I just read an article about a schism that has just opened up within a Christian church group or network or something in England (the details of the politics/alliances eludes me), over the issue of the full inclusion of homosexual people within the church, and the rights of homosexual people within society itself. No doubt, this is happening across the world, and as I read the article just now, I got a particular little kick out of it, something along the lines of the excitement of being alive at an interesting time in history.
Watching even a small section of the Christian church split itself up in response to such a social issue is like watching the mechanisms of evolution by natural selection kick into action. It’s like watching a rising sea level separate a species of animal in two. This exact kind of thing is the catalyst of each next stage of evolution! Throughout biological history, this is the start of something that’s going to make a huge difference in the world in future epochs. Things get traced back to this kind of event.
When one species is suddenly cut off from itself into two (or more) groups, and suddenly they can’t mix and interbreed any more, they’re headed in two different directions, and over the course of millions of years the two groups may evolve and mutate in vastly different ways - and probably only one, at best, might end up surviving. Which one? Well, as always, the one that happens to be best suited to survive in the environment in which it finds itself.
Very, very generally speaking, Christianity is a population that has been pretty much united for a very long time on this issue, yet is suddenly finding itself splitting in two. (Relax; I said ‘generally’ with two ‘very’s, remember?) A sea or mountain range has suddenly appeared, and it’s becoming clear that there are now two groups where before there was pretty much only one. They’re going to go in different directions, and there are certain ‘barriers’ to them fully, completely ‘mixing’ henceforth. Chances are, over the course of time, not both of them are going to survive. If one does, which one’s it going to be?
I don’t think that’s a hard question to answer, given that the world is moving, at breakneck speed, towards recognising the full equality of homosexual people, and the principles of full inclusion and equal rights under every aspect of the law come into effect more and more fully month by month- where would you put your money?
Let’s be honest: The secular world has dragged the Christian church kicking and screaming into this debate. Secular ethics is now sculpting the Christian church, and we all get to watch. It’s just too delicious for words.
The social and cultural environment within which an EXclusive mindset that discriminated against homosexual people could thrive and survive is disappearing rapidly. That side of this split is heading off to find that the ‘environment’ that has forever supported it just doesn’t suit it any more. The polarities have shifted suddenly, or the environment suddenly got a lot hotter,… choose your own Darwinian-environmental analogy. The societal values that sustained such an exclusive, negative, and discriminatory view of homosexuality are drying up and disappearing. That side’s going to have a bad time.
The other group, the one that has arisen out of a change in the frequency and effectiveness of certain ideas (those of gay/straight equality, inclusion, equal marriage rights, etc), is heading into an environment in which it will be able to THRIVE; relative to its old-school cousins, at least. The Christianity that welcomes and supports homosexuality is going to have a MUCH easier time getting by. They’re going to have a far better chance of finding a space within the ecosystem into which they can settle and operate. It’s not rocket science, it’s plain old natural selection.
But get this- something else that’s not rocket-science, but kinda mind-blowing when you think of it:
After a time, perhaps a decade or two, perhaps as long as a generation or two, when the INclusive side of this schism is the only real survivor, …. we all know what they’re going to credit their side’s survival to, don’t we?:
God. God’s guidance, God’s voice, God’s truth.
Not the basic mechanisms of natural selection. Not a change in the cultural environment which made it difficult for their less-gay-friendly cousins to survive, and left them at the top of the chain. Not the fact that the frequency and potency of certain introduced memes and values suddenly took hold within their ‘meme pool’ and shaped them to suit the environment into which they found themselves heading… No, no.
Members of the Christian religion in that future time will no doubt look back at how the church seemed to swing towards inclusion of homosexuality, (around the same time as,... hmmmm,... the whole world did), and credit their god with having worked things out such that His true nature in regard to the issue of homosexual equality could finally be expressed in the world. Because that’s what they’ll have then, you see: a full understanding of God’s stance and will on this issue! - and it will be, as it always is, a mirror image of their own stance and will on this issue.
The survival and ‘flourishing’ of their version of theology won’t be viewed as having arisen out of the result of an indifferent process of natural selection, catalysed by overwhelming influence from the secular world - no no: it will be said to have been ordained from above. Designed, intelligently. Their version of Christianity will be seen as the very objective that God had had in mind the whole time, and had built His church towards. Just - ahem- sorry about those millennia where God’s true will couldn’t really seem to get past the cultural context it was at constant effect of, and sorry about how the church operated according to the polar opposite of God’s actual will since pretty much forever… It’s just that Christians ‘back in those days’ didn’t have a true understanding of God’s actual values in that area etc etc, you’ve heard it all before.
The result of a natural, understandable, predictable process, catalysed by the secular world, is going to be credited to God as having been intelligently designed and brought about for his very purposes. When you stop and think about it in the light of the fact that this process is getting underway right now, as we speak, it’s just so crystal clear that ‘God’s will’ itself is a byproduct of natural selection at every stage of human history. It matches perfectly the general underlying socio-cultural values of the time and geographical environment that gave rise to it and sculpted it, at every stage. What an amazing coincidence.
There it is, see? ‘God’s true will’ isn’t anything to do with ‘God’. It’s just the result of a natural process acting upon various ‘populations’, and variations within those populations. But how interesting that here, I think we’re seeing, in this particular case and the countless similar ones that are currently playing out before our very eyes all over Christendom: the next step in the evolution of the Christian religion unfolding, sculpted by the overwhelming society-wide secular revolt against the kind of anti-gay values that that the church has so consistently espoused since as far back as the day that their god was credited with the scriptural order to stone gays to death.
So, allow me to get this in, a few generations or decades in advance: Secular ethics can take a bow. The secular world has pushed back against deep-seated scripturally-sactioned religious dogma against homosexuality, leading the church to even need to have the kind of homosexual rights debate they’re currently grappling with, tying themselves in knots, and splitting themselves up over. Let's be clear: The gay rights movement hardly sprang up from within the Christian church, did it? As an orgnization, they didn’t suggest having this debate. They were led to it.
And the outcome, which even a blind man can see coming, is going to be called “God’s true will” by future generations of gay-friendly Christian believers.
The values that a very very large proportion of the Christian religion are fighting against in today’s world as a gay or progressive ‘agenda’, will be the “God’s true will” of future Christians, thanks entirely to the pushback against traditional Christian values by the secular world.
And people ask us why we bother speaking up against Christianity. Well - this is a kind of whole new reason that even I’d never really seen before: because by doing so we actually get to participate in shaping it.
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