With changing social trends and approaches to tying the knot, the church’s message on marriage is going to have to be repackaged for 2012.
Focus on the Family expert Glenn Stanton told The Christian Post that forming strong families and healthy marriage is something young people want; they just don’t always know how to get it.
“The biggest untapped opportunity of the church is to meet young people at one of their greatest points of need,” which is their desire to form good, healthy families, Stanton said. “Many say their number one life goal is marriage and parenting, but they are scared because they have never seen it succeed.”
Pew research found that the Millennial generation is the most marriage-minded generation today. Stanton believes it’s because they want what they were denied by the previous generation. “They are very interested in marriage, and getting and providing for their children what they didn’t have.”
He said if the church can partner with them and give them preparation and perspective in how to do that, “young people would beat a path through the churches’ doors.”
And while healthy heterosexual marriages is something the church will have to learn how to emphasize this year, they will also have to continue de-emphasizing the push for same-sex marriage.
Stanton believes the issue of same-sex marriage is going to increase, and even get worse. “We’re at a crisis point,” he said. The whole idea put forth by the other side is that it’s either “embrace same-sex marriage” or else.
But for him, the problem is that it’s still largely a theoretical issue. “No one has seen a generation of kids grow up in these kinds of homes,” he said, referring to households with same-sex partners.
For many young people, they sympathize with same-sex marriage because they are ideological and hopeful. They like the idea of same-sex marriage, and would “love to live in a world where everyone can marry who they want,” Stanton said. But “a lot of young people that say they support same-sex marriage aren’t the ones that go vote, and in a democracy that’s what matters.”
People are also starting to see that gender is more inbred than they once thought. Men and women actually do see the world differently and children need both of their influences.
Stanton gives the example of parents in the 60s who wanted to raise their kids in gender free homes. But he said there is always a reaction against it, sometimes on a more practical level. Their son ends up using the spatula as a hammer, or their daughter puts her Barbie to sleep in the bed of the toy pick-up truck.
Stanton believes that the movement against same-sex marriage won’t be backlash. Rather, it will be a slow shift of people saying, “No, I’m not so comfortable with that.”
He says in the coming years young people will come to a different kind of realization on the issue, much like the quiet pro-life shift that is taking place across the country.
Regardless, the church will have to address many issues regarding marriage and human sexuality in the coming year. Stanton said those at Focus on the Family are doing the same by “concentrating on things that matter – marriage, family, and things that hold the family together.”