Church Offers Everyone (Mostly Useless) Marriage Advice

America’s Catholic bishops have launched a media campaign aimed at promoting and strengthening marriage. This is like an arsonist discussing fire safety while watching your house burn.

Despite their obsessive campaigns to deprive men and women of condoms, despite hundreds of priests molesting thousands of kids, despite their evil work to limit sexual expression to less than half of Americans, the Church has launched the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage.

You’ll soon be seeing the Campaign’s TV ads, featuring ordinary people talking about what they do to enrich their marriages—extra hugs, carrying a wife’s purse, leaving lovenotes. There’s also a website, http://www.ForYourMarriage.org

The central message seems to be that if spouses are just a little nicer to each other, love will take care of the rest. This is the “watch your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves” theory of relationships.

I’m no expert on Catholicism, but after 27 years as a Licensed Marriage Counselor—that’s 30,000 sessions with men, women, and couples—I can tell you that being a little nicer to each other is not the answer for most marriages.

For starters, people need to prepare for marriage. Abstinence is not the way to do that. Neither is being phobic about masturbation or contraception, passively believing that God will direct you to the right partner, or two sessions of boilerplate premarital counseling.

The Campaign is also clueless about the role of sexuality in marriage. Their website perpetuates the same old myths: healthy sexual interest is driven only by love; sex isn’t important enough to investigate seriously prior to marriage; cohabiting offers nothing of value.

There’s no mention that divergent sexual ideas or appetites could be a deal-breaker. And their solution for contrasting sexual interests? He should light candles and be romantic; she should “resolve not to say ‘no’ too quickly.” They should “compromise.” Tell that to someone who wants sex four times a year. Tell that to someone who selfishly believes she or he “deserves” sex whenever they want it.

The worst part of the Campaign is the Church’s intention to get these ads placed as PSAs—that’s right, they want stations to donate air time so the “public” can “benefit” from the ads, whose tag line is “A message from the Catholic Church.” What greedy chutzpah—billions of dollars of tax breaks, and they ask for handouts to spread their propaganda. How incredibly insulting to practically everyone.

With the huge Catholic rates of divorce and sexual dysfunction, with exactly what expertise does the Church plan to “benefit” us?

The Campaign’s website continually repeats that marriage is healthy for people—emotionally, medically, sexually, spiritually. If that’s true, how can the Church deny its advantages to millions of gay men and women without feeling a deep sense of shame?

Yes, married people score higher on indicators of physical and mental health than non-married heterosexuals. Maybe that’s why priests keep committing these awful crimes. Obviously, they need the benefits of marriage more than anyone.


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