A Cry For Justice

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

Worshiping marriage? — “The Ten Commandments of Marriage” — Discernment needed

The most effective way to propagate a lie is to mix it with some truth. As Mary Poppins noted, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. However, in the case of many Christian bloggers, counselors, pastors or authors that provide marriage counseling, it is not medicine going down the throats of those that seek their advice, but pure arsenic mixed in with the sugar of Truth.

Mixing a bit of poisonous advice with scriptures implies an authority to that advice that it would not merit on its own. After all, for most Christians the words of the Bible are considered sacred, true, and something we strive to model our lives around. The genuine desire to please God, ignited in a believer’s soul when she first hears and responds to God calling her as His own may cause her to suspend a natural discernment when those around her supposedly quote Him. Christianity 101 demands that we get wise about discernment and exercise it with diligence.

I spent several decades listening to soul-destroying lies sandwiched between eternal truths because of a lack of awareness that God gives His children discernment. The worst of the things I ingested spiritually concerned the role of women in relation to their husbands and their churches. I’m still shoveling out the debris and ashes from the tornado of destruction that my lack of discernment created in my life. In part, the destruction was unleashed by suspending my own responsibility to study scriptures myself to determine whether the person quoting them did so accurately and that they actually reflected the intention and Spirit behind the text.

Unfortunately in patriarchal churches or those especially invested in hierarchal structures, women are often instructed that they are easily deceived and therefore not to trust their thinking or questions. Thus, if any queasiness or uncertainty arose in my mind, I tended to dismiss it as “doubt”, the devil, or rebellion that should be resisted. However, I now understand that when anyone asks me to suspend thinking in order to accept what they are promoting, they are promoting a lie.

Questioning and verifying if something said or taught is actually scriptural was considered a noble activity and commended by the apostles rather than discouraged:

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, who received the word with all eagerness, daily searching the scriptures, whether these things were so.

Believers must understand the importance of discernment to avoid the familiar pitfalls of being taken in by false teaching. Very often in the church, a statement is made or an idea accepted without challenge, to the point where it becomes a central tenet, ethos or characteristic of the church. A lie then coopts the truth and weaves itself in with the truth so that it sounds familiar, good and right. Before long a “lens” is adopted and all truth is then filtered through that lens. Truth is then adjusted to fit that lens to the point that the truth is gone and all that remains is a lie with a shallow scaffolding of truth to make it palatable.

Lies are only effective if they are well disguised. An example of a pervasive lens that distorts the Spirit and intent of the Word are those churches that believe a sign of Divine favor is most evidence by material wealth. They will look at the Word of God as a source to back up the belief that materialism is somehow a central right and tenet of the church.

The thousands of passages that command God’s people to care for the poor are replaced with a constant emphasis “God is good to me, you can tell, I have a piece of the American Dream; if you don’t, something is wrong with your Christianity.”  How easily we justify the idols we create as Divinely Certified good things.

Another lens evident by strident teaching, massive amounts of words, money and effort is the lens and cultural warping that marriage is the God-ordained, be all, end all, and central aspect of being a Christian. Please don’t misinterpret me here, I believe in marriage, and that it was created before the fall, something God pronounced “good”. It is used as a metaphor for Christ’s love, devotion, and commitment to his followers. Jesus did perform his first miracle at a wedding, and there is a message in that, but not the message that became the lens it has become for the church.

I’ve watched a sad evolution as the church has adopted with increasing stridency the idea that marriage is a transcendent purpose for all of life and is in that way supreme. Couching the supremacy and centrality of marriage as the center of all life in “God words” was illustrated to me by the twisting of the 10 commandments by Tami Myer to reinforce marriage’s sovereignty over a life. When domestic abuse survivors come in contact with those who have created a god out of marriage, it is no wonder they are treated as heretics. ACFJ is full of the stories of their dismissal from the fold or ridiculous insistence that they make this false god work out — to fit the lens of their friendly church persecutors.

“The Ten Commandments for Marriage” — an idolatrous teaching by Tami Myer

When The 10 Commandments for Marriage landed on my Facebook page recently, I could not remain silent. Myer’s 10 commandments triggered a memory of decades of bondage to a lens that is not only unscriptural but is in competition with the only Being in the universe deserving of that sort of worship. My former bondage to the idea that marriage should be worshiped included painful emotional gymnastics trying to make an abusive marriage look beautiful.

My experience does not make me a skeptic about marriage. It does make me look at the whole counsel of the word of God, and note that Jesus stated “in heaven there will be no marriage”. In fact, I wonder sometimes if the emphasis on it in ‘c’hristianity isn’t actually narcissistic and an excuse to indulge in the temporary pleasures of this world with abandonment, thinking that this self-focus on me and mine “is all holy”.

The narcissism of it is justified by all sorts of teaching these days making your marriage the happiest show on earth. I remember a Christian women’s speaker at a conference stating emphatically that she was a team with her husband and “my team is going to win.” She wasn’t talking about winning souls. Win what: lovers of the year recognition with a bed on a platform and sex manuals written by ministers? Win fame as the most loved woman in the congregation evidenced by a husband’s slavish devotion and her own to making another human happy by gratifying his flesh 24/7? Win a competition with other women that my husband gives me nicer toys than yours, is that the point?

The lens focusing on marriage as the supreme of all of life which we uphold in our preaching, teaching, book writing, living emphasis on “this is the reason I’m alive” looks to a lost and dying world like pure narcissism. Let them die and go to hell; hubby and I are going to have a date night. This is not to say marriage isn’t meant to be fun and companionable and provide needs and be joyous, but, for heavens sake, where does that overflowing joy touch the starving world around it? It is rather like an insatiable bottomless pit demanding more and more attention, more and more books, sermons, blogs, teaching and now this “10 commandments for marriage”.
Subverting the meaning of the real 10 commandments to foster worship of an institution that will pass away when Christ returns, is the height of purveying the false gospel that marriage is to be esteemed and honored above God himself. I point out a few obnoxious twists on the original 10 commandments —

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR MARRIAGE BY TAMI MYER

1. Thou shalt have no other lovers in your life.
2. Thou shalt have no affections or priorities which displace thy spouse.
3. Thou shalt not speak of thy spouse in a dishonoring way.
4. Remember to schedule a date with thy spouse. Guard it, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but on the seventh day, thou shalt relax and recharge with thy spouse.
5. Honor the father and the mother of thy spouse.
6. Thou shalt not wound with anger, cut with cruel words, or kill hope.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery, in thought or in deed.
8. Thou shalt not rob one another of attention, esteem, affection, or kindness.
9. Thou shalt not lie or deceive.
10. Thou shalt not compete or resent. For you “are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:8-9, NIV)
From Tami Myer, Manna for Marriage (link

For abuse survivors whose unfortunate non-relationship is more hell than heaven, the above is grievous advice. There are marriage worshipers that will insist on telling the victim of domestic terrorism that if she just did the above, everything would be fixed.

The truth that a wife should not entertain any lovers other than her husband in the original 10 commandments, but the command to have no priority that displaces thy spouse is the opposite of the original which states “we are to have no other God before Him.” Placing a spouse before God is another word for idolatry. In commandment three she will be discouraged from telling the truth about her husband, so she will feel guilty-bound not to break her silence and disclose the abuse. In commandment four she is told that time with her spouse is the same as a Sabbath rest, which is opposite to the truth of her life. Time with her spouse is time spent in pain, confusion, dashed hopes, and fear. There is no ‘rest and recharge,’ there is only walking on eggshells.

Has Tami Meyers gone so far as to replace God with a husband? Please note her suggestion that Psalm 23 is the husband chapter of the Old Testament like Proverbs 31 is the wife chapter — and her expectations of what men are supposed to be to their wives. There is not a man alive that could possibly be to a woman what God alone is meant to be. Her teaching puts unrealistic expectations of trust on the wife’s part and a performance on a man’s part when he needs a Savior and Shepherd every bit as much as his wife does. I believe these sort of expectations contribute to domestic violence in our churches. God alone is the Great Shepherd.

It is time for discernment in an age where the church is being rocked to sleep by lies hidden in truth. God has given us an internal teacher available 24/7 to guide, guard and lead us into all that is true. But we must do our part in searching out the scriptures. I recommend the Blue Letter Bible an online resource to check out the original Greek and Hebrew meanings of bible passages. God speaks, and He speaks to you; if some teaching makes you uncomfortable, pray for discernment, search out the meaning. Above all avoid those teachers that fear your questions.

John 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future].

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13 Comments

  1. LH

    Excellent article!! Too many churches NEED to hear this and stop idolizing marriage.

  2. Lisa

    Excellent. I agree that churchianity idolizes & idealizes marriage–I trained as a midwife and saw women idolizing CHILDBIRTH & MOTHERHOOD! Perhaps we all should just scrap these various ’10 commandments’ of __________ (fill in the blank) and instead be guided by 1 Corinthhians 13 –while simultaneously being wise as serpents.

    • a prodigal daughter returns

      Thank you, Lisa for this great point. I’ve observed this as well and wonder if it doesn’t speak to a larger problem of getting one’s identity and value outside of a being a new creation in Christ? We don’t have “work” to earn God’s love or it wouldn’t be grace that brought us into a right relationship to Him. God loves us because He is good not because we keep rules that serve our desire to make ourselves acceptable by our works.

      • Hope

        Thank you both, Lisa and Prodigal. There is only one God-given 10 commandments, the others are all human-made (or should I say man-made?), and as such are totally inferior. The name 10 rules or 10 suggestions would perhaps be more honest, to distinguish earthly (man-made) from heavenly (God-given). Thank you for that well made point, it has helped me tonight.

        You are also so correct in that God loves us not for what we do, but for what we are – His. Because He chose and chooses to love us, because it is His choice, not our works, not our worthiness (that doesn’t exist!), it’s all Him. He loves us just because. That is so comforting to me, that in spite of a father and a husband who abused me into ruined health, the best Being in all of reality, in this entire space-time continuum, instead of abuse chooses to love me for no other reason than that He makes that choice. Even now He makes that choice, even after all I’ve been through, after all I’ve lost, after all that I can no longer be or do. God sees each of us through the lens of His son’s blood, and He sees each of us as perfect and holy, just as we are at any given moment, no matter what. Christ alone is the great equalizer as well as Savior. Wow.

      • a prodigal daughter returns

        Yes Hope! You said this so well, the God of all Hope, has given you such a testimony. As one whose health has also been broken by abuse, this passage is comforting to me. 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day

        A renewed mind is something no human can ever take away from us no matter what condition our bodies are in! God is good and whatever man intended to destroy, God intended to redeem.

  3. Still Reforming

    So, so true. In a self-defense class I just finished, the instructor (a police captain) told us that we weren’t to tell any man outside of the class any of the techniques we learned in class because “husbands become ex-husbands, boyfriends become ex-boyfriends, and they will want to be competitive with you and show you just how they can effectively counter the techniques you learned. We don’t let men – other than select instructors – in here for a reason.”

    This class was so much wiser on the subject of evil, without distinguishing between the married and the unmarried, than any church I’ve ever been in.

    It’s little wonder evil flourishes in marriages when it’s sanctioned by the church, which upholds institutions above individuals.

  4. M&M

    This is disturbingly accurate for churches that don’t care, but for churches that don’t understand it may be a matter of wrong assumptions rather than wrong motives. I think some people would assume that “first priority” means “first priority besides God” and would assume that both spouses give each other respect and rest. I’ve seen less of using marriage to ignore the gospel and more of teaching that both spouses should resolve conflict in a godly way so that it’s a good example to unbelievers. I’m glad some churches aren’t malicious, but I’m sad that ignorance still hurts people.

  5. Moving Forward

    This is so true, so sad, and so hurtful. The pressure I was under to meet all of his needs was a huge burden I knew I could not bear. I am not God, but he wanted me to be one. In his mind, I broke all but 1 and 7, and that was unforgivable, so he walked out (oh happy day! – not quite what he had in mind).

    Guess what he broke – 1 and 7. Oh yes, and 2. Yes, and 9 big time and ongoing. And dates were only so he could have fodder for the blaming. Let’s make it simple. He broke all 10, but believes he broke none. This would definitely be his list, if he had thought of writing it first, except he would leave number 7 out. And so hard when the church backs all these rules up and effectively keeps her from being able to say anything.

  6. healingInHIm

    THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR MARRIAGE BY TAMI MYER
    –very painful to read
    Thank you for this post and affirmation, “It is time for discernment in an age where the church is being rocked to sleep by lies hidden in truth.”

  7. This statement sums up what I experienced for 28 years.

    My former bondage to the idea that marriage should be worshiped included painful emotional gymnastics trying to make an abusive marriage look beautiful.

    I was so confused at my church’s response (the victim-blaming, sin-leveling, guilt-inducing “advice” no matter how hard I tried and no matter what I said) but this statement —

    When domestic abuse survivors come in contact with those who have created a god out of marriage, it is no wonder they are treated as heretics

    makes it clear why they responded that way.

    When I finally came to my own conclusion (thanks to ACFJ and hurtbylove.com and Lundy Bancroft, et al!) that the individual is God’s priority, that He holds each of us accountable for our OWN sin (not the wife for the husband’s or vice versa) not “marriage at any cost,” I was able to establish firm parameters that for my situation, have been working, but not until I stopped listening to those who worship the institution of marriage. I am guilty of it as well for just taking in the lie and not “rightly dividing the Word,” as the Bereans did.

    I have said it many times, but it bears repeating: I dont know where I would be without ACFJ and their commitment to Biblical TRUTH.

  8. surviving freedom

    Great post. It is so true that we must use discernment when listening to others. It is a very difficult thing to do though when there are people in authority who use just enough Scripture to back it up, or who condemn you for speaking something different.

    I think discernment can be a hard thing for targets of abuse (or wives in general) when we hear so many of the same messages from so many different sources, especially if Scripture is isolated. I often marvel at how so many people will quote John 3:16, but completely reject or admonish if you point out all the verses right after it. And if you point them out they condemn you for being un-Christlike, but in reality who is the one who’s rejecting Christ … the one’s rejecting Scripture, only quoting the “nice” sounding verses and ignoring, contradicting, or rejecting anything that might make anyone uncomfortable.

    It is a hard maze to work through when you’ve been manipulated and deceived by the one who’s abusing you, coerced to question and doubt yourself, and then the same thing is happening to you from pastors, counselors, ‘c’hristian authors. Something I hold onto is that God does not send mixed messages, and He is unchanging … so all Scripture is to be held in account to the entire nature of God … so I ask myself is whatever happening (if it’s a repeated pattern or has been confronted and the person is unrepentant) something God hates and rejects, Scripture is very clear in several places concerning that.

    I’ve also come to disentangle the message of holding marriage like it is a god, being led to believe that I must worship marriage or I’m failing God. Marriage is a covenant UNDER God’s authority. But a covenant is a contract, so if one person breaks his contractual obligations repeatedly and does not take the steps needed to ‘fix’ the wrong done and then proceed to truly work to fulfill the covenant which he broke, it is ludicrous to expect or instruct someone that they must still honor their side of the contract or they are the one’s who are failing God.

  9. MaxGrace

    Thank you for this profound article. We do start to see things through the lenses of the current social focus. Churchianity or you tube trends. Whatever. I can’t help thinking that in the end days, as the bible says, many anti`christ’s will come. Idolatry of marriage is just one. Those ten commandments of marriage???? Thank you for identifying and exposing what appears to be an accepted and harmless emphasis on a “good thing”, as an actual form of ghastly idolatry. Discernment is needed indeed.

  10. Innoscent

    I dare say that I find Tami Myer’s 10 commandments for marriage blasphemous. For instance the 4th one, how can a date with your husband be considered as “holy”?? And the 5th, God said to honor specifically father and mother, not the in-laws, or cousins, aunties and uncles, nephews and nieces for that matter. Why? because they represent God’s authority and intimate care towards His children.
    Myer like many others in churchianity made a golden calf of the institution of marriage and are dancing around it…

    If church leaders and husbands were honestly keeping God’s Ten Commandments in the first place, there would be no abuse among God’s people.

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