There’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times about how evangelical churches are grappling with changing views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, even among some of their own members. Here’s a snippet:
The dramatic shift in public opinion, and now in the nation’s laws, has left evangelical Protestants, who make up about a quarter of the American population, in an uncomfortable position. Out of step with the broader society, and often derided as discriminatory or hateful, many are feeling under siege as they try to live out their understanding of biblical teachings, and worry that a changing legal landscape on gay rights will inevitably lead to constraints on religious freedom.
But the challenges are not only external. To a degree that is rarely acknowledged in the public square, many evangelical churches are also grappling with internal questions. Especially in and around large urban areas, pastors increasingly report that some openly gay and lesbian Christians are opting to worship in evangelical congregations (“more and more are coming to our church,” Mr. Allison said) and that heterosexual worshipers are struggling over the church’s posture because friends or family members are gay.
“There is a growing desire on the part of some, even within the church, to combine their Christian faith with the acceptance of homosexual practice,” the Wheaton Bible statement acknowledged.
The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.