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.