Religion Dispatches has a story up examining the different paths open to Christian conservatives who are opposed to marriage equality and the full inclusion of all people, regardless of gender or sexuality in the life of the Church.
It describes the conservative response to the Supreme Courts affirmation of marriage equality as falling within two distinct ways of seeing the issue and responding;
In the months since the Supreme Court’s decision to make marriage equality the law, conservative Christian thinkers have followed two tracks. On the one hand, writers like Rod Dreher and Ross Douthat have used the language of war, battle, and struggle as a call to retrenchment. If we just went back to what the Bible intended for marriage and sexuality, in their thinking, Christianity might be able to steer itself back toward a central place in American culture and morality.
However, most conservative Christian thinkers are also aware that if this is a battle, it’s a losing one. And in fact, it has probably already been lost.
In Christianity Today, Michael Gerson and Peter Werner write about what they describe as “The Wilberforce Option,” using the model of the 18th century British abolitionist to push the notion that instead of retreating, as in Dreher’s Benedict Option, Christians should focus on “the relentless defense of human dignity in the course of human events.”
The piece also underscores that what’s at stake for many Christians is the stuff which is at the core of their understanding of who God is and what it means to be God’s people;
Arguments about scriptural interpretation aside, however, what the current squabbles over Christian identity mean both for evangelicals and Catholics is the same. Equality won. Women claimed and earned a place in the national dialogue about religion. The spectrum of gender identities that we now recognize as normal is becoming a topic of mainstream discussion, and while much trouble still lays ahead for the passing of laws that might offer protection and rights to those across the LGBT spectrum, the fact of the matter is this: Americans are becoming less religious, but the majority of Christians are becoming more accepting of same-sex relationships.
And this has put churches into a bind. Should they welcome women as leaders and same-sex families and trans individuals, they risk alienating some of their most committed members (and donors). Should they reject those same notions of parity, they risk losing (and in many cases have already lost) the majority of Gen X and Millennials, who have grown up with feminism as a given notion and LGBTQ equality as the civil rights issue of their generations.
Churches also risk what Douthat and Dreher see as the hill their faith will live or die on: the notion of a single, defined sense of a Truth that cannot change. What we see in their writing of late is the shattering of that notion. It’s emotionally difficult to witness, in many ways. The defensiveness, finger-pointing, and circular arguments amount to the same thing: a sense of fear, devolving into resignation over the loss, shifting into ad hominem attacks.