Playing the "God Card" in Your Marriage

I love my "Stuff Christians Like" daily calendar. It provides a little daily nugget of humor and insight from Jon Acuff of

The note on March 2 was titled "Throwing the G-Card." Here's what Acuff said:

Using the God Card to win an argument is a move that's probably as old as the Crusades. The G-Card is administered like so: "Yeah, well, that's what God told me." It's a hard one to argue with. How can I respond to that? "No He didn't. I know God, and He doesn't want you relocating your family to Guam." It's a really dangerous move to make in the context of a marriage because it stops the conversation and forces your spouse to either give up their point or willingly choose to be on the opposite side of God."

Acuff makes a great point, especially as it applies to marriage.

I am currently coaching a number of couples whose marriages are in trouble. As with most marriages in crisis, each spouse feels that their spouse's sins are greater than their own. They feel that their spouse's sinful actions are reprehensible and unforgivable. Inversely, they feel that their own sinful actions are reasonable and justifiable in light of what their spouse has done to them.

But it's all sin. And we are all personally responsible for how we act and think and speak.

While I in no way want to minimize the hurt and pain that people experience in their troubled marriages, I do want to caution each spouse to avoid playing the "God Card." What Acuff describes is exactly what these couples tend to do:


One (or both) spouses claim the Moral High Ground where they can look down upon the sins of their spouse. They confidently think - and often articulate - that God is on their side and not on their spouse's side. They say things like: "If you were truly a Christian, you would forgive me...or stop doing that...or love me better."

I'm not suggesting that these observations are wrong. I'm just suggesting that it's not in any person's power to convict someone else of their sin. The last time I checked, that was the Holy Spirit's job. When one spouse claims to have the best and truest connection to God, then that spouse is going to be noticing only the sin of their spouse. And be very unlikely to allow God to work in their own life.  

When one spouse claims exclusive right to the moral high ground, what they are unintentionally communicating is "you should come join me in my holy, perfect state over here on God's side." It's not what they mean, but it's probably what their spouse hears. And it's not very conducive to working together towards oneness.

Obviously, if there is significant habitual sin in one spouse's life, confrontation is probably a part of the healing and restoration process. But that's where the value of community comes in. A third party (a friend, pastor, counselor, or mentor couple) might offer coaching toward transformation that is more redemptive for the marriage as a whole. It should be based upon how God desires to transform the marriage, not just one person.

If "two become one flesh" is the operative reality of marriage, then playing the "God Card" is rarely productive in bringing about change. It only serves to make one spouse feel a false sense of righteousness and the other to potentially feel an insurmountable amount of shame. We would all be better served to daily humble ourselves at the cross, recognizing our complete dependence upon the grace of Christ.

Finally, don't forget to pray daily for your spouse...and for yourself. I would recommend briefly interceeding for the shortcomings of your partner, and then spending the bulk of your time asking God to show you where you are falling short of God's design for your marriage.

If that's not your current habit, then you might be guilty of playing the "God Card." It may be time for some repentance on your part. Just maybe.