Years ago, when efforts first began to get acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people within all areas of the church, from the pews to the pulpit, my conservative Christian sister moaned, “When all churches accept gays and lesbians, where will I go to church?”
I told her she needn’t worry, “There will always be bigoted churches you can go to.”
She wasn’t amused, but to me, it was sound logic. Churches run a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices and it’s ridiculous to think that “all churches” will ever accept and affirm gays and lesbians in their midst – but that doesn’t spell a big crisis for the church as a breathless piece in Time seems to portend:
The fight over gay marriage may be far from over, but already some conservative Christian leaders are looking beyond the courtroom dramas and the legislative infighting. The trouble they see is not just an America where general support for gay marriage will have driven a wedge between churches and the world, but between churches themselves.
The article quotes Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, who leads an ad hoc panel of U.S. Catholic bishops set up to fight gay marriage. Both wring their hands over the coming split between the churches like it’s something that’s never, ever, in the history of the church happened.
In their hysteria over two people of the same gender falling in love, both men conveniently forget church history. Churches have been pitted against one another since church began. There’s an old joke about a man found living alone on an island after a shipwreck. There are three buildings on the island, and his rescuers ask what the buildings are.
“Oh,” he says pointing and the one in the middle, “that’s my house. The building on the right is where I go to church.”
“What about the building on the left?” ask his rescuers.
“Oh,” he replies. “That’s where I used to go to church.”
Every denomination has suffered a split over one issue or another. The Southern Baptist got their start in the 1800s in a spat over slavery. They believed that the races should be separate, so they split from the Northern Baptists to form their own denomination. Other splits have occurred over other issues like the ordination of women and whether Christ is bodily present in the elements of the Eucharist.
Mohler is particularly self-righteous about the new battle between churches:
No issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality. Some churches and denominations have capitulated to the demands of the homosexual rights movement, and now accept homosexuality as a fully valid lifestyle. Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns. Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident – with those churches endorsing homosexuality on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other.
Go back to the 1800s and put Mohler back in the controversy that started his denomination and you can practically hear him saying:
No issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as (slavery). Some churches and denominations have capitulated to the demands of the (abolitionist) movement, and now accept (free slaves) as a fully valid lifestyle. Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns. Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident – with those churches endorsing (abolition) on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other.
Rev. Mohler, your denomination has been at this crossroads before and chosen the path to the wrong side of history. It seems your maps haven’t been updated since 1845.