Lessons from Travis: The Marriage game

rWho wants to play a game? The group of students paused in anticipation.

“What’s the game?” a student asked excitedly.

“Well it’s simple” Travis went on “You are going to flip a coin. If you get a heads you get a candy bar.” Travis revealed a selection of candy bars like Vanna White showing a prize. The boy with glasses eyes the Snickers ready to fend off a resolution rarely see outside of fights to the death and Black Friday shoppers (although to be fair that might be redundant).“Ok I will play.” The boy said as he reached to his pocket for a quarter.

“Oh one other thing. If you get a tails you have to eat this dried Asian crab I picked up from the Asian food market.” The boy turned to the two Chinese girls in the group “You guys eat that!” he cried
Both the girls had marked looks of disgust. “Must be a Filipino thing.” Another student concluded “My mom said they eat raw squid and grasshoppers over there.” Travis waited, but nobody seemed willing to try to win candy at the possibility of having to eat food from the Asian market.

Finally Travis said “A recent report showed that half of all marriages in the US fail today. Marriage is an amazing thing and a great prize, but as we saw nobody was willing to play the game because they could get stuck with a terrible outcome. What I want to say is that it does not have to be a game. It is not chance.” Travis opened his bible and proceeded to lead a bible study on marriage based on Mat 19:6. Travis went on “Marriage is not only an individual contract. It is a covenant before God, and also the community. When me and Michelle were married we signed the marriage document before the church, because we wanted to make it clear that our marriage was not just about up. We are married before God, and before the community which we are to serve.”

Marriage and divorce and the lesson of the Asian crab

I am going to pass on talking about marriage in a UBF sense here. It requires a much fuller and precise document that what I am willing to present here and now. What I want to mention is that something that many people of older generations are saying now, as Travis did is that marriage as an institution is failing. With so many failed marriages it seems like the only conclusion that can be made. With so many broken families and homes in America the point Travis makes really hit home. I can recall that Sunday service featured the same “O tempora! O mores!” message.

This lesson taught me that marriage is not just a chance, it is not just a random event. God does not play dice and neither does your marriage says the lesson of the Asian crab. As an aside, this idea that US marriage is failing as an institution is often used as a justification for the UBF marriage by faith. The problem is that it is a very biased to say increasing divorce means the institution is failing. I will leave the article to a famous statistican I follow. The basis of the argument is that income is strongly, inversely correlated to divorce rate. So if the combined income of you and your spouse is high, you are not likely to divorce, across all age groups and races. Most UBF marriage by faith couples include a doctor, or a nurse, or both and so we should expect UBF marriage by faiths to be generally lasting.

For more information the perseverance of marriage:
For those unfamiliar with this article series here is my introduction: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/10/03/an-introduction-to-lessons-from-travis/


  1. forestsfailyou

    I should really read these more closely: “nobody seemed **willing…”

  2. Right, Forests (your last point, at least, which I think is your main one and the reason you posted.)

    This is an uncomfortable subject to discuss, because a greater portion of UBF missionaries (at least here in America) are pursuing lives that look, very often, more like upper middle class immigrants than missionaries.

    Socio economic status plays a large part in more than just the low (be careful, you don’t hear about most divorces in UBF) rate of divorce.

    • forestsfailyou

      To anyone thinking that I may be arguing against marriage to a Christian; I do not deny that people who have a strong relationship in Christ (as evidenced by faithful church attendance) also have very low divorce rate. I argue against the idea that because divorce in UBF is rare, marriage by faith is therefore a way to protect yourself from divorce (as I have heard it implied by missionaries).

    • “I argue against the idea that because divorce in UBF is rare, marriage by faith is therefore a way to protect yourself from divorce”

      Right. But I would go one step further and also argue against the idea that divorce in UBF is rare in the first place. On the old forum we counted over 2 dozen divorces in Chicago, often when one spouse wanted to leave UBF. Even in my small German chapter, there were 2 divorces during my time. One was even ordered by UBF, because one partner wanted to leave UBF. And note that the hardcore UBF partner was the one who filed for divorce, not the one who wanted to leave UBF. Because UBF totally covers up any sins and failures in the past, i.e. does not speak about all those who have left, divorced, committed suicide, leaders committing adultery, pressuring women to have abortions etc. and because people in UBF never talk about their real problems, including problems with their marriage, you get a distorted image. I bet current members in my former UBF chapter don’t even know that the “Abraham of Faith” of that chapter was divorced and re-married in UBF, because it happened 20 years ago. Instead he is probably seen and praised as a prime example of a Biblical and faithful husband.

      Against the background that UBF is a group where people believe the Bible, which forbids divorce and re-marriage, is the literal word of God, the percentage of divorce and re-marriage in UBF is in fact unusually high.

  3. Chris, Forests and others…marriage by faith never protects a person from divorce. Many believe this when they marry in UBF because it gives a person a sense of security…in our small chapter there was 2 divorces and one girl who was kidnapped by her parents after she married a man from Chicago and this ended in divorce…so three…I was one of the divorce ones. I think “Marriage by faith” takes the place of meeting someone who God truly has in store for you…my chapter director told me two things, “It is best to marry someone who is not so good looking so that they will stay with you in mission and why spend time looking for a wife” When I got married, I never thought much about the future just was happy to serve the Lord..one day my chapter director said I had to go to Chicago to meet and marry someone…at the time I was a struggling college student and confess I was desperate for a wife…UBF kind of paints a grim picture of marriage…”my chapter director acted like I did not even know how to talk to woman” there is so much manipulation in UBF and unhealthy pressure that often I felt like my life was over at 21…now that I attend a healthy church I have a friend who used to be a leader in another ministry like UBF. He experienced the same pressure and now he is remarried to a woman from Russia and our stories are so much a like…I kick myself for not seeing the truth of UBF much sooner…like Brian, Chris and others…we have to live the rest of our live on planet earth knowing that we were fooled and misled by a destructive ministry. I pray every day for the release of the prisoners in UBF and the freedom. UBF never really cares about those they hurt and all they do is hide the truth from those who begin Bible study with them and focus on Bible study so that you don’t look at the abuses…there are many who got married in UBF and left because they know in their hearts the ministry is not healthy for families. Watch out if you encounter a problem…they will discard you and blot you out of their memory…this is not God’s love at all…UBF is much like communism…they work to build up themselves and eliminate anything that hinders them or cost them…someday they will have to give an account. Anyone out there who wants a free copy of my book…found a way to send it via email just email me at kentuckybigbear49@yahoo.com…love to send my personal story to you…pray earnestly for you if you are trapped in UBF…

  4. This is just too sadly funny and humorous, though it is really just painful, shameful, embarrassing, demeaning, judgmental and humiliating on so many angles and perspectives: “…my chapter director told me two things, “It is best to marry someone who is not so good looking so that they will stay with you in mission and why spend time looking for a wife” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/10/18/lessons-from-travis-the-marriage-game/#comment-15556

    How can anyone (not to mention a Christian leader) with any sense of love, decency and respect toward others ever say such a thing!

    Would any loving father or mother ever say such a thing to their own son or daughter? Or is it just OK to say it to your Bible student??

    Would no other Christian leader comment on such a reprehensible statement? Or are we already numb and indifferent and close hearted to such things just because it happened some years ago, or because we still insist that our church is mostly in the right?

    Is there even a silver lining or positive intention in such a statement? That the leader really meant well by this statement? I ask this because sometimes it is just so easy to preach “the gospel of good intentions” as an excuse for saying and doing things that are just unbecoming, if not downright unChristian.

    • Joe Schafer

    • Why didn’t I think of that?? Thanks for making my day!

    • To the younger generation who do not know this song or the lyrics, which are not that clearly sung, here it is: “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life. Never make a pretty woman your wife. So from my personal point of view. Get an ugly girl to marry you.”

    • Joe Schafer

      Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I did not follow the advice in this song.

    • My marriage advice from SL (when I had breakfast with him and SB in Chicago) was this: marry a woman 1 inch taller than me so that I always have to look up to her.

    • forestsfailyou

      I can recall a missionary saying (quite innocently) “You will eat this everyday when you are married.” as she made some Korean food. I can also recall the two brothers in the room throwing me pained looks as they both realized I knew what she was referencing, and also that I had been so adamantly opposed to that which she referenced. Also interesting, I read Grace Lee’s report of how Samuel Lee talked to her father to marry her. Was it ever mentioned that he himself was not married by faith?

    • “Was it ever mentioned that he himself was not married by faith?”

      You’re raising a very important issue, forest. The UBF system is built upon several dogmas, particularly that it is mandatory that 1) you submit under a human shepherd and 2) you do not date anybody on your own, but marry by arrangement. Obviously, Lee himself did not follow these dogmas. In one newsletter he wrote that since he “had no human shepherd”, he “took Apostle Paul” as his shepherd (interestingly, he chose not Jesus, but Apostle Paul). He also bragged how he vowed to himself to make Miss Barry, who was originally the leader of the UBF movement, “his secretary” instead of submitting under her, and how he achieved this after a few years.

      The self-contradiction in the UBF system is that the man who did not follow the rules he imposed onto all others grew so dramatically that he is praised and remembered every year in a special ceremony, while no one else in UBF receives this honor.