A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Thursday Thought — 2equal1: a ‘ministry’ to avoid

Recently one of our Facebook readers told us of the horrific experience she had with 2equal1 Marriage Ministries.  Her personal contact with the Australian directors revealed that they are not only ignorant as to the mentality and tactics of abusers but they twist and distort biblical scriptures and doctrines.

We wanted our readership to know that we have put this ‘ministry’ on our Blind Guides page. Below is some of what we have learned about them.

Australian Directors:  Ian and Jane Watts
U.S. Directors: Mike and Marilyn Phillips

At the 2equal1 website their core values statement includes these two bullet points:

3. Marriage is a covenant relationship.

  • Marriage between a man and a woman reflects the covenant relationship between Jesus and the Church
  • Each covenant partner agrees to be faithful no matter what the other one does
  • Faithfulness is unconditional
  • The covenant is until death

10.  Followers of Christ are an army.

  • We have an objective and a mission
  • We need to honor spiritual authority to be in spiritual authority
  • We need to recognize and honor the different roles of those serving in the army
  • We must be dedicated to fighting until we see victory manifested
  • We are not individual soldiers who get to pick and choose with whom, when and where we will serve

On their website I found an 80 minute video by U.S. directors, Mike and Marilyn Phillips. My intention was to listen to it in its entirety, but I could only get through the first 15 minutes.  In those few minutes they explained their (unbiblical) view on biblical covenants, which seems to be the foundation upon which they build their marriage philosophy.  Here are a few quotes.

“Covenant commitment means something. And I have vowed to God and I will pay it even to my own hurt. I will pay my vow. And God is calling us to that kind of faithfulness…”

“A person can’t remarry because you made a vow and God is holding you to it…”

“In order to model who I (God) am you need to model covenant commitment — what you have vowed.”

This teaching effectively gives abusive spouses free rein to oppress their victims, and denies the victim the right to set boundaries against the abuser.  Don’t be duped by this.  This is not what the Bible teaches about covenants. For example: God himself divorced Israel (the northern kingdom) because they had been so unfaithful to Him (Jeremiah 3).

And we learned that the 2equal1 ‘ministry’ is set up so that couples who have been trained with the 2equal1 materials can then go out and help other couples.  So it’s not just the 2equal1 website that we need to be concerned with, but also any of the trained couples who have established their own marriage ‘ministries’ based on the 2equal1 philosophy.  I found one such website  (standforyourmarriage.org) and I have no doubt there are many more.

Beware of not only the 2equal1 ‘ministry’ but any marriage ministry that was trained by or promotes the 2equal materials.


Barb’s book Not Under Bondage  has a chapter on marriage vows, and it also discusses the difference between a unilateral covenant and a bilateral covenant.  And Joe Pote discusses covenant at his blog Redeemed.



  1. Lea

    –Each covenant partner agrees to be faithful no matter what the other one does
    –Faithfulness is unconditional
    –The covenant is until death

    That sounds like a recipe for disaster!

    • Brenda R

      Lea, It sounds that way because it is!! It’s the old…wife be quiet and you will save your husband. Been there….tried that. It was a disaster.

  2. Anonymous

    Praise God that you have exposed this ‘ministry’. This ministry and its leaders have caused the abuse in my marriage to increase. They are modern day Pharisees that blame the victim and strengthen the hand of the wicked. I have watched another testimony on their website by another of their most well known couples; Jo and Stephanie De Mott. It is also on YouTube and is called “Secret behind the badge”. (Be warned there are plenty of triggers in the video). It is their testimony of Jo’s domestic violence towards his wife. I’m not sure if it is in this video or another, but they speak about when they went to Mike and Marylin Phillips during their troubles and Stephanie was telling them about all the horrible things Jo had done to her, and Mike Phillips response was “SO WHAT!” In others words, he can do whatever he wants to you, you made a vow and have to keep it. This ministry is a nightmare for abused wives. Mike Phillips own testimony is full of horrendous emotional abuse and adultery to his wife too, now he runs this ministry! I am convinced their ‘former?’ abusive men get their thrill from condemning women to stay with their abusive husbands to death. I don’t get what the women get out of being leaders in this ministry, but my own experience has been that they are merciless and have zero compassion. They seem to enjoy being in the position of “marriage expert”.

    The way this ‘ministry’ works is they run these 12 week marriage covenant courses, then they try and recruit the members at the end to become “marriage ministers” and run the course in their local area. The course is called “Married for Life” and in Australia they will promote it on Christian radio stations, especially during “Marriage week”.

    Avoid them at all costs.

    (Sorry if I put anything not allowed in my post. Please edit if needed. 🙂 )

    • We didn’t edit your post at all, Anonymous. 🙂

  3. Brenda R

    Darkness is found on every corner and in unexpected places. I don’t understand “mission minded people”, who don’t seem to know a thing about Jesus. Jesus wasn’t this man who said be married no matter what for my sake!! Be committed to truth and this isn’t truth these people are teaching.

  4. beckij

    I don’t think any of the people – pastors or counselors – I talked with were specifically part of this group, or trained by them, but I can say they almost all adhered to the same philosophy, claiming that the marriage “covenant” was a unilateral one that a wife was bound to uphold no matter what her husband did to her. The way they all said, without blinking, nothing he did was grounds for divorce or permanent separation, that even if he never got help or changed his ways I had to take him back, and the way they were all blinded by his “charm” to the point where they apparently thought I was insane or delusional.

    Helpers? Not hardly.

  5. Joy

    I can clearly see idolizations of marriage here, which is against the second of the Ten Commandments, which states “You shall have no other God before me”. Not to mention what is taught in the New Testament as well as the old, which is to help the poor, including the poor in spirit. This teaching will definitely give abusers free reign to oppress their spouses and children. Because of religious leaders believe so strongly in this religious propaganda, they think it’s fine for abusers to cheat on and tear down their victims without any repercussions or consequences. The only freedom the victims get is through death, either by their own death or from their abusers. This absolutely disgusts me! Thank you Jeff Crippen and Barbara for warning everyone about 2equal1 marriage ministry and those like it!

    • Janet Fookes

      I love the teaching in the “Married For Life” course of 2equal1. The focus is on God and has certainly drawn me closer to Him as well as to my husband. I know that, whatever I do, my husband will never leave me, neither I him. This brings great freedom and transparency between us. It has the effect of growing our love and care for one another.
      It has led me into being a partner with my husband, rather than a subservient member as the church had previously taught me.

      We would never recommend that an abused spouse remain in the abuse, but would also never recommend divorce. She (or he) should remove self (and children) to safety and the abusive spouse be offered counsel (if not already incarcerated).
      The teaching couples receive is of the mysterious, yet great, value of their marriage in God’s eyes; the husband is called to love his wife as Christ loves the church, sacrificially (yet not laying his life down in a redemptive manner) and the wife is called to respect and honour her husband because that’s how God created him, with a need for that.

      God’s Word works.

      • Janet Fookes, you say you would never recommend divorce for abuse. That tells me you do not understand much about abuse and how skilled abusers are at manipulating counseling for their own ends.

        Your ignorance on the dynamics of abuse is appalling. I recommend you read this article. If you do not read it fully but you just push back at me, I will assume you are not willing to be educated and you only want to state your opinion and not listen to the voices of those who know more about this topic than you do.

        You said:

        The wife is called to respect and honour her husband because that’s how God created him.

        Did it never occur to you that the reverse of that statement is also equally true?

        Here is the reverse statement:

        The husband is called to honour and respect his wife because that’s how God created her.

        I challenge you to present a rational argument for why that statement is not true.

      • James

        Janet Fookes,
        What do you know about Psychopathy and other personality disorders such as Narcissism?
        Do you know that psychopaths and narcissists are driven to cause harm and that they cannot change?
        Do you know that they make up 5% of the population?

        Count the heads at church next week and do the math.

  6. TruthSerum

    Anyone who says 1 + 1 equals 1 is mathematically challenged.

  7. Nutmeg

    This reminds me of a Christian celebrity in America. His family believes very similar things. His son just got married and they told him that once he is married he is no longer welcomed in their home without his wife for any reason. At all. The mom shared her experience of her father kicking her out after she was married. She was abused by her new husband and was still not allowed back home because she was married for life no matter what. She said God rewarded her faithfulness and “fixed” her husband. Who is now the leader of the Robertson family. The “Duck Dynasty” people. And then the mom turned to her son’s Fiancée “You’re stuck with him honey!” I told my husband that I don’t care if that’s real Christianity. We are NEVER doing that to any of our kids. This was before I found this website. My husband is sweet but he really disagrees with my view on divorce. It’s something we have fought about in the past. Anyway there are a lot of people with this view. And it worries me that they have so much influence and can speak so much for the Christian community at large…

    • …there are a lot of people with this view.

      Non-abusive people who hold that view are just naive and ignorant about the nightmare of domestic abuse. And when their own marriages are fine, why need they bother learning what it’s like for living with an abuser?

      • NutMeg

        That’s true but one would think that their natural empathy and reasoning skills would kick in at some point to tell them there is a problem!

      • Yeah…. but people can be surprisingly cosy in their comfort zones. If a case of domestic abuse impinges on their own lives (e.g. if one of their close relatives or friends is subjected to abuse) then they much more likely to be galvansied out of their comfort zone.

        And people who are in happy marriages like the notion that ‘the marriage covenant cannot be broken’ because it comforts them and gives them confidence that their own marriage will last. It’s a fairly self-referential mindset, I know, but we all of us, even those of us who have empathy, tend to see things through the lens of our own personal life.

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