Can someone choose to refuse God's direction and do whatever they want to do? Of course. That IS what lands most people here in the first place. Believers or not, MOST people are at least aware of the biblical injunction against adultery, but they choose to ignore that injunction for whatever reason they wish to use. Does that "negate" the validity of the biblical direction? I don't think so. But it does speak to the REALITY of dealing with fallen humans and the "sin-nature" within all of us.
I "refused God's direction", but that doesn't mean one will "do whatever they want to do". Humans have a common code of ethics regardless of religion. These ethics aren't handed down from On High. They are a legacy of our evolutionary heritage -- a good legacy, no doubt -- that improved our survival odds in times past.
For my part, becoming an atheist required a re-evaluation of everything I thought I believed. And I came out a better person because of it. Not because of the religion I rejected, but despite it.
MB in it's secularishness (lol) is, perhaps, a great way to sneak a biblical counselling program in the back door.
Dr. Harley also freely admits that MarriageBuilders is a very Pavlovian approach to building romantic love. The techniques to implement them dovetail nicely with some Biblical teachings, but are definitely at odds with others.
I've always found it odd that there are many passages in the Bible advocating stoning to death any man or woman caught in adultery, and only one passage in which Jesus escapes a logical trap by refusing to pass judgment on an adulteress. Yet the divorce rate among US Christians is at least as high as that of non-Christians. Were US law actually Bible-based, as many believe, we'd have a death penalty for adultery.
So what it takes, and what a Nouthetic Counselor will require, is a commitment from both spouses to be willing to submit to God and let God lead the healing process according to His promises.
The pathetic success rate of religious marriage counseling is a tribute to how well that approach works in practice, I suspect.
Science was once fully the pursuit of His laws.
Assuming God is the lawgiver, science still is. Science is only the study of the facts of the universe. As a for-instance, global warming at the present time is a fact as we document (among many indicators) rising ocean levels, expanding temperate zones, de-glaciation of major land masses, and the opening of the Northwest Passage for the first time in living memory. That fact has causes, which are many, varied, and complicated, but ultimately obey the laws of physics. A cold winter here and there don't negate the fact; they are simply data points outside the bell curve of an overall trend.
Assuming that God gave all natural laws, science today is still the study of fact. Unfortunately, the facts and reality have always been subject to interpretation and manipulation. As Mark Twain once said, "Politicians use statistics the way a drunk uses a lamp-post: more for support than for illumination." We are in a breathtaking era of scientific innovation right now, pushing the boundaries of the black unknown further and further as more of the universe becomes known.
I guess I said all that to say this: there was never a golden age of science in which it was purely devoted to discovering God's laws. If you're a believer, that's what science is still doing TODAY.
We get to "feeling good about ourselves" when we begin to do right toward God and toward our fellow man. It's sort of like the feelings of being in love. They come AFTER we DO the "work" of a loving person and the person we love begins to respond in a reciprocal manner.
There's a line of therapy today called "reality therapy" that -- sans the God stuff -- addresses many mental illnesses along the same lines. At the heart of it, many mental illnesses (not all, but many) are brought about by people realizing their actions are inconsistent with their personal world-view. If they re-align their actions to affirm their view of themselves, they can often overcome mental illness.
There are, of course, serious chemical imbalances, brain injury, and brain defects or disease that cannot be addressed in that way. But even the case of a schizophrenic can be markedly improved if, in combination with appropriate anti-psychotic drugs, the patient is taught behavioral therapy to bring their behavior in-line with what they expect of themselves.
(Note: My wife is studying to be a mental health therapist. I get way more exposure to this stuff than I ever planned on. And I've read several of her textbooks for recreational reading and discussion points in order to have more to talk about.)
I have seen successes and failures for people utilizing solely the MB approach too. No program is a panacea for infidelity, in large part because infidelity IS that serious to a marriage.
Agreed. MarriageBuilders is a program to use AFTER the infidelity has ceased. You can get some practice while your spouse is cheating, but learning the process only improves yourself. The unfaithful spouse must decide on their own to end the affair; only after that is done will the MarriageBuilders approach taken by the betrayed spouse have any effect.
...because much of MB and the ideas are "taken" from Scripture and reworded to "appeal to the masses."
See, here's where I disagree. Scripture advocates executing adulterers. MarriageBuilders does not. Scripture advocates turning the other cheek indefinitely. MarriageBuilders advocates a time limit. Scripture advocates sacrifice and suffering as a path toward righteousness. MarriageBuilders specifically advocates against such backward and unproductive notions.
In short, there are some facets of MB that may be rationalized using the Bible. But there are a HUGE number of approaches advocated in the Bible that MB contradicts, and rightly so. The Bible is flawed, written by flawed humans, often transcribed by those who were never witness to the events they wrote about.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you value ANYTHING above the feelings of your spouse, that thing is going to cause problems in your marriage. This includes one's religious devotion. Value God, if you wish, above your marriage. But don't value Man's teachings about God -- including every word of the Bible -- above your spouse.
God believes all marriages should be honored because HE instituted the ordinance of marriage.
I believe all non-abusive, monogamous marriages should be honored. Abusive or polygamous marriages are an anathema for many reasons that I don't know if I want to go into here, aside from saying "male-dominated, religiously-heirarchical polygamy is a mathematical evil."
You even see that sort of thing in the Scripture where it talks about a believer who is married to an unbeliever and how they should fulfill their role in the marriage as a witness for Christ by how they conduct themselves.
It's a very odd thing to me that, as a non-believer, I carefully police my own actions and attitudes to support the goals I've laid out for myself regarding my marriage, and have always been faithful. Yet my wife, the believer, had the affair because she trusted God to keep her out of trouble.
Go figure. I don't see how a belief in a supernatural entity is necessary, or even really that helpful, in recovering marriage from infidelity.