A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Thursday Thought — 2equal1: a ‘ministry’ to avoid

Recently one of our Facebook readers told us of the horrific experience she had with 2equal1 Marriage Ministries.  Her personal contact with the Australian directors revealed that they are not only ignorant as to the mentality and tactics of abusers but they twist and distort biblical scriptures and doctrines.

We wanted our readership to know that we have put this ‘ministry’ on our Blind Guides page. Below is some of what we have learned about them.

Australian Directors:  Ian and Jane Watts
U.S. Directors: Mike and Marilyn Phillips

At the 2equal1 website their core values statement includes these two bullet points:

3. Marriage is a covenant relationship.
  • Marriage between a man and a woman reflects the covenant relationship between Jesus and the Church
  • Each covenant partner agrees to be faithful no matter what the other one does
  • Faithfulness is unconditional
  • The covenant is until death

10.  Followers of Christ are an army.

  • We have an objective and a mission
  • We need to honor spiritual authority to be in spiritual authority
  • We need to recognize and honor the different roles of those serving in the army
  • We must be dedicated to fighting until we see victory manifested
  • We are not individual soldiers who get to pick and choose with whom, when and where we will serve

On their website I found an 80 minute video by U.S. directors, Mike and Marilyn Phillips. My intention was to listen to it in its entirety, but I could only get through the first 15 minutes.  In those few minutes they explained their (unbiblical) view on biblical covenants, which seems to be the foundation upon which they build their marriage philosophy.  Here are a few quotes.

“Covenant commitment means something. And I have vowed to God and I will pay it even to my own hurt. I will pay my vow. And God is calling us to that kind of faithfulness…”

“A person can’t remarry because you made a vow and God is holding you to it…”

“In order to model who I (God) am you need to model covenant commitment — what you have vowed.”

This teaching effectively gives abusive spouses free rein to oppress their victims, and denies the victim the right to set boundaries against the abuser.  Don’t be duped by this.  This is not what the Bible teaches about covenants. For example: God himself divorced Israel (the northern kingdom) because they had been so unfaithful to Him (Jeremiah 3).

And we learned that the 2equal1 ‘ministry’ is set up so that couples who have been trained with the 2equal1 materials can then go out and help other couples.  So it’s not just the 2equal1 website that we need to be concerned with, but also any of the trained couples who have established their own marriage ‘ministries’ based on the 2equal1 philosophy.  I found one such website  (standforyourmarriage.org) and I have no doubt there are many more.

Beware of not only the 2equal1 ‘ministry’ but any marriage ministry that was trained by or promotes the 2equal materials.


Barb’s book Not Under Bondage  has a chapter on marriage vows, and it also discusses the difference between a unilateral covenant and a bilateral covenant.  And Joe Pote discusses covenant at his blog Redeemed.


He could hear the voice of the Lord, but he threw it away.

On my wedding night, I knew that I had made a mistake and I sensed fear and danger within me but did not have the understanding for it.

I was new in the Lord and did not know that I would be facing someone who would go into demonic manifestation three times in that short lived marriage, and then once more into a manifestation when I was talking to him on the phone. At that time I did not know that it was even possible for a voice to change. That voice that said he was going to commit adultery on me (which he did) and then speak such sexual filth towards me to tear me down.

I did not know that he would pray death over me — which he confessed to, along with telling me that he committed adultery with his prayer partner. I don’t know if she took part in praying death over me. (I don’t think that she did; I think that she knew that was over the line.) He did not stay with her very long, he moved on to other women in his church.

One of his favorite forms of abuse was to heap shame onto me. His mouth spewed forth such vile degradation of who I was as a person and as a child of God. In one of his verbal rages he kept coming after me with his venom for what seemed like hours. It was getting close to midnight and I asked him to just stop and let the neighbors sleep. He escalated into more rage, saying he wanted everyone to know what he thought about me. He told me that he was going to open the front and back door so that everyone could listen — which he proceeded to do. I went to bed that night with such shame and a feeling of unworthiness. It took several weeks for me to even leave the house except for going to the grocery store. I just could not face seeing anyone and having to look into their eyes knowing that they may have heard all that had been said to me. We did have a 24 hour grocery store by us but I would wait until 3 o’clock in the morning to go, praying that the neighbors would all be sleeping at that time.

Only through hindsight can I see that he never thought of what people would think of him. He refused to see that he was in the wrong. In his thinking, it was I who deserved his hatred of me.

His cycle of abuse towards me was mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual.

What was so confusing for me was that he could hear the voice of the Lord. During the last part of our marriage he had wanted to come over. I told him that before he could come over he would have to agree to spend time in prayer before the Lord alone in my bedroom before we could talk about ourselves. He agreed to do so. I had already spent several hours of prayer in my bedroom earlier, before he had called. I asked the Lord for His Holy Spirit to reveal truth to H about his treatment towards me and all that he was doing to me. H came over and spent time praying in my bedroom. I was sitting in the living room and was lifting my heart up to rejoice before the Lord when the Lord Jesus spoke so plainly to me that it was not yet time to rejoice, so I just sat on the floor and wept quietly.

After the weeping was over, I got up and sat in the chair. H came into the living room a short time later. He said that the Holy Spirit had told him that he had used me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. My heart was thundering inside of me and I was thanking the Lord for the truth that He had revealed. And then the next thing I heard coming out of H’s mouth were the words “No, I do not believe that I ever used you this way.” He denied everything that God had spoken to him.
My heart just fell before the Lord.

During our marriage I had asked H if he wanted to keep a prayer journal — one that he could write down any verses that come to him in his prayer time. At that time, I did not know if he did used a prayer journal or not. It wasn’t until months after our divorce that I opened several boxes that H had packed and given to me. At the very bottom of one box was the prayer journal that H had kept. It wasn’t more than a few pages long but I could see the verses that H had written down and his responses to them. I read the verses where the Word says to be tenderhearted to your wife and other verses that talked about not sitting in judgement — and H’s comment that he felt that the Lord was speaking to him concerning me.

I wasn’t shocked that H had discarded the journal.  But I was shocked that he could hear from God through His Word and through prayer, but yet throw such a precious gift of hearing from God away. The very real and living God.

It has taken more then 20 yrs for me to even write about any of this, much less to even talk about it. I have shared just a little of what happened during that time.

Ps.63:7  For Thou has been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.

Ps.91:4  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. 


This post is by Milinda, who has recently started commenting on ACFJ. Many thanks to her!

Toward a Better Reading: Reflections on the Permanent Changes to the Text of Genesis 3:16 in the ESV – by Wendy Alsup and Hannah Anderson

Wendy Alsup and Hannah Anderson have started a series on the ESV change to Genesis 3:16. Here is Part 1: Toward a Better Reading: Reflections on the Permanent Changes to the Text of Genesis 3:16 in the ESV.   It is top notch. We encourage readers to follow Wendy and Hannah’ series.

Here is an excerpt:

The point here is not to expose some secret cabal or suggest nefarious motives on the part of the initial translators. The point is to highlight our shared commitment to the careful translation of potentially controversial passages. As users of the ESV, we have always known that the translation of the ESV occurred in context of concerns about gendered language. We understood the concern as such: Because Bible translators can read meaning into gendered words based on current sociological agendas, we want to be constrained by the actual words of the text even if it makes us uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the ESV’s permanent change to Genesis 3:16 seems to move away from this shared commitment. Instead, it favors an interpretative reading that elevates a specific interpretation of a gendered passage–one that is not shared across the spectrum of conservative thought.  Even worse, this change also has the potential to undermine the very conservatism it ostensibly seeks to protect.

Just as [the medicine] Coumadin interacts with ibuprofen to put a patient at risk, a shift in translation philosophy necessarily interacts with gender philosophy. We can only reach and sustain a conservative reading of gender through a conservative approach to translation. If the Scripture is not carefully guarded from sociological constructs (both conservative and liberal), we risk losing the very authority on which we base our understanding of gender.  How can we call the Church and the world to reflect the Scriptural teaching on gender if we lose the Scripture itself? Without the Scripture, liberalism devolves into androgyny and conservatism into misogyny.


Related posts:

The woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16 — let’s be consistent with the context and with actual life. 

The change of Genesis 3:16, ESS, the colonial code of relationship, and a call to bystanders

What is the woman’s desire? How Susan Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 fed steroids to abusers. (Pt 1 of 2)

Twitter hash tag   #ESVpermanenttranslation

How Abusers Camouflage Their Attacks – an analogy that cyclists will identify with

You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. (Psalms 50:19)

A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)

I have been riding my bicycle for exercise the last two months or so. We have a pretty nice paved road running up the valley along the Nestucca River right by our house so it’s a good place to ride. There are deer and elk…and some cars and trucks.

I have some mirrors on the handlebars so when I hear a car coming from behind I can watch and see if they are going to get over. I wear a bright orange vest and a bright orange helmet wih a flashing red light on the back, but then drunks don’t see much of anything. One thing I have learned is that when I hear a car coming and it goes past me, I have to be very careful not to assume that there isn’t another vehicle coming right behind it. This requires caution because the sound of the first vehicle masks the sound of the second and if bicyclists aren’t watching, they could pull right out in front of the second car after the first one passes.

I was thinking about this today when I was riding and it struck me that this is a perfect illustration of how wicked abusers, with full intent and calculation, mask or camouflage their assault on their victim. Just like that first car, abusers use flattery or “making nice” in some way just before they stab with their sword-tongue. This is a kind of crazy-making tactic of course and it is particularly evil. Similarly the “setup stage” of the abuse wheel cycle is another method of masking a coming attack.

First car comes by, you are cautious, all goes well and it passes you. So if you aren’t thinking you pull out and wham! The second one gets you. Remember this the next time an abuser tries to sucker you in with flattering words, seemingly nice actions and so on. It is a bright red light (when you understand what is going on) warning you that an attack is forthcoming.

Are there, or were there, any “good” times with an abuser? Quite often survivors tell us, once they are well and truly out of the fog, that the answer is NO! Because even the “good times” were nothing more than a setup to run over the victim who is unsuspecting or confused.


Further Reading

There Weren’t Really ANY “Good Times” With an Abuser

Battle Plans — Liam Goligher’s 5th sermon on the book of Esther

Battle Plans
Esther 5:1-14


Barb’s précis of the sermon:

Ps Goligher introduces this sermon by talking about how the story of the Bible is about the war — mostly an invisible war —between God and the devil, Christ and antichrist, the serpent and seed of the woman, and between the devil and the people of God.

In the book of Esther, Hamaan is a type of the antichrist.  Hamaan had immense power and prestige and he tried to effect ‘the final solution’ of the Jewish people, just like Hitler did. Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, will not bow to Hamaan because he recognises that such obeisance would break the commandments of God and it would be like bowing to the devil.

Mordecai’s resistance was not a personality clash between Mordecai and Hamaan. It wasn’t a personal pique. It was a principled stand for truth and righteousness.

Mordecai’s resistance, his refusal to bow the knee to Hamaan, precipitates a great threat to the church of God. [As victims of abuse we have experienced similar things: when we refuse to bow the knee to our abusers, the abusers usually escalate and rage against us, so we are in more danger.]  Mordecai’s one action of resistance — in God’s name and for God’s honor —puts the whole church of God in danger, because that one action exposes the heart of Hamaan and it explodes in rage and anger … which leads to a decree that the Jews will be eradicated.

And interestingly, Hamaan engages in occultism, just like Hitler did.

Mordecai sends a message to Esther with a copy of the decree; he encourages Esther, who is no longer a young girl, to do what she can to save the Jews. Esther accepts the challenge. She moves into the position of controlling what happens as the situation unfolds.  She becomes the governor. She tells Mordecai what to do. She tells Mordecai what to tell the other Jews to do. She mobilises the people of God to gather together to fast and pray.

Why did Esther pray? She knew that all things come to pass immutably and infallibly by the providence of God; but she also knew that God orders these things sometimes according to the nature of second causes, and one of those second causes is the prayer of God’s people.

And on the third day of prayer and fasting, Esther approaches the king’s throne room. The dramatic tension is highlighted by the slowing down of the narrative here. Esther is risking death by approaching the king uninvited.

Esther isn’t hasty. She doesn’t push in to the throne room. She stops. She stands outside the throne room, in full view of the king. When he sees Queen Esther, her queenliness, her resolution, her dignity, her inner nobility affect him — and he holds out his royal sceptre, setting her free from the risk of being immediately killed by his bodyguard.

The third day:  the Jewish Midrash says, “Israel is never left in dire distress more than three days.” (Hosea 6, Jonah, etc.)

And when the king offers to grant whatever her request may be, we are surprised to find that she does not grasp her moment too quickly. She simply asks the king to come to her dinner party and to bring Hamaan too. And after the dinner, does Esther put her real request? No. She simply asks the king and Hamaan to come to dinner tomorrow night and THEN she will tell the king her request. Esther is very much in charge here. She has them eating out of her hand! She’s acting as the Queen. She is being careful and wise.

Hamaan’s responses at this point show the folly of the evil-at-heart. All his pride and pleasure from the elevated status he had in the court — these feelings are dashed when he again sees Mordecai at the gate of the palace and he recalls that Mordecai won’t bow to him. And Zaresh, Hamaan’s wife, “consoles” her husband by suggesting he build a gallows and hang Mordecai on it.

… but the one enthroned in heaven laughs…




Why do Christians insist that Abuse Victims Return to Egypt?

Right on through Scripture, any desire to return to bondage and slavery is treated as foolish and even sinful.

And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:1-6)

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:1-3)

The Israelites grumbled. The Lord had done wonderful things for them by His might and power, delivering them from the harsh life in Egypt. But when the going got even a little difficult, the grumbling began. They longed for Egypt. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Abuse victims want freedom. They are enslaved and oppressed by their own personal “pharaoh” and once they begin to see just what is happening to them, they yearn for liberty.

Freedom and liberty in Scripture are good things. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Don’t let anyone trick you into returning to bondage. That is what the Bible says.

So why do so many pastors, churches, counselors, and individual Christians teach the opposite when it comes to abuse? What do I mean? The standard line — you all know it far too well — given to an abuse victim in a church is “Go back to Egypt. Go back. Return. Be enslaved. Submit to it. You’ve got a contract with pharaoh and it can’t be broken.” So the abused ones go back. And the abuse intensifies —

So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.'” So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (Exodus 5:10-12)

Why? Why is it that there are myriads of “freedom” programs (aka “ministries”) allegedly under the banner of Christ, offering liberty to captives — but not to abuse victims? “Come on, you can be free from slavery to overeating. You can be free of addictions. Here is how you can get free of co-dependency.” And on and on and on. But abuse victims? Forget it.

Think it through. How many ministries are in professing Christian churches specifically designed to set abuse victims free? You are going to have to search high and low to find one. Oh, but go looking for “ministries” (quotation marks here indicate my sarcasm) that put victims back into bondage in Egypt and you will find them all over the place. “Come on down and we will fix your marriage. Don’t even think about divorce. We will show you how to live happily ever after….with Pharaoh.”  Am I right? Of course I’m right. Because all of this is true.

Christ redeems His people. That means He sets us free. That is why He came and went to the cross. Anyone telling you to stay in Egypt is not of Christ no matter how “Christian” they might appear.