Holy Seed

Means Sanctified Marriage

Though we touch on some of this information in Sunday school class, I am passing it along for my reader's convenience:

I figured it might be a good idea to get a take from the New Testament: (II Cor. 6:8) "By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true." As an example let's take a teenage Christian girl who is determined to stay a virgin until she marries. Some of her school crowd puts down virginity as if there is something wrong with it, but she is praised by her elders and some of her peers. Thus the "evil report and good report" is what she must endure as a Christian. She can't very well be "sexually active" in one group and a virgin in the other depending on whom she is around.

Okay, another example. I hang out at a local outdoor Saturday Market. One Market was "Homosexual Appreciation Day." I had an acquaintance tell me that he was inclined to homosexuality although he was a virgin. I told him homosexuality was a sin and he shouldn't give in to it. He then expected me to drift off, but when I continued to hang around, he clarified his position, and I clarified mine. Then he said, "Oh, you mean you hate the sin but love the sinner." "That's right," I said.

Not all Christians get off so easy. In some crowds if they show the slightest disapproval of homosexuality, they get labeled as suffering from "homophobia." And yet one can't very well be against homosexuality at church and for it at market. "Evil report and good report."

Then there is the matter of letting women preach. The Bible is pretty much dead set against it, because of the nature of creation and of the Fall and Redemption. But that goes entirely against the prevailing notion in this country of equality, though perhaps, in most countries throughout most of history it would be no problem. Still, while in some quarters we'd get praised for having an exclusive male clergy, in others we'd be condemned. "Evil report and good report."

Now, family. Same difference. Perhaps family is going out of favor in some quarters (while homosexuality is coming in—go figure), but it will always be highly thought of by some. "Evil report and good report." We as a body of believers cannot very well be a family when we are together and not family at other times. We either are or we aren't, like virginity. If somebody with a negative family background wants to join the chosen of God, how do we accommodate him? Well, when I considered starting a new occupation, I needed to find what is positive in my background to use as reference, and where I'm wanting I get other believers to agree with me in prayer over. Same deal. There has got to be something positive in his background he can relate to. If nothing else, the environmental movement seeks to preserve species many of which only propagate in families. And what he cannot change, we pray over. We don't eliminate family as what we are just because it has evil report in some quarters, because our very calling necessarily produces evil reports a well as good.

Then there's a whole realm of political correctness which doesn't necessarily coincide with the Gospel and over which we may get an undeserved evil report.

And let's not forget the King James Bible of 1611.

The King James Bible was published in the year Shakespeare began work on his last play, The Tempest. Both the play and the Bible are masterpieces of English, but there is one crucial difference between them. Whereas Shakespeare ransacked the lexicon, the King James Bible employs a bare 8000 words—God's teaching in homely English for everyman. From that day to this, the Shakespearian cornucopia and the biblical iron rations represent, as it were, the North and South Poles of the language. The statistics of English are astounding. Of all the world's languages, it is arguably the richest in vocabulary. The compendius Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words; and a further half million scientific and technical terms remain uncatalogued.
—Robert McCrum et al, The Story of English235
Me, I am of a mind to appreciate keeping it simple, the tenets of our faith.
Old Ur was a man whom the cave people respected. ... In the last forty thousand years his throat, his tongue and lower jaw had been much modulated and were now flexible instruments adapted to the articulation of language; he had a vocabulary of more than six hundred words, some of which comprised three syllables and a few four or five. Every hundred years or so new experiences would accumulate, requiring the invention of new words; but this was a slow process, for Ur and his neighbors were extremely cautious and the utterance of a new word might upset the balance of nature and call into being strange forces that were better left at rest, so words tended to be restricted to the same sounds that time had made familiar.
—James A. Michner, The Source236

Fluctuations in language are not merely a consequence, they are yet more truly an indication of and a cause of corresponding fluctuations in moral and intellectual action. Whoever substitutes for an old word of well-understood signification a new vocable or phrase, unsettles, with the formulas into which it enters, the opinions of those who have habitually clothed their convictions in those stereotyped forms, and thus introduces, first doubt, and then departure from long received and acknowledged truth. Experience has taught jurists that in the revision or amendment of statutes, and in sanctioning and adopting by legislative enactment current principles of unwritten law, it is a matter of the first importance to employ a phraseology whose precise import has been fixed by a long course of judicial decisions; and it has been found impossible in practice to change the language of the law, for the purpose of either modernizing or making it otherwise more definite, familiar, or intelligible, without at the same time changing the law itself. Words and ideas are so inseparably connected, they become in a sense connatural, that we cannot change the one without modifying the other. Every man who knows his own language finds the modernization of an old author substantially a new book. It is not, as is often pretended, a putting of old thoughts into a new dress. It is the substitution of a new thought more or less divergent from the original type. Language is not the dress of thought; it is its living expression, and it controls both the physiognomy and the organization of the idea it utters.

A new translation of the Bible, therefore, or an essential modification of the existing version, is substantially a new book, a new Bible, another revelation; and the authors of such an enterprise are assuming no less a responsibility than that of disturbing, not the formulas only, but the faith of centuries.

—George P. Marsh, Lectures on the English Language237
This contrasts with the easy attitude of the NIV™ translators who "submitted the developing version to a number of stylistic consultants. ... Concern that ... the New International Version should be ... contemporary motivated the translators and consultants." 238 Their approach will necessarily mean their work will have a large vocabulary, large compared to the KJV.
The subjects of the Testaments, Old and New, are taken from very primitive and inartificial life. With the exception of the writings of Paul, and in a less degree Luke, there is little evidence of literary culture, or of a wide and varied range of thought, in their authors. They narrate plain facts, and they promulgate doctrines, profound indeed, but addressed less to the speculative and discursive, than to the moral and spiritual faculties; and hence, whatever may have been the capabilities of Hebrew and of classical Greek for other purposes, the vocabulary of the whole Bible is narrow in extent, and extremely simple in character. Now, in the early part of the sixteenth century, when the development of our religious dialect was completed, the English mind, and the English language, were generally in a state of culture much more analogous to that of the people and the tongues of Palestine than they have been at any other subsequent period. Two centuries later the native speech had been greatly subtilized, if not refined. Good vernacular words had been supplanted by foreign intruders, comprehensive ideas and their vocabulary had been split up into artificially discriminated thoughts, and a corresponding multitude of terms. The language in fact had become too copious, and too specific, to have any true correspondences with so simple and inartificial a diction as that of the Christian Scriptures. Had the Bible then for the first time appeared in an English dress, the translators would have been perplexed and confounded with the multitude of terms, each expressing a fragment, few the whole, of the meaning of the original words for which they must stand; and whereas, three hundred years ago, but one good translation was possible, the eighteenth century might have produced a dozen, none altogether good, but none much worse than another. We may learn from a paragraph in Trench what a different vocabulary the Bible would have displayed, if it had been first executed or thoroughly revised at that period. One commentator, he says, thought the phrase "clean escaped" a very low expression; another would reject "straightway, haply, twain, athirst, wax (in the sense of grow), lack, ensample, jeopardy, garner, passion," as obsolete; while the author of a new translation condemns as clownish, barbarous, base, hard, technical, misapplied, or new-coined, such words as beguile, boisterous, lineage, perseverance, potentate, remit, shorn, swerved, vigilant, unloose, unction, vocation, and hundreds of others now altogether approved and familiar.
We are much worse off in the twentieth century to make a different English translation. Let's look at how the "one good translation was possible."
Around the time that the last three of these early Bibles, the Bishop's Bible of 1568, was published, a certain John Bois—whose mature years were dedicated to translating the Authorized Version—was just starting his education, learning Hebrew and Ancient Greek. Bois was born in 1560, just four years before William Shakespeare, and it is said that under his father's eye he had read the entire Bible in Hebrew by the time he was six years old. At fourteen he became a classics scholar at St John's College, Cambridge, passed through his examinations at record speed, and soon became a Fellow at the College.

John Bois was the sort of scholar people like to gossip about. It was said that he would rise at four in the morning to give classics in Greek, and would work until eight o'clock at night, always reading standing up. When his Fellowship expired he was offered a rectorship at Boxworth, a scattered hamlet a few miles to the north of Cambridge, on condition that he married the deceased Rector's daughter. This he did, and moved out into the Fens, though he would often ride his horse into Cambridge to teach, reading a book as he went.

In 1604 Bois was forty-four, living quietly in Boxworth, a man with a brilliant scholarly reputation. At the Hampton Court Conference, Dr John Reynolds, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, proposed a definitive translation of the Bible to ameliorate the friction between the Anglicans and the Puritans. James I, the rex pacificus, gladly assented to the idea of "one uniforme translation", though he confessed he doubted whether he would "see a Bible well translated in English."

Progress was rapid. By June, it had been settled that there should be six groups of translators, two in Westminster, two in Oxford and two in Cambridge, each made up of at least eight scholars. It was perfectly natural that the brilliant John Bois should be recruited for one of the Cambridge committees. He was put in charge of translating the Apocrypha from the Greek. As it turned out, his was a level of scholarship that made him indispensable to more than one committee. Surprisingly, perhaps, for an age that was so familiar with Latin and Greek, the six committees were instructed to base their Authorized Version upon the previous English versions, translating afresh, but also comparing their work with the other vernacular Bibles, from Tyndale to Parker.


Even when the King James Version was made, it was purposefully old-fashioned. Something beautiful and poetic. Today it's positively archaic.
Now I'm reading the King James Version English. The King James Version that I go by came out in 1611; that's four centuries ago. But when I read it, I'm reading something older:
In fact, with here and there an exception, the difference between Tyndale's New Testament and that of 1611 is scarcely greater than is found between any two manuscript copies of most modern works which have undergone frequent transcription; and Tyndale's, Cranmer's, the Bishop's, the Genevan, and the [King James] version coincide so nearly with each other, both in sense and in phraseology, that we may hear whole chapters of any of them read without noticing that they deviate from the text to which we have always been accustomed.  When, then, we study our Testaments, we are in most cases perusing the identical words penned by the martyr Tyndale nearly [five] hundred years ago; and hitherto the language of English Protestant faith and doctrine may fairly be said to have undergone no change.
Okay, that makes what I'm reading half a millennium old for the most part. But it's older than that.
The difference between the version of Wycliffe and that of Tyndale was occasioned partly by the change of the language in the course of two centuries, and partly by the difference of the texts from which they translated; and from these two causes the discrepancies between the two versions are much greater than those between Tyndale's, which was completed in 1526, and the standard version which appeared only eighty-five years later. But, nevertheless, the influence of Wycliffe upon Tyndale is too palpable to be mistaken, and it cannot be disguised by grammatical differences, which are the most important points of discrepancy between them. If we reduce the orthography of both to the same standard, conform the inflections of the fourteenth to those of the sixteenth century, and make the other changes which would suggest themselves to an Englishman translating from the Greek instead of from the Vulgate, we shall find a much greater resemblance between the two versions than a similar process would produce between secular authors of the periods to which they belong. Tyndale is merely a full-grown Wycliffe, and his recension of the New Testament is just what his great predecessor would have made it, had he awaked again to see the dawn of that glorious day of which his own life and labours kindled the morning twilight. Not only does Tyndale retain the general grammatical structure of the older version, but most of its felicitous verbal combinations, and, what is more remarkable, he preserves even the rhythmic flow of its periods, which is again repeated in the recension of 1611. Wycliffe, then, must be considered as having originated the diction and phraseology which for [six+] centuries have constituted the consecrated dialect of the English speech; and Tyndale as having given to it that finish and perfection which have so admirably adapted it to the expression of religious doctrine and sentiment, and to the narration of the remarkable series of historical facts which are recorded in the Christian scriptures.
Okay, back to how they did it:
After six years' hard work, the six committees delivered their efforts to London for a final review. Each of the three scholarly centres provided two scholars to form the review committee. From Cambridge they sent John Bois and his old tutor, Dr Anthony Downes. For nearly nine months in 1610, these six scholars worked together on the final draft of the Authorized Version, refining and revising. They had a special brief from the Commissioners: they were to go through the text, re-working it so that it would not only read better but sound better, a quality for which it became famous throughout the English-speaking world. The translators obviously relished this priority. In their preface "To the Reader" they remarked, "Why should we be in bondage to them (words and syllables) if we may be free, use one precisely when we may use another no less fit, as commodiously?" It's an interesting reflection on the state of the language that the poetry of the Authorized Version came not from a single writer but a committee.

In the First Epistle General of Peter, chapter two, verse three, there is a passage in which the key word is pleasant. Bois had several choices from previous versions:

Tyndale: Yf so be that ye have tasted how pleasaunt the Lorde is ...
Great Bible: If so be that ye have tasted, how gracious the Lorde is ...
Geneva Bible: If so be that ye have tasted how bountiful the Lord is ...
Bishop's Bible: If so be that ye have tasted how gractious the Lord is ...
Rheim's Bible: if yet you have tasted that our Lord is sweete.
Authorized Version: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious ...
Bois's note: or, how gracious the Lord is.
	      (A variant proposed by another committee member.)
Not only does he make the right choice with gracious, he also makes the sentence sing.
Thus the only good translation was so perfected that any major revision could only make it worse. That is the good report. The bad report is the complaints about all the thee's and thou's.
When it [KJV] appeared, it was by no means regarded as the embodiment of the everyday language of the time. On the contrary, its archaisms, its rejection of the Latinisms of the Rhemish Romanist version, and its elevation above the vulgarisms of the market and the kitchen, were assailed by the same objections which are urged against it at the present moment.... I remarked that the dialect of the authorized version was not the popular English of the time, but simply a revision of older translations. It is almost equally true that the diction of Wycliffe and of Tyndale was not that of the secular literature of their times. The language of Wycliffe's Testament differs nearly as much from even the religious prose writings of his contemporary and follower, Chaucer, as does that of our own [KJV] Bible from the best models of literary composition in the present day; and it is still a more remarkable and important fact, that the style which Wycliffe himself employs in his controversial and other original works, is a very different one from that in which he clothed his translation. This circumstance seems to give some countenance to the declaration of Sir Thomas Moore, otherwise improbable, that there existed English Bibles long before Wycliffe; and hence we might suppose that his labours and those of his school were confined to the revision of still earlier versions.

If we compare Tyndale's New Testament with the works of his contemporaries, Lord Berners and Sir Thomas More, or the authorized version with the prose of Shakespeare, and Raleigh, and Bacon, or other writers of the same date, we shall find very nearly, if not quite as great a difference in all the essentials of their diction, as between the authorized version and the best written narratives or theological discussions of the present day. But, in spite of this diversity, the language of the authorized version, as a religious dialect, is and always has been very familiar to the English people. ... If the Bible is less understood than it was at earlier periods, which I by no means believe, it is because it is less studied; and the true remedy is, not to lower its tone to a debased standard of intelligence, but to educate the understandings of the English people up to the comprehension of the purest and most idiomatic forms of expression which belong to their mother-tongue.

...Scarcely 200 words occurring in the [KJV] Bible are obsolete [compared] to a century ago [from 1868] when hundreds of words in its vocabulary, now as familiar as the alphabet, were complained of as strange or obsolete.

So to look at the translation of the KJV means looking also at Tyndale and Wycliffe.
In a lecture on the principles of translation I laid down the rule that a translator ought to adopt a dialect belonging to that period in the history of his own language when its vocabulary and its grammar were in the condition most nearly corresponding to those of his original. Now, when the version of Wycliffe appeared, English was in a state of growth and formation, and the same observation applies, though with less force, to the period of Tyndale. The Greek of the New Testament, on the other hand, was in a state of resolution. It had become less artificial in structure than the classical dialect, more approximated to modern syntactical construction, and the two languages, by development on the one hand, decay on the other, had been brought in the sixteenth century to a certain similarity of condition. Besides, the New Testament Greek was under the same necessity as Early English, of borrowing or inventing a considerable number of new terms and phrases to express the new ideas which Christianity had ingrafted on the Jewish theology; of creating, in fact, a special sacred phraseology; and hence there is very naturally a closer resemblance between the religious dialect of English, as framed by the Reformers, and that of the New Testament, than between the common literary style of England and the Greek of the classic ages. It will generally be found that the passages of the received version whose diction is most purely Saxon are not only most forcible in expression, but also the most faithful transcripts of the text, and that a Latinized style is seldom employed without loss of beauty of language, and at the same time of exactness in correspondence. Whatever questions may be raised respecting the accuracy with which particular passages are rendered, there seems to be no difference of opinion among scholars really learned in the English tongue as to the exceeding appropriateness of the style of the authorized version; and the attempt to bring down that style to the standard of to-day is as great an absurdity, and implies as mistaken views of the true character and office of human language, and especially of our maternal speech, as would be displayed by translating the comedies of Shakespeare into the dialect of the popular farces of the season.
In other words, "If it was good enough for the apostle Paul, it's good enough for me." Our King James Version is the closest English we've got to the language and its condition that God chose to reveal his holy word in. That's because of how it came about:
In the first place, then, the dialect of this translation was not, at the time of the revision, or, indeed, at any other period, the actual current book-language nor the colloquial speech of the English people. This is a point of much importance, because the contrary opinion has been almost universally taken for granted; and hence very mistaken views have been, and still are, entertained. respecting the true relations of the diction of that version to the national tongue. It was an assemblage of the best forms of expression applicable to the communication of religious truth that then existed, or had existed in any and all the successive stages through which English had passed in its entire history.
Now, we've had introduced new versions for own desires reminding me of: (Ezek 44:6-8) "And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves." The "strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh" are these new versions "to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house," and the sanctified King James Version gets ignored, "ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things." Based on Ezekiel, one gets the impression that God may not want us to use the same sweaty old language used on the streets when we come to minister in God's house:
(Ezek 44:16) "They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge. And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within. They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat. And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments. Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads."

In fact, the English Bible sustains, and always has sustained to the general English tongue, the position of a treatise upon a special knowledge requiring, like any branch of science, a special nomenclature and phraseology. The language of the law, for example, in both vocabulary and structure, differs widely from that of unprofessional life; the language of medicine, of metaphysics, of astronomy, of chemistry, of mechanical art, all these have their appropriate idioms, very diverse from the speech which is the common heritage of all. Why, then, should theology, the highest of knowledges, alone be required to file her tongue to the vulgar utterance, when every other human interest has its own appropriate expression, which no man thinks of conforming to a standard that, because it is too common, can hardly be other than unclean?
I sometimes think we are missing the concept.
In particular, two word pairs should not be confused: pure/impure and holy/profane. The term "impure" denotes a state of cultic disability and is the antonym of "pure." The term "holy" denotes that which has been consecrated and thus belongs to God and is the antonym of "profane" which designates ordinary nonholy entities. The default state for most entities is profane and pure. Something must happen to render a profane object holy—an act of consecration—or to render a pure object impure—an act of defilement. If a pure, profane object becomes defiled (which is not a sin and happens frequently), its purity can be restored by a ritual of purification. However, holy entities should never be defiled. The holy is always pure. If defiled, holy entities are automatically profaned or desecrated and must be purified before being reconsecrated. Thus holiness and impurity, while not antonymic, are inimical states.
—Christine Hayes, "Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources" 249
What is called the King James Bible is holy; that's why it is called the Holy Bible. It got that way because of God's revelations to chosen men in sanctified languages that God preserved after the Tower of Babel fiasco. Then it was put into a consecrated dialect developed from Wycliffe to Tyndale to the KJV translators and was never the standard English either in 1611 or at any other time, but was developed to most closely match the effect of the original revelations in their languages/dialects. Our ordinary English of today is by comparison profane, not holy. An ordinary revision into modern English—like J.B. Phillips—makes it merely a profane version, but the corrupted manuscript selection used on virtually all modern English translations (including NKJV—with its compromises) makes such translations impure besides, especially the NIV™.

It is easy enough to lose something in the translation, as was attested by the translators of the Septuagint:

(The Prologue to the Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach: Ecclesiasticus) "... Wherefore let me intreat you to read it with favour and attention, and to pardon us, wherein we may seem to come short of some words, which we have laboured to interpret; for the same things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them. And not only these things, but the law itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language."
At best if I am hearing, say, the American Standard Version in church, I have to pardon it for not living up to the standard of the King James Version—to say nothing of Hebrew and Greek—, but if I hear the New International Version™, I'm forced to outright cringe. This penchant for profane or impure versions has developed out of the evil report of the thee's and thou's that people complained about, which evil reports are par for the course in Christian ministry and come along with the good. Let's now take our verse about "evil report and good report" and put it into its Biblical context:
(II Cor. 5:20-7:3) "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you."
Paul is speaking as "we are ambassadors for Christ." "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you ..." Let's just take it from here in a Bible study from off the radio (KORE).
Through the Bible, by J. Vernon McGee; on KORE 5/5/2003
Now. last time, friends, we were in the sixth chapter of 2nd Corinthians and the subject of this chapter in our notes and outlines is: God's comfort in all circumstances of the ministry; and we saw last time something about the way Paul turns the minister wrong side out and lets you see the type of a man that he should be. We had three nines here, nine things that characterize the minister, nine characteristics, and there were three sets of them. The first, if you will notice, were physical. The second were mental, and the third were spiritual. And they are very important, by the way.

Now, he comes down to the eleventh verse, and Paul's great heart now goes out to the Corinthians. He almost breaks in this chapter and in the next one.

	  O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart
	  is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are
	  straitened in your own [being].  Now for a recompense in
	  the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.
And what he's doing here is just opening up his great heart of love here, and he stirs up the hearts here of those that love him. But the interesting thing is apparently he stirs up the hearts of those who hate God and hate his word to work injury upon those who love him and love the scriptures. Now, we find that was true in the early history of the church. And it's true today. You stand for God and you will find that it'll really cost you something. There's no question about that.

Now, he begins to talk about something that's quite important. And yet here is a section that probably has been abused more, and there're some that have interpreted and make it hard as nails: ... unyielding, unloving. And yet what Paul is talking about is coming from a tender heart of a man whose heart was breaking, and a great concern for these folks. And I want you to notice this, because I think it's very important to see. He says here,

	  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
	  what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
	  and what communion hath light with darkness?
And we find here that this is something that is rather abused today. And if you even walk past a liberal church, why, somebody is going to say that you are unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

May I say to you that actually what he is talking about here is this matter of worldliness that's in the world. And also these sins of the flesh. There's so many so-called separated believers that are probably as worldly as they possibly can be. Now, back in the Old Testament on the Mosaic law, God gave a law to his people who were engaged largely in agriculture. And he said to them, "Be ye not unequally yoked together." That's what Paul says here, and he's referring back to the Mosaic law where God says, You shall not yoke an ox and an ass together. Well, one is a clean animal and the other is an unclean animal.

And how you yoke together? Well, you're yoked together, my friend, in a long enterprise. And it's a very real union that is brought about. It's a relationship.

May I make a distinction here, because I find it's made today by a great many. This has to do with joining in maybe some local enterprise. May I say to you that it hasn't anything in the world to do with that, but it has to do with joining up in a permanent relationship.

Now, how can you be yoked together? Well, marriage is one. An unbeliever and a believer should not marry. A clean animal and an unclean animal should not be joined together. And I don't think they should be joined together, for instance, let me use this as an illustration: Here is a man that's a professor in a seminary. And the seminary's gone liberal. But he is professing that he's a conservative, that he still believes the great truth. Now, I think that man should get out and away from that seminary. Because he's drawing a salary there . To all intents and purposes, he's permanently identified with that work and with that organization. He's associated with it in a very tangible real way. Now that's one thing.

Now, suppose, though, that an evangelist comes to town, holds a meeting. And maybe he uses certain methods that we would not condone at all. We'd not approve of them. But may I say to you, he's preaching Christ; and God's blessing his ministry. Well, are you not to join with him? It's just going to be for two, three weeks. And it's not a permanent sort a thing.

Now, I remember when I was pastor in Nashville, we had an evangelist that came to town and without saying a word to any of us that were conservative men, he put his tent right across from my church and the Baptist church in that end of the city. And he came over there to solicit our help. Well, I was rather reluctant because of the ethics of the man. And I found out he was really a screwball in many ways. He could conduct the most informal service I've ever heard. He could be half way through his sermon and he'd stop and say, "Well, I forgot to make this announcement; I forgot to take the offering," stop his sermon; he'd take the offering.

Well, if you'd forgotten it, I guess that's the thing to do. But he was very informal. And as I say, I'd call him a screwball. And a Baptist preacher and I, we talked it over. (He and I were good friends. We were conservative.) And so we decided we'd support him. He was going to be there about a couple of weeks. And we supported him. People were saying, friends, no question about that. I wouldn't join with him permanently. I wouldn't be identified with that man permanently for anything in the world. But I see nothing wrong in just maybe one or two weeks.

Now I want you to note how Paul did it: Paul would go to a city. Where did he go? Why, he went to the synagogue. Now, can you imagine a place that would be more in opposition to Jesus Christ than the synagogue? But that's where Paul began.

But, now wait, and I'm not condemning him for it; I think that's the way he should'a done it. That's the way God led him. But if Paul had joined one of those synagogues and had become the rabbi in one of them, and stayed there, I'd be honest with you, I'm afraid I'd have some questions. You see, there's a difference, in this. It's one thing to be yoked together in a permanent arrangement like marriage, or a partnership in business, or you identify yourself with a liberal school, or a liberal church—join it. But my friend, that's what he has reference to, and he's not talking about this idea today of joining in an evangelistic crusade. There are a lot of men that don't do it the way I do it, and some of them so much more successful than I am that maybe I'm the one wrong and maybe they're right, but the thing is that I feel like I'm right and I intend to go along as it is now. But that won't keep me from having fellowship with these men, just because they do things a little differently than I do it. They're preaching the same gospel that I preach. They believe the same Bible that I believe. And that's not what Paul is talking about here because he says,

	     "what concord hath Christ with Belial?
	     or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?"
Well, I certainly don't have any part with them. I'm not joined with them permanently in anything. And I trust you're not. But I'm not going to sit in judgment now of some man today that are doing things differently than I do. Now, verse sixteen. "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" And now he's talking against idolatry. And certainly we couldn't join with an idolater. "For ye are the temple of the living God; and God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." You see, the temple of God today is the human body of a believer; who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you." Paul's talking here definitely about idolatry. About infidelity and that type of thing, and about joining up with it permanently. Don't be identified with it in a permanent way.

Now, to try to articulate this with an evangelistic crusade or with some brother that comes into town, and you go and hear him, my friend, may I say to you, that is taking that which comes from the tender heart of a man who has a broken heart and who's being kind and loving, and making it as hard as nails, and it ought not to be made that way. But we do need to recognize there should be a separation from that which is worldliness today.

Now, I have been with men, and I've had the privilege since I've retired, of being in over a hundred different churches, and that means that many pastors. And I want to say I've met some lovely wonderful men in these churches. It's been the most exciting and the most rewarding time of my ministry, and it's been the most fruitful also, by the way. Now, many of these men, I'm with them, I'm with one man and he has a certain position; he doesn't fellowship with certain one. And, by the way, I don't agree with that man. I think he's being a little too strict. I go to another place where I meet a brother, he's fellowshipping with a whole lot of folk I wouldn't fellowship with. But I'm not gonna to sit in judgment on either one of these brethren, though I may think that they're wrong, because that's not what Paul is talking about.

Now, what Paul is talking about is this matter of worldliness. And today that spirit has gotten into the church and the heart and life of a lot of believers who say they're separated. It's like when we were in the book of Joshua. You see when Joshua took Jericho, he took it by faith. God gave that to him. And that's worldliness. Now we can overcome worldliness by faith.

But, you see, up yonder Ai which seemed to be so easy, Joshua was overcome. He could blow his trumpet around Jericho, but he wasn't able to around Ai. And there are a lot of Christians today, oh my, they talk about how they're separated, and they don't do this. Do know that they're gossiping? They got the meanest tongue. And very candidly, they're very worldly. I found out that they go if for dress, they go in for gluttony and gossip. A lot of those folk go in for that. And they really do things that surprise and shock me. And yet they talk about separation. And I'm not sitting in judgment on them, but my friend, we ought to be very careful when we are talking about the things of God and that the Lord Jesus Christ is our savior and we love Him: we're separated unto Him, when actually we're not separated unto Him.

I remember when I entered the ministry, there was a vice president of a bank who was as godless a man as I've ever met. And he could swear as I've never heard anyone. He called me over to his desk. I think it rather moved him when I announced I was giving up my job and gonna study for the ministry. And I think it rather touched him, and he called me into his office. And he said, "Vernon, I want to tell you a story." And he told me a story.

He had a man working for him in another bank during World War I. And he said that that man was as godless and as worldly as he could be. He was a soloist in a church. And he got up one Sunday morning, and this godless vice president was there and listened to him, and he got up and he sang about Jesus Satisfies. And he knew that Jesus didn't satisfy him. And so a dear lady got up afterward that knew this vice president, said to him, "Oh wasn't that a marvelous solo? Sounded just like it came out of heaven." And so this man that worked for him, that sang the solo was a teller in the bank. This woman was in doing business, and this teller was attempting to get a balance and he was off. And he began to rip out oaths, began to curse. And this lady was shocked. She said, "Who is that over there?" "Why", he says, "that's the voice that you thought the other Sunday came out of heaven." And may I say to you, that was the reason that vice president was the skeptic and the rascal that he really was. Why, because he knew that when a professing Christian said, Jesus satisfies, he knew he didn't satisfy him. He knew that that fellow was running around. He knew he was drinking. He knew he was cussing. And he knew that if he was a Christian he wouldn't be doing that sort of thing. And it made this man a cynical individual. And this vice president reached over and touched me on the knee. He says to me, "Vernon, don't be a preacher unless you mean it." Eh, I've never forgotten that.

My friend, don't be a Christian unless you mean it. Don't go around and say, Jesus satisfies, when He's really not satisfying ya. This is what Paul is talking, "Wherefore come out from among them, be ye separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." In other words you will be a son and daughter that ... in honor you, you see. A man told me about his boy, gone away to college. And the boy got alienated from his dad. He was still his son. But he said to him, I can't deal with him as I would like to as a father, I can't talk to him like I'd like to as a father. God says here he'll be a father unto you. God wants to be a father to you, friends. And if you're going off into worldliness, and you don't mean what you say, and you're hypocritical in your life, you can be sure of one thing: he can't be a father to you. Oh, you're his son. Don't forget. "And ye shall be my son." God wants to treat you as a son. He doesn't want to everlastingly be taking you to the woodshed. And that is what he means here.

Now we come to the seventh chapter of 2nd Corinthians, and this is the last chapter under the section of the comfort of God. Now we have God's comfort in the heart of Paul. Now, this is very personal, this chapter is. Oh, how personal it is. And then how wonderful it is, by the way. Now will you notice that he says,

	     Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us
	     cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and
	     spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Now, he's talking here about holy living, and this is so important. He's actually dealing in this chapter, the thing that's motivating what he's saying, is the fact that there was a man in the church in Corinth that was guilty of gross immorality. He had an incestuous, an adulterous relationship with his own father's wife, his stepmother, of course. And the church didn't deal with that. Now Paul says, you don't deal with that, I'm coming over there, and I'll deal with it. And they did deal with it. And when they did, this man repented. He confessed his sins. And the church had been accurate in dealing with it. Now, Paul, the letter he wrote, had had the right kind of effect. And, when Titus came and reported, he says that this man's been weeping over his sin, he feels utterly unworthy of further recognition, and the church over there is determined now they're gonna keep things clean.

Now, Paul speaks here, "Having therefore these promises." Well, now what promises is he talking about. Well, the ones he's been talking about back in chapter six: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you and be a Father unto you, and ye'll be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord." Now, God says, now, if you will obey me and do this thing, well, God says to you that I'm going to be a real Father to you and you're going to be my sons and daughters, and I can deal with you therefore.

Now, we need to recognize here, how can we cleanse ourselves? He says let us cleanse ourselves. Well, we cannot cleanse our own conscience from the guilt of sin. God has done that through the death of Christ, the shedding of his blood. I can't wash out the stain even of a guilty conscience. Now, if we've been cleansed from our sins by the blood of Christ, then our hearts need daily cleansing, and that's by faith in the word which God's given. And when we receive the word in faith, and I act upon it, I cleanse myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. And that's what it means, friends, when the Lord Jesus said, "Sanctify them through the word of truth. Thy word is truth." The best bar of soap in the world to clean up is the word of God, and it'll really clean you up.

He mentions here cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit. Now, is there a difference between the filthiness of the flesh and the filthiness of the spirit? Oh, yes, there are two classes of sin. All sin is filthy in the sight of God, and all sin is filthy. But the filthiness of the flesh, I think, refers to the sins of the body, and then the sins of the spirit, the filthiness of the spirit, are the sins of the spirit. And we're gonna see that difference next time, but I'm gonna have to stop right there today, so until next time, may God richly bless you, my beloved.

We see in "the sixth chapter of 2nd Corinthians the subject of this chapter ... is: God's comfort in all circumstances of the ministry." Well, that goes right along with, "ambassadors for Christ ..., as workers together with him." Christian ministry.

"We had three nines here, nine things that characterize the minister, nine characteristics, and there were three sets of them. The first, if you will notice, were physical. The second were mental, and the third were spiritual. And they are very important, by the way." Our "by evil report and good report" is one of the nine characteristics of ministry, when "the minister [is viewed] wrong side out and lets you see the type of a man that he should be." Great, this is all dealing with Christian ministry, this material in 2nd Corinthians 6.

In "the eleventh verse, Paul's great heart goes out to the Corinthians. He almost breaks in this chapter and in the next."

"Now, he begins to talk about something that's quite important. And yet here is a section that probably has been abused more, and there're some that have interpreted and make it hard as nails: ... unyielding, unloving. And yet what Paul is talking about is coming from a tender heart of a man whose heart was breaking, and a great concern for these folks. And I want you to notice this, because I think it's very important to see. He says here,

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And we find here that this is something that is rather abused today." Ain't that the truth?

"Now, back in the Old Testament on the Mosaic law, God gave a law to his people who were engaged largely in agriculture. And he said to them, 'Be ye not unequally yoked together.' That's what Paul says here, and he's referring back to the Mosaic law where God says, You shall not yoke an ox and an ass together."

Yes, this was written to an agricultural people, a people who were familiar with yoked animals, so we need to understand it from their perspective if we are to understand it at all. Let's see what we'd read in a historical novel:

"...the oxen...are symbols of friendship and goodness, because every ox at his work turns to seek his companion at the plow; if by chance the partner is absent at that moment, the ox calls him with affectionate lowing. Oxen learn obediently to go back by themselves to the barn when it rains, and when they take refuge at the manger, they constantly stretch their necks to look out and see whether the bad weather has stopped, because they are eager to resume work."
—Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose250
When the apostle Paul, encouraging the Corinthians to follow his lead in Christian labor, told them to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, he used the very symbol of friendship and goodness familiar to his audience but obscure to our postindustrial society unless we read historical novels or the like. The oxen are friends with each other and how can coworkers manage with different concepts of goodness?

Next, if we are at all familiar with the nature of our own work, we'll understand it to have social dimensions. 

Work, since time immemorial, has been the means to satisfy man's need for belonging to a group and for a meaningful relation to others of his kind. When Aristotle said that man is a zoon politikon, i.e. a social animal, he said in effect that man needs to work to satisfy his need for community.
—Peter F. Drucker, Management251
Evidently, Paul was referring to this same dimension when discussing Christian ministry which I understand from my various reading. At any rate we at the cannery where I worked for years considered ourselves a "family," and my job as a "tote pusher" afforded me the experience of the yoked oxen. I developed a true friendship with my partners pushing the bins with 1800 lbs of product ten hours a day, season after season. And we had one serious conflict.

Our seniority is based on length of service and is a pretty workable system. After I'd pushed totes for a few years I had to train a new guy to the job. Fine. Well, it turned out that he had more seniority than I which resulted in certain privileges and first pick of choice position. Okay. Then I looked at the list to see that he was only two persons ahead of me. We started work at the same time, but they assigned our numbers according to when we called back after they phoned to hire us, and since he had his own phone but I had to go across the street to get my messages, he got in just ahead of me, barely. That didn't seem like much to place him ahead of me, but I had to honor the system.

Then when we'd screw up the job somehow, I'd get blamed because the floor leaders knew I had more experience. I didn't like that. But I can relate to it as being unequally yoked.

I did a different job for two or three years until he had as much experience pushing totes as I, and then I went back to do it with him and we developed that friendship bond. Note that I am not giving a Bible study to explain what Paul meant; I'm only saying that my reading and experience give me a feel for what's involved.

Today after the cannery's been closed for years, I've still hung around with the guy, having dinner together during the week. It's this friendship between yoked oxen that the agricultural society would well appreciate, so that Paul's exhortation can be construed as one against friendship with the world. It's friendship along the lines of Samson's saying, (Judges 14:18b) "And he said unto them, 'If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle,'" by which he meant only that out of friendship with his wife they found it out.

"That's what Paul says here, and he's referring to the Mosaic law where God says, You shall not yoke an ox and an ass together. Well, one is a clean animal and the other is an unclean animal. ... Now, how can you be yoked together? Well, marriage is one. An unbeliever and a believer should not marry. A clean animal and an unclean animal should not be joined together." Evidently the preacher is going back to OT prohibitions: (Deut. 22:9-10) "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together." I maintain here that an agricultural people are going to know that yoking oxen together is not equivalent to mating them—much less with two different species—, and that if Paul had wanted to address mixed marriage, the previous verse about, "not sow[ing] thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled," would have easily been more suitable. In fact others have done just that:

The term "pure" is never used biblically to denote an unmixed or unalloyed genealogical line or seed—with the possible exception of the verb form in Neh. 13:30—but Josephus uses the term this way, in reference to priests. In Ap. 1.7, he speaks of the priestly lineage of the Jews which has been kept "unmixed and pure" (aµiktauonu kai kathetaarhoónu). It is interesting to note that in Ant. 4.20. 228-30, he uses the same two terms to describe the Torah's prohibition against sowing seeds of diverse kinds. "The seeds are also to be pure and without mixture (kathetaarhoa ... kai anuepiíµiktaua), and not to be compounded of two or three sorts, since nature does not rejoice in the union of things that are not in their own nature alike: nor are you to permit beasts of different kinds to gender together." The linguistic similarity suggests a conceptual identity. Diverse human seeds, like diverse vegetable and animal seeds, are to remain unmixed and "pure." Nevertheless, according to Josephus it is the priestly seed that is in need of preservation and not that of the ordinary Israelite, who could, for example, marry a convert.
—Christine Hayes, "Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources"252

Recently published by Qimron and Strugnell, 253 4QMMT contains passages whose fragmentary natures make them difficult to construe, but which appear to bear directly upon our subject. B75-82 has been reconstructed by Qimron and Strugnell as:
   And concerning the practice of illegal marriage that exists among
   the people: (this practice exists) despite their being so[ns] of
   holy [seed], as is written, Israel is holy. And concerning his
   (that is, Israel's) [clean ani]mal, it is written that one must
   not let it mate with another species; and concerning his clothes
   [it is written that they should not] be of mixed stuff; and he
   must not sow his field and vine[yard with mixed specie]s.

To yoke animals is not to mix their seed, so it would make more sense, if that were what Paul was referring to, that he would have used the verse about diverse seeds coming right before the one on yoked animals that he did use. It's a puzzler how the preacher got marriage out of this passage, so let's look for insight in a reference Bible. Yes, our study-Bible 255 cross references the "unequally yoked" passage (II Cor. 6:14) to Deut. 7:2,3 which we will look at in its context: (Deut. 7:1-6) "When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." This is God's peculiar people told to destroy seven particular nations, not marry any of them, and how much does that apply today?

As Shaye Cohen demonstrated in 1983,256 the prohibition of Jewish intermarriage with all Gentiles is not Torah law. Torah prohibitions of intermarriage refer only to the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 7:3-4 and Exod. 34:11-15).257 The rabbis do not, in general, assert that a universal ban on intermarriage is Torah law. 258
Back to our preacher, "It's one thing to be yoked together in a permanent arrangement like marriage, or a partnership in business, or you identify yourself with a liberal school, or a liberal church—join it. ... And how you yoke together? Well, you're yoked together, my friend, in a long enterprise. And it's a very real union that is brought about. It's a relationship." He seems to be saying that Paul is also prohibiting long term business deals between believers and unbelievers. Since I don't see business mentioned in the biblical context, I shall turn again to my study-Bible for enlightenment: Sure enough, it cross references the "unequally yoked" verse (II Cor. 6:14) to I Cor. 5:9 which I will quote in context, (I Cor. 5:9-10) "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world." No, that seems to be saying the opposite of prohibiting us from doing business in the world, because Paul does not want us to go out of the world, so we would necessarily have to engage in its business, being we're in it. I had always been taught to put work conflicts into the framework of (II Kings 5:17-19) "And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way." If one has to violate his religion to please his employer, God will forgive him.

My boss at the radio station where I once worked told me of a disk jockey whom he'd told to announce on the air that they needed a rare type of blood to help someone involved in an accident. The announcement never happened. His DJ said it was against his faith as a Jehovah's Witness to have blood transfusions. He got fired right away, but I think God would have forgiven him had he made the announcement.

Curiously, my study-Bible does provide an additional insight in its preface to First Corinthians: "Some Christians needed to know whether or not they should attend the meetings of their trade guild, meetings held in the idol temples and involving meat offered to the idols (8:10)." According to First Corinthians, I would be allowed the same liberty as Naaman in Second Kings, with a proviso, (I Cor. 8:9-10) "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols?"

I do temporary contract sales work for a newspaper. One of the sales promotions I was given involved offering free T-shirts to new subscribers. The shirt had a picture of the American flag under which was written: One nation indivisible. I had corrected my flag at home, per instructions at church, to read: One nation under God, indivisible. I think I can offer the shirts the way the company wants them and be forgiven by God. Paul's proviso, though, is that I take care not to let this liberty stumble a weaker brother. I mean, I don't have to be excessive in the promotion, don't have to flaunt it.

As for the difference between a temporary contract salesman and a permanent contract one, I don't see how the rules applying to the one would be any different from the rules applying to the other in this matter. I don't see business arrangements being introduced here in II Corinthians 6 any more than marriage.

One issue of the Watchtower featured a story about a businessman who converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. He told his non-JW partner he had to leave that business so he wouldn't be unequally yoked with him. The man didn't want him to leave, but he did. The JW's extolled his decision to no end. I thought that's just like a cult, not wanting competition from any other source of loyalty, so perverting scripture to make their point.

I teamed up with a girl at a local Market. She does artwork but her website was a mess. I have an extensive website but needed pictures for it. So we've been exchanging services. I manage her site and she produces artwork for mine.

hippie chickBy and by, I asked her to do a picture of a hippie for my ever popular "Hippies and Rock 'n' Roll in the Bible." Can you imagine my shock when she did a hippie chick wearing a peace sign! I told her I couldn't use it because that was a satanic symbol for a broken cross. She explained how it was an international symbol for peace in its own right. So I put in on my page but told her to draw another without the peace sign.

By and by, an MSN discussion group posted representative pictures of hippies from the web and they included that one. As long as people were classing that picture as a hippie with a peace sign, not as an occult symbol, I figured I'd leave it up. My reference is 1 Cor. 8, if I know the idol (symbol) has no power in and of itself, and if my liberty is not stumbling anybody, then I can go ahead and use it. I post a contact e-mail address on every page, and nobody has complained.

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Well, I spent an inordinate amount of time exchanging links both for my site and (not quite as much time) for her site. After a while I decided to check Google's search engine ranking for our sites. On a scale of 0 to 10 my site was ranked at 2. Well, that was progress, so I checked to see how hers was doing. Hers was a 4. How could that be?

I finally figured it out. Since she was a Saturday Market vendor, Saturday Market's site had a link to hers. Sat. Mkt's link page had a raking of 5. That link to her increased her from a 2 to a 4. Since I wasn't a vendor, I didn't have a link from Sat. Mkt and my site remained a 2.

Rather than get bummed out about it, I put a link from her site to my site. When Google saw it they increased my ranking to 3. All in all, I was pretty happy.

But she didn't like having a link from her site to a religious website as she wasn't at all religious. Furthermore, the search engines included wording from the title of my site she links to along with a description of her site. She didn't want that at all and made me take off the link.

I didn't like that at all. I figured that since I put all that work into getting her a respectable page rank, I should be able to benefit from a link to mine. So I read my computer books and found out how to re-title my site's name from her link so the title would be secular as related to her site. Then I wrote a Javascript program to transfer anyone arriving at my site from hers to go to a non-religious alternate page. She could live with that, so I keep my ranking and we're all happy.

Now, the party line is: of course, that is what happens when a Christian partners up with a nonchristian. You have different sets of values and modes of operating that'd eventually end up in conflict. That's why Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 6 not to be unequally yoked. My story could serve as an illustration.

I say, wait a minute! I learned what to do from 1 Cor. 8 and from some computer books. First Corinthians is in the canon, isn't it? We expect to learn from it how to apply biblical principles to our lives. That's all I did is apply a biblical principle (and some programming techniques). Our expectations include having these eternal principles to apply to the changing world we live in. If one can no longer apply the principles in 1st Corinthians once Paul has written 2nd Corinthians, we can hardly call them eternal, now, can we?

Now before this, I had teamed up with another girl who operated at the Market and who had a church in her house. I was a Sunday school teacher at her church. I developed the electronic gadgets to improve one's health according to her quack sources. By and by, I became dissatisfied. The gadget didn't work on me when I needed it. But besides that, she had parties at her house where she invited new-age practitioners to do their things. Also, instead of following the biblical principles we'd studied in Sunday school, she followed the principles from the women's lib meetings she attended. I couldn't take it any more, so I quit associating with her. The Bible does tell us not to be unequally yoked and it had gotten to be a bit much for me, the mixture. It would be like if at our church's Summer Celebration, we had a booth for Tarot card readings, a women's lib booth, a gay pride booth, and a Planned Parenthood booth. I'd probably slip a note into the elders box saying I don't know if we really should include all that stuff at our celebration. Doesn't the Bible say, like, to be a separate people and not include all the heathen practices along with ours?

Wait a second. Isn't Paul contradicting himself? Well, he makes a big deal in the beginning of 2nd Corinthians that he is being straight with us, not tricky or deceitful. Peter, tells us, though, that Paul is hard to be understood and he can be misinterpreted. Let's see. In First Corinthians he tells them to put out of their fellowship the fornicating brother. In 2nd Corinthians, though, he tells them to welcome him back in. But we see the condition, that the brother had repented. I mean, if someone said there was a brother caught committing fornication and wondered what to do about it, and we told him that according to 2nd Corinthians, we should warmly welcome him into our fellowship I think we'd be missing the point of distinction.

Let's see what the difference is between 1st & 2nd Corinthians. In 1st Corinthians, Paul tells us (ch. 5:9-10) that we may associate with character-flawed nonChristians, that a Christian may maintain a marriage to a nonchristian (ch. 7:12-17) so long as the unbeliever is willing, that we can compromise with the heathen in the workplace (ch. 8) as long as we're doing it in faith and not stumbling someone, that we can compromise in the marketplace (ch. 10:25-26) and in entertainment (ch. 10:27) for the same reason, and as long as we don't ask too many questions. In 2nd Corinthians, though, he tells us—very strongly—not to be unequally yoked. If he has not, like, changed his mind, then what's the point of difference?

Probably 1st Cor. 10:15-24 where including offerings to idols in the Lord's supper are verboten. While in the other areas above some compromise is allowed, it is not there. In my own experience, it was those places where communion was served—the ministry center, the lady's church in her home—that I found myself unable to accommodate a mixture with unbelievers.

The final cross reference on the "unequally yoked" verse is to I Kings 18:21. (I Kings 18:21) "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word." Here the issue of sorting out which God/god to follow which is what Christian ministry is supposed to deal with, so we see the "unequally yoked" passage introduced in such a way as to be consistent with Christian ministry from its own context, but not with, say, marriage or business.

One cross reference I would have liked to have seen in this "unequally yoked" passage would be to (Phil 4:3) "And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life." "And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, ..." obviously relates to yoking, and it strengthens the idea of the Christian ministry application, but the study-Bible author went further afield.

The preacher himself talks about possibly joining to various Christian ministries, and remembers that "Paul ... says,

'what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?'
Well, I certainly don't have any part with them. I'm not joined with them permanently in anything. And I trust you're not. But I'm not going to sit in judgment now of some man today that are doing things differently than I do. Now, verse sixteen. 'And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?' And now he's talking against idolatry. And certainly we couldn't join with an idolater. 'For ye are the temple of the living God; and God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'"

Here my study-Bible gives some cross references, the first being to (Lev. 26:12) "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." Seems to be what Paul was referring to. Now, let's look at it in context: (Lev 26:2-12) "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD. If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; then ... And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people." Seems to me that in talking about "keep[ing] my sabbaths, and reverenc[ing] my sanctuary," it is relevant to the Christian ministry that happens in church on Sunday.

The other cross reference from my study-Bible on this verse is (Exodus 29:45) "And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God." Yes, quite likely it is what Paul was quoting. Now, taking that one in its context, (Exodus 29:42-45) "This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God." There it is talking about, "the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office," so I guess this too is dealing with Christian ministry, the place where we are commanded to not be unequally yoked.

Continuing the preacher's message: "You see, the temple of God today is the human body of a believer; who are the temple of the Holy Spirit. 'Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.' Paul's talking here definitely about idolatry." My study-Bible has a cross reference to this verse: (Isaiah 52:11) "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD." Talking about "bear[ing] the vessels of the Lord" is also a reference to Christian ministry, so Paul is at least being consistent with himself if not with the preacher.

This verse in Isaiah comes just four verses after the famous (Isaiah 52:7) "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" which is used in the NT (Romans 10:15) to represent the spreading of the gospel, and so conforms to the starting verse of this section, (II Cor 5:20a) "Now then we are the ambassadors for Christ, ...," going into (II Cor 6:1a) "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also ...," which in turn goes to (vs. 13b) "... be ye also enlarged," and back to Isaiah by way of verse 14, being a true yokefellow.

Returning to the preacher: "My friend, don't be a Christian unless you mean it. Don't go around and say, Jesus satisfies, when He's really not satisfying ya. This is what Paul is talking, 'Wherefore come out from among them, be ye separate, saith the Lord, touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.' In other words you will be a son and daughter that ... in honor you, you see." My study-Bible has two cross references to this verse (18). The first is (Hosea 1:10) "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God." A good match, but again let us take it in context:

(Hosea 1:2-10) "The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. ... Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God."
An example of a prophet marrying "a wife of whoredoms" and naming his son "not my people" is hardly one to exemplify marriage to a true believer. The best we can say is that he was marrying in the Lord according to God's commandment and purpose.

The other cross reference is to (Isaiah 43:6) "I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;" An excellent match, but let's be sure to keep it in its context,

(Isaiah 43:1-6) "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. ... Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;"
Such a section of scripture would hardly support the idea that one cannot survive troubles, troubles from marriage, troubles from a mixed marriage, or any other kinds of troubles.

In conclusion Paul is consistent in talking about Christian ministry where one dare not be unequally yoked in it to unbelievers, and the idea of applying it to business or marriage was added by the preacher, not by comparing the quotations to their OT sources, but almost in spite of them. This is not to say there are not a lot of ill advised marriages and business arrangements—there are—, but that Paul is opening his heart here on another matter. The misapplication to business or marriage follows the preacher's own description:

Now, he begins to talk about something that's quite important. And yet here is a section that probably has been abused more, and there're some that have interpreted and make it hard as nails: ... unyielding, unloving. And yet what Paul is talking about is coming from a tender heart of a man whose heart was breaking, and a great concern for these folks. And I want you to notice this, because I think it's very important to see. He says here,
	Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath
	righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

I believe we would better understand Paul if we looked at some of the material available to him and reflecting his times.
The author of Jubilees shows himself to stand in a line of tradition that stretches back to the Holiness Code and other Torah sources through Ezra. For both Ezra and Jubilees, Israel is a holy seed, and intermingling the holy seed has serious consequences. While Ezra emphasizes the profanation and sacrilege that result from intermarriage, Jubilees places emphasis on intermarriage as an act of zenut that not only profanes but defiles the holy seed of Israel (indeed, in that book the two terms may be conflated), in addition to defiling the sanctuary, profaning God's holy name and threatening the entire community. Because such intercourse constitutes the sin of zenut (an illegal or inappropriate sexual union) the impurity generated is moral impurity. ...

Copies of Jubilees have been found at Qumran, indicating the importance of that work to the Qumran sectarians. It should occasion little surprise, then, that views of intermarriage found in Jubilees and previously in Ezra also find expression in 4QMMT, a halakic document that sets out various points of disagreement between the sect and its opponents. ... Recently published by Qimron and Strugnell,259 4QMMT contains passages whose fragmentary natures make them difficult to construe, but which appear to bear directly upon our subject.

Because so many otherwise sincere and intelligent Christians have been "hard as nails" in trying to apply the "unequally yoked" passage to marriage, I suggest my reader take in the whole article: Christine Hayes, Yale University, "Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources," in Harvard Theological Review, January, 1999, pp. 3ff.

Paul was not from a religious milieu concerned with physical contact with a Gentile in marriage being ipso facto unclean ("touch not the unclean thing"), but one that had a "fear of profaning the holy seed of Israel."261 Therefore his answer in First Corinthians 7, and perhaps the question itself, dealt directly with the matter of the holiness of the offspring, from which status the cleanness of the union would derive.

(I Cor. 7:12-14) "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
The author of the notes in my study-Bible, the pastor who kept seeing in Second Corinthians advice on whom one may marry, sees nothing implicit in whom one may marry from this passage in First Corinthians. His note on verse 14 reads:
7:14  The case to which Paul addresses himself is that of two non-Christians who married; then one was converted. The new Christian, knowing it to be wrong for a believer to marry an unbeliever, wonders whether or not the relationship with his unconverted partner makes him unacceptable to God, "unclean." The answer is that God still honors the marriage for the sake of the believing partner. In a ritualistic sense, the believer's "cleanness" overpowers the unbeliever's "uncleanness," and the relationship may continue. Of course, the non-Christian still needs to be saved (v. 16). Thus "sanctification" does not refer to the personal standing of the unbelieving partner but to the sanctity of the marriage.
The earlier article I referred to makes the point that it was not Gentile ritual impurity that was the problem, but the unholiness of the seed. Since Paul declares the seed of a Christian/non-Christian union to be holy, the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believer.

As for "the new Christian knowing it to be wrong for a believer to marry an unbeliever," it seems to me that certain commentators take a lot for granted, and some will "know" it to be wrong despite any argument or proof. We don't have the original question, to say nothing of the state of mind of the questioner. What we perhaps do know from the referred-to article is that the underlying question is whether the seed of such a union would be holy. That it is makes the rest of it (marriage, engagement, etc) right.

Again, it might help to just look at the context of the rest of the epistle. When I read the first letter to the Corinthians, I see (ch. 3:21f) "For all things are yours, ... whether the world, ... or things present, or things to come." The Bible does say that.  In the context of the same letter Paul explains that a marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian is sanctified, an instance of the world being ours.  The sanctification is derived from the offspring of such a union being holy, which is the case whether one was converted after marrying the unbeliever or was a Christian beforehand, "things present or things to come."

Then further down the page when Paul is discussing widows, after he has moved past the mixed marriage issue, he says, (I Cor. 7:39) "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."

Now, I want to examine how marrying "only in the Lord" relates to my own experiences.  In my case it was a virtual minefield trying to go with a girl at the plant, and had I not waited to start dating her until she was no longer under my authority in my crew, I could have compromised my witness and thus would not be able to marry her in the Lord.

Perhaps another example would be easier for you to see: There was a guest on a show telling of his experience.  He was a young high school teacher.  He waited until a female student was graduated and then wrote her a letter saying she could disregard it if she wanted but he thought she was his ideal woman.  They courted and married, and on the show looked like they were doing fine.

Say you're a principal of a high school and one of the teachers wanted to marry a student, "only in the Lord." He probably couldn't until she'd been graduated.

Okay, these are only some modern examples, so let's look at Ireland in the seventh century:

'Fidelma,' she said with a sudden rush, 'I am disposed to take a husband.'

Fidelma's eyes widened but she said nothing. Clergy, even bishops, took spouses; even the religious of houses, whether mixed or not, could have wives and husbands, under Brehon law and custom. But the position of an abbot and abbess was in a different category for they were usually bound to celibacy. Such was the rule at Kildare. It was the Irish custom that the coerb, or successor to the founder of an abbey, should always be chosen in the kindred of the founder. Since abbots and abbesses were not expected to have direct issue, the successor was chosen from a collateral branch. But if, in the collateral branches, no religious was found fit to be elected, then a secular member of the coarb was elected as lay abbot or abbess. Etain claimed relation to the family of Brigit of Kildare.

'It would mean giving up Kildare and returning to being an ordinary religious,' Fidelma pointed out eventually when Etain made no further comment.

Etain nodded. 'I have thought of this long and hard on my journey here. To cohabit with a stranger will be difficult, especially after one has been alone for so long. Yet when I arrived here, I realized that my mind was made up. I have exchanged the traditional betrothal gifts. The matter is now decided.

—Peter Tremayne, Absolution by Murder262
Maybe you and I don't completely understand "Brehon law and custom," not to mention the laws and customs throughout time and in every place, including Corinth in the early Christian era, but we should be familiar with our own in whatever situation we find ourselves and to marry contrary to it is questionable at best, and without extenuating circumstances not, strictly speaking, in the Lord.

I don't think that exhausts the matter because even if I'm following all the customs and laws, I'd better be truthful. Marrying in the Lord means being sincere with one's partner-to-be. The basis of courtship has largely changed from Bible times:

One of the clearest indications of the change is in the area of courtship and marriage. In most horticultural, herding, agrarian, and maritime societies, marriage was thought of largely in economic terms (and in the governing class, in political terms as well). This was reflected in the practice of arranged marriages, in which the parents took the major responsibility for deciding whom their son or daughter would marry, and in the requirement of a bride price or a dowry. ... ¶ By contrast, people in industrial societies view marriage largely in romantic terms.
—Lenski and Lenski, Human Societies263
I would think that even in arranged marriages there would need to be a certain sincerity among the people involved if the marriage were to be "in the Lord," because, after all, it's a sin to lie.

Even if the couple has got it together with each other and with contemporary law and custom, there's still the vertical dimension, as J.B. Phillips renders marrying only in the Lord, "but let her be guided by the Lord." I would think that having a prophet sanction a marriage would be a good indication, and although we don't use prophets much these days, I'm told they were more common when Paul wrote his Corinthian letter(s), so perhaps marrying in the Lord to them meant having a prophet bless the arrangement. I suspect that even today with our reliance on a written scripture (but who reads it?) a lot of people going down the road to matrimony look for signs along the way. Be that as it may, our policy today to get the guidance of the Lord is to have the church counsel a couple that wants to marry, so they at least have an idea of what they are getting into, what to a believer marriage is about. It is here in this expected counsel, I believe the long string of objections I hear raised concerning marrying an unbeliever should be addressed. If it is in fact too much of a problem to face, then they'd decide not to go through with it, right? I just don't see the need to eliminate this step, to throw out a nonbeliever before giving him a chance.

Now, when I read I Corinthians, I see Paul addressing folks who are somewhat on the ball, (ch. 1:5) "That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge," so that they'd pretty much be expected to follow the guidelines above without having them spelled out, so that I cannot ignore them even though they are not specifically mentioned here. And if he does mention to the widow to marry only in the Lord, he is only nudging a weak vessel so that she doesn't ignore what she knows better than to do if she is man hungry. Paul doesn't mention it to the rest and doesn't elaborate to the widow, so I just use the brains God gave me to see what he was getting at.

Sometime after I've read Paul's First Corinthian letter I would be reading Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. I've got it under my belt that a Christian is allowed to intermarry with the unsaved. I read that Paul is (ch. 4:2) "not handling the word of God deceitfully." I remember from the OT where (Gen 34:13-16) "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister, .. If ye be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will become one people." They went back on their word which is why they were deceitful. I don't expect Paul to suddenly reverse himself, and when I read about not being unequally yoked, I no more relate it to marriage than my conflict with the new guy to my girlfriend at the plant. They were two different animals: being unequally yoked with the guy when he had more seniority but I more experience, and going with the girl "in the Lord." When I read about the two in two different epistles, I don't look at them crosseyed.

Going next to the widow marrying "only in the Lord," the parallel passage reads (I Tim 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." Man hungry Marrying in the Lord means keeping ones first faith in the process, I would think. Nothing is mentioned about the husband at all. Again, my study-Bible has missed this obvious cross reference.

We might also add that if a widow rejects the proposals of ninety nine Christian men to marry the one lost sheep who asks her, and we criticize her for not marrying in the Lord, it could be that we just don't understand the Lord's priorities. Some Christians contort the verse "only in the Lord" to try to refute Paul's clear teaching on mixed marriage, but that's not honest exegesis. I really don't think the apostle meant the widow had to marry only a Christian man.

"But," said the Lady Matilda, "is there no duty on the part of the true Christian to try to convert and lead to safety those who are going down the paths of damnation? Is Sir Dermot always to be condemned to the presence of the women of the tavern and the inn—the wenches of St. Germain? Does Mother Church forbid any other kind of women to associate with him? Are we to gain Heaven selfishly, ignoring the perils and struggles of others? Or are we to gain Heaven risking Hell—out of a Christian regard for the welfare of our fellows?"
—Leonard Wibberly, Beware the MouseHREF="notes.htm#ENDNOTE264">264
Review the earlier teaching on mixed marriage if you still have problems.

And don't we give Christians a great deal of latitude how they work out their own marriages without affecting church doctrine? Like:

Seeing Phyllis release The Radiant Smile as they entered a crowded, festive room, and seeing how other, kindred smiles were released, in their direction, Terence felt himself blessed. I have married my salvation.
—Rosamond Smith, Double Delight265
Neither that nor a hundred other ways a believer sees his marriage troubles us.

Furthermore, I don't object at all to a brother or sister marrying another Christian. The Lord is able to make him stand. To use a gambling analogy,

It made sense to me. He just stuck to the basics, and everything else fell into place. His rule in gambling, for instance, had always been that a man ought to be allowed to bet as much money as he came walking in with.

"That's the ole time way of doin' it," he once said. "Players never gave me no trouble. I treat 'em nice and fairly. I never said a cross word to a player. The only people I don't like is the ones that try to snatch my money away. There's always been troublemakers. Everythin' ain't perfect."

—Barney Vinson, Las Vegas Behind the Tables, Part 2266
A gambler should be allowed to play according to as much money as he has in his pocket, and a Christian according to his faith. Courtesy and tolerance is the rule. The troublemaker is the one who tries to snatch away the faith of others. We're not perfect.

Otherwise, we may end up with a doubtful disputation similar to the Pharisees and Jesus.

The nature of the difference [between Jesus and the Pharisees] is made clear only in the light of the two opposing understandings of God. For the Pharisees, God is primarily one who makes demands; for Jesus he is gracious and compassionate. The Pharisee does not, of course, deny God's goodness and love, but for him these were expressed in the gift of the Torah [Law] and in the possibility of fulfilling what is there demanded. ... Adherence to the oral tradition, with its rules for interpreting the law, was seen by the Pharisee as the way to the fulfillment of the Torah. ... Jesus' elevation of the double command of love (Matt. 22:34-40) to the level of a norm of interpretation and his rejection of the binding nature of oral tradition ... led him into conflict with Pharisaic casuistry.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology267
I'm starting from the position that God is "gracious and compassionate." He has already forbidden fornication for some very good reasons. Marriage is the normal way to escape such sin. But on that side he has forbidden divorce, except as a lesser evil for unbelievers with an unregenerated heart. Being gracious and compassionate he allows believers a wide scope in selecting mates they can live with; he even sanctifies mixed marriages; God is gracious and compassionate. That's the normal way to interpret Paul's exposition in Cor. 7.

From the Pharisee's starting point of a demanding God, Paul's command in II Cor., to be not unequally yoked extends to marriage, nullifying Paul's earlier teaching. This was like the oral traditions with their demands covering up the word as Jesus understood it. To refer this debate to the verse, "only in the Lord," is to exit the frying pan for the fire.

From a study of Biblical and secular evidence, we can conclude that the Pharisees thought highly of themselves as guardians of the public good and the national welfare. They were not satisfied that God's law was fundamentally clear and easily understood. Wherever the Law seemed to them to be unspecific, they sought to plug apparent gaps with defined applications to eliminate any need for conscience. These religious leaders attempted to devise a precept to govern conduct in all issues, even trivialities.
—"Learn From Me," Watchtower268
That the widow (and the rest of us) marries "only in the Lord" is a public good and general welfare that the religious leaders seek to promote, and with such an unspecific expression they are not going to leave it to our conscience—that's for sure—, but will plug the gap with a defined application such as we read in the New International Version™, "but he [her husband selection] must belong to the Lord," at which point I cry foul! From our Romans 14 (to 15:7) framework the brother who eateth not is not supposed to judge him that eateth. If he rewrites a Bible version (NIV™, etc.) to forbid what the scripture allows, we cannot use that version as the standard of faith in that matter.

But, wait. Understanding "only in the Lord" means having a broad general understanding of m-f relationships, and lacking that, a man is not qualified for high office, (I Timothy 3:5) "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" Therefore I cannot trust the NIV™ (and its ilk) as a standard for faith in any matter.

In trying to resolve the differences between popular teaching and the Bible, I also want to check a good commentary.269

14-18. Warning Against Pagan Entanglements (including also 71). This passage so obviously breaks into the sequence of thought which would otherwise flow smoothly from 613 to 72-4, that it is generally taken to be a fragment of another letter, probably the letter270 referred to in 1 Cor. 59. (For the possibility that loose papyrus sheets became detached, and were wrongly replaced when the Pauline correspondence was collected and edited at a later stage, see G. Milligan, The N.T. Documents, pp. 181f.) Mixed marriages and all compromising entanglements with pagans are deprecated on the ground of moral incompatibility. Some of his readers seem to have taken the prohibition too stringently, and to have understood it as forbidding any kind of social or business connections with their pagan neighbors. This misunderstanding was corrected by Paul, 1 Cor. 510.

Here sadly is where the modern translations which I do not generally approve of could have done us a favor by using current language which allows the connection in our minds between the two sections that the ancient reader had.


Epistles to the Corinthians

... The parenthetical section (2 Cor. vi, 14 - vii, 2), ... seems to have been inserted as an afterthought ... It was added, according to Bernard272 , to prevent a misconception of the expression used in vi, 11, 13, "our heart is enlarged . . . be ye also enlarged", which in the O. T. had the bad meaning of being too free with infidels.
Obviously, if the order and context of this teaching is changed, the message will be changed also. Our most modern scholarship does not vindicate the multiplied letter viewpoint.
II Corinthians Less easily dated, Paul's follow-up letter, dispatched from Macedonia some months after I Corinthians, may be one of a regular series of communications, the rest of which have not survived. Most certainly, there has been a sharply critical exchange that has provoked anguish among beloved followers. Thus, the reader hears only one side of a situation that presses Paul to the limits of patience and understanding. Like arriving in the middle of a movie, the reader can only guess the charges and failings the apostle must deal with long distance and in writing rather than face to face as they map out the new faith.
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Encyclopedia of World Scriptures273
The perceived lack of continuity is explainable in terms of missing epistles and writing under pressure. Second Corinthians reads as a continuous whole document if one reads it that way. If instead one holds some preconceived ideas that 2nd Corinthians disagrees with, then, of course, there is always the temptation to rewrite the Bible to agree with ones own position. I have an unlikely ally in holding with a continuous II Corinthians, the Introduction to it in the New International Version™:

Some have questioned the unity of this letter (see note on 2:3-4), but it forms a coherent whole, as the structure (above) shows. Tradition has been unanimous in affirming its unity (the early church fathers, e.g., knew the letter only in its present form). Furthermore, none of the early Greek manuscripts breaks up the book.
For that matter, the NIV™'s Introduction to First Corinthians sets the stage well enough that an exhortation not to be yoked together with heathen in their religious practices will find plenty of targets without trying to apply it to marriage:
	    3. Its religion. Corinth contained at least 12 temples. Whether
	  they were all in use during Paul's time is not known for certain. One
	  of the most infamous was the temple dedicated to Aphrodite, the
	  goddess of love, whose worshipers practiced religious prostitution.
	  About a fourth of a mile north of the theater stood the temple of
	  Asclepius, the god of healing, and in the middle of the city the
	  sixth-century B.C. temple of Apollo was located. In addition, the Jews
	  had established a synagogue; the inscribed lintel of it has been found
	  and placed in the museum at old Corinth.

	    4. Its immorality. Like any large commercial city, Corinth was a
	  center for open and unbridled immorality. The worship of Aphrodite
	  fostered prostitution in the name of religion. At one time 1,000
	  sacred prostitutes served her temple. So widely known did the
	  immorality of Corinth become that the Greek verb "to Corinthianize"
	  came to mean "to practice sexual immorality." In a setting like this
	  it is no wonder that the Corinthian church was plagued with numerous
	  problems.  Paul had received information from several sources concerning
	  the conditions existing in the church at Corinth. ...
	  Some of those who had come had brought disturbing information
	  concerning moral irregularities in the church (chs. 5-6).
	  Immorality had plagued the Corinthian assembly almost from the beginning.
	  From 5:9-10 it is apparent that Paul had written previously concerning
	  moral laxness. He had urged believers "not to associate with sexually
	  immoral people" (5:9). Because of misunderstanding he now finds it
	  necessary to clarify his instruction (5:10-11) and to urge immediate
	  and drastic action (5:3-5,13).

	  Other Corinthian visitors had brought a letter from the church that
	  requested counsel on several subjects (see 7:1; cf. 8:1; 12:1; 16:1).

Okay, let's hear from another preacher who will pay attention to the context.

The Historical Background And The Comparison in Thought of the Biblical Command(s) In ... II Corinthians 6:14

By: Carl Lawrenz
Dear brethren in the ministry, you have asked me to present an essay on the historical background and the comparison in thought of the biblical command(s) in ... II Corinthians 6:14. The thought behind your assignment is a very proper one. We will not want to lose sight of the context in which the various Biblical precepts are expressed lest we apply them in a way that is not warranted. The thought of carefully examining the historical background of the very passages mentioned or listed in your assignment is, however, not a new one. These passages are some of the leading passages in which members of the Synodical Conference have through all these years found divine commands bidding them to withhold an expression of church fellowship. Particularly during the last twenty years there has been a great deal of inducement for a careful examination and re-study of these passages. Dr. Reu's essay, In the Interest of Lutheran Unity, sent out also to every pastor of our synod in 1940, was such a challenge for study; for in this essay he questioned the traditional Synodical Conference application of many of these passages. Also a challenge for re-study was the publication and dissemination of Speaking the Truth in Love by the Missourian Statementarians in 1945; so was Dr. Theodore Graebner's pamphlet on Prayer Fellowship; so in general has been the entire growing impact of the Ecumenical Movement, especially also as it manifested itself in the trend toward closer alignment of Lutheran church bodies not yet fully united in doctrine and practice. There is this challenge to careful examination also in the most recent Missouri Synod presentation of Principles Governing the Exercise of Fellowship:

While the church today must seek to live, as it must seek to live in every age, in obedience to the apostolic Word, it cannot simply revive or reproduce the conditions of apostolic times. The apostolic indicatives and imperatives concerning the church cannot be automatically transferred to present-day confessional-organizational groupings. Rather, their intent must be faithfully understood and brought to bear on the altered and complex contemporary situation.

Those serving on our synod's Commission on Doctrinal Matters, or as we formerly simply called it, the Union Committee, were therefore frequently called upon, directly and indirectly, formally and informally, to re-examine the historical background and the context of the passages listed in your assignment, because either our own application had been contested outside of our synod or because confusion concerning these precepts and their relation to one another had arisen in our own synodical circles. It was particularly my venerable teacher and present colleague, Professor John Meyer, who was frequently called upon to lead us in such a re-examination of these vital passages from ... 2 Corinthians. He was particularly qualified to lead us because of his thorough knowledge of his Greek New Testament and his rich study of New Testament historical backgrounds. These studies in which the rest of us learned from him and with him have been made available in Quartalschrift articles, particularly his article on Prayer Fellowship, his ... running commentary on II Corinthians.

A caution needs to be expressed, however, against the over-emphasis on historical background. Some Scriptural precepts are of a very general nature expressing God's holy will as it pertains to some phase of conduct and remains quite unchanged for any pertinent situation. The historical background in which the general precept was set forth may still be of value in helping us fully to grasp what the abiding holy will is that has been set forth in a general way. Still the historical background is in this case of minor importance and the general precept may also be understood quite satisfactorily even though the immediate context in which it was expressed is not fully known. General principles and directives are very often found in a context that is very concrete and specific. This does not mean, however, that the principle only applies in an identical situation.

Consider I Samuel 16:7: "For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." This general truth certainly has a very wide application and is not merely pertinent when someone is choosing a king. In other instances, of course, general directives are found in specific contexts in which the context leaves its imprint upon some aspects of the directive. Yet the directive with necessary qualification applies over a wider area, far beyond the scope of its particular context. Consider II John 9-11: "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Embedded in this passage is a general precept to withhold fellowship from persistent errorists. For the reason adduced for withholding such fellowship, "For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds," would apply equally well to any persistent errorist. Yet the judgment on the errorists involved that they do not have God pertains only to the type of errorist with whom John's readers were dealing.

Besides general directives there are, however, also other commands and precepts in Scripture which give counsel to very specific individuals in very concrete life situations. These precepts and commands likewise have a message for us in our own life situations; like all Scripture these practical precepts have been written for our learning. Yet the message lies in the underlying principles out of which the very specific and concrete precept is addressed to a specific individual in a very definite situation in life. Here the historical background is generally much more vital in establishing what the underlying Scriptural principles really are, and in determining what is purely incidental, applying to the specific case. We need to determine whether any of the passages listed in this assignment are of that nature or whether they all involve direct assertion of general principles. ...

Still left is the discussion of the historical background and the significance of II Corinthians 6:14. Our Commission on Doctrinal Matters has not quoted this passage in its Fellowship Theses. Nevertheless it is frequently quoted in the context of fellowship matters, especially over against syncretistic endeavors or practices.

Content analyses of 2 Corinthians very generally place this passage into the final portion of the first section of the letter comprising the first seven chapters. In these seven chapters the Apostle Paul seeks to regain the love and confidence of the Corinthians by endeavoring to remove some false conceptions which they have regarding him and his actions, and above all by exalting the glory of his New Testament ministry with which he ministered to the awakening of Christian faith in their own hearts. The final portion of this first main part is chapter 6:11-16 in which the passage under consideration occurs.

This part begins with the words (6:11): "Oh ye Corinthians; our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged." Phillips quite correctly and idiomatically translates: 'We are hiding nothing from you and our hearts are absolutely open to you.' Yes, in those first chapters, the seven that precede it, Paul had talked very frankly to the Corinthians; he had kept nothing back.

Professor Meyer in his Quartalschrift commentary on the epistle sums up the apostle's thoughts set forth in these seven chapters as follows: "Some of the trouble in Corinth had started from the fact that Paul had changed his travel plans; at least, his detractors made this charge an excuse for questioning Paul's sincerity, and then also for casting suspicion and doubt on his Gospel message.

"Paul did not brush this aside as too childish; he took up the charge, and in a very friendly way explained the matter. Paul maintained that he does not make his plans in a careless way, nor does he, on the other hand, stubbornly stick to a plan once he has made it. He is serious in making his plans, but they are subject to revision by God's over-ruling providence. In this case he had changed his plans out of consideration for the Corinthians, to spare them (and himself) some very embarrassing moments. Moreover, his personal plans have nothing whatsoever to do with the Gospel which he proclaims. The Gospel is the faithful word of the faithful God, resting on the unshakable foundation of Christ's redemption.

"The fact that he changed his plans is only a minor point anyway; far greater weaknesses may be found in connection with his person. He is an earthen vessel; but this fact will serve to set forth with all the more compelling force the divine power of the Gospel of Christ. In bringing the Gospel to the people, Paul does not, and does not have to resort to trickery; he is not 'selling' the Gospel for personal gain or glory; he is bringing it as healing balm to mortally wounded consciences. If it does not save them, that is their own fault because they permitted the god of this world utterly to blind their hearts. But this will not induce Paul to change his methods or to supplement the Gospel message in some other way in an endeavor to make it more palatable to the people. No, he does not grow weary—an understatement—rather, all the more strenuous, under a constraining Christ-like love, will he labor untiringly that the glorious Gospel of God be not received in vain."

On the basis of these facts which Paul had frankly discussed in his letter so far, he can now say: Our heart is wide (expanded, roomy). He kardia hemon peplatuntai. The Corinthians may have felt that Paul had little room for them in his heart, that other people came first and held the first place in interest and in his affection; they may have felt that if they wished to get into his heart they would find it rather cramped. Paul assured them that there was lots of room for them in his heart. He had showed his deep concern for them. It had made him plead with them not to receive the grace of God in vain. It had made him postpone his visit to avoid an embarrassing situation. It had made him pass up a splendid missionary opportunity in Troas. It had also given him full confidence in them concerning the case of discipline which they had on their hands, the incest case.

The shoe fit on the other foot. Paul says in verse 12: "Ye are not straightened in us, but ye are straightened in your own bowels." He goes on to say in verse 13, "Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children), be ye also enlarged." The RSV translation of these verses is probably more readily understood: "Ye are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return—I speak as to children—widen your heart also." Paul means to say: You Corinthians imagine that we lack interest in you because you yourselves have allowed other interests to occupy your heart and thus crowd the interest in the Gospel and therewith a correct evaluation of our work and of our concern for you into some corner. You are receiving into your hearts some elements which vitiate the Gospel and which crowd it and its true messengers out of your heart. So Paul is holding back nothing. He has spoken frankly. His interest and concern for the welfare of the Corinthians is as fervent as ever. Now Paul asks them for a return favor. He wants them to reward him with the same complete candor. This reward shall consist in this, that they copy him and walk in his footsteps, that they conduct themselves over against him and the Gospel, which brought them to faith, just as he conducted himself over against them. In order to achieve this, namely that Paul and his Gospel will again have an uncramped position in the hearts of the Corinthians, they will have to throw out some of the things which they have admitted to a greater or lesser degree by listening to Paul's detractors, the false Judaizing prophets that had come to Corinth. Paul writes in verse 14: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Me ginesthe heterotzugountes apistois. Prof. Meyer gives the happy translation: Do not become mismatched yokefellows with unbelievers. Paul alludes to Deut. 22:10. In itself there may have been no wrong in having an ox and an ass join their efforts under the same yoke. In the Mosaic Law God had, however, declared the one to be clean and the other to be ceremonially unclean. This separation in the Old Testament discipline was also not outwardly to be ignored. Paul applies the principle in asserting that believers and unbelievers are not to be yoked together. If this happens in any venture it will always be at the expense of the truth. If the unbeliever would accept the truth he would no longer be an unbeliever. He may vary the shade of his error but no matter whether it is an error of the deepest dye, or whether it shows only faintly, it still remains an error, and opposes the truth.

When Paul speaks about unbelievers he does not have a weak brother in mind. The minds of true believers may be tinged with deep and dangerous delusions, but since they are in all humility and prayerfully seeking the truth and willing to be instructed by the Word of God, they are not unbelievers. The Corinthians knew what to do in the case of weak brethren. Paul had devoted several chapters in his First Epistle to this problem. Here he had the false teachers in mind who had disturbed the peace in Corinth and undermined his apostolic ministry. One thing needs to be remembered, however, that they claimed to be ministers of Christ (11:23). In their own estimation their work for Christ was superior to that of Paul. In irony Paul calls them super-fine apostles (11:5). They pretended to preach the Gospel in a more perfect form than Paul. But the warning which Paul addressed to his Galatian churches applied in the present case likewise; these people preached another Gospel which is not another, Gal. 1:8-9. Concerning such Paul says twice: "Let him be accursed." Whether they were sincere in their conviction when they preached Christ according to this false Gospel is not the point. Paul did not question their conviction. Paul does not question their ability either. He calls them unbelievers because of the pernicious error with which they adulterated the pure Gospel, though they professed allegiance to Christ.

It was probably difficult for the Corinthians to bow to this judgment. These false teachers had come to them as devout men, who devoted themselves to the cause of the Gospel. In their judgement, or at least in the judgment of many of the Corinthians, these false prophets had presented the Gospel in an attractive, fascinating way. It seems that some of the Corinthians felt that they had been enriched and edified by the eloquent presentation of these excellent apostles. Paul bluntly calls them unbelievers and warns the Corinthians against cooperation with them. Any cooperation of a spiritual nature with those who adulterate the Gospel must be avoided. Not to withhold the practice of church fellowship with them would result in an unmatched yokefellowship with unbelievers. Paul's opposition to these false teachers who had troubled the Corinthians and undermined his apostolic ministry was not a personal matter; Paul was not ranting against persons. Paul denounced them because of the treacherous errors which they espoused. This is clear from his statement of the reasons with which he motivates his warning: "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"

If we keep in mind that Paul used these questions against teachers who claimed to be ministers of Christ and His Gospel but perverted the Gospel, we will have no doubt that the passage still applies to all who claim to be ministers of Christ, Christian teachers, and who may enjoy high acclaim as such but who in their teaching adulterate the Gospel, undermine the material principle of the Gospel, justification by grace alone through faith as a gift of God. It certainly applies to Tillich and Bultmann and many others who in our day are counted great as teachers in the Christian church.

The question still remains whether Paul's admonition, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," does not also have a wider application beyond that which was made by the apostle in the historical background which we have considered and which suggests similar applications for our day.

I do believe the rule is that one is not supposed to stretch out one teaching beyond its scope in order to negate a direct teaching elsewhere in the Bible. At any rate it does not lend itself to the "hard as nails" applications where some churches use it far afield from the topic of Christian ministry that it surrounds. The earlier preacher, J. Vernon McGee, actually applied it to valid areas: a liberal seminary, a loose and sloppy evangelist, and questionable churches. For that matter our own historical churches that broke away from Rome and/or the state church owe such a beginning to correctly interpreting the "not unequally yoked" passage. Here is a bit of history.
Just before William Brewster's arrival in Cambridge a great stir had been raised in the town by Robert Browne. ... The most creative religious thinker of his day, he was to exert a profound influence upon [ruling elder] Brewster and all the Pilgrim leaders. ... "Troublechurch" Browne and his company seized ... opportunity to flee to Holland, blazing a trail that many were to follow. The exiles settled down at Middleburg, where in 1582 Browne published two works of the greatest consequence, A Treatise of Reformation without Tarying for Anie and A Booke which Sheweth the Life and Manner of all True Christians.

Formulating the basic principles upon which the revolutionary Independent movement took shape, giving clear and ringing expression for the first time to ideas that had been vaguely circulating for some time, Browne rejected Calvin's thesis that reform of the church had to wait until the state took action, a most unrealistic view at a time when Church and State were one. No, said Browne, the kingdom of God was "not to be begun by whole parishes, but rather by the worthiest, were they ever so few." In every parish these should withdraw from the church—secede, separate, as they had warrant to do by Scripture (i.e. Paul: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.")—and organize themselves under a mutual covenant "to forsake & denie all ungodliness and wicked fellowship, and to refuse all ungodlie communion with Wicked Persons." This concept of a free covenant was borrowed from the execrated German Anabaptists and their descendents, the Dutch Mennonites.

—George F. Willison, Saints and Strangers274
It seems to me that Protestants have made great strides towards being a truly separate people unto God irrespective of considerations of mate selection.

Let's look now at a couple examples of correct understanding of mixed marriage:

Mixed Marriage and the Word of God
—The Rt Rev Robert Forsyth - Bishop of South Sydney, Anglican Diocese of Sydney, "Bah Humbug"275
Does the New Testament really forbid Christians marrying unbelievers? It seems to me that as much or more "damage"—if it is damage—has been done by the evangelical insistence that Christians only marry born-again Christians than by the denial of priesthood to women. Is it hermeneutically sound? Does Jesus command it? Did Paul insist on it? Are the texts controversial, isolated or against the main spirit of the New Testament?

Peter Jensen "Using Scripture" in The Bible and Women's Ministry: An Australian Dialogue (Acorn Press 1990) p.15

It is time for an answer—or at least a Bah! Humbug!. The question is: does God's word written forbid the marriage of Christians to non-Christians? It is not whether such matches are wise, or dangerous, or to be discouraged. It is not about the appropriateness of any particular couple becoming man and wife. It is simply whether, as with adultery, homosexual sex, idolatry, greed and the other forbidden practices, God has told us that a Christian must not marry a non-believer. The Standard Answer: Don't get married but do stay married. Our standard answer is that God forbids a Christian to marry a non-Christian, though if a Christian finds him/herself married to non-Christian they ought to stay together. This is based on 2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be mismatched with unbelievers" (RSV and NRSV) or more literally "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (NIV and AV), together with the teaching of 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 "If anyone has a wife/husband who is an unbeliever, and she/he consents to live with him/her, he/she should not divorce her/him."

On this view the act of entering into a mixed marriage, but not the staying together, is sin. It is disobeying Scripture.

My misgivings

The more I have thought about it, the more misgivings I have had with the traditional teaching. Here's three.

1. The context of 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 does not support its application to mixed marriages. The passage comes in the middle of Paul's appeal to the worldly Corinthians to open their hearts to him, their apostle. (See 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 and 2 Corinthians 7:2ff.) Why on earth would he interrupt his appeal to urge against mixed marriages? The final words of the passage, "let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1) suggests that Paul is strongly appealing to his readers to turn from their conformity to the worldliness of their society in their dealings with him. It's like Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world." Not that this means that there is no relevance to broader questions including mixed marriages. But it is not declaring it to be sin.

2. If 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 does directly apply to mixed marriages, then it proves too much. The passage does not say "don't get unequally yoked, but if you are it's OK" but rather "don't be unequally yoked" at any time, and in the words of 2 Corinthians 6:17 "come out from them and be separate from them". If this did apply to marriage in itself then Christians would have to follow Ezra's example in the times when mixed marriages were forbidden. He made no bones about the need for the Israelites to separate from their foreign wives and children. (Ezra 9 and 10)

3. It is 1 Corinthians 7 which explicitly excludes the married relationship from the 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 ban on defiling contacts. If, as 1 Corinthians 7:14 says, the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband, how can entering into a mixed marriage be, in the words of 2 Corinthians 6:14, a partnership of righteousness and lawlessness or light and darkness? Stupid, maybe—but not in itself sinful?

Someone may urge 1 Corinthians 7:39 against my misgivings. "[the widow] is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord." But does "only in the Lord" really mean, as the NIV™ (quite misleadingly) translates, "but he must belong to the Lord"? Couldn't it more likely mean something like, "but only as is appropriate for a Christian" or "remembering that she is a Christian." If so then the caveat is not irrelevant to the mixed marriage question and may well exclude many such alliances, but is not a blanket prohibition.

What's at stake here? The authority and place of Scripture, that's what. Let us teach and advise wisely, but not go "beyond what is written". (1 Corinthians 4:6)

A Study of "in Christ"276
Paul wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). Being in Christ, as we shall see, is urgently important. There are no fewer than thirteen different Greek prepositions translated in (King James Version). Though the object of this material is not to critique the translation of these different prepositions as in in all their occurrences, suffice us to say that the King James translation did not always adhere to strict grammatical rules as to the technical differences between in, into, unto, out of, and by. In general, the Greek preposition en (one preposition translated in) simply denotes location or sphere277. There are other phrases involving en that essentially often denote the same basic meaning as "in Christ" (more later).
"In Christ" or its equivalent as used in Ephesians.

The phrase "in Christ" or its equal is used about 27 times by Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus. He addressed the Ephesian Christians as "faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:1). Sometimes Paul simply wrote "in him," Christ being the antecedent (Eph. 1:4,7,11, 2:21,22, etc.). However, "in Christ" or "in Christ Jesus" is a recurring phrase. The expression "in Christ," as often used in Ephesians, is explained as follows: "This expression 'in Christ' is one of the hinges of the epistle—denoting the intimate vital union through faith between Christ and his people" (The Pulpit Commentary).

"In Christ" or "in the Lord" in general has a number of fine shades or nuances in its use in Holy Writ. The simple and often intended meaning of "in Christ" or "in the Lord" is to denote a relation with Christ. Hence, Paul wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). In these instances of "in Christ," to be in Christ is tantamount to being in his spiritual body, his church (Eph. 1:22,23). However, the science of semantics requires that we recognize that we cannot assign to "in Christ" a universal, inflexible, and exclusive meaning. For instance, Paul wrote "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord." (Eph. 4:17). Did he mean, "I testify in the church?" The meaning is apparently "I testify in harmony with Christ, by his power, and in the domain of his guidance" (an affirmation of Paul's inspiration). Paul wrote that children are to obey their parents "in the Lord" (Eph. 6:1). Here "in the Lord" (en kurio) is obviously and simply saying "in harmony with the Lord's will" (cp. Col. 3:18, Acts 5:29)278. All children are obligated to obey their parents. It is in this same vein that Paul wrote, "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judæa are in Christ Jesus." (I Thes.Thes. 2:14).

At this time, let us briefly consider I Corinthians 7:39. The verse reads, "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." Does the expression "only in the Lord" (monon en kurio) only apply to a widow? Does "only in the Lord" mean she must marry a Christian? If Paul had wanted to teach the widow is to marry a Christian, why did not he simply say so instead of employing an expression that does not flow with the action. Paul would literally be saying, "marry in the church." How does one "marry in the church?" The language is awkward. However, the nuance "according to the will of the Lord" smoothly flows and is in harmony with the context.279 Beloved, being in Christ, whether sphere is meant, as such, as in the church or the idea of in consistency with the Lord's will in a technical differentiation, is essential to our spiritual well being. It is in Christ that one is a new creature, the love of God is enjoyed, and redemption is experienced (2 Cor. 5:7; Rom. 3:24; 8:39). Moreover, purity is in Christ, we are begotten in Christ, and sanctification is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3; I Cor. 4:15; I Cor. 1:2).

The means of entry into Christ.

Since being in Christ is so vitally important, how does one gain access into Jesus Christ? Beloved, the scriptures are plain in this matter: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," Paul wrote (Gal. 3:27). Please appreciate the fact that Paul wrote, "baptized into Christ" (eis christon). I point this out to stress the fact Paul did not teach man is baptized "in Christ." You see, most of the religious world teaches that man is already in Christ (saved) when he is baptized; hence, baptized in Christ. The preposition eis (not en) is always used with reference to forward thrust or to obtain (gain entrance, in this case).280 Hence, "Christ" (christon) in Galatians 3:27 is in the accusative case (The Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 439).

Concerned readers, even though I do all I can to encourage Christians to marry Christians, I become rather upset when I hear I Corinthians 7:39 used to teach that a Christian must marry a Christian. Do not we realize that if this is the case, the Christian who marries a non-Christian is in fornication and is producing illegitimate children? Such "marriages" must be dissolved, to be consistent. Yet, Paul said the believer and unbeliever are to remain together. Remain in fornication? Certainly not.

I have witnessed the above view encourage such false doctrines as are rampant today that involve laxity toward the unscripturally married. "Yes, it is automatically a sin for a Christian to marry a non-Christian," some say, "but they can repent and remain together." Such views pervert and make a mockery out of repentance!

Fellow students, there is no man who can prove beyond all doubt that "only in the Lord" means a Christian. I meant what I said, no man. However, we can prove in general that the widow and all others must marry "according to the will of the Lord." We are in trouble when we start playing down a general and inserting a specific. If Paul had wanted to say "a Christian," he would have said so in plain, unambiguous language (typical of language involving a command). However, he did not.

Personally, I think that author's argument is rather compelling, although I am not prepared to vouch for his other speculations. There is, however, one instance of biblical language use that goes along with what he has said and which I think the reader can profit from by reading: (Num. 36:6,8,11-12) [emphasis added] "This is the thing which the LORD doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry. ... And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers. ... For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons: And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father." The prepositions used here, for keeping their inheritance within their family when they marry, are "to the family, unto one of the family, unto their father's brothers' sons" and "into the families." If Paul had meant the widow to marry to the family of believers, unto the household of faith, into the church, why, he had plenty of words he could have used to describe what he meant, but instead chose language more in keeping with "abiding in the vine" (John 15:4).

The New International Version™ totally undermined their own credibility by paraphrasing sections dealing with the home on account of their misunderstanding of Paul's exhortation. If they can't get the home right, how can we trust them to bring God's correct word concerning church matters? (I Timothy 3:5) "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?"

Ezra is not the only witness to the 2nd Corinthian passage proving too much as if it were taken to prohibit mixed marriage; there is, of course, the incident of King Balak.

The Bible passage that contains a description of the abominable strategem of King Balak is felt by theologians to be embarrassing and therefore they prefer to gloss it over. The real question is, however, why such a scandalous affair appears in the Bible at all. The answer is simple: The event was one which was of the deepest and most fateful significance for the people of Israel. That is the reason why the narrator does not maintain a modest silence but gives a frank and candid account of what actually happened.

It was in the thirties that French archaeologists working at the Mediterranean port of Ras Shamra—the "White Haven" on the coast of Phoenicia—under the direction of Professor Claude Schaeffer of Strasbourg brought to light some evidence of Canaanite religious practices. Only then was it possible to estimate and understand the nature of the disaster that is recorded in Numbers, Chapter 25.

"And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods." (Num. 25:1-2)

It is not the attractions of vice that the children of Israel are faced with. That is something that is and always has been universal. It was not professional prostitutes who led Israel astray. It was the daughters of the Moabites and the Midianites, their own wives and sweethearts. They enticed and seduced the men of Israel to take part in the rites of Baal, the fertility cult of Canaan. What Israel encountered, while still on the other side of Jordan, was the voluptuous worship of the Phoenician gods, in the face of which in the centuries that lay ahead Israel had to test and prove the strength of its ethical principles.

But the Moabites and the Midianites hoped in vain that they would make these young and unsophisticated nomads the slaves of the sensual temptations of their religious practices, and in this way sap the strength of the sons of Israel. Even at this first encounter it was plain that there could never be any compromise between Yahweh and Baal. The leaders of Israel struck swiftly and struck hard. They did not even spare their own men. Offenders were slaughtered and hanged. Phinehas, grandnephew of Moses, who saw an Israelite taking a Midianite woman into his tent, took a javelin "and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly." (Num. 25:8) The people of Moab were spared, since they were related to Israel—Lot, Abraham's nephew, was regarded as their ancestor. (Gen. 19:37) But against the Midianites a war of extermination was let loose, the classical "herem," or ban, as it is laid down in the Law. (Deut. 7:2ff., 20:13ff.) "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him," ordered Moses. Only the young girls were spared; everyone else was killed. (Num. 31:7,17,18)

—Werner Keller, The Bible as History281

"Who was Molech, Patrick? What did it mean, that verse ...?"

"Molech? He was a Canaanite god. Phoenician, if you prefer. He had a taste for children. Their parents used to take them up to his altar at a place called Topheth. That was where they did it—the burning, the sacrificial offering. To keep the crops from spoiling. To make their cattle fertile. For whatever reason—for whatever seemed important to them."

She shuddered and looked aside.

"They burned them?"

"Yes. So the Old Testament says. Maybe it was just biased, a load of propaganda about Canaanite atrocities—who knows?"

—Daniel Easterman, Brotherhood of the Tomb282

"El-Shaddai was in a position to carry out the executions himself but he always preferred to reason with his Hebrews, and now he said to Zadok, "Do you think it is from cruelty that I order you to slay the Canaanites? Is it not because you Hebrews are a foolish and a stubborn people, apt to fall captive to other gods and other laws? I do not command this thing because I hate the Canaanites, but because I love you."
—James A. Michener, The Source283
As it is "something that is and always has been universal," the influence on them of "their own wives and sweethearts," we can well surmise this to be one of the Corinthian queries (I Cor.. 7:1) that Paul addressed in that book. Not just wives, but wives and sweethearts. Those were not the days of instant gratification and quick marriages, but of long planning, long espousals, so it is altogether likely their queries included sweethearts. Paul's reply teaching that a mixed marriage between believer and nonbeliever is sanctified would necessarily be applicable to couples intending to tie the knot down the line, and his advice whether to wed at all is as applicable to them as to couples where both are Christians. Telling the widow to remarry "only in the Lord" can be taken as a recommendation to "test and prove the strength of her ethical principles" in this decision, be her intended a Christian or no, and at any rate being in Christ means not being a "slave of sensual temptations or of other religious practices," not being "a foolish and a stubborn person, apt to fall captive to other gods and other laws." A nonchristian man might tempt her with other religious practices, but even marrying a Christian if responding mostly to sensual temptations, she could be marrying wantonly against her first love, as opposed to marrying in the lord.

If, as some suppose, Paul's "be ye not unequally yoked" exhortation is meant to be applied directly to whom one may marry, then Paul is not like "the leaders of Israel [who] struck swiftly and struck hard." I mean, if that is meant to answer the Corinthian questions addressed in First Corinthians Seven, then Paul hasn't got around to it until a later epistle, Second Corinthians. That's not what I would call swift. Neither is it hard. If there were a real problem, then mixed marriages should not have been deemed sanctified in the first place. And while theologians prefer to gloss over the incident of King Balak despite it being in the Bible, they nevertheless try to read into Paul a prohibition against a Christian entering a mixed marriage even though there isn't one in the Bible.

I believe a critical mistake is made here in not being able to see the forest for the trees. John Pollock in his excellent biography of Paul284 gives us the gist of what Paul was doing when writing his Corinthian letters.

In Paul's words on chastity, fornication and marriage—the subject of endless discussion and commentary ever since—the keynote is his desire to help rather than to harass: "And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (I Cor. 7:35) The good of all and the glory of God were the decisive factors.

The Corinthians had been unsettled by the arrival of preachers with impressive panache, carrying apparently impeccable credentials, who seemed all the more superior to Paul in that they charged a stiff fee. Their propaganda was such that the Corinthian church, Paul's very own foundation, actually demanded proof of his commission. The new arrivals had denied him the qualities of a true apostle, pointing out that he carried no letters of commendation from Jerusalem, refused payment, did not live like a genuine Jew, had behaved much too meekly, was contemptible in body and despicable in speech; an apostle should boss his flock, they said. They conceded Paul could write weighty letters.

He was not unprepared for these people turning up in Corinth. He did not scruple to name them "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Cor. 11:13-15)

It is these false apostles whom Paul in his second Corinthian letter warns the believers not to be unequally yoked with. We are not to take that as Paul casting a snare on the believers regarding marriage. It would be the false apostles (read modern paraphrased Bibles) that cast such snares.


Dating Questions, God's Answers
Questions of Greek scholarship, context, sanctification, dating, God's authority, & authority of the church
Yoked Together in Christian Ministry,
An attempt to sort out the confusion.
KJV | Context | Mixed Marriage
Comparing the KJV with modern English versions; looking at mixed marriage and being unequally yoked in their own contexts; proper handling of the word of God; vulnerability of widows addressed.
Parable of the Laborers
Episcopalians & diversity. Parable of the laborers.
Unequally Yoked Metaphor
"Unequally yoked" metaphor. New translations muddy the waters regarding a widow marrying "only in the Lord."
Holy Seed
Evil report & good report; King James Bible; "unequally yoked" examined; holy seed means sanctified marriage; marrying "only in the Lord"; Christian liberty; Corinthian epistles.
Only in the Lord
"Only in the Lord" for a widow's remarriage; application to the times; sanctification of marriage; accuracy of Bible translations.
Breaking Up Blues
Breaking up is the pits.
Missionary Dating
Missionary dating; circular arguments; "expert" disagreeing opinions; Priscilla & Aquila; parallels in the writing of Paul; spread of primitive Christianity; parable of the laborers.
Pauline Triads
Questions from Corinthian cultural perspective; the expert's opinions; triads in Paul; courtship.
Expert Opinion
Eureka! An actual expert; the Corinthians' perspective; modern framework; Paul's thought.
Note on Paul's Triad
Note on the triad.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403

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