Rethinking 2 Cor 6:14!

Does 2 Cor 6:14 really forbid a Christian marrying a non-Christian? To be honest, I’ve vacillated on this one. It seems like an application to marriage is a far-fetched one at best.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14, TNIV)

I see nothing in the surrounding verses that points to marriage. Do you? So what exactly was Paul thinking?

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24 Responses to Rethinking 2 Cor 6:14!

  1. I’ve always thought of marriage being included in yoked but it encompasses much more than just marriage.
    Jeff

  2. Stan McCullars says:

    A couple of verses that come to mind:

    1 Corinthians 7:39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

    Deuteronomy 7:3-4 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

  3. Nick Norelli says:

    This was the verse that made me cut off pretty much all interaction with my unsaved friends once I got saved. At the time I had no idea it was about marriage. Maybe that’s because it isn’t… I’ll give it a deeper look tomorrow and leave another comment.

  4. Bryon S. says:

    Good catch TC. I think it could maybe still indirectly apply but directly, looking at the text around that passage, I read no mention of marriage. I think you just discovered that the common exegesis of this passage is actually eisegesis. 🙂

    Looking in a few study Bibles, other suggestions were not being tied with pagan influences, false teachers, or unbelievers having control of your actions, etc.

    One study Bible stated its NOT saying to “not associate with unbelievers”.

    Interestingly, the TNIV Study Bible has no mention of marriage for this verse.

  5. tc robinson says:

    Jeff, I’ve always been taught that it has to do with marriage, but actually nothing in the text.

    Stan, but they are not 2 Cor 6:14, proving my point. 🙂

    Nick, I’m looking forward to your findings. I believe I was where you were too.

    Bryon S., but isn’t indirectly too weak a reason to be so dogmatic on this text? Eisegesis is the word indeed. We need to get down to reading the text for ourselves and see what is really there.

    The TNIV SB did well. 🙂

  6. Bryon S. says:

    @TC

    In regards to your inquiry, I agree an indirect possible meaning is no reason to be dogmatic. That was why I hinted at eisegesis. (-:

  7. tc robinson says:

    Thanks for reiterating that concept. I don’t believe I picked all of it up in your original comment. 🙂

  8. Damian says:

    I get what TC’s getting at here – it’s obvious that biblical teaching suggests that intermarriage isn’t good, but whether 2 Cor 6:14 says that is moot.

    I think it’s more a general statement, not specific to marriage. ‘Yoked’ suggests dependence, as an ox yoked to a plough is dependent on it’s owner, or a horse in harness is dependent on it’s rider.

  9. tc robinson says:

    Damian, you got it. Thanks for the tidbit.

  10. If a yoke is what the English definition is – “a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, esp. oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal” couldn’t that include marriage?

    If a yoke is as Damian’s definition then I can see how it wouldn’t include marriage in this verse.
    Jeff

  11. mike says:

    I believe it is a reference to marriage. Remember that Paul knew the law so the old testament references would have been familiar to him. He was also writing to the Corinthians only a short time after having established the church there to correct errors in the church. It is a general rule for all believers in all of their relationships. It can be specifically applied to marriage through the “analogy of faith” where we interpret scripture with scripture. Vague passages can be brought into the light by others that speak more specifically to the point.

  12. tc robinson says:

    Hey Mike, that’s the popular approach to this verse, but it’s not satisfactory. In 1 Cor 7 Paul deals with marriage but not here.

    If Paul had marriage in mind, he did a poor job at it. Is marriage ever referred to a yoke in the Old Testament?

  13. Brian says:

    “Is marriage ever referred to a yoke in the Old Testament?” Probably not, but if dependence is the idea, then yeah, I am in some ways dependent on my wife and she on me.

    What are you thinking it is referring to Mr TC?

  14. tc robinson says:

    Brian, Did Paul have marriage in mind when he penned 2 Cor 6:14? If so, How do we establish that?

  15. mike says:

    TC,

    Just because marriage is not defined as a yoke in the OT does not have anything to do with it. My great grandfather had on oxen yoke which hangs on the wall in my grandparents house. The oxen are yoked together side by side. So I don’t think it has anything to do with the driver of the oxen, but speaks of being un evenly yoked one to another in relationships generally and marriage specifically. I think again that light can be brought to the verse when we speak of married couples become one flesh just as the oxen when yoked become one force and if unevenly yoked one will do all of the pulling. I have yet to see where scripture actually points us away from using this not to at least apply to marriage in a vague sense.

    Mike

  16. tc robinson says:

    Mike, I see your point, but you haven’t provided Scripture. It seems to me that it’s all based on human reasoning.

  17. mike says:

    Just for a few.
    Gen 2:24 speaks to the one flesh relationship I spoke of.
    Mark 10:9 says that what God has joined together let no man separate
    In Acts 15:10 Peter speaks of the Pharisees putting a yoke on them that their fathers couldn’t bear referencing circumcision. I only mention that to show that it delineates between two groups unequally yoked.
    I also thought the passages mentioned above in 1 Cor 7 and Deut 7 where sufficient enough to bring light to this more vague passage we have been speaking of.

    If Paul is not speaking of marriage/relationship vows, then TC what is he speaking of. In all humility, I am open to learn.

  18. tc robinson says:

    I appreciate those references, but it seems to me that the context of 2 Corinthians is one where Paul is constantly defending his apostleship and ministry among the Corinthians against false teachers (3:1-3; 4:1-7; 6:11-13; 10-12).

    I see nothing about marriage in this book.

  19. mike says:

    I really an not trying to beat a dead horse, but you seem to be poking holes in every argument but don’t step out to far on a limb to tell us what you think the verse is about. I would sincerely be interested in what you specifically think it does speak to. On another note, I don’t think Paul is as much defending himself as he is telling the Corinthians to stay away from false teachers. Just out of curiosity, what church do you belong to so that I may understand your presuppositions.

  20. tc robinson says:

    Mike, Paul is both defending his apostleship and telling the Corinthians to stay away from false teachers. I encourage to reread the letter carefully and prayerfully.

    The church I go to has no bearing on what I see in Scripture. Scripture informs what I preach in my church, not the other way around.

  21. mike says:

    TC,

    Sorry if I offended. Definitely not my intention. Whether you believe it or not you come to the Word with some presuppositions. I presume that the Bible is the infallible rule of faith and practice. I was looking for something that could help me understand your background. Your last two statements are I’m sure what most teachers would say, but it doesn’t make me trust Mr. Bentley anymore or less.

    If you are a member of a confessional church, it would certainly shed light on what you believe about the scriptures and that is all I was hoping for. You seem to ask a lot of thought provoking questions but don’t seem to want to provide an answer. I am not the only one in the comments who seems to be asking you what you think concerning the particular meaning of this verse.

    Again, I appreciate the back and forth as I believe it helps us all in our attempt to be prepared in and out of season give an account of what we believe.

    Grace and peace,

    Mike

  22. tc robinson says:

    Mike, I was not offended at all. I belong to a “confessional church” that believes Christians may or may not marry non-believers. The issue has not been settled. We have members who are married to nonbelievers. And we have believers who go out and marry nonbelievers, even when advised against it.

    But all I’m saying is that 2 Cor 6:14 may not be the text to use for that purpose.

    I believe I’ve shared what I believe about this verse. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I’m sorry about that. 🙂

  23. mike says:

    TC,
    Thanks for the answer. That’s fair. I reread my post and was really not trying to be so dogmatic. I also think God gave us rational minds to reason through issues such as these according to the scriptures giving us a biblical world view. I as you would advise against marring a non-believer. As one who has been married 10+ years, I can’t imagine adding that complication to normal marriage issues. Marriage daily just seems to teach me how selfish I really am.

    Mike

  24. tc robinson says:

    Mike, the topic of marriage remains a delicate subject. Two thousand years of doing theology haven’t resolved the issue, and I don’t think I’ll be able to do so. 🙂

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