In February 2017, a Christian marriage ministry named FamilyFirst launched a Facebook page titled, “No to Christian Marriage!”
The page, which had just two friends, quickly gained more than 1,500 followers.
FamilyFirst founder Michael Farris was quick to respond to the controversy by clarifying that his group’s marriage ministry, FamilyFirst for Marriage, was not an official church organization.
“Our mission is to support and educate people in our communities who have fallen in love and want to make marriage their life,” Farris said in an interview.
“As we continue to spread the Gospel, we are committed to protecting marriage, and the rights of each person to marry the person of their choice.”
He added, “Our goal is to provide the best marriage, not a marriage that works for everyone.”
The response to the page quickly led to a backlash.
Christian Marriage Minister Joshua Davis, a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Los Angeles, responded to Farris’s remarks by writing, “We are a church and a family, and we’re not going to allow anyone to dictate our beliefs to us.
We are going to stand up and defend marriage.”
“If you’re a minister and you are a Christian and you want to be involved in the church, you have to take a stand on this issue, and I’m not going anywhere,” Farras responded.
“We’re not a Christian ministry.
We’re not part of any Christian denomination.”
A few months later, FamilyNext’s Facebook page also gained hundreds of followers.
The group also began offering support for people who were considering a divorce.
Farris told BuzzFeed News that his ministry had not received any threats or complaints about its Facebook page.
“The community is so supportive,” he said.
“And I think the majority of people have gotten to know each other.”
In response to this growing movement, Family First has created a series of videos, podcasts, and informational seminars.
In one, a man named Paul, who was seeking a divorce, spoke with the group about how to handle the court process.
“If a court does not have the power to grant a divorce based on the facts, we should be prepared to go through a divorce proceeding in the court system,” Paul said.
He continued, “If I’m in a divorce court, I don’t want my family members to know what I’m going through, so I want them to know that I’m a very loving husband, father, and friend.”
The videos also featured Christian ministers and pastors from other faith communities, such as the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Anglican Church in the UK, the Christian Science Church of Scotland, and others.
“When you get to know people who are like you and are very passionate about their faith, that’s what helps you grow in that community,” Farris said.
Farrer said that his hope is that the video series will lead to a change in how the Christian marriage community views marriage.
“What people are seeing is that it’s not a good thing for people to have to go to court for a marriage,” Farrer told BuzzFeed.
“People should be able to marry who they want.
It shouldn’t be a requirement for marriage.”