Carol Howard Merritt has a great, and challenging, post about family structures in the 21st century church. Looking at her questions, I admit that my congregations are falling short - most of our singles are elderly widows and widowers, and we don't have many younger singles and families (and we still won't have many unless we become more hospitable). I am trying to place a priority on broadening our programming for children, teens, and young families. The Ingleside church building is full of young parents and children when we have special family events at Christmas and Easter.
Carol asks, 'If a young couple is living together (this is often a financial necessity), do our churches welcome them?' This reminds me of a conversation we had at one of the local ministerial meetings, which brings together clergy from various denominations. We were discussing preparation for marriage, and one of the evangelical pastors stated that when he finds out that a couple is living together, he tells them that they must live separately until their wedding or he will refuse to marry them. I responded that if I didn't marry people who are living together, we would have no weddings at all. When I look at our marriage registers, the bride and groom's addresses are the same in nearly every case. And if some Christians see living together as a sin, wouldn't they want the wedding to go ahead so this state of wrongdoing can cease?