I came across this article today. SCCL had linked to it on its Facebook page. It's kinda hard to describe the reaction it created within me. Many emotions, nary a one "edifying".
I'm not interested in snarking on this women or her husband (even if the page and article practically begs for it). I'm not gonna break each section and point on her list down to debunk it. I'm also not claiming that every single thing she presents is bad. What I want to do is address the toxicity of the religious addiction in the message presented there in broad and general terms - cause some of it is triggering for me on multiple levels (and probably triggering for many of you). I see her attitude about marriage as everything that's wrong with "Christian" marriage these days and probably the root of disease that causes marriages in the Christian community to crumble at a higher rate than the secular community - and this doesn't even take into account all of the loveless, mechanical, and moribund lasting marriages within the Christian community. I would also have to raise my hand and plead guilty to allowing my own religious addictions to cloud my view of marriage in the past, even if not to such a degree.
Much of this traces squarely to the trendy, fairly recent idea with the Christian community that "love is a choice". Total BS. Total, total BS. It's. Just. Wrong. (I wrote a little about that idea here back in 2010, and while many of my perspectives on faith/religion have changed since then, some fairly drastically, much of what I wrote there holds up with where I am today)
Two things for those of you duped into believing "love is a choice"...
1) Think back to a time that you were hurt by love, then choose to not love the person that hurt you...and see if the pain goes away. *hint* It doesn't.
2) If love is a choice, then that means love is works-based. If you're a "grace" person within the Christian community, and you believe and live according to "love is a choice", how do you reconcile free grace with works-based love?
Let's be clear - you can choose to act in a loving manner toward someone, but you can't choose to love or not love them. You can act in loving ways toward your spouse, toward a neighbor, toward co-workers, toward ANYONE. That doesn't mean you love them. True love is organic in every way. It plants itself, waters itself, grows itself. The most you can do to control it is to pull a few weeds or move it away from its sunshine (the object of your affection), but IT chooses its own life-cycle. It follows no formula, has no mold. It just IS, whether you like it or not, whether you want it to be or not.
The work isn't in the "love" part of the equation. The work is in the relationship - forming and maintaining solid, healthy communication, boundaries, developing trust and deeper levels of respect, et cetera. Even that part doesn't work by following a formula, and a formula may even deliver a death-blow. Relationship is a choice, but love isn't, and if a formula ends your relationship rest assured that the pain is just beginning.
When I see this kind of formulaic, role-playing, works-based approach to love and marriage, I'm reminded of something my ex asked my mother on two occasions - once via phone and once in person: "Lew does so much for me. He does everything for me. What can I do for him? What's my ministry to him?" My mom thought it odd on both occasions, and told her, "Just love him." She never really understood what that meant, because her emotions (and particularly acting upon them) were forbidden territory where only the worldly trod. She was to "love the man she married, not marry the man she loved" - something many of you who read here were indoctrinated to believe. It's sad that young people are poisoned with that kind of crap, and that many end up stuck in loveless marriages playing the role of "godly helpmeet" and "biblical wife" while choosing to love the one they married. It. Just. Isn't. Healthy...or right.
All of this kind of nonsense is why I strongly encourage young Christian couples to NOT make any kind of pre-marital counseling a religious deal. Don't go to someone who's gonna break out the bible and start telling the husband to be the head/wife to submit and become a Proverbs 31 women. Stay away from pastors. Go either to professionals or to people on both sides of the success/non-success marriage Mason-Dixon line (who won't make it all about religion). I can't speak to exactly how God made you, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't with a cookie cutter, and religifying your marriage with someone's biblical formulas or mandates is to conform yourself to a shape you likely don't really fit into. That's called "doctrine over person" - a sure sign of religious addiction and a red flag for an unhealthy religious/spiritual situation.
Godly. Biblical. Edifying. Proverbs 31 women. Submit. Blah blah blah. This kind of stuff has seriously turned me off to the Christian idea and ideal of marriage. I matter. What I feel matters. The box you may want to put me in doesn't matter. Not to me, anyway.
My heart goes out to those of you stuck in loveless marriages, having been convinced that if you'll just do the right things, then God will make love happen. Doesn't work that way...and never will - no matter how many Fireproof "love dares" you subject yourself to. At some point it becomes self-brainwashing. To those of you single or on the verge of marriage, if you'll only marry to "edify" or to "minister" to the other person, PLEASE STOP. You can marry for whatever reason you want, but if that reason isn't something like "I love this person and want to spend the rest of my life with them", well, let's just say that I don't anticipate you finding much success in either or both of the happiness and long-lasting areas.
This kind of marriage makes failure SO easy. Too easy.
I hope for better for you. You matter. What you feel matters.