Equally yoked…

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2 Chronicles 21:1 Jehoshaphat (a good and faithful king) slept with his ancestors and was buried with his ancestors in the city of David; his son Jehoram succeeded him. 2 He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of King Jehoshaphat of Judah. 3 Their father gave them many gifts, of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah; but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. 4 When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he put all his brothers to the sword, and also some of the officials of Israel. 5 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. 6 He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done; for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. 7 Yet the LORD would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his descendants forever. 

Remember, at the time of this story, there were two kingdoms belonging to God’s people instead of one because the people were divided. There was the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Though both kingdoms eventually went astray, the southern kingdom of Judah (which included the holy city of Jerusalem) tended to be the more faithful of the two.

Jehoram was the new king of Judah after his father Jehoshaphat, a faithful king who brought peace to Judah, passed away. However, Jehoram was not a good king like his father. He adopted some of the pagan practices found in the northern kingdom of Israel which resulted in God withdrawing favor from him. Why did Jehoram adopt unfaithful practices? V.6 tells us that he married a woman from the north, a daughter of king Ahab, who taught Jehoram the pagan ways of her family.

God had warned the people many years before not to marry outside of their own people group/kingdom/nation for just this reason. In fact, one can hear similar counsel today among Christians. It is said that a Christian should not marry a non-Christian, for they might be led astray. The term people use is “unequally yoked”. In other words, a Christian person marrying a non-Christian would not share the same commitment to be “yoked” (joined, submitted to) the Lord, which can cause problems in the marriage.

I think there is some wisdom here. I have three young adult children, none of whom has yet married. Should they be married someday, I would strongly prefer they marry a fellow Christian – not because I fear they would walk away from the faith, but because sharing a faith tradition can have a very positive impact on a marriage. Yes it’s true that Christians divorce at a rate almost equal to non-Christians. Shared Christianity is no silver bullet when it comes to living “happily ever after”. But having a shared set of values, commitments, paradigms for building a life together and raising children is important. At least it is in my opinion.

Am I saying that people of different faith traditions cannot have a successful marriage/family/union? Of course not. I know several examples where this has been the case. I’m talking about an ideal here. Lord teach us to choose well when considering one with whom to live a life. Amen.

 

 

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