Deuteronomy 22:10 (NKJV)
“You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
This commandment was given as an object lesson for God's people. The ox didn't have to avoid the donkey altogether. As long as each was free from the other, there was no restriction. However, they could not be hitched together or work together. The moment that they were yoked and began to influence one another's direction and walk God's law was violated.
Amos 3:3 (NKJV)
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Don't fool yourself, those that you walk with influence you. They influence your heart, mind, and life. To stay together, you will have to find some level of agreement. If they indulge in things that God has called you out of, you will find yourself compromising your convictions.
Proverbs 1:10, 11, 15
My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, “Come with us,...My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Obviously, this does not mean that all our friends and acquaintances must see eye to eye with us. We can be friendly. We can show them Christ. We are to do good to those that despitefully use us. We are to bless those that curse us. We must build a bond to connect with them and fulfill God's commandment to love. However, we can not allow our relationships to grow so close that we are overly attached to them.
Backsliders, lukewarm Christians, unbelievers, and compromisers will pull you along towards spiritual destruction if you yoke up with them. If they are worldly, you will find yourself being worldly. If they are sensual, you will find yourself fighting to have a pure heart and mind. Their vocabulary will start creeping into your vocabulary. Their values will begin to mix with your values. Their passions will become your passions.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV)
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers...
The instruction is clear. It isn't open to a private interpretation. Do not be unequally yoked. Some BFFs need to become FFs (former friends). The last kiss that you gave that boyfriend or girlfriend might need to be your goodbye kiss.
I've heard it before, "We are just friends. We are dating, but it isn't like we are engaged." If you can date someone without being yoked together, you lack the necessary commitment to be in a relationship. On the other hand, if you are yoked together, you need to be standing on equal spiritual footing or you shouldn't be dating. The consequences of entering a romantic relationship that is unequal in faith, dedication to God, consecration, and holiness are often long lasting and severe.
Immediately, you will find yourself struggling to have liberty in worship. You will find your passion for the kingdom waning. You will question truths that were settled in your heart years before. You will face greater temptation. When you violate your conscience to enter and maintain the relationship, it is hard to build anything pure on that foundation. You will wonder why you feel so bound up. The answer is that you have a yoke around your soul.
Of course, delusion is a powerful force. On one hand, you won't even feel like reading your Bible, but on the other hand, you will become an expert in the technicalities. "Pastor, I know you are a Godly man. I know that you have been gifted and called by God to teach. I know that you watch over my soul. You have the best of intentions, but I'm pretty sure that you are misapplying that verse. Technically, it says that you can't be unequally yoked to an unbeliever. My boyfriend isn't living right, but if you ask him, he will tell you that he is a believer."
Please understand that Paul is taking a general principle that is reiterated throughout the scriptures and applying it to relationships with unbelievers. The principle is much broader and encompassing. It also applies to the unequal yoking of the scoffer and the sincere. It applies to the committed and those lacking commitment. It applies to prayer warriors and those that lack spiritual discipline. Don't try joining a spiritual ox to a spiritual donkey.
Do you really believe that Paul would encourage relationships when you can't even agree on basic tenets of the faith or what is necessary for salvation? There were not many different accepted Christian faiths in Paul's day. When he spoke of believers, he meant those that believed the gospel exactly like the Lord revealed it to him. He along with the other apostles wrote several verses rebuking those teaching doctrinal errors while claiming to be Christians. He was quite exclusive and adamant about his faith.
Galatians 1:8-9 (NKJV)
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 (NLT)
Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding...These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth
Doctrine does matter. Today we often see doctrine as a distinction between various denominations. Paul saw doctrine as the distinction between being saved and lost. Paul considered those that disagreed with what God had shown him as accursed, unbelievers. At the very least, I believe that it is safe to assume that when Paul talked about believers being equally yoked; the believers would share one faith and understanding of salvation.
When entering a relationship, you must consider whether you have common convictions? Do have a common understanding of the faith? Do you have a common practice of the faith? If not, how can you walk together?
If you are in a relationship that you know is not pleasing to God, honor the Lord and obey His word. It won't be easy at first, but I can assure you that it will be worth it.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLV)
Do not be joined together with those who do not belong to Christ. How can that which is good get along with that which is bad? How can light be in the same place with darkness? How can Christ get along with the devil? How can one who has put his trust in Christ get along with one who has not put his trust in Christ? How can the house of God get along with false gods? We are the house of the living God. God has said, “I will live in them and will walk among them. I will be their God and they will be My people.” The Lord has said, “So come out from among them. Do not be joined to them. Touch nothing that is sinful. And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you...