After Obergefell, can Christians withstand the pressure to change their teachings?

July 15, 2015

By Lea Z. Singh |
Crown of thorns on open Bible
That crown of thorns sure looks uncomfortable.
What if the time is coming when we will have to wear it?
Post-Obergefell, the war for the heart and soul of Christianity has begun in earnest. Less than a week after Emperor Anthony Kennedy issued his fiat of 'love conquers the Constitution', the Episcopal Church rushed to rescue their dinner party invitations. They quickly voted themselves into the new era, approving same-sex weddings and replacing the outdated and homophobic words "man and woman" with "couple" in their marriage canons.

Whew, that was close, but Episcopalians now appear to be safe from the presumption of hatred, intolerance and bigotry that will plague the rest of the followers of Christ.

Meanwhile, other Christians are waking up to the reality that they might as well wear T-shirts emblazoned with "Ku Klux Klan", because that is precisely how they are perceived - and how they will be treated - by America's new masters of the universe.

Time to rewrite the Bible?

With that kind of forecast, it is no wonder that many Christians are scratching their heads and mumbling under their breaths, "well, maybe there is some semi-plausible though non-obvious way to rediscover the Bible as friendly to gay marriage!"

The gender identity movement is already a few steps ahead of us. Gay activist Frank Bruni opines in The New York Times that religion, as the "final holdout of homophobia", must be made to "take homosexuality off the sin list". And whole books now tell Christians just how to do that:
...“Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time”...So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.
...There’s a rapidly growing body of impressive, persuasive literature that looks at the very traditions and texts that inform many Christians’ denunciation of same-sex relationships and demonstrates how easily those points of reference can be understood in a different way.
Yes, the advocates of gender ideology have nothing less in mind than reinterpreting Scripture for us. They understand the Bible better, you see, and they are happy to bring us up to speed.

Bruni is far from being the only gay-rights activist to think along these lines. Check out activist Sally Kohn's celebratory piece about "Post-Homophobic Christianity." She writes:
The Episcopalian Church embraced gay marriage last week. Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) affirmed its support for marriage equality, joining many other major Christian denominations that officially endorse LGBT rights. And according to an April 2015 poll, majorities of congregants within many Christian faith traditions support marriage equality...
..Intolerance and hate have lost. But this was not a war of liberty versus religion; the war itself took place within religion, including within Christianity itself. And Christianity is ultimately taking the side of equality and liberty, too.
To those who remain in the fringe minority stubbornly mired in hatred and the dark rationalizations of the past, please try to lose gracefully. You are not being exiled. The world is simply moving on without you.
So there we have it. Those Christians who "stubbornly" cling to the 'one man one woman' definition of marriage will be seen as both "fringe" and "mired in hatred and the dark rationalizations of the past." Why can't they just accept what so many other Christian denominations have already come to realize? It is time to accept the 'same-sex marriage friendly' Bible.

A choice of two crowns

A crown of martyrdom is starting to hover over the head of each Christian who has not yet switched over to Sally Kohn's "new normal". It is a harbinger of unpleasantness and difficulties in life. In the prophetic words Prof. Robert George:
...To be a witness to the Gospel today is to make oneself a marked man or woman. It is to expose oneself to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s personal aspirations and ambitions, the peace and tranquility one enjoys, one’s standing in polite society.
One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships. It may produce familial discord and even alienation from family members. Yes, there are costs of discipleship—heavy costs.
But a short distance away, just across the earthquake fault that runs through our society, there is the prospect of an easy, happy life. Hopping to the other tectonic plate means a chance to forget all these troubles. For those who switch over to understanding the Bible as accepting same-sex relationships, a much more pleasant crown awaits: the laurel wreath of societal recognition and approval.

And so, the creative juices are flowing throughout the country. And Christians are starting to put this? Waffle. Bend. Some are outright caving in. For instance, a Christian university student had this to say in reference to Facebook's rainbow filter:
I am personally troubled by how many of my Christian friends—especially my Christian friends who believe marriage was created by God to be between one man and one woman for life—have adopted this rainbow filter. I’ve seen several reasons tossed around: support for equal rights, support for equal recognition under the law, etc. But every rationalization ultimately can be grouped under the catch-all umbrella phrase: “Separation of Church and State.
The reasoning, for these Christian friends of mine, is this: There is a separation between Church and State in this great country, so it’s totally acceptable to support same-sex couples being afforded the privilege of legally recognized marriages.

What troubles me about this is that it comes off as celebration. They don’t just appear to be “supporting” something political—they appear to be celebrating something culturally, well, destructive, and objectively sinful.
Exactly right, of course. This is what happens when times start getting tough.

Having found themselves in a societal pressure cooker with conformity as the only escape valve, many people have started discovering that amazingly, all the great Christian thinkers of the last two thousand years have had it backwards on a foundational topic. No, St. Augustine and all the other fathers of Christianity really didn't understand either Scripture or marriage itself.

And crazily enough, our anti-Christian secular society has turned out to understand real love and real marriage better than two millenia of Christianity! For modern Christians, the wisdom is not Augustine but Anthony Kennedy.

While it may seem hilarious, this is precisely what is being done. Check out one attempt at such revisionism of Christianity, from a man who has already published a whole book devoted to arguing that the Bible supports same-sex relationships.

No worse fate may befall Christians than being seen as "haters". 

Christians desire so much to be recognized as ambassadors of Christ's love for all people. We will do almost anything, it seems, to prove our "love" for the gay community. But what if to prove our love, we have to compromise our beliefs and come to accept and even celebrate a behaviour that is antithetical to faith-based morality? David French said it well:
For many believers, this new era will present a unique challenge. Christians often strive to be seen as the “nicest” or “most loving” people in their communities. Especially among Evangelicals, there is a naïve belief that if only we were winsome enough, kind enough, and compassionate enough, the culture would welcome us with open arms. But now our love — expressed in the fullness of a Gospel that identifies homosexual conduct as sin but then provides eternal hope through justification and sanctification — is hate.

Christians who’ve not suffered for their faith often romanticize persecution. They imagine themselves willing to lose their jobs, their liberty, or even their lives for standing up for the Gospel. Yet when the moment comes, at least here in the United States, they often find that they simply can’t abide being called “hateful.” It creates a desperate, panicked response. “No, you don’t understand. I’m not like those people — the religious right.” Thus, at the end of the day, a church that descends from apostles who withstood beatings finds itself unable to withstand tweetings. Social scorn is worse than the lash.
Whether you walk with your eyes wide open or your eyes wide shut, this is what is coming.

It is already here.

What will you say, when they ask where you stand?

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