One generation’s morality crisis is another generation’s “Eh, whatever”

SG_ShouldChristiansBeCounterCultural

Once upon a time, Christianity condoned and even encouraged owning black people as slaves. Today, we know better, and lament the behaviors of our ancestors. History tells us that every generation of Christians has had its own particular culture war. For our parents it was Jim Crow laws, and today, it’s gay marriage.

What do slavery, Jim Crow, and gay marriage have in common? Scripture has been used, and is still being used, to condemn all of the above. In the case of the former two, most Christians today admit that Scripture was twisted to justify those actions, and perhaps the enforcers weren’t really Good Christians. My question for Christians today is this: several generations from now, what’s to stop our great-great-grandchildren from maintaining that Christianity has no moral issues with being gay?

Before you reach for your Bible to point out the exact verses that say otherwise, remember that our ancestors did the exact same thing with slavery and persecutions of other minorities. We say that the Bible is the unchanging Word of God, but we haven’t let it remain unchanging. Not as much as we’d like to think. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a handful of minority sects where the women only wear ankle-length dresses, never cut their hair, and push out as many babies as their bodies can bear. The Bible addresses these things, but somehow they’ve become non-issues over time. How many Christians do you know with pierced ears, dyed hair, and tattoos? I know a handful of pastors with all three.

I’m not making any moral proclamations on whether homosexuality is biblically sanctioned or not. But I will throw it out there that gay marriage will be a reality in all fifty States in the near future, and the Church will need to prepare itself for mass exoduses of once-faithful followers. We at least need to be honest with ourselves and admit that we are not as immune to cultural norms as we’d like to think: we no longer care (as much) about body ink and other modifications, most of us take man-made medicine when we don’t feel well, and go out for recreational drinks every now and then. One generation’s great moral crisis is another generation’s Eh, whatever.

All I’m asking is, how is homosexuality any different?

That’s an honest, sincere question.

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7 thoughts on “One generation’s morality crisis is another generation’s “Eh, whatever”

  1. Virgil T. Morant says:

    … and the Church will need to prepare itself for mass exoduses of once-faithful followers.

    Will it? It being whatever “the Church” quite is. I don’t say that to be facetious. Christendom, as we all know, is highly fragmented. Every report I have seen, however, is that the churches taking more liberal positions on modern controversies such as homosexual marriage (take, for instance, some regions of the Anglican Communion) are experiencing worrisome declines in membership. Mass exodus is a bold prediction, especially in a society where a good many normally prefer to stay at home on Sundays anyway. One can scarcely have an exodus of people who aren’t there in the first place, and the exodus (or an admirable imitation of one) seems already to be taking place for the opposite to the reasons you state or for other reasons.

    You ask, how is homosexuality any different from slavery or racial prejudice. Your whole approach to this is mostly limited to the last hundred or hundred fifty years—and rooted to no small extent in the last several hundred, as these are largely Protestant as well as American controversies. The difference, anyway, is that prior to very recently there has been no advocacy whatsoever in Christian thought for the recognition of same-sex marriage. Since the Apostolic Era, however, the topic of slavery (by no stretch always associated with race, by the way) has been an issue of contention, with many Apostolic and Church Fathers notably holding positions ranging from tolerating it as a social ill and outright condemning it. For instance, while we can all thank St. Gregory the Theologian for his seminal role in elucidating Trinitarian theology, as it happens, he also despised slavery. That’s no small voice in opposition to the practice. There has been no universal view that slavery or racial prejudice are commanded in Christianity. The views of the good ole boys of Jim Crow are hardly the best guides to the state of all of historical Christianity. They are, on the other hand, convenient examples to make Christian theology look like precisely the kind of free-for-all that easily benefits the advocates of doctrinal change.

    Indeed the religious advocates in favor of homosexual relations of whatever kind and marriage in particular do one thing better, it seems, than they do anything else, and that is discuss the topic with no historical awareness or desire to engage any serious opposition. Really, it should be enough to a Christian that homosexuality is flatly condemned in Scripture, but this also opens itself up to two very appealing criticisms by the marriage reformers: (1) it is simply easy to ridicule an argument as saying “because the Bible tells me so” (which we all know sounds juvenile and surely is not much of an argument), even if a person accepts that the Bible carries authority for Christians, and (2) appealing to Scripture also allows those who would revise the Christian view of marriage or homosexuality to make arguments from meticulous reinterpretations of narrow passages of Scripture, because a person accepts that the Bible carries authority for Christians. None of this considers how absolutely novel the idea of two persons of the same sex being married is in Christian history, and none of it has any desire to engage with the possibility that marriage (as well as human sexuality in general) is about a great deal more than mundane and bone-dry ethical arguments or myopic discourse trying to squeeze out new meaning from select verses of Scripture.

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  2. anotheranomalyamongmany says:

    Reblogged this on Another Anomaly Among Many and commented:
    This is honestly such good food for thought. I will most likely write a full-length post detailing my views and thoughts on gay marriage in the future, but I encourage you to think about the implications of things like this. No, I don’t think that ‘gay is the new black,’ because honestly, I just don’t see the same level of oppression, but I do see a lot of parallels from what I have read about the civil rights movement and what I’m seeing today. Think about it.

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  3. ramonawray says:

    The closer you stand to an issue, the less clear your perspective. As time passes and we move farther away, the clearer we see things. I think it’s that simple.

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