Being a part of these transformations is emotional for me, and I only get to witness a lot of this stuff second hand via cards, letters, and the occasional visit. The mama bear comes out in me when I see a new Christian trying to walk on the right path and hear of others who are actively trying to thwart forward spiritual progress.
Christians in prison have a rough go of it. Other inmates will be purposefully abusive and then be quick to remind you that you are supposed to turn the other cheek. Your stuff will be stolen and then you’ll be told that a Christian should always be willing to give to the needy. You can be physically beaten just for the heck of it. And the verbal assaults…well from what I have heard, they are pretty much just continual. If you were in a gang in prison and then become a Christian and have to remove yourself from the gang, it can literally be a life threatening decision. Then, once you are released from prison, you have a record, no money, nowhere to live sometimes, social stigmas to overcome, and parole rules to uphold very strictly. Trying to make a living while getting all of that other stuff straight while still trying to live a Biblical and moral life can be nearly impossible.
But with all of these things working against them, would you like to know what the number one thing (by far) is that I have witnessed that throws these men off of their track to success? Surprisingly it is not drugs, alcohol, or money. The thing that gets these guys each and every time is getting involved in toxic relationships. They get out of jail, they are lonely, and without fail a woman comes along and starts to show interest. Sometimes it’s clear that the relationship part isn’t even necessary, sex alone will work just fine.
Sometimes the women are up front and obviously not interested in spiritual things. It’s easy (or at least easier) for someone who is trying to serve God to spot these types and avoid them because ultimately, avoiding those relationships are just a matter of controlling your flesh. But sometimes things get a little more blurry. The woman claims to be searching for God herself. She tells him she just needs time. In one breath she asks them to teach her how to be a good Christian while the whole time, her actions speak to the fact that she has no real interest in changing anything. She keeps the man hanging by a thread of hope that someday she will become a faithful woman of God, they can raise faithful, happy kids, and they can all ride off into the sunset together, singing hymns as they go.
I don’t want to be a cynic. I really don’t. I think it’s wonderful for people to want to share the Lord with whoever crosses their path. But keeping it real, the Bible is pretty clear about being unequally yoked. It’s not a good thing…ever. When you and the person you choose to be in a relationship with are on obvious different planes when it comes to the single most important thing in your life (your relationship and responsibility towards God), you are willingly putting yourself into a situation that is going to make it more difficult for you to succeed.
But it’s never so simple is it? There is always a catch that makes it more complicated. There is always a catch that delays things for just long enough for a deep attachment to form, making it infinitely more difficult to think rationally and spiritually about the true nature of the relationship.
- “I’ve known them since I was little. We’ve got a lot of history together.”
- “They have had a rough life. They just need someone to help them through this stage and then they will be on fire for the Lord.”
- “They just started this journey.”
- “They are taking things one step at a time. First they have to (fill in the blank) and then they can really work on spiritual things.”
I know I sound like I am a cold hearted person. But trust me. Seriously - I get it. I’ve been in pseudo relationships that have taken me away from God. I also know that being in a relationship (or even married) to someone who is not ACTIVELY and INTENTIONALLY helping you get to Heaven is not from God. And if it’s not from God, who is it from? It is from Satan. Ouch.
Does God expect you to just walk away from a relationship that is keeping you from fulfilling your full potential in Him? Would He actually ask you sacrifice happiness for holiness? I think it’s clear that Biblically speaking, unless you have already committed in marriage to this person, the answer is yes. The following scriptures seem to be more than just suggestions…they seem to be commands.
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:6-11
God never said it would be easy. But trust me…it will be a lot easier to choose a person to be with who is spiritually mature than it will be if you choose to try and get someone and change them into what it is that you think they should be. It’s cliché but it’s true.
And speaking honestly, if you truly believe the person you are with is seeking God in his/her life with the full-out commitment that God is looking for, won’t it be obvious? Their fruit will bear them out. “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” Matthew 7:16 If you find that you are the one who is constantly having to rescue your significant other from the damages caused by their own poor moral choices, chances are you are on different planes. If you find you are constantly making excuses to others for bad moral behavior, chances are you are unequally yoked. If the person you are with tempts you to live, act, or think in any way contrary to God’s will for you, it’s not what God wants for you.
“Don’t be deceived, evil companions corrupt good morals.” Every single time. It’s your choice.