American Christianity is losing its grip on political power — and that’s good news for Christians

by Damon Linker  |  published on February 23, 2015

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As secular and liberal America prepares to celebrate the probable triumph of same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court in June, let’s take a moment to note how differently some of our fellow citizens view the same development. These are not simple-minded (or pseudo-philosophical) bigots. They are thoughtful, devout Christians trying to make sense of a cultural revolution they feel powerless to reverse or control — and which they fear will sweep them, much that they cherish, and a good part of what’s most valuable in the historically Christian civilization of the West into the gutter.

The stakes, as far as these dissenters are concerned, are enormous.

The best, most thought-provoking statement of this view can be found in three articles published in the February 2015 issue of First Things magazine. I don’t agree with the positions staked out in these essays. Yet the concerns of the magazine and its leading contributors deserve a hearing, even if, as I think, their anxieties are ultimately overstated and misguided.

In the lead essay, Michael Hanby of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America explains that in our time “liberalism” has become something far more sweeping than a philosophy of limited government. It has become “an all-encompassing absolutism” that would drive out all competing forms of life, visions of the highest good, and notions of human nature. This absolutist dynamic is clearest in the sexual revolution, which in the name of liberating the individual from all received constraints summarily overthrows the anthropology presupposed by the entirety of Christian civilization.