Sometimes it takes someone outside the Christian tradition to point to the problems within the American churches. An essay in The Atlantic,“The Quiet Gay-Rights Revolution in America’s Churches,” argues persuasively that the churches of America were a leaven of “tolerance” in society, preparing the way for support of homosexual unions.
In 2006, just over a third of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant churches favored gay unions. And among evangelical Protestants there was about 11 percent support. As of 2013 over half of Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants support this aberration. And 24% of evangelicals support it as well.
But the statistical numbers do not tell the whole story. It is what these Christians were taught in their churches that the real story comes to the fore. This is the story of the power of false teaching.
The article notes one Senator, a Methodist, who explains the basis of accepting homosexual unions as “the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God.” Pope Francis declared, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
But what happens when such widespread sentiments meet an aggressive, and suave, queer campaign as described in The Atlantic?
“Don’t judge my sexuality!”
“Why must you hate me?”
Thus resistance was eaten away by the cancer of false teaching.
For several generations, many American churches jettisoned the Bible as a serious and authoritative source of morality. And many of these same churches never bothered telling their members that fact.
Thus, for around 100 years or more, the average church parishioner was feeding on a steady diet of biblical words devoid of their biblical meaning.
Love and brotherhood became words emptied of their proper meaning and filled withlicense and equality. Love became license to redefine morality and brotherhoodbecame equality between truth and error.
But the liberal falsehoods are only part of the total picture. False teachings in conservative churches helped create this new consensus. And one of the greatest errors is the redefinition of the Gospel. This may explain how more of the newer generations of Evangelicals (homeschoolers and Millennials) are accepting homosexual “marriage.”
How? Two books, Post-Church Christian and unChristian, paint a sad picture of the younger generations rejecting some or all of the beliefs of their churches and parents. And a constant theme is the dangers of legalism. As Carson Nyquiest summarized in the Post-Church Christian:
“Holding on to morality as the foundation for faith had left me stranded. Being ‘good’ and following the behavioral expectations of the church brought nothing but frustration and legalism.”
Such frustration arises from the collision between the real and the fake. The result is hypocrisy: that smiley face masking the tears, frustration and anger of living in morality instead of Christ.
If the younger generation of Evangelicals came from churches steeped in legalism(explicitly or implicitly), then that pressure of hypocrisy could manifest itself in rejecting any and all forms of insincerity toward sins—perhaps to embracing them. As Carson poignantly stated:
“To us, ugly reality beats fake beauty any day. Perfection is a standard no one can meet.”
Perfectionism tends to downplay the realities of sin by painting a smiley face upon the skull of sin. But sin is everywhere. So many of these youths try to scrub off the smiley face and stare ugly sin in the face. And the shock pushes some of them to embrace these sins in the name of authenticity, in the name of eradicating the hypocrisy that brought so much pain.
None of this is to excuse the younger generation but to understand it. And understanding is part of love. But love must include truth.
The truth is that in general the American church helped form the homosexual consensus. And it is not just those mainline churches that are at fault. As much as conservatives blame the schools, media and Hollywood, conservative legalism had a role.
The story of the church, false teaching and the homosexual consensus is a sad story. But it must be told lest more false teaching ensnare a newer generation of Christians.