How will the fight end?

Just seven years into the 21st century, I think it’s obvious what the church of this generation will be judged by: how it handles the up-and-coming war on homosexuality. Some denominations have openly embraced it (United Methodists), some have firmly rejected it (Presbyterians), and others (Wesleyans) are still having hissy fits over drinking and smoking. But I believe without question that how the church treats homosexuality will be its defining role in the next 15 or 20 years, and I’m quite frankly worried about what the outcome will be.

Read Religious Groups Lead Gay Pride Parade for the inspiration of today’s post.

In the past century or so, it seems like churches have gone through as many changes as they have in the 1500 years prior. Denominations and church bodies have made leaps forward, from the Roman Catholics using common vernacular to Holiness churches wearing jeans on Sunday. And taking that short-sighted look at the history of the church, there would be no reason to believe that it will hold firm on any particular doctrine, because so many have changed in the past few years. Viewing only that short segment of the past, I would be compelled to say that in 20 years homosexuality would be widely accepted among evangelicals, despite the clear Biblical precepts against it.

On the other hand, looking deeper into the past of the church I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t changed nearly as much as you might think. Or maybe what’s more appropriate to say is that we haven’t ended up that much off from where we started. Upon closer examination, the church almost looks like it runs on a system of checks and balances–it fluctuates between extremes. If you consider the Crusades, the selling of indulgences, the Spanish inquisition, witch trials, slavery and the whole lot, you grow a bigger appreciation for what the church has come through and survived. No single institution has thrived like the Church, which I believe is just one more way Jesus proves the church to be his ordained body of the believers.

So, taking a broad view of the Church, I would tend to believe that Christ is ever in a proactive state of leadership, correcting the course of the Church when it strays off the path. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay for us to lose focus of God’s truth. God still led the Israelites despite their stubbornness, but the price they paid–40 years in the wilderness–was a steep one. I believe the same still holds true today. Christ will always be leading his bride despite her shortcomings, but there will always be consequences for our actions.

But disregarding the history, my question is how will the church react in the next few years, and honestly, I have a bad feeling about it. Surrounded by a world of progressive, postmodern thinking, standing firmly on a set of beliefs is quickly going the way of the dodo. It’s no longer acceptable to take a stand on right and wrong, black and white. We find ways to justify the things we want to do, and those means of justification are growing stronger and stronger. Our most visible “Christian” leaders, the likes of Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, and Tony Campolo, are now spreading their own version of the gospel, one that leaves room for Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and everyone else to get to Heaven. Many leaders will no longer say definitively that Jesus is the way and the only way to Heaven. There’s no way we’ll win the small battle if people won’t even declare Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I’m worried about the direction the Church is headed. I fear we’ve already earned our time in the wilderness, and as stubborn as people are these days, it may take a lot longer than forty years to pay the consequences. But the one thing that’s changed in me since college is how I handle that fear and anger. In college, I mostly gave up on the Church as whole, and wrote it off as a gift which man had abused and wasted. Now I have faith in te body of Christ. I just don’t have faith in many of the people who supposedly compose and lead it.