Prophet Counsels Against Being “Unequally Yoked”

During the Priesthood Session of last September/October’s General Conference, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to the men and boys of the Church, urging them to be worthy of the LDS priesthood. President Hinckley instructed them to shun unclean thoughts, pornography and abuse of any kind. He told them to watch their language and stop dressing in a “slouchy manner.” Then he said,

I call your attention to another matter that gives me great concern. …young women are exceeding young men in pursuing educational programs. And so I say to you young men, rise up and discipline yourself to take advantage of educational opportunities. Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own? We speak of being “unequally yoked.” That applies, I think, to the matter of education. (“Rise Up, O Men of God,” Ensign, November 2006, 60)

When President Hinckley said, “We speak of being ‘unequally yoked,'” I can only think he was referring to the New Testament passage where the apostle Paul says,

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Of course President Hinckley was not suggesting that women with higher educations fall under the category of “unbelievers.” He must have thought to broaden Paul’s teaching on being unequally yoked.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume for a moment that President Hinckley is a true prophet and, while speaking in his official capacity as such, was giving prophetic counsel. He said the idea of being unequally yoked applies to the level of education achieved by each individual in a potential “couple.” If the biblical command is to not be unequally yoked, and being unequally yoked is defined as being married to someone with a differing level of education, then the prophetic counsel given by President Hinckley boils down to this: Marriage must only take place between partners who are equally educated.

Have I got that right?

In the Priesthood Session of the October 2000 General Conference, President Hinckley gave another bit of prophetic counsel which, while on a different topic, was similar to the counsel on education in that it spoke to what constitutes proper behavior among Church members. On this occasion President Hinckley said,

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also “the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.” We do not, however, take any position “on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings” — one pair. (“Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, November 2000, 52)

Since President Hinckley gave his counsel against more than one set of pierced earrings per woman, the number of earrings in a Mormon girl’s ear has become somewhat of a benchmark of her willingness to obey the prophet. Consider this story related by an LDS apostle in last month’s Ensign:

Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young woman for a period of time. He cared for her very much, and he was desirous of making his relationship with her more serious. He was considering and hoping for engagement and marriage. This relationship was developing during the time that President Hinckley counseled the Relief Society sisters and young women of the Church to wear only one earring in each ear.The young man waited patiently over a period of time for the young woman to remove her extra earrings, but she did not take them out. This was a valuable piece of information for this young man, and he felt unsettled about her nonresponsiveness to a prophet’s pleading. For this and other reasons, he ultimately stopped dating the young woman, because he was looking for an eternal companion who had the courage to promptly and quietly obey the counsel of the prophet in all things and at all times. The young man was quick to observe that the young woman was not quick to observe. (David A. Bednar, “Quick to Observe,” Ensign, December 2006, 31)

I wonder. Did President Hinckley’s counsel against young men marrying women with unequal educations result in faithful members being quick to observe? Did the morning of October 1st, 2006 dawn over a Temple Square littered with the broken engagements of people who had planned to marry outside their level of education? If not, I wonder why not, for according to LDS Apostle James Faust,

We have been promised that the President of the Church will receive guidance for all of us as the revelator for the Church. Our safety lies in paying heed to that which he says and following his counsel. (Quoted in “Following the Prophets: A Book of Mormon Perspective,” Ensign, July 2000, 22)

Be that as it may, I believe President Hinckley fails in his interpretation of what the Bible means when God tells us not to be “unequally yoked.” Putting the passage in its context, Paul is making an impassioned plea to the Corinthian church to be holy.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the 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.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Is this biblical passage really talking about unequal education in marriage? God is telling the Corinthians — and us — not to unite with unbelievers,* for they walk in darkness and dishonor God.

What does a college degree have to do with that?

* That is, false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:2-4), and perhaps idolaters (1 Corinthians 10:14)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Prophet Counsels Against Being “Unequally Yoked”

  1. rick b says:

    I want to focus on this, During the Priesthood Session of last September/October’s General Conference, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to the men and boys of the Church, urging them to be worthy of the LDS priesthood. President Hinckley instructed them to shun unclean thoughts, pornography and abuse of any kind. He told them to watch their language and stop dressing in a “slouchy manner.”

    I think it is really sad and nothing short of a power trip on the part of the LDS president and putting people under bondage to say that stuff.

    I compelty agree that Abuse of any kind is wrong as is viewing porn or thinking upon it. But I dont believe for one minute that the LDS president could say with one hundred percent honesty, he does not struggle with impure thoughts, or struggles to not look at the magizine covers found in grocery stores.

    God created sex for marraige, yet lets be relistic here, Guys are created by God to be exicted by visuale images, Why do you think the women models are almost naked? It is not for the benfit of selling to other women. This is simply something guys will struggle with till God takes us home or we die.

    Then the president says, Dont dress in a slouchy manner. Lets look at what God says.

    1Sa 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for [the LORD seeth] not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

    I had a mohawk for years, I had Mormon Missionarys tell me, if I were to join the Church I would need to shave my head or I could not get anyplace like that. I simply do not see this kind of attidue found in the Bible. The only reason I no longer have my mohawk is due to the very hot summers. The long hair was to much with the heat, as I work in a hot kitchen also.

    I simply dont see God placing restrictions upon how I dress. Rick b

  2. Keith Walker says:

    My wife has one earring in one ear and two in the other. Should I divorce her?

  3. james jones says:

    Is this a Christian website? The mormons are weird, but why would you critisize any speaker who warns against sin? Why is it wrong for a religious leader to exhort followers to increase in their education? The Mormon church has the most educated followers of any religion on earth!!! What is wrong with a man improving his education, to allow his wife the proper time and ability, to focus on her children and developing herself? Beat the mormons with doctrine. You damage your credibility anytime you attack them for the values that we share. Mormons aren’t stupid, they hold many of the most powerful positions in this country, no other religion on earth can attempt to have so many powerful influencial leaders in business, politics, etc, per capita. They are smart, they are driven, they succeed in a way we as evangelicals do not. Get some education please!!!!!!!! IF you are going to write, go to college, maybe you can sit next to a mormon and copy his notes. We must do better!!!!!!!!!

  4. Justin Hart says:

    Interesting post Sharon.. but it strikes me as gnat-squinting.

    You yourself indicated that he was “broadening” Paul’s words.

    In my mind, witnessing the comments in real time, he was simply using the natural inclination towards competition to get some of the youth off their butts and thinking about the future.

  5. Eric the Red says:

    I am sure that many LDS might brush this article off as sensationalistic reactionism. Obviously, every comment of the LDS “prophet” is not to be taken as new church dogma. Yet, the author of this article brings up a serious point. What statements of the prophet are we to follow? It is clear from the comments in the Nov 2005 issue of the Ensign magazine that the writers are lauding this young man for breaking off his engagement with his fiance because she refused to obey the Prophet’s injunction to wear only one earring in each ear.

    In light of this, what are we to think of the “prophet’s” comments in his Time magazine interview several years ago. In response to the interviewer’s question as to whether or not the LDS church teaches that “God the Father was once a man,” President Hinckley is quoted as replying, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it … I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.”

    So, if multiple earrings are a “no-no” because of a prophetic comment, should we also take the above words to mean that God having been a man and man attaining to Godhood is now a negligable, no longer emphasized belief of Mormonism? Are we do reject the prophet’s words, or are we to reject the clear statements made in Gospel Principles, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual?

    If a person is going to claim a unique prophetic office, he must realize that a lot of responsibility comes with the territory.

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