By Riley B. Case
The last Happenings the Church article discussed Extremism in the Church and the Mainstream. The argument was made that the universal Church overwhelmingly supports the Biblical standard of marriage between a man and a woman and the sexual ethic that upholds faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness. The view that argues otherwise must be seen not just as a minority view but as an extremist view. It is a recent teaching and stands in opposition to the testimony of the church in all times and in all places.
Extremist or not, a number of persons within the United Methodist Church believe the ideology of inclusiveness trumps traditional Christianity. Following secular culture, including the entertainment world, much of the media, the secular academic world and other liberal religionists, these persons believe societal trends are on their side and sooner or later the church will be forced to change its stance. They would agree with Ann Quindlen who in the June 9 issue of Newsweek proclaims:
Scream, shout, jump up and down. No matter. The gay-marriage issue is over and done with. The upshot: love won.
For Quindlen and others gay marriage is not just a “basic civil right,” but ordinary life. The die is cast. Gay marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality are inevitable. The church may drag its heels but it will eventually be seen as hopelessly behind the times.
Progressive Christianity can also quote statistics. A just-released study by Lifeway Research (Southern Baptist, see Christianpost.com) reveals that 45% of Americans believe that the practice of homosexuality is not sinful (of course one might ask whether 45% of Americans would be willing to admit there is such a thing as sin even to begin with). 48% of Americans believe such practice is sinful. Among Protestants 61% believe the practice of homosexuality is sinful while 31% believe it is not. Of those who consider they are born again, 79% believe the practice of homosexuality is sinful and 17% do not.
Christian consensus on the practice of homosexuality includes the Christian world beyond North America. We recognize the irony that while many evangelicals tend to be conservative (though certainly not all) and are basically patriotic and tend to speak of America as a standard for freedom and democracy, progressives are more apt to be much more critical of America (sometimes accused of anti-Americanism), especially when it comes to politics and the corporate world. However, in the matter of sexual morality evangelicals respect a global Christianity and progressives are more apt to use American cultural permissiveness as the moral standard. The implication is that progressives believe the rest of the world, particularly the Christian Global South, is backward and unenlightened and American liberals have superior insight to determine right and wrong. If this is not so let the Progressives make their case.