This week, we wrap up our conversation with Marvin “Merv” Mattair and learn about his success in sending his message throughout his community. Whenever any of us talk about sexual risk avoidance in the public square, we are faced with some of the most odd point of opposition. Merv was able to overcome that hurdle primarily by communicating to his local school principals that he, just like they, are interested in what is best for the kids in their community. It’s been proven that the longer kids abstain from sexual activity, the better grades they receive and the less stress they bring onto themselves. By speaking that kind of language to Madison County, FL educators, Merv has been able to bridge a gap that is often “unbridgeable”.
The hard truth for today’s school administrators is that the sexual education that today’s kids are being raised with is simply not working. Here at home, California has the most liberal comprehensive sexual education programs, but we also have the highest rate of chlamydia per capita to go with it. Additionally, we are among the top states when it comes to unintended pregnancies. Now, there are some that will argue that teen births are down in the Golden State, but with abortion rates being what they are, this doesn’t reflect a decrease in teen pregnancies.
All this actually creates a very common ground for school administrators and abstinence speakers like Merv and myself. They see the suicide attempts, high school dropouts, depression, and other terrible consequences that today’s rampant sexual culture has brought onto our school campuses. But, when we are on the same page with the common goal of helping their students achieve, many barriers simply vanish.
As any adult can attest, being fifteen or sixteen years old is dramatic enough. They don’t need the additional drama that comes with sexual activity at that age.
But, how can we change an entire generation? How can we encourage them to walk hard, even in the face of temptation and peer pressure? How can we communicate to an entire generation that they are valued much more than they assume?
As Merv puts it, there are many communication methods that are effective and even more that are ineffective. By and large, kids believe what they SEE, not what they HEAR. Therefore, we need to show them, not just tell them the truth. The key is to walk alongside today’s youth, becoming a part of their lives and them becoming a part of yours, more than just preaching at them. Merv has what he calls an 80/20 rule. He strives to talk with a kid 20% of the time, walk with them 80% of the time, thus showing them what it means to live according to God’s truth much more than simply telling them about it. Today’s children don’t need to be told what a healthy marriage looks like. They need to be shown, on a daily basis, what a Godly marriage looks like. They need to be shown that they are loved, not merely told empty words.
Even kids who spend each and every Sunday at church and go to youth group every week have heard too many words without being shown what God’s truth and His love really look like. They long for us adults to be real. Show them that we are not perfect, but we are daily being transformed through God’s grace and mercy. We fail because we are all sinners, but God allows us to continually improve.
We need to, like Merv does, SHOW them what it looks like to have a Godly marriage and live Godly lives. SHOW them what it’s like to go through hardships and financial stress and still stay together and still walk hard after God. SHOW them how to remain faithful to your spouse, even when you may not like them at all… but love them as God loves us.