When David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons were doing the research that led to the book unChristian, they surveyed young people, asking them to name a characteristic of Christians.
So what was the number one answer? Loving? Compassionate? Peaceful? Pious?
Nope. The number one answer was “anti-gay.” Number two was “judgmental” and number three was “hypocritical.”
It breaks my heart to think that those of us who believe in the message of Jesus are perceived by young people to be judgmental, hypocritical gay-haters. That certainly wouldn’t be what folks would think of Jesus himself.
Of course this is an unfair stereotype. Most Christians aren’t judgmental, aren’t hypocrites and don’t hate gay people.
But sadly there is a loud minority of us who are all those things and more, and we get painted with their brush, to the detriment of the Kingdom of God.
But the future looks much brighter. For example, as John Shore has reported on his blog, the most recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that 44% of evangelicals under 30 favor allowing gay people to marry. Evangelicals are among the most theologically conservative Christians, of course. Among young Christians of all stripes 60-70% favor gay marriage.
I believe we are at a critical point for Christianity in America. Whether we go the way of Europe or not depends upon the young generation. And whether the young generation finds the message of Christ compelling or not may depend in part upon whether the Church accepts or rejects gay people.
What would Jesus do?