A Marriage Covenant Protects Against a Marriage Trap

Beware of the Marriage Trap

By: Deborah White Dove

Modern wedding vows may be a sign of marriage dysfunction. Marriage vows can be a license to steal, kill, and destroy a woman's soul, along with the children. Marriage vows are not biblical, but making a marriage covenant is.

At the heart of love is a covenant relationship between two people and God. We call it marriage, but most of us have no understanding of how marriage is designed to work. While it's true for normal relationships, this becomes even more true when we unwittingly enter marriage with a sociopath.

Perhaps we should start with the question, what is a biblical marriage?

Most people today place an importance on the marriage ceremony and the marriage "vows" that the couple make before witnesses. Yet in the Bible there is not the slightest instruction about the need for any marriage ceremonies (other than a marriage supper).Ernest L. Martin, PhD

In reading through more than 20-years of my journals, I often repeated the same question to God, "I know you hate divorce, but how long can I endure this broken heart?"

I perceived our beautiful wedding ceremony as a sham, even worse, a trap. I knew it as early as our honeymoon.

You say, "I do" to love, honor, and cherish till death do you part. You expect hard times. You are loyal through thick and thin, always believing it will get better if you just work hard enough at it. But only one of you is believing, praying, hoping, and working at it.

Marriage to a sociopath is impossible, because the foundation of the relationship is built on lies.

What is a sociopath? They look and sound like the very best Christians, eager to please you; and they are charming, popular, and intelligent. Underneath the sheepskin, they are wolves.

You may not be married to a sociopath, but please don't think this doesn't affect you. We are all connected. We are One in Christ. What affects even just a minority of our population ripples out into devastating consequences for all of us. Getting educated about abuse is a responsibility for all of us. We need each other!

So here's my little story: My husband and I were in our early twenties when we got married, just two-months after our graduation from a Christian college.

I lost everything I owned within the first six months of "marriage". My paid-for car, my savings account, my job, and my home. He was addicted to credit cards and he needed my assets to keep him afloat. When he lost his job, we moved in with his parents out of state. I had to quit my job. When his car broke, he took mine. That left me without transporation to get another job.

He lost his job seven times within our first six years. I received an inheritance. He gladly took it, all in the name of "marriage". What is mine is his. Pretty soon all our finances were under lock and key, safe his mom's house, far from me.

He got away with so much, why not keep going. When evil is not confronted, it grows and gets bolder. He began having affairs, not even bothering to cover his tracks. Sometimes with men, other times with women. 

Good times and bad times, through thick and thin, the marriage vows say. For 20 years it was thin and getting thinner. It's like we were walking on thin ice, until one day I was pushed under the icy lake of lies with his threats to take my life.

Pastors were consulted long before the break up. In each case, I was told, "Don't you know God hates divorce? Can't you have more grace?"

You would think that divorce would be one of the deadliest sins, from the weight and importance we place on it – the shame and humiliation that is heaped on victims. But let's look at what the seven deadly sins really are:

  1. A proud look
  2. A lying tongue
  3. Hands that shed innocent blood
  4. A heart that devises wicked plots
  5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief
  6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
  7. Him that soweth discord among brethren
Who is murdering your heart? The arrogant lies, the proud deception, the broken promises and wicked plots. Threats to mutilate your body and let it bleed until you die. Smear campaigns and gaslighting.
Seriously, to be silent about all of the above, as many Christian ministers presently advocate ("just have more grace"), is to become evil's silent accomplice!

A sociopath, being the wolf in sheepskin that he is, will take great delight in murdering your heart. My husband took pride in telling me, "Sue, it's all part of the Game. It's much more fun to wound your heart than to put bruises on your skin. No one will ever know."

Unless there is an awakening among Christians, and unless we get educated about sociopaths, we open to the door to emotional and spiritual murder in our own homes and churches.
For what does the wolf tell his wife when she speaks up? "No one believes you." And the abuse intensifies. You have only one choice – to leave. And again you lose everything.
This is NOT MARRIAGE. You are dancing with the devil.

I know living with a sociopath is an extreme situation. It's not normal. But I believe this illustration serves a purpose: What if the way we've been practicing marriage is upside down?
I know of many Christian couples who have been "successfully" married for three or four decades, but they hate each other. In fact, I attended a church service where the pastor declared, "My wife and I have been married for thirty years today. She is the love of my life!" And the crowd clapped their hands and cheered. He wiped a tear from his eyes as he accepted the praise.
Reality check: This pastor and his wife had not shared a bed in fourteen years. They hated each other but could not stand to part, for they feared they would lose their repuation and their wealth.
Their story is not unusual. I know of many Christian couples who live this way.




If a couple wished to marry in biblical days, the parents of the couple would simply send out invitations to friends and relatives to attend the marriage supper. After the supper was over, the couple were considered by society as being married. There were no vows taken. There were no ceremonies in which a minister or priest officiated. There were no legal documents required by the government to consummate a marriage and the validity of the marriage was not acknowledged legally beyond the witness of the local "elders of the gate" within the village or city in which the couple lived. The synagogue or church had nothing to do with it. Indeed, the contract of marriage was legally in force only between the parents of both the man and woman getting married and the married couple themselves. Simply put, the legal responsibility went no further than the local community of the couple. It was not expected that the state or national governments had any jurisdiction concerning the marriage whatever! — Ernest L. Martin, PhD
A covenant is simply a contract. The best way to picture this is in the covenant God made with Israel, which is essentially a marriage contract. (Jer 3:14; Ez 16:8) Genesis begins with a marriage and Revelation ends with a marriage. The Apostle Paul refers to the "mystery" of marriage, in that it's the closest analogy with have to our intimate relationship with God.
In regard to the marriage covenant (or "contract"), it is usually an agreement made between a man and a woman to live with one another in close, intimate circumstances which includes the experience of sexual relations between the couple. — Ernest L. Martin, PhD
A covenant is an agreement in which each person agrees to the conditions. God kept all of His promises but Israel, His wife, broke the covenant repeatedly, to such an extent that God divorced His own wife. (Jer 3:8) Israel had already committed an emotional divorce and distanced her self from her Husband and King and God could not force her to stay. Yet He did not break covenant with her. And there was a remnant still, of true believers, just as there is today.
We all fail at one time or another. That doesn't mean we divorce. But when there is a steady cycle of abuse, the offended party needs to get out.
We don't exit our marriage covenant for frivolous reasons. Christ condemned that as being hard-hearted. Victims of abuse are usually not hard-hearted, although in the case of marriage with a sociopath, the victim will be portrayed as hard-hearted, no doubt about it!
Let's look at the model of God marrying Israel, which appears to be what the Apostle Paul spoke of in Ephesians 5, which he said, "Be imitators of God"…
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she [r]respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:25-33
We don't see a threatening spouse here. In pure love, the husband tenderly nurtures his wife. He loves her in the same way that he cares for own body. It's a mystery, but in loving his wife, she responds to his tenderness with tender love. In such a way, the husband receives love from his wife, as she reflects back to him the nurture she has received.
"Head" does not mean leader but rather "source" or the "initiator". As God initiates and is the source of love to Israel and Israel responds with respect, honor, and love back to God, so a husband is to initiate love to his wife. It's a cycle of love and more love!
In this loving environment, the children feel stable and secure, and with united and loving leadership in the home, children can obey their parents without losing their personal identity.
Husband and wife are equal, but not the same, just as parents and children are equal, but not the same.
A return to covenant love looks like Malachi 4, to me. And this is my "dream come true".

[a]For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the Lord of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” “But for you who [b]fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day [c]which I am preparing,” says the Lord of hosts.[d]Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will [e]restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a [f]curse.” — Malachi 4

Do you see the connection, as I do, between covenant love and the healing of the backbone of society, which is the family??? 🙂
This is a CURE!
Our modern wedding vows are not biblical! Our modern view of marriage needs to be upgraded!
Because we live in a broken world where there are predators in our pulpits and our population includes 4% sociopaths, at this time, the change we seek needs to begin right here, in each individual person, simply by waking up and getting a basic education in pathological love!
No one should ever be forced to remain in an ongoing, escalating abusive relationship. I know many people are waking up to this reality, but the truth is, many churches have become abusive! Church leaders are taking on controlling roles, in the name of love, of course, and it's resulting in bleeding the sheep, as in Ezekiel 34.
All across Christianity, we need to WAKE UP!
Some of us need to divorce the devil! Whether it's at home or at church.
The continuence of the marriage contract is meant to last a life time; however it's always contingent on the conditions of the contract being met, on both sides for the duration of the contract.
However, if you've taken modern wedding vows, you don't have this option. In fact, because government and church were put into the equation, right from the beginning, you will find yourself enmeshed in battles that were never meant for any human to bear!
For me, I would not have had pastors admonishing me to, "Have more grace," when my life was being threatened. Or a pastor who forbade me to see a counselor outside of the church. Or years before that, when infidelity played a role again and again, it still would have been painful, but the abuse could have been stopped with a biblical covenant instead of "wedding vows".
Messy court battles that no one really wins, except the attorneys, go on for what seems eternity! Child support and visitation become open doors for the enemy to re-abuse the victims over and over again. It's not just heart-breaking, it's spiritually lethal! The way courts and churches presently handle divorce is very often a deadly sin, in my opinion! We can change that as each one of us gets awakened, educated, and enlightened.
One of the most dangerous (and disastrous) consequences of modern marriage rules is the abandonment of the scriptural contract and substituting it with the modern "vow". If a man or a woman "vows" to maintain a matrimonial association with another for life, that is a far different thing from making a contract with the other person for life which has conditions attached to it. — Ernest L. Martin, PhD
There are only three biblical applications for taking vows, and marriage is not one of them.
What does a marriage covenant look like?

Apart from the romantic and more emotional side, couples would carefully spend time together, painstakingly creating their life together in full color, in every detail. The are, in effect, creating their world, with God!

Apart from peer pressure or any kind of pressure, couples will determine their own conditions of the relationship, ongoing throughout their lives!

They make educated decisions, taking full responsibility for maintaining the covenant and keeping their end of the contract. It's the way marriage was designed to be… fruitful, productive, mutually benefitting the couple and society.

What do you think? Would there be less divorce, do you think? Would predators no longer have the upper hand? Can we really create "abuse-free zones" in our homes and communities?
I believe Covenant Love is the best Cure for dysfunctional marriages and families. Love overcomes all evil. Covenant Love is the written terms by which this Love flows through out lives. It's a kind of love that God demonstrates for us.
When I got re-married, it was a time when I deeply pondered marriage. When I came upon this site in my research and read this lengthy article by Dr. Ernest Martin, I knew I had found my answers as it resonated deep in my heart.
There's a lot more to talk about, don't you think… and to dream about?
Like… how is this carried out in a community? Let's consider… The nation who provided a blueprint for the US Constitution, the Iroquois nation, lived in such a way. It was simple. The nation understood the importance of women and children living in peace and security together. If a husband became abusive, the wife put his possessions on the doorstep and the whole community backed her decision. It was a done deal. They understood that men could live on their own but that women and children both needed community support. Simple. Wise. Effective. My friend, David Grant, reminded me of this today.
If the nation that provided us with a blueprint for how to run our country (which worked well for nearly 200 hundred years, until we began diluting and ignoring the Constitution) could show us how to create one of the greatest countries on earth, maybe they can teach us how to live together in peace.
I'd love to hear what you're thinking… because I AM EXCITED about this!!! Malachi 4 is my heartbeat! Family is the backbone of society and if we can find a CURE, just as hard as scientists look for cures for cancer and physical diseases, then LET'S DO IT!

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With all my love,


Hi, I'm Deborah White Dove. Yes, it's my pen name, and it was given to me by a blind man who shyly whispered it to me in a Divine encounter. Yes, it's my real picture… just an ordinary selfie in my backyard. 

I live with my family in the mountains, surrounded by ancient forests, pure streams, and mighty rivers. I work at a local grocery store to earn my living. My earthly needs are simple as I try to let my inner child lead me, instead of me trying to be what the world says I should be and do.

My kingdom of God career is a Heart Scribe. I love to write from God's heart and have been recording His living Word for the past three decades. It's brought me so much beauty, joy, peace, and happiness! 

I love to inspire trauma survivors to write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into the future. We dip our pens in blood and write the pain away… as God has shown me how to do, in the company of supportive friends and family. We are writing ourselves into a better world and it's the most exciting place to be!

Copyright © 2017 Heart Scribes, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact me. 


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Rene' July 7, 2015 at 11:32 am


Thank you so much for writing this article. It took me 2 years to stop blaming myself for divorcing my sociopathic "husband" after being with him 25 years. The self-condemning stopped when YHVH told me that it was a fake marriage, since the ex NEVER did his part. In fact, the relationship was idolatrous since the ex used me to replace God. Of course these revelations came after many wasted years, as the sociopath is a master of deception and of twisting all things to his advantage, using "God hates divorce" and recruiting "church" members to do the same: hence keeping you tethered to him by religion. (The only way to be free of a sociopath's brainwashing techniques is NO CONTACT!) If you chose to do a study of the word "divorce" in Malachi, you will see the translation is really "send away." There was a 2 step process to "divorce" in which the husband gave the wife "divorce papers" then "sent her away." The word used in Malachi for divorce is the sending away only. A woman could not remarry without the divorce decree paper and was destitute.  Modern day "marriage" is a legal way to abuse. The "spouse" has a legal right to identity theft and to emotionally raping the children. Thank you for speaking out!

Blessings and Shalom to you in the Name of Yeshua!



Susan Schiller July 7, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Thank you, Rene, for adding your wisdom and experience here. You speak of a truth that is rarely spoken among Christians today. And yes, the word divorce in Malachi is exactly the meaning you have given it, which is to send away without divorce papers, leaving the wife destitute!

Divorce papers were God’s way of protecting the innocent spouse so she could remarry. It’s a breath of fresh air to realize the truth from God’s heart, isn’t it… and how many women and children have been held captive by this abusive misunderstanding of Scripture… too many.

Thank YOU for speaking out, as well, Rene!


Susan Schiller October 22, 2014 at 3:12 pm
Sharon ODay January 27, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Sue, you call for modernization or updating of the form that marriage takes, as a reprieve from so many ills that start with dysfunction and end with criminal behavior.  I would venture to say that women throughout the ages have struggled with the same issues, caught in a web of debilitating dependency while on the outside all looked well.  I doubt it's new.  What IS new is the slightly louder voice we have, the greater clarity, the ability to inform ourselves more easily … all things that hopefully will allow the unmasking of untenable situations much sooner!  Keep writing … don't stop now!  <3


Susan Schiller January 28, 2014 at 9:15 am

I’ve been studying about “blood covenant” as well… I can’t believe how deeply I was duped for most of my life!

Yes, Sharon, I love your perspective – how we are getting greater clarity and a louder voice. I believe the evil is being unmasked – and thanks for encouraging me to keep writing. It seems it helps to find answers, in sharing dialogue!


Anonymous July 24, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Sue, I like this, but I doubt any man that I have met would want to do this.  Good "Christian" men want to follow the rules, which would be the traditional marriage vows and state marriage license.  The man who seeks authority and power woud never agree to this because then it would put him on level ground with his partner.  So, while I agree… I can't see it actually happening in my world because of how men have been educated to be the "leaders" and the "authority" figure of the home/church/work place, etc…  In my life, I have dealt with two kinds of men: "evil demonic psychopaths" and "good rule following Christian men" and both are on opposite extremes of how they treat women.  However, the traditional way suites both of them.  Does it make sense what I am saying? Both need this setup.  One needs it to make him feel good and like he is being a faithful Christian by accepting the way of the church, which in his mind is God's way.  The other needs it for power, control, abuse, tyranny.  If these "Good Christian men" were ever put in the midst of our world, then I am sure they would see the light and change their belief system.  That is what this has become though – a belief system that every single person I know embraces.  If you don't take the original vows and can't show your marriage license, then you are just living togethter according to the church.  Those men who truly love God are not going to want to be rejected by the church.  I see a dilema here for those good men and it's all about the American dream. I don't ever want to be married again, not like I was.  I just have major doubts that I would ever find a like-minded man who saw the same way that I did.  Most men don't endure what we have and that is what has shaped how we now think and what we believe.   I can also just see a socipath taking this idea and running with it!  Why?  Because the "pastor" psychopath husband I am now divorcing told me that all we needed was a marraige dinner and we didn't even have to legally have the license to be married in God's eyes.  He was luring me in any way he could.  He knew I needed health insurance though and that was why we did the state license.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have signed any state contract with him.  He still would have abused me, taken my money, had me sell my car… all in the name of love.  All he really wanted was sex and a maid who provided childcare.  Even then, he didn't really want me to love the children.  He wanted me to worship him.  I would have stil left shattered and feeling like I had betryaed God in some way because of course, he is the pastor who knows everything.  It all would have still been a lie.  I'm not explaining this well.  I just know he offered this to me because I believed in the Jewish way and not the American way.  So, he was quite willing to accomodate me.  He would have lost nothing from this.  As the sociopath and charmer, I would have still lost everything immediately…which by the way is exactly when all my money disappeared, my car, my apartment back home, etc…  I can see a predator running with this idea and manipulating a women to the core.  The problem is not with this truth you wrote about.  It's always what do people do with truth?   btw… what is the "blood covenant" that you are studying?


Susan Schiller July 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hi Anonymous,

You've been through so much. The trauma hits you like hail and rain, coming at you like an F-10 storm, if there were such a classification. The windshield wipers can't keep up and it's hard to drive steady in such blasts of icy wind. Living with a sociopath is lethal, and you are right, they will use any system to their advantage, to get what they want.

I don't think in terms of change happening right now, or even in this decade… but I do see change happening. I do see men who are willing to accommodate the terror of their beloved. I do know of more than one man who is laying down his life for his bride prior to state marriage, even for years at a time. Those men do exist, who understand how marriage was used an instrument of abuse and they choose to take wives without state or church legalities, until their wives are ready. 

I know there are Christians who haven't had the opportunity to see marriage in the Light you have, who would condemn a man and woman for marrying via covenant rather than law. They might call it "shacking up". But some of those same people, as I've been watching this, also point to themselves as role models, even marriage counselors…. This happens so very often… They will point to themselves as having down it right. They saved sex for marriage. They have been faithful to their partners. They've been married for 30, 40, or 50 years or more.

But they are simply room mates. They haven't slept together in the past 2 decades or more. They rarely do anything meaningful together. Intimacy doesn't exist. They are "business partners" – doing the business of being moms and dads, husbands and wives.

Their marriages do not look like Christ loving the church. But yet they point to their "doing it right" and to the longevity of their marriage license. But when did the love stop?

Some married couples have separate houses within their house. One spouse lives on one side, or one level, and the other lives on the other side or level. They rarely see each other. They survive, though. It's more convenient, business-wise.

I once watched a preacher speaking from the platform, declaring "the love of his life" was his wife of 30 years. WHAT???? That man, through firsthand knowledge, was after the girls! He was messing around with more than one woman, and his wife…. they were living in separate houses, in separate towns, for the past 14 years! But it sounded so nice, you know… and the crowd applauded. Some wiped away tears.

The preacher raised his arms in the air and praised God for his happy home. But I do know, from first hand knowledge, that he was desperately trying to find another wife.

Not everything is at seems. The "shacking up" that these very preachers and role models of a perfect marriage condemn may very well be one of the longest lasting, most loving relationships ever. For it's not just shacking up… in some cases… it's a covenant love relationship. They are doing it God's way, a different way than the world's system.

I am legally married today, but only because I feel safe with my husband. We have a covenant relationship and we are both free, equal, and mutually supportive of each other. I am not under his rule, but I respect and honor him. He cherishes, protects, supports, and is my best friend. 

There are good men in the world… God knows where your heart is. He knows you can't take any more abuse. He knows you need a protector, a passionate love who cherishes your heart. I ask God to give you what you need. I also ask God to help us all with understanding his purpose for marriage, especially because we are His Bride!


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