Oneness in marriage, or “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 NIV), is disrupted by the presence of any deception. The lies we believe interact with the lies of our spouse to create division. To discuss these common lies, we must begin with a fundamental assumption: we do have an enemy, and he is a deceiver, the father of lies. Jesus, on the other hand, is the Truth. Recognizing the presence of our enemy as a reality, learning about his tactics, developing the ability to identify his lies, and seeking the truth from Jesus keeps us in unity and grounds us to a strong foundation.
One enemy tactic is to divide and conquer. This tactic has been used in almost every marriage relationship. It is most evident in the almost 55% divorce rate. Using circumstances and a focus on self, the enemy seeks to push a wedge between spouses. Why would this matter to the enemy? The marriage is the anchor of the family, and division in the marriage plants seeds of lies in the hearts of the most vulnerable members of the family: the children. Satan has no compunction about destroying children, even though we might assume there would be some basic limits of decency in him – some restriction on his schemes. There are not.
The enemy has limited resources (he is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient) but he is cunning, so he goes after the easiest targets. The innocent hearts of children make for defenseless, blank slates on which he can write his lies. Once those lies get in there, they begin to feel true, and it becomes increasingly difficult to remove them. In addition, the lies create a lens through which we view our circumstances. This circular process generates a self-reinforcing system, strengthening the position of the lies and deepening the feeling that they are indeed true.
If we take just a few steps back and look at the big picture, we can see how the enemy is establishing a system to maintain his ability to influence and affect our lives. Through dividing husbands and wives, lies are embedded in the children. Those children grow up, marry, and allow those same lies to divide them from their spouses, repeating the cross-generational transmission alluded to in Scripture: “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” Numbers 14:18, NIV).
This enemy strategy in marriages is to set up spouses as adversaries. If he can set us up against each other, we create our own division. The secondary consequence (or benefit to the enemy) is we lose the strength and support that oneness with our spouse affords us. Then, Satan sits back and watches in satisfaction as we seek to destroy each other. He has used a minimum of resources and has accomplished his goal.
The truth is we are unified by our relationship with Jesus. According to Christ, we are allies, not adversaries. We are for each other, not against each other. If, as Jesus stated, we are truly one when we are joined by God, how can we be adversaries? As Jesus said, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25, NIV). When couples unite against the common enemy, and recognize who the enemy really is (and it is not their spouse!), there is much more success in the battle. If our perception remains “you against me” or “mine and yours” instead of “us” and “ours,” we are easily divided. We want our pronouns to change from I/me/mine to we/us/our, and we want our perceptions to reflect that view. So the byword is: Do Not Let the Enemy Divide You.