Sacred Marriage (Gary Thomas) – A review of its dangers for Christians

Steer clear of Gary Thomas unless you’re into demonic mantras, tantric sex and kundalini yoga!

I note on the Living Springs Baptist Church (Rockbank) website that they will have a series of studies on marriage commencing March 5th 2017. They will allegedly use a book produced by Gary Thomas called “Sacred Marriage” which he claims (on his website) offers “guidance for building the marriage of your dreams”.

Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. Yet, what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? And, what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God? In this popular bestselling book, Gary Thomas uncovers how your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God and each other. (

However, this same Gary Thomas has written the following on Centering Prayer in his book called “Sacred Pathways” in which he says:
“It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general, however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing. As your mind is filled with thoughts of Jesus or the father or another appropriate subject (love, joy, or peace) you are protected from outside distractions.”

Sounds like demonic mantras to me! Mantras are generally a word or short phrases with certain tonal qualities which are chanted over and over for a period of time. They are used to put a person in a certain frame of mind, but can also be used to summon demons, such as in yoga.

A mantra is a motivating chant, like the “I think I can, I think I can” you repeat over and over to yourself on the last stretch of every marathon you run. A mantra is usually any repeated word or phrase, but it can also refer more specifically to a word repeated in meditation.

WikipediaA “Mantra” is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers. A mantra may or may not have syntactic structure or literal meaning.
The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit by Hindus in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Mantras now exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. In Japanese Shingon tradition, the word Shingon means mantra. Similar hymns, chants, compositions and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Christianity, and elsewhere.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and of Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in tantra.

The area of Christianity mentioned in the above article is related to Christian mysticism and is taught by other calvinists such as Paul Tripp – as per this article (quoted from
Tripp advises, “Run to his beauty … gaze upon the beauty of the Lord … his beauty unleashed upon you by his grace … live based on who you have become by gorgeous grace … afraid of no one, nothing.” This florid language communicates much feeling but no real biblical truth. Contemplative prayer Tripp ends his entertaining talk with this instruction to his audience. “Start every day, not with making sure that you complete your Bible readings, so that at the end of the year you can say that you’ve finished the Bible once again, for the tenth year in a row, showing how spiritual are you. But sit with your Bible, and do nothing but gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. Just stop the study, stop the analysis, just gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.”
It seems Tripp does not regard reading the Bible as that important. He does not tell his audience that what he is promoting is contemplative prayer, a form of prayer widely practised by Roman Catholic mystics. Father Thomas Dubay, of the Society of Mary, an expert in contemplative prayer, explains “the kind of prayer Scripture calls the ‘one thing,’ [is] the most important activity of all the things we humans do in life, which is ‘gazing on the beauty of the Lord,’ as Psalm 27 puts it. Those seven short words are a perfect definition of deep prayer.”
Father Dubay writes: “Yes, you too — are called to the depths of contemplative communion with the ineffable God dwelling within us … This preparation for meditation can be done by recalling for a few moments the divine omnipresence, or the holy name of Jesus, or the indwelling presence in your soul right now, or a vivid scene from Jesus’ passion, or the presence of the Blessed Sacrament if you are in church or chapel, or seeing some mystery of the Lord’s life through the eyes of his Mother.” [Gazing On The Beauty Of The Lord by Fr. Thomas Dubay, Catholic Culture]

Such teachings are not Biblical but are demonic instead. Mantras are used in tantra which, in the Western world, is usually associated with sex and sexual practices. (Eg. tantric sex or yoga sex)

From Wikipedia, an ancient document on tantric eroticism – “In this context, hear the rationale for erotic sculpture panels, I will explain them according to the received tradition among sculptors. Kama is the root of the world’s existence. All that is born originates from Kama, it is by Kama also that primordial matter and all beings eventually dissolve away. Without [passion of] Shiva and Shakti, creation would be nothing but a figment, nothing from birth to death occurs without activation of Kama. Shiva is manifest as the great linga, Shakti essential form is the yoni, By their interaction, the entire world comes into being; this is called the activity of Kama. Canonical erotic art is an extensive subject in authoritative scriptures, as they say, a place devoid of erotic imagery is a place to be shunned. By Tantric authority, such places are considered inferior and to be avoided, as if tantamount to the lair of death, of impenetrable darkness.”
— Shilpa-prakasha 2.498–503, 11th-12th century, Hindu Tantra text, Translated by Michael D Rabe

So why is Gary Thomas, who likes to call himself a Christian, so supportive of mantras (and tantric yoga)? This is not something any Christian should be having anything to do with! So, let’s look at his “Sacred Marriage” and see if this yogic influence continues there.

Thomas quotes favorably (many times, in fact) an author named Mary Anne McPherson Oliver from her book “Conjugal Spirituality”. Now you’d expect that anyone a Christian author quotes would at least be a good example to his readers. But Oliver is far from that; in fact, she claims to be a Christian but actually teaches what can only be described as tantric yoga (focusing upon yogic sexual practices). In Conjugal Spirituality (remember, this is a significant reference book for Thomas in “Sacred Marriage”) Oliver advocates the use of four-letter words in an exercise developing a private body and sex vocabulary, saying “If you run out of four-letter words in this last exercise, you might seek out some of the foreign terminologies.” (That is, foreign four-letter sexual terms.)

I won’t quote significant parts of her work as it is clearly pornographic, but the following will give an idea of her less-than-Christian values:
“The Jewel and the Lotus, the Scepter and the Bell, the Wand and the Cup are three of the most familiar representations for the male and female sex organs, but Douglas and Slinger list many more, including Jade Stalk and Jade Gate, Crimson Bird and Purple Chamber, Yang Pagoda and Secret Cabinet. There are equally colorful names for kisses (Contact of the Upper Gates), all kinds of positions (Two Fishes Side by Side, Silkworm Spinning a Cocoon) and types of thrust (Seagull Playing on the Waves, Boat Braving the Gale). All human sexual actions and interactions are thus dignified and ennobled by suitably respectful and beautiful designations.” (Page 89, Conjugal Spirituality)

Elsewhere in her book Oliver says:
“Until then, we can only regret the lost rituals of earliest Christianity, and look with awe and wonder at the impressive remains of other ancient rites which reflect societies where sexuality was looked on as natural in the way that a naked body is considered unexceptional in the bath or in a nudist colony, and in which the sexual life, being of vital concern to the society, was central to religious life and was given spiritual support and guidance.” (Pages 96 & 97)
“Moreover, the sex which in the Indian Tantric Yoga tradition is spoken of as kundalini, potential energy (literally “coiled snake,” connected with the word kunda, a basin, bowl, or pool), has been associated by at least one writer with the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit, “a spiritual element in the material.” Herbert Slade points out that in St, John’s Gospel the water of the Spirit is described as “an inner spring always welling up for eternal life” (Jn. 4:14), and the man filled with the Spirit is told that “Streams of living water shall flow out from within him” (Jn. 7:38). In the Indian myth, when the kundalini is aroused, it travels through all centers of the body and culminates in loving union with God.” (Page 97)

Thomas quotes favourably from this book at least ten times (that I was able to count – there might be more). Yet, in looking at Oliver’s book, I was unable to find any Biblical teaching truthfully presented (while much was misrepresented as shown above). And this is an expert favourably quoted by Thomas?! If he found an article in a pornographic magazine that suited his views, would he quote it? And yet Conjugal Spirituality is (without the pictures, of course) very pornographic in its own way. How Thomas could bear to read through all the filth to get to what he might consider little gems of wisdom (I’m being cynical, of course) I have no idea. Surely there are Godly men and women who could teach on this subject better (more cleanly, in particular) than Mary Anne McPherson Oliver in Conjugal Spirituality!

The Bible teaches that those with dirt on their minds will return to that dirt, or maybe they never left that dirt in the first place.
2 Peter 2:22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Any Christian group that uses Gary Thomas as an expert on sacred marriages should be aware that he will literally give them the dirt on it (all of it, in fact)! It’s a pity that someone hasn’t done their homework on Thomas before they sought to introduce his less-than-Biblical views upon their members. Or maybe someone has done their homework and likes the dirt that Thomas offers them! I hope for the sake of Living Springs Baptist Church that the latter is not true.

People who turn to this book by Thomas for marriage advice should be aware that the effects of studying it might well be similar to the effects gained if you were to study a so-called “Christian” book on yoga. Yoga is a demonic activity with the various positions being mantras in their own right, able to summon demons without realizing the danger they are putting themselves in. Especially note that kundalini (or snake) yoga (as mentioned by Oliver in Conjugal Spirituality) is known to be a very dangerous yoga, even among those who teach yoga. (See Addendum below)

Of course, Mary Oliver is not the only one quoted in Sacred Marriage. Thomas also quotes many other questionable sources, such as Friedrich Nietzche (an extremely anti-God person, teaching nihilism  – a total rejection of established authorities and institutions – and that God is dead). Do some research on him!

Thomas quotes Nietzsche as follows:
We proclaim the prophetic grace of marriage when we understand the sacredness of building a history together. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that marriage is “a long conversation,” urging us, therefore, to marry a friend. If this is true, it is but a shadow of another conversation that has preceded our own.

How on earth a Christian can find Nietzsche’s views favourable in any way is beyond my understanding! But then, is “Sacred Marriage” a Christian book anyway?

A number of Thomas’ favourable quotes are from people who can best be termed “mystics”; however, such mystics would have to be quite acceptable when Thomas himself appears to be one also, noting that he recommends repetitive mantras and other mystical behavior.

Another person quoted in “Sacred Marriage” is Thomas Hart (who has co-authored the probable source “The First Two Years of Marriage” with Kathleen Hart, presumably his wife). Gary Thomas says in “Sacred Marriage”
Thomas Hart observes that “our fascination with sex is closely related to our fascination with God.”
Sex cannot replace God. Sex will not suffice as a substitute for God. But a healthy look at sex can provide fruitful meditation on our need and desire for God …

I cannot find much on who Thomas Hart is; he does not appear to be a fundamentalist believer, though. Anyone who thinks our fascination with God is closely related to our fascination with sex needs to explain this more fully or else be accused of contempt for holy God!

Gary Thomas appears to be obsessed with what has to be described as the pleasures of sex, a topic supported well from various mystics and New Age writers, including one on tantric sex (yoga sex). He is apparently more interested in enjoying sex than worshipping God, and seems to want to use the enjoyment of sex as a means of justifying our love and enjoyment of God. This book may well be suitable for New Age followers to enjoy relationships with other people, but it cannot be recommended for sincere Christians who think that studying it will bring them closer to God! This book appears to be acceptable to someone like Oliver (“Conjugal Spirituality”) and, if so, could not in any way be suitable for Christians, being totally incompatible instead.

Much of Gary Thomas’ teachings (including centering prayer) appear to be influenced by Quaker theology. Research reveals that he has been heavily influenced by Elton Trueblood, a Quaker theologian.

Addendum – Kundalini yoga

From ( – this is what you are getting into if you have anything to do with Mary Oliver (Conjugal Spirituality), and you will if you are studying “Sacred Marriage” (Gary Thomas). Anyone who takes Thomas seriously is getting into serious danger indeed. Read the following from a woman who says she was rescued from this danger by accepting salvation in Christ.

First of all, kundalini yoga is a type of yoga that attempts to arouse and raise the kundalini, believed to be Shakti or creative divine energy which supposedly sleeps in the form of a coiled snake at the base of the spine. It employs pranayama or breathing exercises, visualization, asanas (body poses) and mudras (hand positions) along with chanting and meditation to awaken and then raise the kundalini.

Yogis believe that when the Kundalini awakens, the door of the Sushumna (an energy conduit) is opened and the Kundalini ascends through the six chakras (alleged energy centers) until it reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. When it reaches this height, it unites with Lord Shiva (the god of destruction) whose consort is Shakti. This union supposedly brings about the joy of “Blissful Beatitude.”

This is the religious explanation of a kundalini awakening, an event that is accompanied by many physical and/or spiritual side effects which some regard as evidence of spiritual progress, but others see as potentially serious problems.  These include:

  • Involuntary jerks, tremors, shaking, itching, tingling, and crawling sensations, especially in the arms and legs
  • Energy rushes or feelings of electricity circulating the body
  • Heart palpitations
  • Intense heat (sweating) or cold, especially as energy is experienced passing through the chakras
  • Visions or sounds at times associated with a particular chakra
  • Emotional purgings in which particular emotions become dominant for short periods of time.
  • Depression
  • Pressure inside the skull and headache
  • Bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectedness, transcendent awareness
  • Involuntary suspension of breath

The spiritual manifestations can be even more bizarre. People who have experienced a kundalini awakening have testified to terrifying experiences, such as being visited by spirits who at first appeared friendly but then became hostile and abusive. In (an article) a woman named Carole, who is a personal friend of noted Christian apologist, Dr. John Weldon, was physically and spiritually assaulted by spirits who would try to extract the life from her body, as if “monstrosities of another world were trying to take my very soul from me, inflicting pain beyond endurance, ripping and tearing into the very depths of my being.”

When the assaults would not stop, she was referred to Dr. C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., a noted neurosurgeon, a former professor at Harvard University, past president of the American Holistic Medical Association, and the author of Occult Medicine Can Save Your Life. He couldn’t help her, and sent her to Dr. Robert Leichtman, M.D., another spiritist who coauthored several dozen books allegedly received by revelation from the spirits.

Leichtman admitted that Carole’s situation was not uncommon among followers of Eastern gurus and even admitted to her that some had died of these and similar psychic attacks. He was also unable to help her.

Carole was ultimately healed when she turned her life over to the only true Master Healer – Jesus Christ. 

It’s interesting to note that yogis themselves consider kundalini yoga to be risky and openly condemn yogis who teach it indiscriminately to the public. They also report bizarre effects such as temporary madness and lasting mental instability or illness in their pupils.

Puran Kahn Bair, master meditation teacher and mystic who studied with Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, believes there is great danger in raising the Kundalini because it may not turn off or the state it produces could become addictive.

“I have seen a number of cases where people have been debilitated by Kundalini and struggle for years trying to correct the imbalances, often with no success and much despair,” he writes in (an article) about the complications associated with kundalini awakenings.

So does this mean there really is a coiled snake at the base of our spines that can have such a powerful effect on our minds and bodies when awakened?

No. It means that some of these practices may stimulate major endocrine glands and nerve bundles known as ganglions which happen to be located very near the alleged position of the chakras. The endocrine system is a system of glands which secrete hormones into the bloodstream to regulate various parts of the body. It is an information signal system similar to that of the nervous system, so it’s easy to see why tampering with these glands could cause a variety of unwelcome side effects.

Clare McGrath Merkle, former yoga instructor and New Age expert, attests to what can happen when one tampers with these powerful glands in the practice of yoga.

“An example is at my own workplace where Power Yoga is offered at lunchtime for a quick pick-me-up,” she writes in her article, “Yoga: Health or Stealth?”

“The yoga instructor recently had the class perform an exercise designed to stimulate the pituitary gland – and one of my co-workers did not sleep the entire following night.  The dangers of any kind of yoga can include abuse of power, unconscious motivations of teachers and students, as well as the ignorance of the physiological and psychological effects of yoga.”

While kundalini may sound exotic and intriguing, it is anything but. If you want to keep your sanity, stay away from it.

Note that even websites that teach yoga state clearly that only those prepared properly for kundalini yoga should approach it, or else it could cause great harm. Yet Mary Oliver appears to be encouraging kundalini yoga as a support for Christian beliefs?! It reminds me of the snake-handling worshippers in churches in some back-woods parts of USA (in the Appalachians). They had to prove that they could not be hurt by snakes, just because the Bible said they wouldn’t be hurt. So to prove your belief you had to pick up a snake, wrap it around your arms or body even, yet if you got bitten, you shouldn’t die or else it somehow proved you weren’t really a true Christian! It seems a rough way to have to prove your Christian status! In some places they even kiss the snake, a custom from places like India. To some “Christians” who do this, the snake may seen as the Christ. (“Kiss the Son lest He be angry” Psalm 2:12). The kundalini snake is a dangerous creature indeed and “kissing” it might well destroy your life, both physical and spiritual.

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