Prep for What?

Posted on January 6, 2012 by

This is a criticism of the way the Christian Church as a whole prepares couples for one of the most significant undertakings in their lives– marriage.

I had premarriage preparation in my church, and I found it rather lacking. It turns out that other Christian married couples, along with people who used to be in Christian marriages, found their preparation lacking, too.

I didn’t expect to be given a magic wand to know exactly how to be a wife and I certainly didn’t expect anything that was taught to be perfection. What I did expect was to be taught what is evident in Scripture about what marriage is and its holy nature. I don’t know if this is just a phenomenon that exists in the U.S., but a lot of the information engaged couples and couples in long-term relationships receive about marriage in the Church does not teach couples to be successful in their marriages. I’ve been reflective about the whole situation then, and how learning certain things could help a lot of marriages.

In the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul, part of the requirements to marry in the Catholic Church is to attend a retreat and attend 4 meetings with a “Cana Couple,” or a couple who has been married for a long time to discuss marriage issues.

This preparation wasn’t a big deal. That’s not what bothered me, or what many other people see lacking. What I’ve seen lacking is: Why aren’t we told what we need to hear? Why aren’t we told what we needed to truly know and accept? Are we truly prepared and given the proper knowledge and tools, or what we just want to hear?

Other people I have spoken to who married in other Christian churches echo the same concerns. There were even women who told me they married in a Christian church, had premarital counseling, yet still ended up divorced because they didn’t know how to stay together. They didn’t understand that marriage is sanctified in nature and is more than just “a piece of paper.”

I can remember the retreat and how rushed it was. Various topics were discussed, such as contraception, sex, communication, family history, and how to deal with money. The topics were addressed at about 1 hour each. In other words, it really felt as if you were receiving a crash course to married life, not true preparation to learn how to stay married.

Much of the advice given was beta-izing and based around feelings instead of teaching tools and the nature of men and women. Women were basically told to accommodate to the point of being a doormat, but then be a little feminist, too. Men were told to expect that their wives would need to tell them what they had to do. They were told that they needed to be babysat and their future wives were to do the babysitting. Then (and this was the best part) we were all told that if we have problems caused by anything, it would just magically work itself out as long as we kept “trying,” whatever that was intended to mean.

If I could pull the Christian Church by the ear and bellow something into its ear about premarrriage preparation, it would be a list of 10 things. It’s much too long for one post, so that being said this will be part of a mini-series detailing my critique on the way the Christian Church handles marriage.

Here are the first 4:

1. Teach men and women about male headship and wifely submission. Why does God want us to be this way? How are these things part of the innate nature of men and women? God created an order for a reason. I see it as His physiology of Creation. There is a structure, order, and function to everything God created. Submission and headship are not choices. They just are. The minute we are taught that we can “choose” to have a “mutual submission marriage” is the minute you tell us it’s okay for STHTF. Why in the world would God create something to be a “choice” when it is supposed to represent the covenant we have with Him? That’s like saying when we read Songs of Songs we have a choice to ignore the fact that it’s about intense romantic love. Ha!

When you are in a Christian marriage, you accept that husbands are the head and the wife is to submit to his leadership. No exceptions for special snowflakes.

2. Teach men what it means to be the head. What does it mean to lead? Foster the spirit of leadership in men and give them an outlet to build this character. I think the men should talk about this.

3. Teach women what it means to be submissive. That doesn’t mean doormat. That doesn’t mean women are inferior in worth. It is part of God’s order, and this needs to be facilitated by strong feminine women who are comfortable with their femininity and don’t feel the need to “prove” anything, other than the fact that God wants us to be prudent and submissive wives. Wives-to-be should be taught what it means to sway one’s husband without words, but with actions. They should also be taught how to properly discern when a husband is not leading properly and what the appropriate actions are to take in such a situation. It doesn’t mean run to your girlfriends who will give you a pep talk on getting on pulling an Eat, Pray, Love. That also means teaching women what men expect when they want respect. Teach women what that means, too.

4. Accept the fact that we won’t entirely understand how the opposite sex communicates, but don’t feed us garbage such as “it’s always okay to argue like batty hyenas, because it means you’re getting things out.” Don’t feed us the rotting trash of “it’s all about communication,” when clearly communication has not been defined. If you’re going to teach that it’s okay to argue you sure better follow that up with the argument needs to serve a purpose and ultimately be the first stepping stone to a solution. There is often the tendency for feelings to dictate the way a couple makes decisions and interacts. Most arguments that newlyweds have along with couples still in the first few years of their marriages are filled with poison. The Church is teaching that it’s okay to communicate by just moving your mouth and forming sounds, rather than purposefully choosing words to build a solution. The teaching that feelings= communication is quite telling when we consider the amount of pandering Christian churches do to appease the feelings of feminists and the like.

There’s more to come.