What your average evangelical is concerned about after Obergefell

The video above is from a Roman Catholic group, but I can testify that many evangelical Christians are feeling the same way these folks are.

I am a pastor, and the testimonies in this video sound very similar to what I have been hearing from the folks in my church. Our members by and large don’t have questions about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage. They get that. Nor do they have questions about their obligation to love their neighbor, to seek their good, and to be at peace with everyone (Mark 12:29; Luke 6:33; Rom. 12:18). They get all of that.

Their question is how to live out what Jesus has called them to be when folks treat them with hostility. I recently talked to one church member whose boss is gay. About half of her co-workers are also gay. They are her friends, and she loves them. She wants to keep a relationship with them, and she hopes to remain a part of their lives. But she’s concerned that her Christian beliefs on marriage and sexuality will alienate them once they become known. The last thing on her mind is waging a culture war or winning a debate with them. She just wants space to be their friend, even if at the end of the day they disagree about these fundamental issues.

I could tell other stories of brothers who are not only concerned about maintaining relationships with friends at work, they are also concerned that they will face professional suicide if their Christian views become known among their coworkers. Again, they don’t want to pick a culture war fight with anyone. But neither do they want to face losing their job or a reprimand in their HR file when they fail to show up for the office party for their co-worker who just married his same-sex partner. They are trying to figure out how to be faithful to Jesus, a faithful friend, and a faithful employee when those obligations seem to be in tension.

And that is the challenge that I’m seeing among our members. What they are wondering is whether their Christian faith will be tolerated in the public space. And I’m not talking about any desire on their part to engage in aggressive and obnoxious proselytizing. I’m just talking about normal people wondering whether there is room for them anymore in our culture. In so many words, they are wondering if a genuine pluralism will exist in post-Obergefell America, or if Christian views on sexuality and marriage are now being excluded from our national life.

I am so grateful for these dear brothers and sisters in my church. None of them have expressed any thoughts of forsaking Jesus’ teaching because of these difficulties. They are going to walk with Christ no matter what the cost. I praise God for that. But still, I am concerned for them, and I am praying for them. They are the front-line silent casualties of a culture war they don’t want to be in. They just want to follow Jesus in peace. And as the implications of Obergefell trickle down into their lives, I pray that they will be able to do just that (1 Timothy 2:2). Whether they will or not very much remains to be seen.

18 Responses to What your average evangelical is concerned about after Obergefell

  1. Brian Watson July 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    What’s interesting is that video has been mocked in certain circles: “Christians think they are being persecuted because of their bigoted views. How do you like it now?” Or something similar to that. But that very response proves the point of the video.

    One more thought: Why do Carholics and Mormons have all the cool videos? Why don’t we make these things?

  2. Christiane Smith July 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    one consideration about this group is that, as they are speaking as practicing Catholics, they are looking at ‘marriage’ in the way the Catholic Church sees it, as a ‘sacrament’ . . .

    Catholic sacramental marriage never was seen as the ‘definition’ of what ‘the culture’ thought of as ‘marriage’ anyway, so the events of the recent week(s) are of course going to be looked at in that light by Catholic people

    I don’t think too many people in ‘the culture’ who are not Catholic even know (or care) what Catholic sacramental marriage is, anyway. So, if a Catholic describes the definition of it to ‘the culture’, we are only doing what we have done all these years, if anyone asked . . . saying what we have always believed.

    How does this intersect with evangelicals and their culture war? Likely the part about ‘between a man and a woman’. But concerning criticism, Catholics know that they aren’t facing anything new, really, because of our history . . . those names we repeat at EVERY mass, those names of the ‘witnesses’ who came before us: including Peter, Paul, Agnes, Cecelia, Clement, Felicity, Perpetua, Sebastian, Lawrence, and Cyprian . . . we know their stories, we know that they paid a price for their faith, and we honor their witness consistently as a part of our own faith . . . no ‘culture war’ can frighten us anew, because we are very at home with the costs of faith in THIS world, our own have bourne it steadfastly to the end.

    so, nothing new . . . as for LBGT folks, we Catholics have them IN our families, IN our congregations, IN our hearts . . . they are our sons, and daughters, and brothers, and sisters, and our friends, and no ‘culture war’ on the planet can destroy our love for them, either.

  3. Matt Martin July 1, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    What’s ironic is that homosexuals have been desiring the exact same thing for decades now. The chance to live in peace and have all the same rights that their family and friends have. To not get fired from their jobs. To be able to participate in the marketplace. And the chance to marry their loved one without Christians demanding they abide by their religious views.

    What you sow, you will reap.

    • Chris Ryan July 1, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      The thing is they already are reaping that, and have been forever. There’s no law banning employment discrimination of LGBT people. They can be fired simply for being gay.

      I myself am not terribly worried. I have friends and family members who are LGBT and even though they know I disagree with their lifestyle it isn’t an issue. I don’t make a secret of my faith. OTOH, I was raised Pentecostal, so I know what its like to have people question your faith and even think you’re weird or strange–even other Evangelicals!–so perhaps its just something that in the fullness of time I’ve come to accept. No one ever said that being a Christian is going to be easy. If people don’t think that you’re a little strange for not drinking, partying, cussing, or any of that other stuff, then we as Christians probably need to try a little harder 🙂

  4. Bob Wilson July 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    Brian,

    That mocking has basis in history. Not too long ago, gay people could not be out and still in most of the country, they can be fired for being gay. Conservative Christians still oppose legislation to prohibit this.

    As for Christians at work, does going to an office party really constitute approval? I go to alot of office parties I’m not into just to be social. But if you can’t, make an excuse. But I’d think twice about making a moral stand about it at work, simply because an office is just not the right place for it–at least where I work, where there are Muslims and Hindus as well as Jews and Christians. No employer wants that kind of strife at his shop.

    • Rob Gates July 4, 2015 at 12:14 am #

      Just curious Bob, where in this country can people be fired for being gay? There are laws that protect people from being fired based upon sexual orientation. I have a hard time believing that today in “most of the country” people can be fired for simply being gay. Any recent examples?

  5. brian darby July 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Just a question, if I ever and I mean ever went into a Christian community that I am aware of and spoke like this I would be handed my head. Emotion is not an option, neither is pretty much any other human attribute unless it fits into some apologetic.

    • Christiane Smith July 1, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

      Hi BRIAN,
      I want for you, I need for you, to be wrong about this . . . is it possible you haven’t given folks in Christian community a chance? Your comment was one of the saddest things I have read in a long time.

      • brian darby July 3, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

        I am sorry it made you sad, but in my own personal experience in the framework of my own interactions in these specific communities it is quite true and expected. Funny thing is I wish to go back but like many things that is not really an option. I do hope you have a nice day.

  6. dr. james willingham July 1, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    A constitutional expert who is not a conservative Christian stated in the New York Times that he would be fearful, if he was one, about the future and the likelihood that Christian believers being treated like the religious racist bigots of Bob Jones were many years ago. The rule against them was simply that their beliefs did not fit the requirements of the administration, the then present outlook on the issues. Much as I despised their viewpoint (which did change), I could see that we might come to a time, when the Christian views would be sans all reception simply due to the change in society.

  7. Nathan Cesal July 2, 2015 at 1:33 am #

    Didn’t gay people have the same trepidation back in, say, the 60s, 70s and 80s? Maybe the new majority now will follow the lead of the old majority. If so, you don’t have anything to fear, right?

    • dr. james willingham July 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

      According to an article in the Washington Post, we do have reason to fear. Why? Because the article as I recall pointed out that they are calling for reprisals; they have a get even attitude. Just consider what they did to the baker in Oregon who has five children. He is now working as a garbage collector, having been fined $120,000 and being sued by the Lesbian couple for $150,000. A writer in the New York Times this week, one Volokh (can’t remember first name) pointed out that in about a generation conservative Christians (and he was not one; he was a constitutional expert) could be treated as the racist religious bigots of Bob Jones University were back in the 80s. The court decided against Bob Jones, and I wrote a letter of protest to the court. Not because I agreed with Bob Jones in the racism (I despised that attitude and practice, because I am a Black historian), but because the same kind of decision can be made against Christians. Just consider the biblical doctrine of Hell and how people hate that truth. Suppose the government, viz., the executive, legislative, and/or judicial branch decides that is a teaching that is traumatizing to children and adults and that those who teach it are nut cases equal to the racists of our day. Then they will come after conservative Christians.

  8. senecagriggs yahoo July 2, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    My memories of the 60’s; there were people, mostly men, who were obviously of the homosexual persuasion and in the adult world, they did what they did, we did what we did.
    I knew a couple homosexual principals, teachers and a lot of male nurses. I didn’t know of any being fired for being a homosexual, you would get fired if you were sexually acting out with students, patients etc. They didn’t bother me, I didn’t bother them.

    • Mike Norman July 4, 2015 at 12:38 am #

      Seneca: “men, who were obviously of the homosexual persuasion”

      I do not know what that means. But generally speaking, in the workplace and professional world one’s sexual practices and preferences should not be self-evident nor should there be reason to disclose them.

  9. Seth Rogers July 4, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    The only thing that gives me greater pleasure than watching the mewling, narcissists in this video is reading through Denny’s blog over the past week. How magnificent to experience his befuddlement and rage. How could Denny and his fellow evangelicals have lost this? Not so long ago, this was the easiest of issues and the gays were the easiest of opponents. You could always count on whipping them.

    But something changed. People stopped buying what Denny was peddling. They even started to see Denny and others like him as the problem, as a bunch of overbearing, hateful, entitled thugs. How did they ever come to that conclusion? Sure, Denny sought to keep gay people in a state of constant fear and instability, entirely dependent upon the charity of a hostile nation. Sure, he never lifted a finger or raised a dime to protect any of them from violence or bullying. Sure, he even supported throwing them in prison and was horrified when in 2003 that option was taken away. But to think of him as a “hater” is so unfair, especially since he routinely snarls declarations of love for these broken, disordered, diseased, conspirators against America and the family. Why won’t anyone believe how loving he is? Well, maybe he’ll use this holiday weekend to figure it all out. Or maybe he’ll just rage and gorge on hamburgers.

    • dr. james willingham July 4, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

      What changed is that about 800 corporations told their Sodomites to get married, and they let the legislators in Indiana know it, something that could not have escaped the attention of the characters setting on the Supreme Court who make the laws without being represented. The next thing on the agenda will be to put away all conservative Christians. It might take a generation and, barring a Third Great Awakening, we will find how a concentration camp works and how they reeducate one with microwave radiation. The folks who really control thing have been planning and preparing for this for a long time. It was the way they figured to defeat the biblical Christianity that had been at the foundation of America. But now to worry. God has a plan, too, one outlined in Dan.2 and in other places in the Bible. So look out Seth, the Texas Rangers might fail to be behind you, but God will not. He will even be there before you. Know He has a plan for you. Having been an Atheist, I found Him to be quite pre-emptive. Hard to fight against such person, little man, when your arms are too short.

      • brian darby July 5, 2015 at 2:25 am #

        Do you actually believe this?

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