The culture war being waged for America’s soul has impacted the modern Church, perhaps on a scale much more profound than the Church has impacted the culture. The rise of the “Nones” in America, those who answered “None” when surveyed about their religious affiliation, has increased dramatically from a 1950’s average of 3% to a disturbingly burgeoning 20% of the population today. This trend is troubling in itself, especially for mainline Evangelical church denominations, as it serves as an indictment of sorts on reaching and winning non-believers with the gospel message. To be fair, the survey encompasses all religious faiths, so the failure is not entirely contemporary Christianity’s.
The deeper concern is that the Nones as a group are ideologically committed to eradicating religion from debates over public policy and morality. They have bought into the philosophy of political theorist John Rawls and others like him, who posit that our laws must be based on so-called public reason, and not religious convictions of any kind. Rawls and his ilk actually argue that religious conviction or religion-based morality has no place in the public shaping of laws, and has in fact been counterproductive and restrictive to a Draconian degree.
Seizing on this rebadging of Fletcher’s situational ethics from decades ago, the Nones are using the courts and legislation to gradually strangle the voice of religious conviction out of deliberations on public policy. As R.R. Reno, author of Sanctified Vision puts it,
Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They’re seen as anti-science, anti-gay and anti-women – which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress.
That’s a pretty damning view.
He goes on to say, “Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life.”
So, the gauntlet has been thrown down — hard. If you haven’t noticed this trend in your own state, you aren’t paying close enough attention to what’s going on. There is open hostility in the air. For the first time ever in this nation, the secularists are in power over those of faith, and the time of decorum and reasonable debate has been superceded by rancor, disrespect and even violence as they begin to flex those long-awaited muscles.
So how does the modern Church respond to increasing accusations of “intolerance”, “bigotry” and worse? Many have responded by giving God an extreme makeover. Facing the steadily increasing pressure from without and within to conform to societal mores on homosexuality, promiscuity and abortion, many churches have caved to the cultural pressure and modified their view of scripture to accommodate the conventional wisdom. The problem with conventional wisdom is that it is rarely conventional, and almost never wise. Like the ravages against our Constitution in recent years, the Bible has been battered, adulterated, and even abandoned by many churches.
A large segment of Christianity has taken to remaking God in their own image. They have chosen to legitimize homosexuality, when the Bible so clearly condemns it repeatedly. This is not to say God hates those who struggle with these urges, but that giving in to them is never not sin in His eyes. For those “welcoming and affirming” churches who choose to recognize homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle choice, did God change His mind? Did He finally decide to get with the times? Is sin no longer sin? I’ve been through my Bible front to back and not once come across a statute of limitations on this prohibition, or any others for that matter.