Just like the unequal joining of a good ox and a stubborn donkey under the same yoke would not make for effective ploughing, so an unequal partnership between a believer and an unbeliever won’t make for effective Christian ministry.

Unfortunately though, the verse on unequal yoking yourself to unbelievers is often used for all other areas of life instead of the one intended by God. Just because the verse is so strongly phrased and so obviously persuasive, doesn’t mean it can be used to manipulate partnerships in areas not addressed by those Scriptures.

Here is the passage of relevance:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols?

2 Corinthians 6:14-16a

That is indeed very persuasive, but what kind of partnerships is the LORD prohibiting Christians from? Business partnerships? Employment contracts? Neighbourhood groups? Sport clubs? School groups?

Verses 16 continues down to verse 18 with an illustration of this separation from the world that the Lord requires of His people. The Israelites in the Promised Land were to abstain from the religious and social practises of the neighbouring countries so steeped in pagan worship. This is a great illustration of how drastic our non-yoking with unbelievers should be. What then is the application to us of the prohibition in verse 14 so vividly illustrated in verse 16ff?

Just keep reading.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

If we don’t yoke ourselves to unbelievers just like the faithful Israelites did not participate with the pagan, then we have the same promises of God’s presence and blessing. The separation for us is regarding holiness. Your heart is where the separation from the world must occur. Specifically, in 2 Cor 6 and 7, Paul is addressing the issue that the Corinthian believers had rejected the ministry from the Apostles for the sake of the influences of the pagan worship practises of their city. Paul appeals here that, to be effective in ministry, they are to yoke themselves firmly to the Apostles and no longer mix their faith with the worship practises of their culture.

Be wise in deciding whom you will do business with, whom you will sign contracts with, who will educate your children, and how you will be a good neighbour, but use the book of Proverbs (example Pro 22:24) for that. Do not use these verses. These verses are about heart issues regarding Christian ministry. These verses address our hearts when we listen to a talk-show host instead of the Bible for our daily upliftment, when we run to a psychologist instead of a Christian for our emotional burdens, when we medicate instead of mature regarding the disorder in our minds, when we try to make the church like the world instead of transforming the world to the church.

Do not be unequally yoked with those who misuse the Word of God, the bride of Christ, or the sanctification of the Spirit.