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Could gay marriage debate drive young Christians from church?

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 Could gay marriage debate drive young Christians from church?

Rachel Held Evans, a Christian writer, fears that a renewed culture war over the issue of gay marriage could alienate young Christians.

By Becky Bratu, msnbc.com

As the battle over gay marriage heats up in this election year, one evangelical Christian writer is calling for a truce, fearing that the outspoken opposition to gay marriage among some church leaders could alienate an entire generation of religious youth.

"Evangelicals have been so submitted to these culture wars for so long, so that's hard to give up," evangelical writer and speaker Rachel Held Evans, 31, told msnbc.com. But "the majority of young Christians really, really, really want to stop with the political emphasis."

Held Evans, who regularly speaks at Christian colleges, said the young Christians she meets are much more open to gay rights than are older generations, an observation backed up by polling data.

 

A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows the generation gap between young Christians and their elders is large, with 44 percent of white evangelicals aged 18-29 in support of marriage equality compared to only 12 percent of those 65 and older.

According to the same survey, nearly 70 percent of young Christians also agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

"For young Christians, having gay and lesbian friends is just a part of our life," Held Evans said. "It's just really hard for us to see them as mere issues to debate, because we're talking about our friends here."

The shift is manifesting itself increasingly on Christian college campuses, including at Biola University in California, where, about two months ago, an anonymous group of students announced the presence of the "Biola Queer Underground," asking that the LGBT community on campus "be treated with equality and respected as another facet of Biola's diversity."

Underground gay group emerges, shaking Christian college

At Wheaton College in Illinois, a group of alumni known as OneWheaton coalesced in 2011 to express its support of the LGBT community on campus.

"OneWheaton understands that LGBTQ issues are difficult to process at Wheaton College," reads a statement from the group. "We desire this to change for current students and wish to create such an environment, a safe place for them to process these issues and develop into the people they are meant to be."  In response, school officials have said they are open to having a conversation about homosexuality on campus.

To Held Evans, American churches' attitude toward gay rights will play an important role in the retention of young Christians. In an article she wrote following North Carolina's recent vote to ban gay marriage, Held Evans points to data mentioned in David Kinnaman's book You Lost Me, which shows that 59 percent of teens who were raised Christian abandon the church when they become adults. One of the main reasons, the article says, is the church's attitude toward gay rights.

Fellow Christian writer Matthew Anderson, 30, agrees that there is a generational shift taking place in Christians' support for gay rights, but he is less convinced it'll lead to any profound changes in the near-term.

"Those of the conservative side aren't going away. They're just going to be a lot more careful in terms of how they frame their positions," Anderson told msnbc.com.

He also doesn't think younger Christians are going to embrace more liberal views on matters of sexuality, including homosexuality.

"There's going to be a large, less vocal, at least a substantive minority  -  it's not an outright majority  -  of younger evangelicals who are going to take a broadly conservative position on sexual ethics," he said.

That position stems from the conviction that God defined marriage in the scripture as between a man and a woman, Anderson said, and Christians don't believe they have the right to redefine it.

Joel Carl Hunter is the senior pastor of Northland church in Florida.

For thousands of years the definition of marriage has been the same, said Pastor Joel Hunter, a spiritual advisor to President Obama. "And so, there's some reason for the apprehension that says this thing is moving so fast that I wonder what the next 10 years will hold," he told msnbc.com.

In Hunter's view, the word "marriage" cannot be used to characterize a same-sex union, but he believes having this debate on a national stage offers a unique opportunity.

"We really have an opportunity to raise the level of respect, to raise the dialogue to where no rights of one group trumps another group's rights," he said, adding: "The scripture has certain listed sins, and we want to dissuade people from those behaviors, because we think in the long run if it's in scripture then that's not something that God approves of."

Hunter, who leads a Florida megachurch, said he believes the government could establish a kind of civil marriage, which would not fit within the definition of Biblical marriage.

"We don't 100% equate this as a part of the civil rights movement because for us at least a part of this is a matter of choice, it's a behavior, and so it's a different category than skin pigmentation," he said. "Having said that, we want to be sure that all Americans do have citizens' rights to enter any legal relationship that they want to."

But finding compromise appears unlikely, Anderson believes, as most players on the national stage treat the debate as a zero-sum game.

"It's winner-take-all, and there's sort of no middle ground between the two positions," he said.

While young Christians may be divided on whether gay relationships should be celebrated in the church, Held Evans said, they're increasingly unified on their stance against legislative action, such as North Carolina's gay marriage ban and others that will be up for votes this fall.

"The majority of young Christians really, really, really want to stop with the political emphasis," she said. "Even young Christians who think that gay relationships are not God's design, a lot of them will still say ‘but I think it should be legal for gay people to get married, because this is America.'"

"I think the main problem we have is that a lot of the folks voting about homosexuality, voting about gay marriage, don't know any gay people," she said. "And I'm certain that if they did, it would change their attitude."

by on Jul. 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM
Replies (71-80):
Aslen
by Silver Member on Jul. 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM
3 moms liked this
My denomination loves gay people. We welcome them with open arms, let them worship, and lobe them the way they are... THAT is being christ like


Quoting mustbeGRACE:

In your approval of the homosexual lifestyle, you are speaking for whom?

Not God. He's against the homosexual  lifestyle.

You speak for yourself. Not  interested.


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
lwalker270
by Bronze Member on Jul. 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM
4 moms liked this


Quoting mustbeGRACE:

That's not a "church", it's a club.  Christ would not enter there.  Period.

Quoting Amada:

It's a church that welcomes divorcees and homosexuals. The pastors are gay as well.


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting Amada:

It already has. My sister goes to an alternative church.

If I may ask, what is an alternative church?  



Playing the Devil's Advocate for a minute:  if homosexuality is a sin, wouldn't that be the place where Jesus would be?  Jesus surrounded himself with the tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.  The sinners and dregs of society.  What leads you to believe it would be any different now?

eema.gray
by on Jul. 3, 2012 at 2:52 PM

That kind of sounds like you're saying if young people accept homosexuality in their friends, they must not be true Christians . . . . . . 

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 I think it all depends on how committed they are to their faith.  Faith isn't something you can pick and choose what suits you.

 


Write in Jon Huntsman for President

"People no longer trust that their government is working for them. They see the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street, the influence-peddling, the backroom deals, and the crony capitalism. 

http://jon2012.com/issues


eema.gray
by on Jul. 3, 2012 at 2:54 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting lwalker270:


Quoting mustbeGRACE:

That's not a "church", it's a club.  Christ would not enter there.  Period.

Quoting Amada:

It's a church that welcomes divorcees and homosexuals. The pastors are gay as well.


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting Amada:

It already has. My sister goes to an alternative church.

If I may ask, what is an alternative church?  



Playing the Devil's Advocate for a minute:  if homosexuality is a sin, wouldn't that be the place where Jesus would be?  Jesus surrounded himself with the tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.  The sinners and dregs of society.  What leads you to believe it would be any different now?

That was my thought as well.  Jesus openly, perhaps brazenly, associated with people that everyone else looked down on.  Why WOULDN'T he associate with the LGBT communnity today?  It would be totally his style, to acknowledge and teach those whom nobody else wanted to be around.

Write in Jon Huntsman for President

"People no longer trust that their government is working for them. They see the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street, the influence-peddling, the backroom deals, and the crony capitalism. 

http://jon2012.com/issues


Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jul. 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM

It also negates the presence of free will-

Quoting eema.gray:

That kind of sounds like you're saying if young people accept homosexuality in their friends, they must not be true Christians . . . . . . 

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 I think it all depends on how committed they are to their faith.  Faith isn't something you can pick and choose what suits you.

 



cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Jul. 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting mustbeGRACE:


Quoting cjsbmom:

I am not a kid. I am nearly 40 years old. However, I share these views. I am a Christian, but I am very liberal about gay rights. I see it as a human rights issue, not a religious issue. I am not shy about my support of gay rights (including gay  marriage), and I make that known at any church I attend. I am also pro choice. That isn't a view I hide, either.

I think with the younger generation, they think more logically, rather than just blindly following any religious doctrine. I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, I wish more people would do it.

It doesn't matter how you see it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's the clincher here, people!   Your opinion doesn't matter. What matters is what Christ  (God  ) has to say about it. Grief!

STFU already. The only person I will have to answer to for my beliefs and feelings about gay rights and gay marriage is God. And I am pretty confident that he will be pleased that I loved my neighbor and didn't judge them. That's more than I can say for you.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 3, 2012 at 5:45 PM




Quoting mustbeGRACE:

One CANNOT be a practicing homosexual  and / or advocate it for others and be a "Christian" at the same time. It isn't possible.

I would have thought that this is common sense. 


Church leaders need to stop watering down the Gospel to attract and keep membership   (  :

I'm a Baptist, not a Catholic.

.

Apparently you lack in common sense.

Your sense of superiority is pitiful.  

What you consider not to be possible is indeed just that.  You are not involved in other's relationship with God.  You might want to keep that in mind.

While you are at it, you might want to think about how 'Christian' you are in your judgement, your assumptions and your 'common sense'.

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." ~ Maya Angelou

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Jul. 3, 2012 at 5:47 PM

There is nothing more distasteful and sad that a 'Christian' who claims they know all and they are certain their path is the only one.  All the while the spew ugliness and judgement and very little kindness and goodness.

The more one insists their way is the right way, the more I wonder what issues they are having in their own faith.  If one was secure in their own faith they would not have to lash out at others.

Those who claim to know God better than another are the 'Christians' we all should be careful of.

candlegal
by Judy on Jul. 3, 2012 at 5:50 PM

to way too many, that is exactly what it is.

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 I think it all depends on how committed they are to their faith.  Faith isn't something you can pick and choose what suits you.

 


candlegal
by Judy on Jul. 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

what exactly is the Catholic stance on homosexuals?

Quoting FromAtoZ:

One can indeed have Faith and a deep belief in God, a relationship with Him, and realize that being gay is no different than being straight.

One also does not have to attend a church in order to have a strong Faith and belief in God.

The Catholic Church's 'stance' on gay individuals is one reason, of many, I left that particular religion years ago.  I have never left God.  Nor had He left me.


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