US Military Uses Strong Bonds to Aid Male, Female Relationships

strongbondsLast fall, chaplains from the 181st Intel Wing, an Air National Guard unit in Terre Haute, Indiana, led a Strong Bonds marriage retreat called “Laugh your Way to a Better Marriage.” Though they haven’t been in the news much, chaplain-led marriage retreats have been an ongoing source of tension as chaplains and service members try to navigate the sensitivities of ‘other sexuality’ — a point that sometimes taints the “non-event” narrative of supporters of DADT repeal.

The Racers’ retreat highlights from where some of that tension can come: 

The retreat was designed to give couples graspable ways to connect and enjoy life together, and explore the underlying dynamics of male/female relationships

Activities during the marriage retreat included a session titled, “Tale of Two Brains,” which talked about the differences in how men and women process information and communicate.

As with this event, the point of many marriage seminars and retreats is to understand the relational dynamics between men and women (most often, with the added perspective of a religious faith). Obviously, homosexuals in what they call a “marriage” have no need to understand how the other gender thinks or communicates. Thus, not only is this portion of the retreat of no practical value, but, to affirm the relationships of homosexuals, the chaplains (assuming they were even allowed to do so) would have to theologically neuter the entire rest of the event, reducing the value to everyone else.  The result of a Strong Bonds marriage retreat that included homosexuals and heterosexuals would be foregone: everyone loses.

Regardless, some homosexual advocates claim anything short of a combined “all”-sexual marriage retreat equates to an unjust (and therefore impermissible) “separate but equal“. Such sensationalism wrongly ignores very practical reality — including the reality that “separate but equal,” loaded term that it is, is precisely how some things in the military work.

For example, that very concept is why military chapels have separate religious services for different faiths and denominations — while it purports to treat all religious groups equally.  A Muslim troop doesn’t want to be in a “unified” religious service with a Catholic troop, and vice versa, because their beliefs are incompatible and it would do a disservice to both.

The same concept applies for many couples who attend these retreats.  Why would they want to attend a retreat with couples whose very concept of marriage is incompatible with theirs?

The US military actively works for the family and against divorce. The military is heavily invested in the strength of service members’ families because supporting their marriages — including through religious support — not only aids the faith and relationship of the couple, but increases the mission readiness of the troops and their units.

No doubt, some people are likely offended by the very concept of these marriage events — the “old fashioned” idea that “man ≠ woman” — but even some “sexually-progressive” homosexuals acknowledge many gender norms otherwise derided by supporters of erotic liberty. (Ever noticed that all female homosexuals are married to “wives,” while all males have “husbands?”)

Regardless, there is clearly value in the US military continuing to support troops’ marriages through events like Strong Bonds. They should continue to do so, and yet do so without compromise that undermines the very virtue they intend to uphold.