Kirk Cameron doesn't elude a controversial spotlight, back off from his faith or views, or surrender to any political pressure.
Yet, said the 43-year-old child actor-turned-evangelical Christian, "I have a zero batting average changing human beings."
Cameron, that fresh-faced Mike Seaver in all 167 episodes of "Growing Pains" from 1985-'92, said by phone earlier this week that only the individual can change him- or herself. He discussed his views as he hit the promotional trail leading to "Love Worth Fighting For" at Hilltop Community Church in Richmond on Feb. 16.
Cameron, with an assist from musical guest Warren Barfield, shares his views and passion about marriage in his only Bay Area appearance.
"Marriage is the foundation upon which you build a family, and if families fall apart, then our churches, our communities and ultimately our whole nation crumbles," Cameron said.
Married to actress Chelsea Noble for 23 years -- "that's like 200 in Hollywood years," Cameron said -- it "took a few years" for him to get a handle on this institution called "marriage."
"I used to think that the challenges were that we grew up in different homes, and each way we did things was the right way," Cameron said. "One of us is a spender, one is a saver. It finally dawned on us that these things aren't a liability but an asset if we leverage them the right way and work together. I worked on getting my part right, and my wife worked on her part."
The failure of contemporary marriage, Cameron said, boils down to individual selfishness and not communication, finances or, as he said one audience member shouted recently, Facebook.
"The selfish heart says my way or the highway," Cameron said.
The adage of "never go to bed angry" -- or, quoted Cameron from Ephesians 4:26, "Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" -- is an oversimplification.
"Ultimately, you have to stop pointing the finger and think, 'What's my responsibility in this?'" Cameron said.
Children undoubtedly influence a marriage, and Cameron and his wife have two biological children plus four adopted ones.
How does he handle it?
"I drink more coffee," Cameron quipped.
Seriously, he continued, there are indeed challenges.
"Kids add a dynamic to your marriage. But there's nothing in the world I would take in exchange for my children," he said.
Marriage "never fails," Cameron said. "We make marriage hard. It is perfect. But people are not. People fail at marriage, and we fail when we refuse to offer forgiveness. We stay bitter, hold grudges and put ourselves before our spouse. The same God that designed the universe and the human heart also designed marriage. It's selfish guys like me who wreck it. I found the only thing that works for me is having a connected relationship with God."
Cameron agreed that it's impossible to prevent his kids from seeing negative comments about their dad on the Internet but noted family members could be just as pessimistic.
"Part of life is to learn how to fight and learn how to make sure you're on the right side of the battle," Cameron said. "And when you do it, it's not in the mudslinging, hypocritical way. Put forward what you believe is good and believe is true."
Cameron said his worst fear is "blowing it so bad in terms of personal integrity that I cannot recover in the eyes of my children. And people dying without knowing the love and forgiveness that God offers. That's frightening to me."
Who: Kirk Cameron and Warren Barfield
What: "Love Worth Fighting For"
Where: Hilltop Community Church, Richmond
When: 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16