There are these interesting billboards all around the small town that Mister and I now call home after our recent move. Some are in succession along the main highway – they cannot be missed.
If I were to show a caption, I would effectively tell the Blogosphere precisely where Mister and I have recently been planted by God…I do not care to do this, though I am certain that someone with adequate computer knowledge can easily find out if they have the unction. Instead, I will expound upon what I have learned about the organization which placed them there, and how this is relevant to current discussions within the ‘sphere regarding our favorite topic – marriage.
The first billboard was noticed not by me, but my Mister as he drove to work. It said in bold letters:
“I, I, I…Me, Me, Me…What happened to we?”,
and then in smaller characters, listed the website for the organization behind the advertisement. (I personally would have been more impressed had it said “What happened to us and GOD?”, but that’s probably asking a bit much. It has taken me a few days, as I waddle through our home (our daughter still insists there are “TWO babies in there”) putting it in order and caring for our children, to get to the place of looking up the URL, but when I did, I was surprised.
This is an entirely local organization. Local to a population of less than 55,000. I had expected it to be national. Upon researching it, it is a Not for Profit. It was founded by seventeen pastors from various denominational churches in our new hometown several years ago. Its purpose is stated as follows:
We Exist Because…
- Because married couples:
- are physically healthier and they live longer
- are more satisfied with their lives
- are wealthier
- report more marital enjoyment and a better sex life
- have better mental health
Children whose parents remain married do better both academically and emotionally. Couples marrying in the US today have a 40-50% chance of divorce, however about 70% of these may be prevented!
Healthy marriage is based firm commitment and on a set of relational skills that can be taught. There are many valuable teaching tools available. Research proves their effectiveness. When communities come together in support of marriage, dramatic things can happen!
Healthy, happy, strong marriages benefit everyone! …the culture, our community, businesses, our
churches, our neighbors, our families and especially our children…
One thing that stood out to me immediately is that there is absolutely no mention of God, Jesus, Repentance, the Bible, Faith…the website is presented in a totally secular fashion, although upon further investigation, they are a 501(c)3 (aka a “Church” in the U.S.). In their defense, they do use the word “Covenant” to describe the marriage relationship, but they stop short of saying it is a Covenant with another person AND GOD. They call it a “lifetime commitment” (kind of like Herpes, I suppose).
It’s still all about them…their wealth, their health…that concerns me.
Further, the emphasis seems to be on “preventing cohabitation”, as they list numerous stats as to how destruction of marriage is brought about by cohabiting:
- Reduce the divorce rate
- Increase the marriage rate/decrease cohabitation
- Decrease out-of-wedlock births
- Increase marital satisfaction and health
- Renew the hope for happy, life-long marriage
- Strengthen our families and preserve the next generation
We will strengthen and enrich marriages in our community by offering researched and
proven educational programs for all stages and walks of life:
- · pre-marital education
- · marriage enrichment
- · healthy relationship and dating skills
- · programs for stressful times in marriages
- · marriage resource center
- · support marriage media campaign
They have implemented a four-month waiting period for anyone seeking marriage from one of the participating pastors, so that the couple may “live apart” and “learn to have friendship” instead of burning with lust and having sex in a cohabitation arrangement. That is brilliant: now they can just spend the night together at each other’s respective apartments, while stressing over the financial hurricane they’ve created by doubling their expenses before the manifestation of The Barbie Princess Dream Wedding. One pastor who participates now claims that he has performed 100 marriage ceremonies and only two have divorced. In two years? Wow. I’m sadly not very impressed.
Upon visiting their links, the very first one was secular. Although I have never heard of this woman, Michele Weiner-Davis, (perhaps some of you readers have), I was not especially impressed by her website either – though it did address sexual problems in marriage (the sexually starved marriage). There was, in my opinion, too much emphasis on “this is not only a MEN’S problem – women have been rejected sexually, too, you know” – on this particular page. Michele Weiner-Davis, from what I am able to glean, just wants to make money off of our dying institution of marriage in American society. After all, she is a marriage counselor. She’s not a 501(c)3. It’s her paycheck on the line, and her approach differs little from most everyone else’s these days: write a book, sell a few books, make a buck – to hell with all you people and your REAL problems! Again, not impressed. Again, no mention whatsoever of a wife or husband’s RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE GOD to engage in meaningful sex with their spouse as the spouse desires.
Of course, on the local organizational website, there exists the obligatory “Give to Us” and “Contact Us” buttons and links. I think I’ll skip the “Give to Us” for now, but I might push the “Contact Us” button: after all, how ironic is it that God would uproot (suddenly and without much more than thirty days warning, by the way) a couple of people who went through hell before marrying each other, brought their own form of hell to the relationship in the existing marriage, yet allowed God to transform it into something worthwhile? How ironic is it that He would place us in this particular place with these particular, peculiar billboards for “reforming marriage?”
I think I want to know more.
I remain skeptical to say the least; I think their approach is off in a tremendous way by eliminating God from their “advertising” and website (Seeker-friendly?), and apparently all of their newsletters as well. I think two divorces in 100 over the course of two years for one pastor out of seventeen is nothing to write home about!
We shall see.