Make up your own mind on Gay Marriage. You’ll be in sync with the church—either now or later.
Regardless of all of the protesting too much otherwise, the church evolves with the times and is only conservative relative to those times. This will continue and what seems outrageously wrong and liberal today will be par in the Southern Baptist church in some of our lifetimes. This already happened to our grandparents. ”Conservative” Southern Baptists of 2012 would be considered liberal by people who were attending some of the same churches 50-100 years ago. Don’t believe me? Find a copy of your churches bylaws from before World War II and stand in front of the church and tell everyone they need to live by those standards. Right.
Unfortunately churches don’t acknowledge this change, so they learn nothing from it and repeat the same mistakes over and over. Like yelling “God doesn’t change” even though the church has regularly shifted position on dozens of subjects to keep up with society’s norms (if God isn’t moving, was the church closer to him before they shifted or after?). They fear that if they acknowledge that the church changes it’s mind over the years—then maybe you’ll decide you should just make up your own mind about controversial topics. Can’t have that… :)
1) Only 400 years ago (1500 years after the New Testament was written, 1600 years after Christ and at about the same time the revered 1611 English translation of the Bible was completed) the church said Galileo was “vehemently suspected of heresy” for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa. The church, based on its best understanding of scripture, had always taught that the earth was the center of everything. The rule was to believe first and then interpret math and science to suit (sound familiar?) Galileo was forced to recant and held under house arrest for the remainder of his life.
2) Just before our Revolutionary War, George Whitefield, famous preacher of the Great Awakening, used the New Testament of the bible to argue for slavery in Georgia—when it was still illegal there. He helped get it legalized and then bought and owned slaves. We’re not talking about someone who bought into the cultural context of his time—he advocated for slavery when it was illegal in his state. His stance, based on the same New Testament scripture we have today, was entirely biblical and we all agree today, wrong. Even those who in their tiny little hearts still want to think slavery was OK, won’t feel comfortable saying that out loud in front of very many people these day. But the bible was written in a time when it was OK. Some early Christians, who happened to be slaves, questioned whether they were still beholden to their master. The bible responds by exhorting slaves to obey their masters LIKE THEY OBEYED GOD.
3) I personally received more support for being racist from those in the Baptist churches I attended in my youth than in any other setting. This made me comfortable, as a teenager, making a fool out of myself using the vocabulary of hate and bigotry. It also had the later side effect of teaching me not to believe any one who tells me to make sure I know what I believe first and then to check the facts second. While I know people who will feel uncomfortable about me stating this historical racist slant of the Baptist churches in the South (and it only gets worse the further back you go in history)—I only know a couple who would, even today, openly and unequivocally oppose racism out loud in front of a large Baptist congregation. But the church has changed and (I surely hope) is at least no longer a breeding ground for racism.
4)If you have any grey hair at all, and attended church’s years ago you are familiar with Southern Baptist churches (I’m not talking off-the-wall Independent Baptists who held the conservative line after Southern Baptists abandoned all of this) that didn’t allow music with drums, didn’t allow women to wear pants in church, didn’t allow canned music, didn’t believe white people should worship with African Americans, etc. I don’t know many with the audacity to “try to find a proper place of worship” for an African American who shows up at a white church these days and of course the President of the SBC is no longer a white guy. And I personally witnessed, years ago, women being counciled about the pants they wore to church. Not likely to happen in your church today, eh? Then there’s “praise music” that used to be rejected by most churches but is now everywhere (I still don’t much like the not-so-new-anymore music but then that’s just a matter of taste…like it was when most churches agreed with me).
5)Churches used to straight up preach that women obey their husbands (you know they did). That message no longer plays in the modern world and a preacher who addresses this subject today sounds nothing like the preacher from only 25 years ago. He says something that hardly sound like the bible: “gracefully submitting herself to her husbands servant leadership….” then continues on hammering away at the next verses aimed at husbands. Sounds like Bill Clinton explaining what the meaning of “is”, is—because he knows that women are less and less willing to swallow this crap. Ministers will continue this trend and inevitably undermine “obey your husbands” even further to make it meaningless and harmless enough for women 20 years from now. And I say hurry up about it.
6)There’s very little controversy these days about women speaking from the pulpit to a mixed congregation or being the minister of music. Used to be…and I wonder what the churches stance on women’s suffrage used to be…
7)Jesus, if you’ll pay attention at all (you’ll have to read it for yourself, most churches won’t point it out), was all about a new way that diverged from what everyone had learned from the Old Testament teachings. He expected the high standards from the believers within the fold and repeatedly stated that “he came not to condemn”. What’s fun is that someone will respond that “Jesus also said” and directly contradict this non-judgmental part of Jesus’ ministry—then claim there can be no contradictions in the bible. To them I say “Jesus also said that he came not to condemn” :) No wonder Jesus was so harsh on religious folk.
8)And now I hear young people in church arguing that something as clearly forbidden in the bible as a Tatoo, is OK for Christians. Do you really think there was room for this argument in Church 50 years ago? I remember arguments against women having their ears pierced. The church, it is a changin’…
Finally, biblically speaking, we are ALL descended from a gay man who was chosen by God (“who found grace in the eyes of the Lord”) to save humanity. In the bible his gay behavior is attributed to being drunk. I remember that when I was young people used to get a pass for how they behaved when druk. But MADD has helped us all realize that you do what you do and whether drunk or not—it’s you. Noah was gay.
Surely no one is still reading, but if you are, people alive today will see most churches begin to support and embrace gay people over the years. I wish, as a 16 year old, I had taken a stance on racism more like the church teaches now. So make up your own mind about gay people and gay marriage—you’ll be in sync with the church, I promise. It’s just that it might take a few years for the church to catch up with you.
PS: Oh, and by the way, Westboro Baptist Church is a straw man and distracts us from the real problem—1,000,000 silent bigots. Better to leave Westboro alone.