The bus left. The train departed. The horses fled the barn. Elvis has left the building! Increasingly, more of the faithful are ignoring religious leaders due to false humility, being out of touch, or just getting it wrong too many times and not having the security to admit it.
As I’ve observed many times in the past the strength, endurance, timelessness, and truth in Christianity is evident in its effortless ability to overcome the obstacles put in place by men and to a lesser degree women who run corporate religion.
Contraception, abortion or reproductive rights, and same-gender marriage or threats to traditional families, for example, are issues here to stay. They are being addressed by religious leaders in ways that are often unrealistic, politically sophomoric, and addressed with an authority absent logic, reason, or commonsense.
Abortion, for example, is what it is. Christian leaders opposed to it should think of better ways to expand adoption services, encourage mothers not to abort babies, and work harder to find common ground with reproductive rights advocates. Generally speaking, there is a consensus that there are too many abortions in America. Ongoing confrontation solves nothing.
Contraception is no different. The vast majority of Catholics in the United States embrace it. Church leadership is not going to stop its widespread use for health and sociological reasons. Insistence that the faithful stop is like King Canute ordering the ocean not to roll back onto the beach. Maybe it suggests that the faithful in this case know more than the church hierarchy.
Religious leaders are still calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-gender marriage. Why? This is either breathtakingly disingenuous or a sad reflection of how little people know about the process.
Assuming three-fourths of each chamber of Congress passed such an amendment then three-fourths of the states must do so as well. Currently six states, Washington will soon make it seven, allow same-gender marriage while another twelve permit civil unions, domestic partnerships, or some form of legal recognition. Hence, nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow some form of legal rights. If each state granting some level of rights vote down an amendment, then the thirty-eight states needed to amend the Constitution can’t be reached.
This is not to suggest that a state preferring civil unions or domestic partnerships over same-gender marriage wouldn’t support such a constitutional change, but realistically, what are the odds? Public sentiment in favor of same-gender marriage is growing, not diminishing.
If religious hierarchy had the benefit of spiritually mature leadership then it should be making the case for civil unions for all – gay and straight. Anyone wanting a “marriage” should find a priest, rabbi, pastor, or mullah to solemnize the union. Government should have no role in defining or defending a sacrament. The role of government is to ensure that all citizens are treated equally under civil law. Increasingly, state governments have recognized “marriage” for same-gender couples because religious leaders have allowed it to become secular, in part, by serving as agents of government.
Pushing strident religious dogma must end. Reconciliation is long overdue. Failure to reflect on and better understand a changing world means that more churches and parishes will close. More people will hunger for spiritual sustenance and guidance. They will continue to seek alternatives. Christianity is alive and well. Yet the spiritual needs of millions go unaddressed. Why? Lack of leadership.