Sometimes I think about the state of “religion” in today’s America and wonder, “What will ‘church’ be like when my kids are older?”
Our kids are going to define the church of their age in much the way we’ve “defined” the church of ours. Oh sure you might say to me, “Dave, the church is unchanging.” But you’d be wrong. For “the church,” or more properly “religion” in the non-standard way I’m referring to it here, change is one of the few constants.
Emphasis, interpretation, and focus change with the inevitable march of culture. That major domestic cultural shifts can effect dogma is a well established precedent: prohibition, suffrage, the civil rights movement, birth control, the “war on terror.” Ripples from these worldview-changing events have made their way into even hallowedest transepts; confronting, convicting, and ultimately fracturing the belief-sets of many Christians in their time.
If you think about it for a moment, I’m pretty confident you already know the issue that’s going to confront, convict, and ultimately fracture the church in the coming decades.
Within the next ten to fifteen years the issue of gay rights will split mainstream Christian churches.
As social acceptance of homosexuality slowly becomes the majority opinion, churches and denominations will have to stand to the left or right of the divide. As secular opposition wanes and believing children of today become the believing adults of tomorrow, the modern day Ptolemaic camp will suffer history repeated, dwindling and failing once again in the face of enlightened Copernican thought. In the 1950s it may have been tough to find a kid in highschool who’d say homosexuals should have equal rights; amongst today’s youth you’ll find large conservative pockets, although I’d bet already ebbing in both number and conviction; and in twenty years naught but the holdouts will ally with their archaic fore-bearers.
I used to think that this would be an impossibly hard transition for Christian majority thought. However, lately I’ve come to think it more likely that the church will simply “wake up” one day to find their opinions have changed. With the passage of time, even once hard-fought conviction will erode in the face of overwhelming opposition. Perhaps glacially, but undoubtedly steadily. Like slavery, divorce, interracial marriage, and other scripturally-defended dogma before it, the church will eventually change its collective mind. Not as a whole, not as an absolute, but for the most part this will happen. I’m not sure when or entirely to what degree, but I no longer doubt the overall endgame.
I’m-a still go.