What’s Killing Christian Marriages: Pastors as Marriage CounselorsBlog, Essays, Featured — By Carole Smith Turner on May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am
I received a text last night from a friend telling me that her husband who moved out several months ago, has asked for a divorce.
I have two friends whose husbands were in ministry, then not, then eventually their marriages ended.
I have a friend whose husband no longer believes in God because after 20 years of marriage she left him.
I have a guy friend whose wife is staying but only for the kids, she’s not happy and is hanging on by a thread.
I could go on and on. I know of more failed marriages then successful ones.
And all the while the church is dispensing the same old tired remedies to couples like my friends and as expected, they are getting the same results-more and more divorces.
The other day I saw several retweets of a prominent preachers comment at a conference, he said “The secret to a successful marriage is to do it God’s way.”
Really? That’s it? Well sign me up.
There are MILLIONS of books and marriage conferences to tell us what IS God’s way and THEY ALL use the bible so all of them must be God’s way, right?
Couples watch online as a celebrity pastor and his wife spend a weekend in bed while offering up nuggets on marriage and sex. Another famous pastor writes a book that gets a lot of attention for all the oral sex talk in it, and all the while leader after leader is falling into porn addiction, wife after wife is leaving a loveless marriage, couple after couple are filling for divorce like the true Jersey Shores Style Christianity we have all just accepted as reality.
In case you haven’t noticed church, what we are saying and doing isn’t working.
And many churches don’t believe in referring couples to counselors at all. I have two friends who were told by their pastors that everything they needed to fix their marriage could be found in the bible and at church. They were told that they just needed some counseling by the pastor and there was no need to go to a paid professional counselor. They are both divorced now.
That is what is killing Christian marriages. The arrogant assumption by preachers and teachers who feel they have the answers on how to fix marriages and the continuation of giving those answers while getting the same failing results. And couples who expect their pastors or religious leaders to be able to give them the proper counseling. Most pastors should actually say to these couples, “Hey, I don’t feel I am qualified to help you as well as a trained professional would be, maybe you should go see a marriage counselor.” and people in their congregations don’t want to hear that either. They want the free counsel you get from the preacher and as expected, they are getting their monies worth.
I am very glad that I attend a church that works closely with trusted professional marriage counselors and regularly refers couples to them so they can get the real help they need.
One day I asked a friend of mine, Dee Adams, who has her doctorate in marriage and family counseling and is also a licensed EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy) counselor, if The Love Dare book worked. She said no. She’s been counseling couples for 30 years. But church after church use the Fireproof movie and The Love Dare book as the textbook for marriage counseling. I believe it’s because it’s neat, easy, ties up all the lose ends and offers absolute success…If done right of course.
And that leads me back to the retweeted comment by the prominent pastor and why it bothers me so much.
There are two people in a marriage, both may believe they are doing it “Gods way” and both may be very wrong.
I know too many former couples in which both people would tell you that they did everything they could to conduct their marriage as God would have it. They died to self, forgave, ask for forgiveness, prayed, fasted and begged God to fix their marriage.
I know friends who live with the guilt everyday that they couldn’t die to themselves enough to save their marriage, submit enough to save their marriage, give enough to save their marriage.
To throw that blanket statement of “do it God’s way” out there for cheers and retweets is the perfect example of why Christian marriages are dropping like flies. Preachers giving neat and tidy sounding answers to messy questions and offering sweeping statements to detailed problems, screams “We don’t know the answers but we are too proud to say so so we will just keep trying to fix the problem by making it worse.”
**See also this great post by Rachael Held Evans, “Why Being a Pastor Doesn’t Automatically Make You a Sex Therapist”