Tag Archives: hypocrites

Hypocritically Applying 2 Cor. 6:14 “Be not unequally yoked…”

Should a Christian marry a non-Christian?

“Of course not,” is the answer. “The Bible commands us to not be ‘unequally yoked with an unbeliever.'”

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But is that really what it says? That a Christian can’t marry a non-Christian? It’s no great secret or surprise that we get many things about scripture wrong.

– The American South believed it endorsed slavery.

– The Neo-Reformed believe it says God both wills and causes people to sin.

– Many conservative Christians think it says women can’t be pastors or teachers (over adult men at least).

And whatever your view on these topics, the fact is we don’t understand everything in scripture, and we never will. And the fact is, we’ve gotten some things wrong in the past.

And I believe we’re misapplying 2 Corinthians 6:14 by having it very narrowly only mean marriage. In fact, it’s not only misapplying, but hypocritically applying it, which is worse.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Cor. 6:14

This is a well-known command from Paul, and most Christians hear it from their parents or teachers when they reach dating age. And universally the only issue of life and faith this passage is applied to is that of relationships and marriage.

And yet, Paul nowhere mentions marriage in this chapter of 2 Corinthians, or even in the whole book for that matter. But he does talk about idolatry, the worshiping of other gods (and in his day and culture, there were temples to gods like Zeus, Athena, Baal, and etc.).

In a very general way we can see how this verse applies to marriage, but why do we hypocritically not apply it to:

– A Christian business person partnering with (or even working for) a non-Christian business person, where contracts and legal agreements are involved?

– Christians and non-Christians living together as roommates?

– Christians taking each other to court before non-Christian judges?

– Christian and non-Christian students working on assignments together, or Christian students having non-Christian teachers?

– Christians playing sports, or coaching kid’s sports, which include non-Christian players and parents?

– Christians having non-Christian close friends?

Because Paul doesn’t specifically apply his command to marriage, we are wrong to do so ourselves. In fact, we often laud those Christians who pursue the modern idols of fame and money – we call them megachurch pastors.

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Now, my point is not to say that it’s okay for Christians to marry non-Christians; in fact, I believe the Bible universally points to that being a really bad idea and I would advise any Jesus-follower against it (just look at Solomon and his many wives).

However, I also believe that so narrowly applying this passage is also wrong and hypocritical,and in fact, none of the reputable commentaries limit it’s meaning to only marriage either, and some don’t bring it up at all.

Whether we claim to take the Bible seriously or believe it is the inerrant word of God, we must not put our interpretations above what the text actually says.

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Breakfast with Jesus? Bring Some Fish

During Jesus’ last post-resurrection encounter with the disciples in the book of John, he gives them two invitations which display beautifully the heart of God.

First, some context, though:

Peter, in John 18, denies Jesus while warming himself around a charcoal fire. He does it three times when accused, and after the third a rooster crows fulfilling Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial in John 13:38. What guilt he must have felt, what shame! In the moment he fears for his own life more than he cares for his master, his friend.

Later, in Galilee, Peter declares to the other disciples that he is going fishing which the fishermen in the group decide to join him in. And there, on the beach near where their boat is, is Jesus. Peter is so excited to see Jesus that he literally throws himself into the water and splashes to shore. Where he sees a charcoal fire burning, with some fish already on it.

I wonder if the smell from the fire triggered his memory, back to that day in the courtyard when he denied Jesus? I wonder if he felt shame temper his excitement?

And here is where the encounter becomes beautiful to me: Jesus doesn’t bring it up at all (he will later, though, in verses 15-19), instead he gives Peter and the others two invitations: “Bring some of the fish you have just caught,” and “Come and have breakfast.”

“Bring some of your fish”

This invitation is an invitation to participate. Jesus already had a fire going with fish on it, he doesn’t need the disciple’s freshly caught fish at all. But he invites them to contribute too. This is an invitation of acceptance and inclusion.

And it’s an invitation that God extends to all of us, to participate in his work in this world (see Eph. 2:10). He doesn’t need us at all, frankly, but he desires to include us. He wants us to do it with him, and makes space for us to do it.

“Come have breakfast”

This is an invitation to fellowship, to communion. Jesus is saying “be with me.” Jesus wants to spend time with the disciples enjoying their company, as much as he wants them to enjoy his. And so it is with us too. We tend to think of God as “up there” and we are “down here,” both spatially and hierarchically, and he really is farther above us than we could ever understand. But he is also here with us, God Immanuel, surrounding and encompassing and filling us, and just as he wants us to be a part of his work here on earth, he also wants to be involved in our lives – from the mundane things like doing chores, driving or taking public transit, shaving, and even pooping; to the less mundane like working, raising children, having hobbies, and being in relationships.

Friend of Sinners

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The thing to remember about these two invitations of Jesus, “participate with me” and “be with me,” is that he gave them to Peter before Peter was ‘restored,’ that is, before Jesus confronted Peter with his denial and desertion at Jesus’ arrest. He dealt gently with Peter, which really characterized his life – gentle and kind with the broken and oppressed, the trodden on and ‘sinners,’ and angry with the religious hypocrites who considered themselves ‘righteous’ in their own right. So much so, that those righteous called Jesus a “friend of sinners.” They meant it derogatorily, but Jesus really was a friend of sinners.

Which is good news, because I am a sinner. Even as someone who desires to follow Jesus and his teachings, I still sin, even willingly sometimes. We all do. It doesn’t mean that Jesus is cool with it or permissive about it (he asked one time “why do you call me Master but do not do what I tell you to do?” Luke 6:46). But it does mean that as we in repentance turn to him, he doesn’t meet us with a brandished hickory switch, leather belt, or wet hand. Instead he meets us with a plate of bacon and eggs and a bowl of warm oatmeal.

“Participate with me. Be with me.” These are the invitations of Jesus, and these invitations are for us. Whether you know Jesus or not, he is inviting you, to be a part of his family and his work on this earth.

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