Mark my words. Here is what is going to happen. Within a decade, maybe two, Christians will come around to treating gays no differently than they now treat members of other groups whom they previously persecuted — women, Jews, blacks — but not because of some new interpretation of a biblical passage, or because of a new revelation from God. These changes will come about the same way that they always do: by the oppressed minority fighting for the right to be treated equally, and by a few enlightened members of the oppressing majority supporting their cause.
Then what will happen is that Christians will take credit for the civil liberation of gays, dig through the historical record and find a few Christian preachers or bloggers who had the courage and the character to stand up for Gay rights when their fellow Christians would not, and then cite those as evidence that were it not for Christianity, gays would not be equal.
Although not a perfect analogy, this passage reminds me a bit of the conversation I had with a young man who had recently come out. He told me that all Christians hate gays. I said, “Well, I’m a Christian,” he interrupted to say that he knew I was because he heard me going on about it all the time. I continued, “and I don’t hate gays.” His response was that I was not really a Christian, then.
First off, this is an attack on Christianity. It is a preemptive strike against a future more tolerant Christian church to make sure Christians don’t get off the hook for the evil they have caused.
And, I feel compelled to point out that the exact reasoning provided by Schermer–Western Culture, not the Church will solve the problem of mistreating gays–can be used to let the church off the hook–Western Culture, not the Church is responsible for mistreating gays. Religion and Culture until very recently were inextricably intertwined.
More importantly though, Schermer and the angry young man have reason to be pissed off at the Christian Church. We have been slow to take a leadership role in the great moral ills facing our society. The Church needs to correct this: even if it doesn’t get to take credit.
In the past, the Church has done well in advocating for the impoverished. In the United States the Civil Rights movement was a church movement. However, two glaring examples of movements, of what Judge Posner calls moral entrepeneurship, are afoot: Gay Rights; Environmentalism. While my little church and much bigger churches all across the country are coming on board, we need to do more. As Kanye says, “Better, Faster, Stronger.”