The marriage of religious authorities and… marriage. Does it work? Does it help? Does it hurt?
Assuming you are a religious person, and adhere/subscribe to one way of life, then yes, why shouldn’t religious authorities help guide you in something as large and important and delicate as marriage? Assuming, again, that they have the proper training.
Whispered along the walls of the Jewish community, I’ve heard the horror stories of abused women and children who can’t get out of their homes because they have no support. In Judaism, there is a concept called “shalom bayit” – a peaceful house. It’s a clause used often to try and realize the greater good of your home: work towards shalom bayit, it’s the most important thing.
That is true, of course, until it is no longer true. Recently I’ve had to listen to the horror story of an old friend who is finding herself taking all kinds of crap from rabbinical authorities who are asking her to just keep quiet for shalom bayit. She is in a situation where the marriage is way past shalom bayit, and it is time for everyone, including the rabbis, to face reality.
In what seems to be a new turn, a course is now being offered by the Emunah Religious Women’s Organization to train Orthodox rabbis on giving professional advice and guidance on sexual health and marital relations. This is under the notion that “rabbis are catalysts for family change.”
And how true. Young couples, who never received a sex education beyond learning the difference between a woman’s purity and impurity, can finally get some healthy, sound advice from a figure they trust. Believe it or not, but there are plenty of people who will go to their rabbis before their doctors.
Here is a full article about the initiative, which I definitely agree with, as long as the rabbis use it for good – especially in the cases of the abused.
Rabbis offer professional sexual, marital advice
New course offered by Emunah Religious Women’s Organization trains rabbis to provide professional counseling in marriage, sexuality. ‘Rabbis are catalysts for family change,’ says Emunah deputy head Rina Wasserman
Bedroom affairs and marital problems are now open for discussion in the Orthodox sector. A newly launched course trains rabbis to engage in family and marital counseling and give advice on sex-related matters in order to help the religious sector deal with these rather sensitive issues.
“The course focuses on psychological aspects, family relationships and sexuality,” said Rina Wasserman, Vice Chairperson of Emunah (Religious Women’s Organization) Israel, which has initiated the course. (source)