Opinion surveys of public attitudes reveal a general apathy toward marriage, certainly when it is understood as a social institution. For many, reconfiguring family is little more than a matter of personal convenience. Yet various family structures, affirmed in the name of “family diversity,” mask family fracturing and emotional pain. This “diversity” also often has negative economic and cultural outcomes.
Yet Christians often feel ill-equipped to engage these issues in a way that is both winsome and true to Christian convictions. Even though we have a better story to tell, as psychiatrist Glynn Harrison’s book about family in a post–Sexual Revolution world notes, all too often we struggle to articulate the meaning of marriage and the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic. Harrison also suggests that some Christians feel guilt and shame for holding views our culture finds offensive and even degrading. Speaking publicly and Christianly about the family is difficult today.
This is where Cardus Family aims to help. By using public data and social-science research about marriage and family, we plan to inform and train faith leaders with a curriculum to better articulate their position in the public square. This idea for a curriculum will involve a seminar model, whether delivered by video or in-person by pastors. The point is to use good research, expressed in winsome language, not only to teach their congregants and parishioners about how to productively engage, but also to themselves engage with others outside of the church.
As we work on the first phase of gathering the public research, we are reminded we must first tell ourselves a “better story” about family and marriage. Turning apathy around will not happen overnight, but helping equip Christian leaders marks a fine start.