It was April 29th, 1983. Mary and I were both in college and living in Springfield, Missouri. We had gotten engaged to be married the previous month and were busy planning a December wedding. It was a Saturday, so we were both off from work and school. We decided to do a little shopping at the Battlefield Mall, located on the south side of the city. We invited my sister, Rose, and my brother-in-law, Don, to go with us, as well as another friend from New York and his girlfriend.
While we were at the mall, we heard the tornado sirens go off. Being from New York, this was a new experience for us. We heard them for the first time the previous evening when three very powerful tornadoes ripped through the city, creating a lot of damage to buildings but, thank God, no deaths. Now twelve more tornadoes were bearing down on us and we only had minutes to find shelter.
As we tried to leave the mall, the security guards would not let us. “It’s too dangerous,” they said. I argued “This mall is made of glass and has no basement, how safe is it in here?!?” After much persuasion, they finally let us go. We piled into my 1969 Pontiac Catalina – better known as “Ol’ Bess” – with Mary to my right, Don on the passenger side, and the other three in the back seat and I drove north to the only shelter we knew. It was about a 15-to-20-minute drive normally, but I was easily doubling the city speed limit since there was no traffic. Hail was now falling, the wind was increasing, and lightening bolts were constantly flashing on every side. The sky was a dreary, ominous gray, and I wanted to get us to safety as soon as possible.
Every time a lightening bolt flashed, Mary would jump a little out of her seat and hug my arm a little tighter. It was terrifying. At one point, I heard Mary softly singing a song to reassure herself as we drove though the storm. She sang:
My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine,
To Thee all the folly of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now.
When I heard her singing that song, I knew that I had made the right decision the month before. I wanted – in fact, needed – a woman who would trust Jesus with our future. When things became terrifying, when it seemed like things were out of control, Mary turned to Jesus for help. That’s the type of woman I wanted.
Paul admonished us in 2nd Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” There are good reasons for not being unequally yoked. As far as the important things are concerned, an unbeliever and a believer do not have much in common. Values, convictions, respect – these are all traits that vary between the two, often drastically. And although this is excellent advice for marriage, it also applies to every situation we are in – including forming businesses and partnerships.
I have seen many people over the years try to “reach” their love interest with the gospel, hoping to convert them so they can marry them. This rarely works. Many men will do and say anything to get the girl. But, after the honeymoon is over and the infatuation wears off, what is left are two very different people with very different values. Marriage is for life – that’s what a vow means – and so you should ensure that you do not allow any potential “stumbling block” in your marriage that could “trip you up” down the road. A marriage between two believers is hard enough; adding the element of being with an unbeliever makes it exponentially harder.
If you are in a relationship with someone that does not share your values – and you have not yet said “I do” – it’s time to get out. God will give you the right person to spend the rest of your life with. Trust Him with your future and you will have no regrets. I cannot guarantee no regrets if you continue down the 'unequally yoked' path.
In case you are wondering, we did make it safely to the shelter that evening. But, more importantly, we have made it through over 38 years of marriage. That’s not a reflection of us; it’s a reflection of how the Word of God works in our lives. With Jesus at the center of your marriage, no storm will be too big for you to go through together. Make sure you yoke yourself to someone who is compatible – especially when it comes to eternal values.