By Brother Thom
This past weekend I had the opportunity to gather with brothers from many denominations, as well as varied churches in the greater Hampton Roads area. In my discussions with members of congregations from across our area, I learned that many are facing the same issues. Dwindling congregations, decreases in tithes and offerings and systemic financial difficulties.
According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Christian Database as of 2007 Islam is the fastest–growing religion in the world. So if that’s the case, what are Christians doing wrong that we are no longer at the head of the race. In America, I think Christianity has possibly been overcome by social influences rather than Biblical teachings. A growing list of denominations now support LGBTQIA issues almost exclusively above those of their straight congregants. Things are changing in the protestant churches in America.
What’s not changing is the laws and belief’s of Muslim’s. The teachings of Islam have not faltered to the pressures of social issues. They on the other hand have remained steadfast.
Methodism in the United States is currently feeling the pains of social pressure. This year at a special general conference, delegates voted on a traditional plan that would keep the denominations laws in place prohibiting gay clergy and gay marriage. The vote was led mostly by the large voting block of African bishops, clergy and laity. American bishops, delegates and laity on the other hand are largely progressives, supporting the ordination of gay clergy, bishops and marriage. Several other U.S. denominations have either experienced the same issues or are experiencing them now.
The one reality that has not changed is the Bible. Leviticus 18:22 says “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” Progressives will tell you that the Bible does not mention homosexuality or even a greek word meaning homosexuality. That’s true, but the Bible is clear on the topic.
The Bible is also clear that we are to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Which clearly means we are to love everyone, regardless of sexual identity. The fact that this issue is tearing at the very fabric of Christian denominations is likely the result of not finding a balance between the scripture and social issues, and in some cases the absolute setting aside of church law in favor of the 4.5% of the U.S. population that identifies as gay.
While there is no data suggesting the issues of gay clergy and marriage are leading decreases in attendance at local churches, it is nonetheless a contributing factor.
One things is for certain, and that is we need to come together as Christians, in supporting one another in Christ Like Action.