The problem with a lot of Christian marriage teaching is that most Christian writers, speakers, and pastors assume both spouses want to change.
They naively believe that with just the right tools, strategies, and support, all spouses can mature up.
And so they spend a lot of time trying to save all marriages.
But is that what Scripture actually teaches?
Luke wrote these words of Christ:
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? Luke 6:46.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." 1 John 4:1-3 NIV
"Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister." 1 John 4:20-21 NIV
And there’s plenty more Scripture that reveals we can claim Christianity while being something else entirely.
Christian Marriage Problems
Here’s the thing we must accept as we seek to address christian marriage problems:
Some people are committed to Christ by word only, not word + action. Some who call themselves Christians are committed to the outward show of religion, not the inner transformation that results from truthfully walking with Jesus.
So for us, advice-givers, approaching ALL marriage problems as if they are something BOTH spouses can solve with just a bit of support and help is, at best, thoughtless. And unscriptural.
We must consider that some people don’t want to do the work of being healthy and safe. For whatever reasons (and lots exist), they want the perks only, never the responsibility of a spouse.
What do we do then?
Get some training. If you want to speak into marriages, don’t just speak to one side of the room. Speak to everyone.
Talking to everyone means being clear and thorough (so listeners grow in their understanding of healthy vs. harmful dynamics,) removing debunked but still-popular talking points (do the research), changing your illustrations, stories, and conclusions, doing the research, issuing caveats, getting your facts right, cultivating empathy, and being okay with making less. (When you no longer market your “regular marriage problems” resources to people in destructive marriages, you’ll likely make less money.)
Where to get this type of training? Check out
You can also follow abuse advocates’ pages. Read their words AND the comments. (Check their Facebook pages, websites, books and resources and support communities.)
- Hope For Hurting Wives with MaryEllen Brean
- Flying Free with Natalie Hoffman
- Rebecca Davis—Untwisting Scriptures
- Held and Healed with Heather Elizabeth
- Confusion to Clarity with Helena Knowlton
- Life Saving Divorce with Gretchen Baskerville
- Sarah McDugal
- Patrick Weaver Ministries
- Betrayal Trauma Recovery
- Bare Marriage with Sheila Gregoire
- Andrew J Bauman
- If you’re in danger, call an emergency hotline in your country. Canada: 800.799.SAFE (7233). United States: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673). United Kingdom: 08 08 16 89 111. Australia: 1800 015 188. New Zealand: 0800 456 450. Kenya: 0-800-720-072. Nigeria: 0800 033 3333. South Africa: 0800 428 428.
And many others.
Remember, you’re not too busy for this. Your audience needs you to become a safe teacher, one who is trauma and abuse aware. You owe them.
Unholy Fruit: Guide to Discerning Toxic Character Workshop
Are you in a chronically problematic marriage? Or perhaps you know someone who is and you desire to support them. In this Workshop and Checklist (affiliate link), Coach Sarah McDugal empowers your ability to discern the Fruit of an UNholy spirit. If you have felt confused by the dissonance between someone’s pious words and their exploitative actions, this workshop offers clarity and some possible next steps in your healing journey. CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT.