Churches & Same Sex Marriage

How has same sex marriage changed or affected America’s churches? Not much AND a great deal.

Polls are often trumpeted showing that majorities of self-identified Catholics and oldline Protestants, plus a large minority of evangelicals favor same-sex marriage. Yet closer examination almost always shows that actively church going adherents are much more traditional. Many secularists assumed in their historically determinist way after the court ruling that religion like the rest of society will fold to the new sexual zeitgeist. They should be and will be disappointed as orthodox religion remains mostly outside this supposed consensus.

 

Here are video and text of Mark Tooley speaking on June 24 Family Research Council panel about 2015 Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling’s impact on American churches:

How has same-sex marriage changed or affected America’s churches? Not much AND a great deal.

Almost all of official Christianity continues to disapprove same-sex marriage and affirm sex only within male-female marriage. No major church body has changed their stance since the 2015 court ruling and none are likely. Several declining oldline denominations had already abandoned traditional Christian teaching before the ruling. They are the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, plus the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. They collectively represent perhaps 5% or less of USA church members and are fast declining. Their example is instructive to others who might be tempted.

There is to my knowledge no Christian denomination in world that has abandoned marriage teaching that was not already declining and did not suffer further and usually accelerating decline afterwards. In the USA, the three largest religious bodies affirm only traditional marriage: Roman Catholicism, Southern Baptist Convention, and United Methodism. The latter of course surprises many because it is the largest historically liberal oldline Protestant denomination. But its membership is global, and its growing and soon to be majority overseas African membership has kept it orthodox, to the exasperation of USA liberals. The UMC even has an official stance affirming laws in civil society defining marriage as union of man and woman.

America’s largest religious demographic is evangelicals. There is a growing evangelical left that’s embarrassed by Christianity’s and specifically Evangelicalism’s counter-cultural teachings especially on sex. In the Evangelical Left mythology, Christianity without serious sexual restrictions would be more inclusive, more welcoming and therefore more evangelistically successful. These voices are typically uninformed about or just ignore the oldline Protestant example even as they advocate evangelicalism become more like the fading Episcopal church.

A growing number of events targeting young evangelical elites try to ignore or minimize traditional Christian teaching about marriage. A recent social justice convo hosted by a major evangelical relief group unusually included a Southern Baptist leader who briefly defended traditional teaching. There was a negative reaction by many in the room and by many in social media who thought even this brief reference offensive. They forgot or preferred to ignore that the official host group has an official teaching defining marriage as only union of male and female.

Some otherwise orthodox and sensible orthodox older evangelical leaders believe their social relevance and evangelistic success requires downplaying Christian marriage teaching. They maybe underestimate their audience and their message.

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