriage.  The simile of a living person being tied to a dead person is grotesque and vivid, but spiritual life being bound to spiritual death is infinitely more grotesque as the spirit is infinitely greater than the body.

Then Paul argues:

As righteousness cannot be in partnership with lawlessness neither can a believer be bound to an unbeliever.

As light cannot have fellowship with darkness neither can a believer be bound to an unbeliever.

As Christ cannot have harmony with Belial (the son of destruction or worthlessness) neither can a believer be bound to an unbeliever.

These are not difficult to manage, rather they are impossible!  They cannot be together.  This is Paul’s point.  All of these pairings are impossible including that of a believer and an unbeliever.

Paul asks, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  Then he reminds believers that “we are the temple of the living God”.  Should a believer bring idols into the temple of God by being married to an unbeliever who by default worships idols?  May it never be!  Paul then quotes the scriptures, “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says the Lord.  And do not touch what is unclean; and 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.”

The most wicked words to have ever passed through the lips of many godly men have been the words, “We know that this passage does not apply to marriage.”  Tragically these men universally apply this passage to believers considering marriage to an unbeliever, but once the brother or sister has embarked upon the sin of being unequally yoked in marriage they change course and say it no longer applies.

Dear reader, the sole purpose of blog has been to correct the awful misinterpretation of this text and the man-made prohibition against divorce for the unequally yoked in marriage.  All of the articles within will answer most of the questions you may have regarding the topic at hand.  Start with the articles listed at the top of the home page.  Feel free to contact the author as I am most willing to answer fully all questions to the best of my ability.

THE BIG QUESTION: Is It a Sin to Be In an Unequally Yoked Marriage?

Interacting with others on this concern regarding divorce for the unequally yoked in marriage I have discovered that a great deal of confusion exists on determining whether or not it is a sin to be in an unequally yoked marriage.  The answer is an overwhelming YES.  My proof is offered in the article titled, The Will of God Dictates Divorce for Those Unequally Yoked In Marriage and you will find it at the top of the home page.

A Final Warning: Do Not Use This Blog to Acquire a Divorce of Convenience

Due diligence in reading most of this entire blog and doing your own biblical research will be necessary for you to properly come to a biblical conclusion on your unequally yoked marriage.  All who simply use this article to justify a divorce they desperately desire will more than likely be adding more sin to their already sinful state of affairs.  More often than not they will end up in another unequally yoked marriage in a few short months or years.  True repentance carries a great cost.

It is not wrong to desperately desire a divorce from a godless spouse if we are walking in obedience to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  When done carefully and prayerfully a believer can transition from the awful state of being unequally yoked to the wonderful state of being bound together with one of the majestic ones in whom they will delight, but they must first repent of all the attitudes and actions that have put them were they are today.  In addition, true repentance includes making full restitution for those we have hurt intentionally or not, which of course includes the unregenerate spouse and children.

This Article Asks the Questions.  The Rest of the Articles Provide the Answers.

Prayerfully read 2 Corinthians 6:14 through 7:1, then diligently begin reading the articles of this blog.  One by one the articles will help you understand the biblical position on this most important question: Does God want His children unequally yoked in marriage and does He allow divorce as the path for repentance?  Christ’s continued blessings.


About Josiah Portermaine

By the abundant lovingkindness and grace of God I have been in Christ for over 45 years. I live to love and serve God in whatever capacity He has in mind. And can do no other but to follow my conscience as scripture and reason guide me threw the shadow lands. I raised 5 children one of whom now sees clearly as he walks on streets of gold. I have a Masters of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. I own a business in Nebraska, but I live to serve God. I have preached in three different churches for a period of 10 years. I love preaching God's word. Because of my divorce I am not currently serving in any official capacity, but I know that the Lord has a ministry for me. My goal is to write a book on the topic of divorce when unequally yoked, and this blog is a step in that direction. No brother or sister in Christ should divorce their spouse solely upon the advice they find here or anywhere else for that matter. Immerse yourself in God's word, and go before the Lord--wait upon Him and He will make it clear when the time comes that you are called to repent of your unequally yoked marriage. Christ's continued blessings, Joe View all posts by Josiah Portermaine

3 responses to “Do Not Be Bound Together With Unbelievers: Does 2 Corinthians 6:14 Apply to Marriage?

  • Cherie Corbello-Bechan

    As a believer I committed the heinous sin of willfully marrying an UNBELIEVER, and unfortunately I knew it was wrong and I disobeyed the prompting of Holy Spirit to wait on a believer. After I married this man The Lord did chastise me for it, I have repented and asked the Lord to forgive me of this idiotic sinful decision, I’ve received my Lords forgiveness for this sin, however the consequences remain that I’m stuck in a dead unfulfilling marriage to a man that refuses to trust Christ as Savior and wants nothing to do with anything that his wife holds precious and dear to her, this includes the Lords prompting on my life to enter into my calling of a ministry with my fellow brethren very soon. My husband is deaf right now to The Gospel and seemingly rejects for right now the offer of salvation. My painful issue right now is as you know I’ve been put in prison by well meaning pastors and teachings that bind me to my UNBELIEVER that often use Paul’s teaching to tell me I’m forced to die and rot with my poor decision and cannot escape unless my UNBELIEVER chooses to abandon the marriage. I desire to divorce my husband and eventually marry one of those like minded majestic ones in whom I know I will delight in!! I feel like I’m in prison for life because of my stupidity.

    • Joe Porter

      Certainly my heart goes out to you. Paul did not tell us that it is a sin to get into an unequally yoked relationship, but indeed it is a sin to be in an unequally yoked relationship. You mention that you have repented, but it sounds more like you have confessed to the Lord your initial sin of rebellion against His command. To repent is to turn and go the other direction. The fact that you are still unequally yoked and that you are not at peace with this sin puts into question whether or not you have fully repented of the sin of being unequally yoked. This is where your real prison begins. You can follow God’s word and Ezra’s example and you will be free from the sin of being unequally yoked, which places you safely within the will of God. However, most within the church will then call YOU the unrepentant sinner instead of your unbelieving spouse…ministry opportunities could dry up entirely. My advice is to stay calm, be wise and educate yourself. Start with reading as much of my blog as you can and interact with me either on the blog or personally by email (ask me for my email if you want it). Study scripture. Start by reading Psalms and Proverbs with God’s view of His children being separate from the world in the forefront of your mind as you read. Pray and ask God for help and guidance. After you have a firm foundation of biblical knowledge on the subject, then you could reach out to your spiritual leaders and see if they have any willingness to see your divorce as having biblical grounds. I wish I could say they will likely have open minds, but too often they will not–but you want to see if you can bring them on board anyway. The easiest path is to follow God with the blessing of your spiritual leaders, but this path is not always available.
      On this day 500 years ago Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church doors and changed history forever. But when he followed his conscience and the word of God he had to go against the entire Roman Catholic institution. Doing so likely meant that his ministry would be over and his life would most likely be taken from him. But God intervened and the Protestant church was born. When I filed for divorce from my godless spouse it cost me my ministry and my ability to fellowship with the people who had previously been my peers, but Christ’s promise of receiving one hundred times as much in this lifetime has absolutely been taking place. If I could go back and make the decision again I would do it in a heartbeat. But I would have looked for a way to have slowed down a bit and put everything in order. Once the ball started rolling the speed to which it picked up was unbelievable, and people were able to say that it wasn’t what I did that was wrong but how I did it. The Lord knew my heart’s desire and he has blessed me for my obedience to Him rather than to men.
      Christ’s continued blessings.

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