The Ten commandments from Deuteronomy 5:7-21 are an invitation from God to live a life free from unnecessary harm. Following them will not insulate us from all suffering, but obedience to them will protect us from regretful behavior and self-inflicted hardship.
The heart behind these commandments is not, “follow them, or else,” but rather instructions for wise living from a loving Father. They are “friendly signposts” (1) from a loving God who is seeking to protect and preserve us and our legacy. Listen to God’s heart from His words to Moses as He was giving Moses these commandments:
“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”
In his book, “The Divine Conspiracy,” Dallas Willard comments on the significant impact that would result in applying just these ten commands, “The Ten Commandments really aren’t very popular anywhere. This is so, in spite of the fact, that even a fairly general practice of them would lead to a solution of almost every problem of meaning and order now facing Western societies. They are God’s best information on how to lead a basically decent human existence.“
Far be it from me to be the authority to institute THE Ten commandments of marriage, but consider these my “friendly signposts” (rooted in God’s word) to protect and preserve your marriage and your legacy.
The Ten Commandments of Marriage
- Love God more than your spouse (No other God’s before me) – Marriage is important, but it isn’t more important than your relationship with God. Great marriages are built on a foundation of a husband and wife individually pursuing a relationship with God before and more than a relationship with each other.
- Prioritize your spouse over all other relationships (No idols) – This is a tough one, but oh so important. Your spouse is your nearest neighbor and the one you are called to love the most. Your spouse should come before your kids, your parents, your friends, your boss, etc… Every other relationship in your life should come after your relationship with your spouse.
- Think and speak about your spouse as if they could hear every word (Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain) – Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself (and others) about your spouse. Repeated thoughts in your head will eventually become words out of your mouth. Don’t just practice self-control with your words, but also with your thoughts.
- Keep date night sacred (Keep the Sabbath day holy) – There is simply not enough time to do everything we “need” to do on a daily / weekly basis. I recently tallied up how many hours I needed in a day to accomplish my regular daily to-do list. The result? 37.5 hours! I imagine your result would be similar. The ONLY answer to this dilemma is to put first things first. The temptation in life is to take the most important things (or the things that are going “well”) for granted. This mindset will result in an endless lifestyle loop of doing damage control. Prioritizing your marriage with a weekly date night should be a non-negotiable activity that will protect and provide time to invest in your marriage.
- Heed the advice of older couples (Honor your Father and Mother) –Your marriage is in a season that others have already lived through. Even if you think you’re doing pretty good, think of how much better you could be doing by learning from the wisdom from others who have been there / done that. Reading books and going to marriage conferences is helpful (and I highly recommend doing these things!), but I believe one of the best sources of help is to enlist the help of a couple who’s already been where you are. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel! Reach out for help.
- Keep short accounts (Do not murder) – Conflict is inevitable in your marriage, but it doesn’t have to result in knock-down, drag-out fights that lead to sinful anger (the Bible’s definition of murder – Matthew 5:22). Overlook the small stuff that irritates you, but don’t bottle up resentments that tend to linger in your soul and lead to bitterness. Outbursts of sinful anger is oftentimes a result of “thousands” of seemingly insignificant small frustrations that have gone unresolved and built up over time. Forgive frequently, overlook often, foster feedback, and clearly communicate complaints in love before it turns into a calamity.
- Flee from sexual temptation (Don’t commit adultery) – Sexual sin is ripping marriages apart at an alarming rate. Regardless of what the sexual sin is, it always starts with a thought. Many people believe they can flirt with their sexually immoral thoughts without causing any damage, but sinful thoughts unchecked will turn into behaviors gone bad. Flee, don’t flirt with sexually immoral thoughts, conversations, websites, movies, TV shows, relationships, establishments, etc… Ephesians 5:3 says it best, “But among you there must not even be a hint of sexual immorality.”
- Don’t be a hoarder (Don’t steal) – We are all in debt to Christ in response to the extravagant and lavish love he has given (Romans 13:8). God didn’t hold anything back as he showed, and continues to show, his love for us (Romans 8:32). He gave to us freely and he calls us to give to others in the exact same way (Matthew 10:8). He didn’t give love for us to hold on to. He gave love sacrificially so we could be an expression of that love to others…starting with our spouse. Don’t steal, or hoard, the love you have been given by God. It’s not yours to keep. It’s yours to give.
- Practice extreme honesty (Don’t lie) – The best way to build trust in a marriage is to proactively tell the truth. Don’t wait for your spouse to ask the right questions, tell the truth. Don’t wait to get caught, tell the truth. Don’t try to get away with the small stuff, tell the truth. Don’t withhold the last 10%, tell the truth. There will be opportunities for you to tell “little white lies” and it’s possible that your spouse will never find out. But think about the opportunity to build trust when you proactively tell your spouse something that they know you didn’t have to disclose. Go above and beyond what seems normal. Tell the truth. It might be tough in the moment, but it will be the start of rebuilding the trust and intimacy required to have a great marriage.
- Care more than compare (Don’t covet) – Comparing your marriage, or your spouse, to others can get you in to trouble. When you compare to others that you feel are inferior, it can lead to pride. If you compare to others you think are superior, it can lead to envy. Pride can lead you to take more credit than you should for the marriage or spouse you have, and envy can lead you to start to want a different spouse! But, comparing isn’t always bad. Comparing your marriage to another can expose areas of weakness that you need to work on, or it can lead you to thanking God for the marriage you’ve been given. So what’s the commandment we should pursue? Care more for the spouse God gave you than compare them to the one he didn’t. “The grass isn’t greener on the other side, its greener where you water it.” Neil Barringham
1 – Milton Vincent “The Gospel Primer”
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.