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Isn’t Religion Mostly Social?

June 20, 2014

If you’ve been following even the general news through mainstream media, you’ve probably been hearing about ongoing and perhaps increasing religious tensions over same-sex marriage and related issues (ordination, welcoming gays, etc.).   

Most recently it’s been the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA) which has taken a key vote in their General Assembly and strongly approved of performing same-sex weddings where such marriages are legal.  For one article on this here is that of the New York Times.  A more religious (and conservative) look at the PCUSA decision is here, in Christianity Today.

The controversy on this is spread throughout many denominations and has been a major contributor toward denominational splits, or many churches leaving for other denominations or full independence.

What should this be telling us? Are there issues “behind the issues”? (Undoubtedly there are.) 

There are probably a dozen or more good answers as to what such controversies are about.  But one thing I am convinced it shows is that religion is at least as much social as it is theological (or “biblical”).  

Isn’t it disturbing that so few people recognize this?

The debates, on this issue like many others, tend to outwardly center on people’s interpretation of the Bible.  Or just their inner sense of what “God’s definition of marriage” is.  I guess we like to think that God endorses whatever we happen to be used to…. whatever we think is important to social stability. (Or at least to keeping us comfortable.)

That’s not to say that no case is possible for gay marriage or any given trend supporting or undermining social stability.  But, although I follow this issue a fair amount, I’ve not seen Christians making such a case.  Yes, they discuss the few Bible passages that deal at least peripherally with it.  But no in-depth, developed case re. the social dynamics, issues, etc.  Again, that I have seen.  What have you seen, if anything?

And do you agree that much more of Christianity is an endorsement of status quo social mores than Christians want to admit? 

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