Early on in our marriage, Karen began to decide that even if she believed in some kind of God, she could not accept basic Christian teachings. The faith claims that Christians make about Jesus—about him being the Son of God—seemed unbelievable to her. The Bible is just another book, she began to conclude, and so we cannot grant it any particular authority. She wondered whether she could continue to attend church. This stirred a bit of panic in me. She was not just my wife. She was the minister’s wife.
After thousands of scientific studies of marriage, the one number everybody knows is 50 percent. Fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce. It’s a statistic made for pessimism and fatalism, as in “Half of the people in this room will get a divorce.” Adding to the woe is the wealth of research that has noted the severe economic and social impact of divorce on children.
It would be hard to find more divisive, jabbing rhetoric on marriage than in these publications by self-described “marriage nut” David Blankenhorn, the founder and director of the Institute for American Values, and the late historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, well known for her testy rebuff of femini
On the day I read through Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s review of books about the wedding industry, I encountered a young woman at the church reception desk who was breathlessly explaining that she had just secured the Cigar Bar at Ditka’s Restaurant, next door to the church, for her wedding rehearsal party.
What do you get for the bride who has everything? It’s unusual these days for a couple not to have all they need before they marry. They don’t need dishes or kitchenware—unless they hope to upgrade. Their grandparents may have started out in a small apartment with a used stove and an icebox, but the 21st-century couple already owns a Viking stove and Sub-Zero refrigerator.
In the minutes before the wedding ceremony, I wait downstairs in Pilgrim Hall with the groom and the groomsmen. Upstairs the sanctuary is lovely, with freshly vacuumed carpeting and wedding flowers that are a cut above the usual Sunday morning carnation extravaganza.
Clark and I had been dating for a few weeks when I went to church with him one Sunday. Apparently one of the kids saw us holding hands after the service and was bewildered, because later that evening, during youth group, he pulled the youth director aside and asked him in earnest curiosity, "Is it OK with God that Clark has a black girlfriend?"If you haven't guessed by now, here's the scandal: I am a Christian black woman who happens to be dating a Christian white man.