You two, come up here.”
We looked at each other. I wanted to scream and hide, but we followed the directions and got up from our seats. All eyes were on us as we walked toward the altar and joined the rest of the church.
This church was different from most of the other churches I had been to. Every Sunday the congregation was expected to confess their sins at the altar—even if they didn’t actually have anything to confess. No one was allowed to stay behind.
“Do you speak in tongues?” The spiritual leader asked my fiancé. I was standing at the front, locking arms with my sister. My whole family attended that church. And everyone was quiet, listening.
“No.” My fiancé said.
“See, I knew you didn’t. Deborah speaks in tongues, but you don’t. That’s because you are unequally yoked.” Most of the church agreed by nodding their heads or mumbling, “Amen.”
My eyes filled with tears, not because I thought we were unequally yoked, but because I knew we weren’t. Everything he said contradicted what God had told me, what scripture had said.
As the spiritual leader continued to interrogate our relationship in front of the entire church, the people were rejoicing—thinking that I’d be free from the fiancé with whom I was “unequally yoked.” They were probably thinking our relationship would be over that night.
But why were we unequally yoked? Because he didn’t speak in tongues and I did. How does having a different gift than another believer make you unequally yoked with them? That night I was reminded of the verses being used against me.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Corinthians 4:14
My fiancé was a Christian. My fiancé was a believer.
I knew the truth, but the hardest thing was seeing the whole congregation turning against my future marriage. To them I was walking away from God’s will if I married this man. So now it was my word—that I felt God tell me that this was the man I was supposed to marry—against the word of my church—that told me this marriage was doomed to fail. After months of trying to quiet the voices all around me and listen to the voice of God, I got into my prayer closet and sought God in the midst of the noise. I felt the confirmation again, that I was supposed to marry this man. So I went ahead and married him—going against what my church had told me to do.
A few years later, my husband would be the one to remind me of my purpose and my calling during the most difficult times of my life. This same man would sacrifice everything for my well-being. Whenever I started to lose my faith, he would always be there, bolstering it, reminding me of who I was. And even when I’d tell him how disappointed and hurt I was by the church, he’d sit there and listen and pray with me. I am thankful I married this man. I am thankful God gave me, also, the gift of discernment, where I was able to test the spiritual leadership and see if it matched what God had told me personally and through his word.
Cover photo by Vitor Pinto.