So this may just be a throwback to some of my conservative evangelical roots, but I’m sure many of us are familiar with the common pastoral injunction that Christians, biblically speaking, ought not to ever even consider marrying one who was not a Christian. After all, this is what Paul referred to in 2 Cor 6:14 when he commanded us not to “be unequally yoked [Gk: heterozugeo] with unbelievers.”
Now, I think a contextual reading of the passage makes abundantly clear that what Paul is arguing against is not related to marriage and sexuality at all, but rather in trying to convince the Corinthians to adhere to his teachings rather than those of potential (unbelieving) competitors. But whatever, leaving the exegetical reality of that behind, lets take a look at what it might mean for marriage if we took the common appropriation of this text seriously.
The most striking part of it is the “unequal” business. If the text is taken (correctly) to be referring to non-Christian teachers in conflict with Paul’s message it makes sense. Their message is one that is mismatched, unfitting, inferior to the good news that Paul is trying to bring the Corinthians. But if this is somehow about marriage, doesn’t that imply a fundamental inequality between partners as being inscribed into marriage itself? It seems to me that there is a hidden enthusiasm among proponents of “don’t marry non-Christians” interpreters of this verse about the potential door this opens to construing marriage as a hierarchical relation of power. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.