2 Corinthians 6:11-7:1
“Do not be equally yoked together with unbelievers.”
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols?” For you are the temple of the living God.”
These are words that every Christian understands and yet words that many Christians violate daily. St. Paul reiterates his teaching from I Corinthians that we are the temple of God and applies it to our participation with evil, especially with unbelievers. This call to holiness is one of the most important teachings the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church must reclaim if we are to honor our Lord. At a time when it easier than ever to be unholy in the privacy of your own home, the Church is proclaiming this call to holiness less and less.
There are many ways in which we are guilty of having been unholy.
One of the most notable ways is in terms of marriage. In spite of St. Paul’s clear teaching that we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, men and women marry people they know don’t truly love and serve the Lord. I have known many (for some reason especially women) who marry and want to reform their spouse – but secretly know that the person they are dating or about to marry is not a man or woman of God. There is a lot of compassion on such people when their marriages end in divorce, and rightly so. But I never hear much said about the foolish choices that such Christians have made to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Such people are the Sons and Daughters of Esau and are acting in a profane manner. Such mistakes are redeemable, of course, thank God! But let’s at least acknowledge that we have a problem with Christians not seeking godly spouses.
The problem actually begins with the way Christians date. The problem is that Christian young people (with their parents watching) allow themselves to date – that is, form a very potent emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual connection – with someone they know doesn’t truly love the Lord. Of course, dating is just for fun and isn’t serious, as everyone knows.
The questions “Is he/she good-looking?” “Is he/she fun to be with?” “Is he/she cool?” etc. are all asked before the question “Is he/she godly?” If you have already attached yourself to someone who is good-looking, cool, and fun to be with before you know his or her level of godliness – it is too late. You are already emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually yoked to that person to some degree, and you will begin to compromise the standard of holiness for all of these earthly things. To act like this is to be the children of Esau, who was a profane man and married unbelieving wives because he was attracted to them. The correct order goes something like this: “Who is a godly man/woman? Now, out of everyone who is still left, who is good-looking, cool, and fun to be with?”The problem with being yoked to unbelievers is larger even than dating. I have seen many young people, still weak in the faith, yoke themselves with friends who may be “cool” to hang out with but who clearly do not serve the Lord. At a time when parents and adults have allowed teens and pre-teens to define themselves by their peer group and not by the standards of the adult world, such choices have profound consequences.
This commandment to holiness goes beyond even our living human relationships and extends to our virtual relationships with books, movies, music, and the Internet. Today, there is virtually no difference between what the average Christian and the average non-Christian young person listens to or watches. But St. Paul says: “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?”
Even those of us who may be more mature Christians are not immune from the temptation to give in to the seductions of our culture. Even when we ourselves have kept ourselves from defilement, have we permitted the little ones Jesus has entrusted to our care to have fellowship with darkness?
If we truly understood what these words meant: “For you are the temple of the living God,” then I don’t think we’d be so quick to allow the enemy into God’s temple. Instead, I see many Christians, who God has made doorkeepers and guardians of His treasure and temple, opening the door to every form of evil and waving the minions of the enemy in (I’ve even seen some carrying huge signs saying “Yoo hoo, over here! I’ll let you in if only you’ll give me a little of your coolness!”)
The fact that the Church is the Body of Christ on earth and that we are the Temple of the living God has comprehensive implications for our social lives. If our life is in Christ, it will necessarily be lived primarily among Christians in the Church, God’s Temple. But if we choose to live our lives – married, dating, friendships, and virtual – yoked with those who do not serve God, then we are guilty of profaning or desecrating God’s Temple.
Instead, let us hear again the words of our Lord: “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
This is what the Lord is saying to us all this morning.
Prayer: Father, thank You for making us Your holy Temple and for cleansing us from all unrighteousness. Give us the grace, Lord, to withstand all temptations to have fellowship with evil, as well as grace to break all such fellowship we are currently engaged in. Cleanse Your holy Temple once again this day.
Resolution and Point for Meditation: I resolve today to identify one specific area or relationship in my life in which I have chosen to have fellowship with darkness. I further resolve to plan a way to free myself from that fellowship.
Destruction of the Temple by Poussin – U.S. Public Domain