Evangelicals & the changing political landscape

Senator Rob Portman recently announced the reversal of his position on gay marriage. While this is not necessarily surprising in our current cultural climate, what makes it particularly newsworthy is that Portman is not just a GOP Senator, but one who was vetted to be the running mate for Mitt Romney in the most recent Presidential election. Portman seems to be representative of a growing groundswell of support for homosexual marriage, even within the historically conservative GOP’s ranks. Portman’s reversal comes on the heels of sweeping shifts among the American populace on this issue. Two recent LifeWay Research surveys have found that Americans are changing their mind on this issue at a pretty significant rate. In a November 2012 survey, it was found that the percentage of Americans who believed homosexuality to be a sin had shifted by 7% in just one year. As of that survey, only 37% of Americans are willing to go on record that they believe homosexuality to be sinful. In a recent, and maybe more telling, survey, it has been shown that 58% of Americans believe homosexual marriage to be a civil rights issue, and 64% of Americans believe it is now inevitable that homosexual marriage will be legalized across the country. It is difficult to underestimate just how significant these shifts are, particularly in the short amount of time which they have occurred.

These changing social mores are an indication of a number of things, but they are particularly indicative of how rapidly the American populace is shifting on this issue. In response to Senator Portman’s announcement, I asked via Twitter & Facebook, the following question:


In what was somewhat surprising to me, as of this moment, every response I have received – all of which came from conservative Evangelicals – agreed with my sentiment at some level. Conservative Christians have, for millennia, objected to homosexual practice, primarily on two grounds. First, there is the belief that it is explicitly described as sin in scripture. Additionally, however, there is a basic belief about marriage that stipulates that marriage exists as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the church. Gender, roles in marriage, its permanence, and more, all point to the purpose behind marriage, namely to communicate to those watching an image of the gospel story. Unfortunately, for many Christians, we have abandoned that moral high ground long ago with our acquiescence to the prevalence of sexual infidelity and divorce within heterosexual marriage, among other breakdowns in the traditional model. I am convinced that our protestations concerning homosexual marriage often ring hollow to those who disagree with us because it appears less and less likely that we take our own marriages that seriously.

Having said all of that, I am beginning to believe that a couple of things are possibly upon our doorstep. The first, as I queried above, is whether or not the GOP, on a wholesale level, will soon publicly abandon their commitment to heterosexual marriage as the only appropriate model; and secondly, is it even possible for someone to be elected President of the US while holding to traditional marriage only, while substantial swaths of the American populace disagree with him, and that number only seems to be climbing? All of this leaves the church in an important, but certainly tenuous, situation. It certainly places the American church in a situation they have never been in before. How does the church position itself when they stand on the wrong side of the popularity vote? What does the church do when the political systems that they have been so engaged in have left them behind? Is the church able to speak with clarity and compassion to those who they disagree with, even when those across the aisle will view the church as outdated, at best: bigoted and hateful, at worst?

The answers that the church provides to these questions, and many more like them, are radically important to the cause of the gospel. May we be found faithful.

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

6 thoughts on “Evangelicals & the changing political landscape

  1. Mitt Romney will likely go down in history as the last GOP presidential nominee to oppose gay marriage, abortion and amnesty for illegal immigrants. Future GOP nominees for national office will either support these things or be so ‘squishy’ in what they say that you cannot pin them down.

  2. I have been saying for YEARS that the marriage between American Christians and the GOP was a bad idea. Politicians are pragmatists at heart and the Christian vote was just a voting bloc to them. Now that we are no longer a dominant cultural force we can be dismissed and ignored. I pray that we will finally abandon our false hope of “christianizing” our nation via votes and judges and return to the hard work of brining the Gospel to men and women. That is the only hope our nation has. Nothing else has the power to change the hearts of men.

  3. long before it was “popler” I voted my convictions & not party lines, I been “split ticket” since I was old enough to vote, & also weather it be smoking rights, alchol,abortion, food, gay marrige ect, have not thought it was aproprite to pass laws that dictate to those that do not hold the same convictions on what they can & or can not do. I agree with Ryan, you can’t pass laws to change peoples hearts, you need to work with people one on one. I still personaly fight not with the validity of scripter but with it’s interpratation, but I stand behind churches belefs on engageing in homesexule practises being a sin till I can enphaticly prove it’s a misinterpratation. but we all have sin of kind or another in our lives so the inporntent part I think, is to love people where there at. thats why after years of failed attipts I very glad to now have a home church that is supporting my desire to reach out to the GLBT commuinty & welcome them in to our family as fellow sinners, not otersise them as “lost causes” or “untouchibles”.

  4. If you really , really care how either political party favors a religious doctrine then you are unable to even try to think for yourself . Our Partys represent people of ALL religions . Leviticus was written for everyone and the word abomination applies to everyone . To those whose DNA allowed them to inherit the homosexual propensity it says one thing ; to those straights who stand a chance to be recruited it says another . Mostly we look for that parrot that screams what we want to hear when there is better science and facts to consider . The straight way of life is the best way of life . If that option is not available to some there are others besides jumping off a bridge . SBC was ready to buy into Romney a Mormon when their list of unacceptables included the Freemasons from which the Mormons copied their “secret” ceremonies and Liturgy the major difference being the Mormons made a religion out of it and the Masons remained just a fraternity . No matter – what ever fits we can make a way or a reason for it . One of the things I stressed to my son was if asked a question and he didn’t have the correct answer to just say so . Don’t try to adlib your way around as the public will see right thru it . The public is seeing thru it now . The SBC has led us into some bad situations . They now are making an honest effort to recover with Fred Luter who really has no power to change very much . SBC is absent honest Leaders that will admit they don’t know and then to persue people that do . An intelligent public has been mislead and many have left . They will believe another “poll”rather than the truth .

  5. Unfortunately, for many Christians, we have abandoned that moral high ground long ago with our acquiescence to the prevalence of sexual infidelity and divorce within heterosexual marriage, among other breakdowns in the traditional model.
    I agree with you on this. People rationalize their own sin by accepting other peoples sins. People also hook up and shack up and condemn homosexuality, this is what Jesus called hypocrisy. There are no practicing homosexuals in the church’s I’ve been in, there are people I know who struggle with same sex attraction, but do not act on it. The church tells “young people” to save it tell marriage, but say nothing to those who are divorced. Paul did. You have folks like Matt Chandler and others who say morality will not save you. They are correct, but most people hear what they are saying and interpret to mean they can do as they wish ( Matt needs to spend some time on how Born Again Christians view morality (we are to be holy 1 Thess 4:3-5). You and I know they are refereeing to winning approval from God. None of us deserve or can earn salvation from God since we are sinners. It is a gift from God based on repentance and faith in the work of Christ. Once you are saved you know have the choice to walk in the light. You can’t walk in sanctification without be justified. Lots of people say they are Christians and are not, as well as many who are Christians but who have been deceived. Christians should be involved in politics, but their first loyalty is to Christ and making disciples. It’s evident with the other declining moral issues that the world is having more influence on the church than the church is having on the world. It doesn’t help when seeker sensitive church’s mock people who share the plan of salvation (my church played a video by some brothers doing so), it doesn’t help when preachers mock their flock for wanting meat, instead of tickling ear messages to keep the unchurched coming back. Don’t blame the GOP, they are a political group, I go to small group’s in the “conservative” suburbs, who have no problem with same sex marriage. I believe most of these people are the unchurched who like the milk preached and will put up with a sermon on homosexuality and save sex for marriage as long as it is addressed to the teen crowd. Don’t believe me come to Memphis Micah, I’ll be glad to take you to some “conservative evangelical church’s”. When the church is caving in on Modalism (use to be a heresy, but according to James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll who I guess are wiser than those who served under the Apostles) , prosperity gospel (word of faith), social gospel (U.N, P.E.A.C.E., Common Word), divorce (Jesus said infidelity, now it;s if you burn the biscuits), it’s not to far down the road when same sex marriage will be excepted. Your numbers are troubling, because the divorce rate and shacking up rates are the same in the church as the world, if this is true, then it is probably so with same sex marriage. How did this come about? Someone once said you want the church to grow, give the unchurched what they want. The next generation doesn’t care about morality, just believe and receive. There’s a hole in holiness in the church, teachers write books on false gospels, yet welcome with open arms those who preach these false gospels. Right now people in my church criticize Joel Osteen, but I’m making a prediction, since the Pope of the SBC Rick Warren worked on History Channel’s “The Bible”, and Mark Driscoll has said there are bigger issues, he will soon be welcomed. Both Warren and Osteen have said living a homosexual lifestyle is “sinful”, on interviews, they hate doing it, and unlike Jeffries don’t preac against, they want to be know “what they are for not what they are against”. I’d say vote your conscience, abandon hope in the GOP and politics, place it fully in Christ, and Fight for your church, because pastors attending these pastor leadership conferences are learning humanistic garbage and not Biblical principles today.

  6. “What does the church do when the political systems that they have been so engaged in have left them behind?”

    I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the church becoming so deeply intertwined in the political systems is part of the problem. What if we were as intertwined in the culture as we are the politics? I for one think we would see a much more healthy (and powerful) church body.

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