I have been repeatedly either dismayed or angry when people quote Paul. The quote is “do not be unequally yoked.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. First and foremost, Paul was not referring to marriage at all. Thus those who quote Paul with regard to marriage are displaying gross misunderstanding of the text. I suspect, those who make this erroneous connection have never read the text carefully.
But it is even worse than just a failure to understand the straightforward reading. These misguided minds also fail to understand the meta message of Paul. You don’t need a mind capable of great abstraction and modeling to get Paul’s meta message. He almost states it out loud. The meta message is this. I will describe it by analogy first.
I grew up on a farm where my grandfather had farmed using horses. I spoke often with him about his experiences. One of the hard rules of putting together a team of horses is that when paired, the two horses must be very nearly equally in strength and spirit to pull. Both are essential. If you do not, the stronger horse will soon fail to pull completely. Either in spirit or physically. Usually the willingness of the stronger horse fails in spirit to pull.
What happens next is essential to understand the meta message of Paul. Both horses become almost useless for pulling. If you want to have a good team of horses, you pair equal horses. It is not a problem if horse pairs of unequal pulling capacity are in series such as on a wagon tree. But the horses that are side by side on each side of the tree must be equal.
Application to marriage: Do you both want children? How many? Are your interests similar? Are there many things you enjoy doing together? If one person has either a remarkable gift or serious problem in their lives, can the other fully accept and compensate in their life. For those who may not have discovered, people with remarkable gifts are almost always have serious problems in other areas. You don’t need to be Einstein to have a remarkable gift to have the serious problems that go with the gift. In short, are the life patterns and abilities well matched or compensated for? Some say matching education is important. I disagree.
Did I even mention religion? No! I am fully aware of SDA women who would be so completely mismatched to me that there would be constant battles. An excellent example is the way I understand the inspiration and the authority of the Bible. Some people with low mental ability even think I do not believe the Bible. I laugh! I believe the Bible more than they do. However, my understanding of inspiration and authority of the Bible is so different that to be frank, I don’t know any SDA women who could accept it. They may exist, I just don’t know them. My understanding of scripture is completely opposed to what I was taught in academy and college. By the way, Alden Thompson is a close friend of mine. I don’t discuss inspiration of the Bible with him! We do have mutual respect for each others views.
What follows, I was never taught about marriage. It was forged in the fires of experience that were so hot the steel was burning white. It is essential to understand how to make real in the fires of life four abstract principles. These four principles are fully validated. Don’t even think about arguing with me. These four are abstract, but fully revealed in concrete actions. If either of the marriage partners fails in any one of the four, the marriage will fail.
The four principles are:
It is these four where Paul’s words can be understood. Paul was not talking about marriage. However, if Paul had known these four principles and were addressing marriage, he would have said, each of you must possess these four. Each of you must pull equally to make the abstract concepts real in concrete acts in your marriage. You must pull equally in spirit and strength to make these a reality in your relationship.
I call these four the principles of love. In reality, these four are true in any useful relationship. Marriage? Definitely. Business? Without question. In the military? I laugh. I first encountered these four in the Army. They didn’t teach them in the way I do, but they did teach and enforce them.
Summary: When someone advises you to marry a person “of your faith” run. They have no comprehension of the reality of love and marriage. Instead, study and make real the four principles of love. When you do, then you will find the love that was created in heaven.