Proof, if any were needed, that progressive politics has triumphed in the court of public opinion throughout the West came when a different court delivered its verdict on same-sex marriage. The US Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision extending marriage to couples in same-sex relationships is, arguably, the most important decision to date given the enormous cultural influence of the US.
The speed of change has been remarkable, yet one that is, so far, almost entirely confined to ‘western’ nations (South Africa perhaps the most notable exception). It will be the subject of much scrutiny and study to determine exactly how these societies came to change their views (by popular vote in Ireland to change the law or supreme judges overruling popular votes as in the US).
Certainly, one aspect to that change will be the role of business. Emily Cadei in a Newsweek article writes,
Fortune 500 corporations are trying to appeal to (or at least avoid offending) the widest possible swath of Americans. “Inclusiveness” may not be good politics in this day of polarization and micro-targeting, but it seems to be good business.
In general, ‘follow the money’, is a principle that explains much of what goes on in the world. The decision confirms what we have known for some time, that the church has lost the cultural argument and in truth has lost the culture. So what now?
For the church the debate will rumble on – religious people (of all faiths) being largely opposed to same-sex marriage. The longer the debate the more arcane Christians will look, not that that should be of any great importance, but it’s worth remembering.
It’s likely that the ‘conversation’ will look a bit like this: 40 Questions (from Kevin DeYoung), 40 questions back (from Matthew Vines), 40 answers back (from Douglas Wilson). Or it could, more constructively, look like this or this.
Every leader needs to become thoroughly familiar with explaining why we aren’t just picking which bits of the Old Testament Law apply today. Every church member needs to know in clear terms why gay marriage can’t be Christian marriage and to have a grasp of basic teachings on Christian sexual ethics.
The church has already split between liberal and orthodox on many many issues including this one but the fractures inside western evangelicalism is what will be worth watching.
As I’ve said before (here and here) those that have a poorly developed theology of male & female (based on some vague thinking about Galatians 3:28) may well struggle to mount much of a defense against the inevitable growing pressure to change on homosexuality or on other issues. It’s slippery precisely because it’s a slope.
The values of egalitarianism and individual choice have been integral to the movement towards same-sex marriage. The notions of ‘equal’ marriage and the right of every individual to marriage as a lifestyle choice expressive of their love appear self-evident to most persons within our society. These values of equality, individual choice, the pursuit of pleasure, and self-expression—the values of liberal capitalism—are sacred and any threat to them will be treated as heresy. Few can even begin to understand why any persons might call these values into question.
Questions will be asked of the rainbow tribe about the robustness of their ethics or whether we will see a double-standard emerge.
Perhaps most importantly Christians will need to rethink how they live in a wider culture that is increasingly divergent, if not hostile and opposed, to orthodox Christianity. We will need to answers questions about marriage to equip children but hopefully it will also push us to ask questions about other areas we may have also acceded to the culture, consumerism anyone?