Unity for the sake of unity is neither a biblical nor a reasonable goal. Churches and marriages are two beautiful examples of unity. Church unity is seen in Paul’s final chapter to the church at Rome as Paul sends his greeting to twenty-six members of the church by name. These were to express their unity by greeting one another with a holy kiss (Vs. 16).
Nevertheless, in the very next verse Paul turns to a negative aspect of unity. “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them” (Romans 16:17). In the midst of demonstrating the beauty of church unity in his greeting to all the saints in Rome he urges the churches to put out of their assemblies those who reject the teaching of the Lord and the apostles and thereby destroy unity in the truth.
Churches, for over two thousand years, have followed Paul’s advice. They have both put people out of the church and they have split apart and become two churches when those who cause dissension and hindrances contrary to biblical teaching have become a faction within the church.
The hundreds if not thousands of divisions within the Protestant denominations is one of the arguments that the Catholic Church makes against the reformation. Their claim is that the protestant churches cannot agree upon a unified set of doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church is a great example of the horror of placing unity before truth. They have unified around a rigid structure of hierarchy rather than the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the process of clinging to unity they have become a superstitious, man-made religion of death—the blind leading the blind into the eternal pit of destruction.
Christian unity must be centered on biblical truth. The word of God is the very source of truth, and all teaching must be measured against the word of God and eminent reason. The failure with the permanence view of marriage is that it lifts marriage above the laws of God that govern it, so rather than achieving perfect harmony in marriages this view has created untold disharmony in untold millions of Christian marriages and churches.
Those in unequally yoked marriages discover that keeping one’s vow is pitted against God’s command prohibiting unequally yoked relationships. And being loyal and obedient to one’s spouse is pitted against the command to come out from the midst of the world and be separate. And staying married to an unrepentant vessel of wrath prepared for God’s destruction (not a biblical law, but historically a man-made law from within the church) is pitted against God’s command against helping the wicked and loving those who hate the Lord (2 Chronicles 19:2). Many more laws conflict with one another when an unequally yoked couple is forced to remain in a marriage.
The church through the centuries has allowed churches to divorce when they have covenanted to form a local body of Christ and worship together, and they have done so because of Paul’s command to “turn away from them.” In other words, whenever dissenters rise up within the church to take an unbiblical view/direction the church is allowed to put them out and covenant only with the obedient children of God. It is not pretty, but it is necessary because of dissension within the body of Christ. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. This has not merely been an allowance from the Lord but it is a mandate. Yet many in the church have worked very hard to restrict believers caught up in unequally yoked marriages from following this very same law of God.
Why have they done this? They have acted in this way because in their mind marriage has been raised above the commandments of God. Luther, Calvin and the Puritans declared that marriage was a civil matter, but these believers continue to follow the Roman Catholic bastardization of marriage by treating it like a sacrament. Holy matrimony is a man-made monstrosity (no offense to those who are blessed with an equally yoked marriage). God and his word are holy, but everything else in this world must be subject to the laws of God because of the sinfulness of man.
God instituted one man and one woman for life, but he did so when the fall had not yet taken place. From the time of the fall until the present day the institution of marriage has been subject to all of the laws of God that govern the affairs of fallen men. Therefore, homosexual, polygamous, incestuous, and unequally yoked marriages are all forbidden in God’s law. Because God’s law forbids such the church readily allows divorce (annulment–divorce by any other name is still divorce) for homosexual, polygamous and incestuous marriages. But oddly most within the church fail to recognize the same course for those in unequally yoked marriages.
In fact, many in the church would claim that since God’s laws forbid homosexual, polygamous, and incestuous relationships that such marriages were never witnessed by God as he would not be a party to such unions, which is to say that they are nil and void with or without a divorce. Why should unequally yoked marriages be treated any differently?
This article is under construction and yet to be completed.
On this Thanksgiving Day let us thank God for his everlasting loving kindness to those who are in Christ Jesus. Thankfulness unifies the children of God, and who should be more thankful than those washed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!