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7 Sneaky Idols Destroying Christian Marriages Today

Clarence L. Haynes Jr.

Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 24, 2024
7 Sneaky Idols Destroying Christian Marriages Today

I learned something about idols a long time ago. Everything in your life has the potential to become an idol.

We often equate idols with negative things or sinful pursuits, but an idol is anything that removes Christ from the number one position in your heart and life. There is only one throne in your heart; either Christ is sitting on it, or someone or something else is. When that happens, it becomes an idol.

Idols don’t just affect us individually; they can sneak into your relationships. When they do, they can wreak havoc on those relationships. If you are married or considering marriage, pay close attention to ensure these idols don’t creep into your life.

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man holding a stack of money, sneaky idols destroying marriage

1. Materialism

“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

It is great to work, and it is nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But you must ask yourself, when is enough enough? Countless people have sacrificed everything at the altar of more. The need for a bigger house, better car, and bigger bank account drives them to where this becomes their obsession. For some men especially, we can be driven to provide more, and we see the provision as our expression of love for our wives and children. In the process, we can overlook the fact that moments matter more than materials.

Be careful that you don’t get sucked into the lie that having more stuff will make you happier because it won’t. As you get older, you tend to remember the moments you have shared more than what you have accumulated. If you must choose, choose to make the moments over getting more stuff. Your spouse will thank you, and your marriage will be better.

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Man with Bible, sneaky idols destroying marriage today

2. Ministry

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (Revelation 2:4)

This is an example of something good that has the potential to become an idol. Serving in ministry is a fantastic way to give back and to use the gifts and talents God has given you for his kingdom. However, you must keep ministry in its proper perspective because there is one thing I have learned about ministry. It does not stop. There will always be more ministry opportunities available for you. Since ministry never stops, you must stop.

It is appropriate to serve and to serve with all your heart, but make sure you don’t serve with all your time. What will be left for your spouse if you dedicate all your time to ministry? Serving in ministry was never supposed to take away from your marriage, but hopefully, add to it. If you discover ministry is getting in the way of your marriage, then it is time to re-evaluate the amount of time you are spending in ministry. After all, your first ministry is to God and then to your spouse. If you neglect those things, it is only a matter of time before this house of cards crumbles.

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comparison, sneaky idols destroying marriage today

3. Comparison

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

One of the most dangerous things you can do is compare your marriage to someone else’s or even attempt to pattern your marriage after someone else’s marriage. As I have observed relationships over the years, I have realized that no two marital relationships will ever be the same. Since every person is different, each relationship has a uniqueness that cannot be duplicated, and you should not attempt to do so. What works for one couple may not work for you. This does not mean you can’t learn from another couple’s experiences; it means you must consider them in light of your own marital relationship. Your goal should not be to be a better version of someone else’s relationship. Your goal should be to be the best version of your own. After all, that is why God joined you together in the first place.

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Woman surrounded by busyness, sneaky idols destroying marriage today

4. Busyness

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

We are probably busier now than ever before. Part of the blame falls on the society that never shuts off, but another part is that we have bought into that mentality. Most people today wear busy as a badge of honor. Well, there is such a thing as being too busy. How do you know if you are falling victim to busyness and if it is creeping into your marriage?

  • If you only see your spouse before you leave for work in the morning or before you go to bed at night, you might be too busy.
  • If your calendar is filled with activities and responsibilities and none includes time with your spouse, you might be too busy.
  • If every conversation ends with, “I can’t talk now; I have a Zoom call to jump on,” then you might be too busy.

In these instances and others like it, busyness is not a badge of honor. It is a recipe for disaster. If you are too busy, then it is time to let some things go. Remember, part of being married is sharing life together. So, make your life together a priority and fill your calendar around it. If you don’t make your relationship with your spouse a priority, you may open the door that someone else will.

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bored couple sitting on couch, sneaky idols destroying marriage today

5. Complacency

“Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Most relationships go through stages. There is courtship, which can lead to exclusive dating, which can lead to engagement and then marriage. Even when you are married, you go through the honeymoon stage. From there, the kids may come, and you settle into raising a family. Even if you don’t have children, you can settle into a place where you are comfortable with each other. One challenge in that place is that you can forget to keep building your relationship.

Sometimes, marriage ends the courtship because the feeling is you already have the prize. Please don’t believe this because it is not true. Fight through this idol of complacency and continue to remember the things about your spouse that made you fall in love with them. This issue can even become greater if you have children because now you have a legitimate responsibility you must address. Even so, don’t become complacent in your relationship. One day, the kids will grow up and be just the two of you again. You will still be husband and wife long after you stop being mommy and daddy. Treasure that and keep nurturing this because it will pay tremendous dividends as you walk through life.

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depressed couple looking away from each other, sneaky idols destroying marriages today

6. Each other

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37)

As I stated earlier, everything in your life has the potential to become an idol. Sometimes, the one we position in front of Christ is the one we are married to.

Granted, you are obligated to that person, but Christ must always be your priority. If you mix this up, then you neglect the one who can empower you to have the type of marriage you desire in the first place.

Christ at the center of your marriage does not mean you will have a perfect marriage. It positions you to have one filled with love and grace, two ingredients necessary to produce a long, healthy marriage.

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laptop, sneaky idols destroying marriage today

7. Pornography

“Enjoy sex with your own wife. May the wife that you married when you were young continue to give you joy. May she be as pretty and beautiful as a young deer. May her breasts always make you happy. May she love you in a way that gives you joy.” (Proverbs 5:18-19)

Pornography is sneaky because people often engage in it in the dark, it has an addictive nature, and it creates unrealistic expectations of what sex within a marital relationship should be. Pornography does not paint a picture of a healthy, loving sexual relationship. At best, it stirs up lustful passions within those who watch it, which can lead to other issues such as masturbation, adultery, or unfulfilling sexual intimacy. It becomes unfulfilling not because of your spouse but because you have expectations that no one could ever fulfill.

A healthy and satisfying sexual relationship is based on mutual love, mutual respect, and a mutual desire to satisfy each other. None of these things are present in pornography. When you bring these ideas into your marital bed, you set yourself up for failure.

One of the great joys of marriage is being able to express yourself sexually in a relationship with someone that you know loves you and cares about you both inside the bedroom and outside the bedroom. No type of pornography could ever duplicate that level of desire, expression, and communication.

As a married person, you don’t need pornography to enhance your sexual experience because it won’t. If you invest the time with each other and learn to communicate whether you are in the bedroom or outside it, that will allow you to create more enjoyment than any pornography ever could.

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Marriage, sneaky idols destorying marriages today

What Should We Remember about Healthy Marriages Today?

“But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)

Marriage is wonderful. God designed it to be wonderful. But remember that great marriages don’t happen by accident. For your marriage to work, you and your spouse must pay attention. If you don’t, these things (and other sneaky idols) can sneak in and destroy even the most promising marital relationships.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com

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Originally published Tuesday, 16 April 2024.