Is White Christian America Dying?

John Sides recently wrote an article for the Washington Post titled “White Christian America is dying.” John is an Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University. His article is based on a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute founded by Robert P. Jones and the book authored by Jones, “The End of White Christian America.”

There is not enough space here to address all the results of the survey, but there was an interesting trend. There was a considerable generational decline in those claiming to be Christian with a corresponding increase in those claiming to be unaffiliated with any religious tradition.

While the survey cited a number of reasons for millennials leaving the church, one reason stood out for the youngest age group surveyed. Seventy percent of millennials, 18-33, “believe that religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.”

Of those millennials raised in a religious home but now claim to be unaffiliated with a religious group, thirty-one percent said “that negative teaching about or treatment of gay and lesbian people by religious organizations was somewhat or a very important factor in their leaving.”

I have said this before and it bears repeating here, the kingdom of God is not a democracy. We do not get to vote on what is or is not a sin. That holds true for sexual sins including homosexuality.

The homosexual lifestyle and the LGBT community’s pursuit of what they believe is marriage equality are dividing our culture. Currently, homosexuality is riding a wave of unprecedented popularity with no sign that popularity has crested.

There is much misinformation and misunderstanding on both sides of the issue. Gay and lesbian couples believe they are being discriminated against when Christians of good conscience do not want to be a party to something the Scriptures condemn. Disagreements arise over the limits of religious freedom and because those disagreements are emotionally charged they tend to generate more heat than light.

Divine admonitions are not arbitrary; there are always practical implications to transgressing what God declares to be sin. Recent legal rulings coupled with the growing acceptance of homosexuality have created seismic shifts in our nation’s morality and laws. These shifts are relatively sudden with no long-term statistical data of the effect of these changes on our society.

The Scriptures warn, “You shall not follow after the masses in doing evil, nor…turn aside after a multitude to pervert justice,” Exodus 23:2. Popular opinion sometimes is little more than mob rule. I think millennials would be well advised to think clearly about traditional marriage and not be so impulsive about changing something that has worked for thousands of years.

There is a reason why no civilization, culture or religion in the history of mankind has flourished celebrating the homosexuality lifestyle, because it is biologically unsustainable. Christianity, whatever color or ethnicity, is biologically sustainable; millennials should rethink which one is dying.

Doubt and Faith

I read an article by a young woman who shared things a believer should not say to someone who doubts their Christian faith, and suggested what they should say and do instead. She had been raised in a “conservative, evangelical” home, but when she began attending college her faith began to unravel.

She said, “The faith my parents gave me had been constructed like a delicate house of cards.” Her story is not unusual. Many children when they leave home and begin to make a life for themselves and are no longer under the influence of their parents, often experience a crisis of faith, when they must make sense out of what they believe and why they believe it.

Children often “get saved” for a host of reasons. A friend of theirs did, or they want to please their parents, or they want to fit in with the church crowd. But those reasons seldom translate into genuine faith when they are on their own. I am not discrediting the decisions made by children, I came to Christ at the age of eight, I am simply saying sometimes decisions are made for social reasons rather than spiritual reasons.

The words in the New Testament for faith, a noun, and believe, a verb, come from the same root word that means to put one’s trust or confidence in something. Faith at its essence is a decision to trust, it is not a feeling. I can remember at the age of eight making a decision to repent of my sins and trust Christ as my Savior.

As a person matures and begins to search for truth they come to have questions about matters of faith. They want answers; they think they are owed answers to their questions. This was Job’s issue, he felt he was suffering unjustly and God owed him an explanation.

We are like that at times. We think God owes us an explanation, but he doesn’t. Questions are often just a reason not to trust God. I have noticed that once a person decides to trust Christ they no longer have any questions. It is not that the questions do not still exist; they just lose their significance when we trust God. Besides, if we had all of our questions answered there would be no need for faith.

I do not have all the answers myself, but I have all the answers to the most important questions. I know why I exist and my purpose for living.

We read, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him,” Hebrews 11:6. God is pleased when we trust Him whether or not we have all the answers, and faith in God brings me a satisfaction and contentment that is indescribable.

It is my prayer that others will find this “peace of God, that surpasses all comprehension,” Philemon 4:7.

Three principles guide my writing

Since my columns are for the most part a biblical commentary on current events I thought my readers would find it of some interest how I come to the viewpoints expressed in my writing. There are three principles I follow.

First, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, inspired and preserved by Him, to be a reliable guide in all we should believe and do. Ergo, I view human history and events through the lens of the Scriptures, as I understand them, that being the historical, grammatical, and plain meaning of the text. I believe God created us and there is no one who knows us better or is more capable of advising us on how we should live.

The Scriptures were penned in a specific historical context and for us to understand what God is saying now we must understand what he was saying then from the historical perspective.

God used human language to convey His revelation to us. All languages share grammatical similarities (this makes it possible to translate the Scriptures from one language to another) so that understanding the laws of grammar help us to understand God’s message to us.

Every word in the Scriptures supports the communication of literal truth that is plainly written for anyone to understand. There are mysteries in the Bible, the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ and the Atonement are just a few, but those things we are told about our relationship with God and how we should live are written in clear language that can only be misinterpreted by those who have no desire to do the will of God.

Like the Reformer Martin Luther my Weltanschauung (worldview) is “bound by the texts of the Bible, my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

Second, I believe the eternal truths contained in the Scriptures are ever relevant and mankind is best served by the common sense, practical application of those truths. So I try to give a clear application of those truths to the events and things I write about.

Third, I believe all men are created in the image of God so every person needs to be treated fairly and with respect. But I also hold that image has been marred by original sin, the fall of our first parents, so I do not necessarily respect every thing people believe, say or do.

As an example, I respect another’s religious freedom to believe as they choose, but I do not respect the killing of another because they believe differently. This respect for others is why I address issues and not personalities, although personalities can sometimes become an issue.

I never intend to be mean-spirited, but biblical truth is both direct and directive, direct about what is wrong, and directive to do what is right. Blunt realities shock our delicate human psyche and we are easily offended, but biblical truth becomes more palatable when we realize God loves us and only wants what is best for us.