Christendom (TFC) - So gay marriage is in. It's a done deal. It's over. Guess what changed for Christians out there? Nothing. The fact is that the behavior that typically precedes gay marriage was already occurring. The religion did not fall. Christianity has been around for a couple of thousand years. It's highly unlikely that legal recognition of same sex marriages will lead to the collapse of the institution of Christianity.
In fact, the opposite is likely to happen if Christians behave as Christians. The largest growth in Christianity's history, that did not occur under colonization or at the point of a sword, occurred when the hedonistic paganism of the Roman Empire flourished around the Church. Christians were persecuted for their beliefs and forced to die for entertainment purposes, yet people still flocked to the fledgling religion. Why?
There is something peculiar about those willing to die for their beliefs. There is something equally intriguing about those that are willing to live by their beliefs. It was that commitment to follow in Jesus's footsteps that grew the Church. The early believers were devout. They read the Word, they knew the Word, and they lived the Word. It's the same reason the Islamic State is expanding so quickly today. People are intrigued by the level of commitment.
Today's Church is collapsing, not from outside influences, but from the same legalism and exploitation that Jesus spoke against. Christianity began to die as soon as people began focusing on the "me" rather than the "us." When some of the largest churches of the day are simply fronts for con men looking to exploit those that need to believe in something, anything to give their life meaning, of course, Christianity is doomed.
Without turning this into a Bible study, Christians would do well to remember that the book of Romans has an entire chapter on submitting to the authority of government. This was written at a time when abortion, homosexuality, paganism, and all sorts of sins were commonplace under Nero, a ruler that routinely had Christians dipped in tar and lit ablaze. Certainly, it would apply to ignoring papers issued by today's government. In Daniel, we are told the story of three people ordered to bow before a golden idol. They obeyed all of the King's orders except for this one. It was an order that had them personally commit a sin. They refused, even though it might cost them their life. I know of no place in the Bible where it instructs Christians to use the power of government to force adherence to the religion. Instead, it encourages Christians to encourage conversion by following the example set by Jesus, and allowing others to follow that example.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
This concept of leading by example is where the Church has strayed and lost many adherents. The greatest commandment is "love thy neighbor." Even something this simple has lost its roots in many of today's churches. The desire to preach fire and brimstone and scare the congregation into submission and donation has, in many places, overcome the desire to preach the Word of God.
Many churches have taken the path of pointing out the sins of others without examining their own or leading a life worthy of imitating. This hypocrisy is apparent to the casual observer and it pushes people away from not just the offending church, but from the religion as a whole. If you want to preserve Christianity, make it something worth imitating again. Give people a reason to want to be a Christian. Show them the way through your actions, not your condemnations. There's a reason the Sermon on the Mount includes:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
To bring that into modern English, why would you point out the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye when you have a plank of wood in your own?