Celebrating re-recovery

About ten years ago I attended a meeting of the celebrate recovery group at the church we were part of back then. I was thinking of offering to volunteer, to help someone as it were. What I found was appalling. I found a group of 20 people and maybe two folks with anything close to needing a support group. The rest were, mostly women but some men, on about things, the particulars of which are unimportant. They were simply addicted to recovery. I lack better terminology unfortunately because I certainly have no desire to create another layer in that block of Neapolitan curd.

One of the things that marriage ministries do is herald their successes as proof that they are doing much good. Like a President standing in front of a group of people who, but for the largess of government, would be in dire straights, the pitch is to tell anecdotal stories about the couple who was hopeless and then they were hopeful, all because of the materials from the ministry.

That alone never sat comfortably with me.

Now I see a claim that is even more disturbing, coming from a Family Life article.

Couple after couple told me they had attended the Weekend to Remember five times, seven times, nine times.  They are committed to continuing to build a marriage that will last a lifetime.

I can’t help but be reminded of my discovery , back in the 90’s when I was looking at John Wimber’s Vineyard church, of something that Wimber’s wife shared. She told  a story about a healing she presided over where a man’s leg was supernaturally grown longer to match the other leg and eliminate a limp. She explained that it first went too long, then too short, and they prayed and fine tuned it and told the guy come back if he needed and adjustment.

What a mockery to what the Bible says about God and healing. Would the same not apply to things like attending conferences and marital healing? Now you can toss in a cruise once a year along with the conferences and man oh man will you have a thriving marriage.

On the plus side its one of the few times Ive seen any mention made of the lasting impact they have on marriages. The examples are usually extremely bad reflections on men, one in that article had the man recently arrested at the wife’s request. The men then set about to change. Maybe they change, maybe they don’t. If you’ve ever heard thera-speak such as that doled out by celebrate recovery groups and AA, one mantra is that if you are in recovery for any reason that involves someone else, like winning back your wife, you will fail. I have no idea the accuracy of that claim but a man attending both the CR and the WTR conference, would he not be getting conflicting advice?

And what of the woman who has fallen out of love, is bored, whatever, and seeks to have God endorse her taking out the trash. Since that is the most common scenario, may we see some examples of that being turned around and having it stick? Or is the price that husband pay a cruise per year and some weekend resort trips for marriage conferences?

One of the cardinal rules Christians refer to is that cohabitation means greater chances for divorce. New research is questioning that. My point is not to endorse cohabitation, rather it is to say that the same blindness that affects the ability of the church to address the reality on the ground about divorce will keep them claiming something about cohabitation that may or may not be true. They marginalize themselves. But it keeps the focus off where they know and we know it needs to eventually go.

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6 thoughts on “Celebrating re-recovery

  1. This is an excellent post. If the conferences healed the marriage, why the need to go back again and again. To be fair Elusive Wapiti, blogger extraordinaire has written that Family Life’s WTR conferences are on the whole quite beneficial. I respect his opinion and he’s an MRA so I suspect they must be fairly balanced. Marriage conferences are just not our cup of tea. We don’t even attend the ones at our own church.

    Speaking of that, our pastor said at the beginning of this month when February came and went without our church’s annual marriage conference: “We’re not having any more marriage conferences. Obey the Scripture and stop leaving your spouse. The grass is not greener. Period. If it’s just so bad that you just need some help, call the church. We do have people here to tell you the same thing up close and personal.”

  2. Many things are beneficial. Not all of those things are good. Sometimes its the use of the thing that must be considered. I could make an endless list of obvious examples.
    I didn’t here,nor have I ever said anything about the content of the conferences, I am certain because I have no idea what the content is. I’ll guess it is very much dependent upon the presenters as well as the individual couples attending.
    Final point, that something works would not necessarily mean that it is good. This is particularly applicable given the blogger who said that and a goodly part of the focus of that blog (I obviously enjoy his blog and have him in my roll)

  3. … I don’t know, it’s never bad to keep learning and growing in knowledge. Marriage is definitely the kind of relationship that would keep both partners growing and changing together – it makes sense in my mind that they’d want to have a place to go get away, learn some new things about communication, understanding each other’s needs, the ways marriage changes over the years or with children maturing etc. It seems like the motivation to keeping growing in knowledge and understanding is biblical and good.

    Doesn’t the Bible say to attain wisdom and get understanding? Why would couples that keep wanting to go back to learn more be unbiblical? lol it just seems Phariseeical (too bent on strict law interpretation of actions and making broad painted judgments) to me.

  4. Final point, that something works would not necessarily mean that it is good.

    This is true. I never meant to imply otherwise.

    it makes sense in my mind that they’d want to have a place to go get away, learn some new things about communication, understanding each other’s needs, the ways marriage changes over the years or with children maturing etc.

    Get away? Absolutely. I’m all for it when you can swing it. We do it from time to time. But do you know how many couples can’t afford WTR or some other marriage help getaway event? Probably more than those who can.

    Our solution has been a commitment to being honest, even when we know that honesty might be unpleasant for the other person. We’ve been to one marriage conference in 20 years, at our own church, and since that one we haven’t seen a need to go back.

    Unless you’re in an extreme situation (*real* abuse, adultery, etc), the trick to staying married is to stay married. Keeping a man happy is quite simple and usually easy. Keeping a woman happy is darn near impossible unless she’s settled in her heart to be content but we are capable of doing that.

    “Communication skills” builders almost always demand that the husband turn himself inside out to be both honest and dishonest with his wife at the same time, which neither simple nor easy to do.

  5. Im not sure about it being unBiblical, Maybe it seemed that my analogy from the Wimbers suggested that about WTR. That was not my intent. I didnt want to make that big of a claim.

    It does get to the point of a form of addiction to recovery. I cannot imagine what NEW things you’d learn by attending the same conference with the same materials over and again. If the new things are about each other, is it not unusual that a couple requires a paid weekend away with coaching to accomplish that?

    My impression is it presses the right buttons on the wife…..hence…..it is good

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