How to Change a Society in 5 Easy Steps

Over the past fifty years, the rate of technological change and adoption has moved at an astoundingly rapid pace. It took 46 years for electricity and 35 years for the telephone to be adopted by a quarter of American households. But it only took 13 years for the cell phone and 7 years for the Internet to reach the same levels within the population.

Ideas and concepts are also being adopted by society more quickly. Ideas that once seemed radical have gone from implausible to normal within less than a decade. The prime example is same-sex marriage. In 1996, 65% of Americans were opposed; today 53% approve. In May 2003, no states had approved gay unions; 10 years later, one-fifth of the states allow same-sex marriage (the tenth state, Rhode Island, approved legislation last night).

How was the agenda to redefine marriage able to advance to the level of public policy? And how did it happen so quickly? To understand this seismic cultural shift we should turn to an obscure, decade-old political theory. 

The Overton Window, developed in the mid-1990s by the late Joseph P. Overton, describes a “window” in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse. Overton believed that the spectrum included all possible options in a window of opportunity:

Imagine, if you will, a yardstick standing on end. On either end are the extreme policy actions for any political issue. Between the ends lie all gradations of policy from one extreme to the other. The yardstick represents the full political spectrum for a particular issue. The essence of the Overton window is that only a portion of this policy spectrum is within the realm of the politically possible at any time. Regardless of how vigorously a think tank or other group may campaign, only policy initiatives within this window of the politically possible will meet with success.

All issues fall somewhere along this policy continuum, which can be roughly outlined as: Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible, Popular, Policy. When the window moves or expands, ideas can accordingly become more or less politically acceptable.

Overton’s model was developed to explain adjustments in the political climate. But I believe it can also illuminate how profound and (mainly) deleterious changes are advanced in our broader culture and society. If the goal were to undermine cultural institutions, the process for getting from Unthinkable to Policy would follow these five easy steps:

Step #1: From Unthinkable to Radical — The first step is the easiest—provided the issue can become a fetish or the topic of an academic symposium. Since both the professoriate and the perverts have a fascination with the faux-transgressive (the truly transgressive [i.e., Christianity] tends to terrify them) all you need to do is get the attention of one of these groups. It doesn’t matter which you start with since the politics of the bedroom and the classroom inevitably overlap.

Step #2: From Radical to Acceptable — This shift requires the creation and employment of euphemism. Want to kill a child exiting the womb? Call it “dilation and extraction” and infanticide becomes a medical procedure. Want to include same-sex unions under the banner of “marriage?” Redefine the term “marriage” to mean the state-endorsed copulation of any two(?) people who want to share a bed and a tax form. Be sure to say it is about “love”—in our culture, eros excuses everything.

There will naturally be a few holdouts, of course, but those who reject the shift from Radical to Acceptable can be shamed into approving. All that is required is to deploy a stingingly suitable insult. The word “bigot”, for instance, is more effective than a billy club at beating the young into submission. For far too many Millennials, there are few core beliefs they won’t change to avoid being called a bigot. The disapproval of their Creator is unfortunate; enduring the disfavor of their peers is unimaginable.

Step #3: From Acceptable to Sensible — There is nothing more sensible than to submit to one’s god. And while Americans may profess to worship Allah, Jehovah, or Jesus, we mostly worship an American Idol—ourselves. That is why individualism has become our country’s fastest-growing cult. It has tapped into this self-idolatry by preaching a gospel of the Individual. It’s a pragmatic and accepting message. You were, as one of its chief evangelist Lady Gaga says, “born this way“: “It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M / Just put your paws up /’Cause you were born this way, baby.”

Step #4: From Sensible to Popular — This step merely requires personalizing the issue. Do you know someone who is LGBT? Divorced? Had an abortion? Sure you do, they are in your family, in your school, at your church. Do you hate them? If not, then how can you still disapprove of their actions? (Note: Be sure to talk fast so that no one follows the logic.)

As it says in the Good Book (or maybe in a Lady Gaga song), judge not lest God judge you for judging. You want people to like you, don’t you? Then express popular approval for what your cultural betters (e.g., people on reality TV) believe should be popularly approved. Then you’ll be popular and it won’t be necessary to call you a bigot.

Step #5: From Popular to Policy — Commission a public opinion poll. Show it to a politician. They’ll do the rest.

Of course not everyone in society will agree with every step along the way, but that won’t stop an issue from sliding into policy. All it requires is for a majority of the people who find the issue unacceptable to do nothing at all.

Almost every culturally corrosive policy—from abortion to no-fault divorce to gay marriage—has come about in America this way: Christians who find such issues “unacceptable” tacitly accept this shift toward radical individualism by their refusal to take action.

Taking action is perhaps the wrong word, though, since what is most often necessary is deliberate inaction. For example, if every Christian in America who claimed to be pro-life would simply refuse to vote for any candidate—regardless of party—who supports abortion, the abortion laws would change within two election cycles. Similarly, if every Christian in America who claimed to be pro-marriage had refused to support no-fault divorce, there would be less poverty and fewer broken families in our country today. And if every Christian in Rhode Island had made it clear that he would hold his or her representatives accountable for attempting to redefine marriage, then the recent expansion of homosexual-rights legislation would have never come to a vote.

Sadly, such inaction has never happened and is unlikely to occur in the near future. America has produced an overwhelming number of Christians who are adept at explaining why they can support issues that are antithetical to Christianity and depressingly few who can give reasons why we should adhere to the teachings of scripture and the wisdom of the church.

History has shown that dedicated Christians can close the Overton window and reverse the shift from “policy” to “unthinkable” (look at William Wilberforce). But it requires a people who have courage and conviction and a willingness to be despised for the truth. Do current generations have such virtues? Maybe we don’t. But I’m holding out hope that our grandkids will be born that way.

  • Michael Herrington


    Back in the 90s I heard a quote (but have never been able to find it, so maybe it was made up) from a TV executive who basically said, “If we can get people to laugh at it, we can get people to accept it.” Would this fit into step #2 as well, or does it bleed over into step #3? The power of media to affect change in ideals through normalizing certain behaviors surely plays a role, wherever it lands on the continuum.

    • J.J.

      I agree about the power of laughter and thought it was an important omission in the article above. I doubt Hollywood affected morals too much with overt movies like Brokeback Mountain (since I imagine the only people who chose to see that movie were already pro-gay). Instead, more influential were subtle things like Seinfeld’s famous episode where George & Jerry are mistaken as if they’re gay and they keep repeating the line, “not that there’s anything wrong with it.” The power and persuasion of laughter is very strong.

  • T

    How many Christians collect welfare? How many collect unemployment? Medicaid/Medicare? Until Christians embrace Matthew 6:25-34 and liberate themselves from State slavery, they won’t speak out. They want free stuff too badly.

    • Oh dear….

      Oh dear… I’m not entirely sure that’s quite what that passage means. With a view like that I very much hope you’ve never accepted anything from the state, or anyone else and instead trust God to provide directly for you. I don’t think the Bible really argues that the state is intrinsically evil (Romans 13:1 suggests that there can be plenty of good things about it); in fact I think it can often be a means of provision for the poor and destitute. Let’s be honest, if the Church could be half as effective as the state at providing (and I’m not saying the state is by any means perfect, but that its the best we have) then I’d be all for it; the problem is that it isn’t. They want to keep their own stuff for themselves too badly.

      • T

        I work and serve others for my bread.

        Contrast with 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

        Welfare and other “entitlements” is the State encouraging idleness.

        The “church” that teaches something for nothing (as you favor) is not the Church of Jesus Christ.

        • Jeff S

          Not all who do not work are in that position because they are unwilling to work.

          And in fact, the church of Jesus does favor giving to those in poverty.

          And here is Jonathan Edwards on the subject:

          • Darren Blair


            In my case, I have several lingering injuries that never healed right and appear to slowly be getting worse.

            I’m looking to get a full physical some time this summer once a number of matters settle down on my end, but between the sheer number of old injuries and the seriousness thereof I might be looking at a double-digit disability rating.

            I’m working a blue-collar job right now, but I’m starting to wear out to such an extent that it’s affecting my ability to do said job. If I can’t continue to do said job, then if I can’t find a different, less physically-intense job I might have to go on disability for a brief period.

        • Christian Vagabond

          I hope you’re consistent and give away all of your social security money when you retire.

          • d. keith

            What about that which I paid into Soc Sec?

            • Christian Vagabond

              All of the programs you criticized are “paid into” as well. So to be consistent you must refuse Social Security in addition to Medicare and Medicaid. If you want to be “free from the State,” well Social Security is part of the State. Your response shows that you aren’t really serious about your convictions. As soon as you see a state program you want, suddenly you find excuses to justify using it.

        • Oh dear….

          The Church I favour is about grace and welcoming the poor and defenseless who can’t care for themselves. I’m absolutely with you on those who are able to work working; but I have an issue with any reading of the gospel which leaves the poor to starve and homeless to die on the streets.

      • Anonymous

        Oh Dear…

        Good points. I agree with you. And if the government didn’t step in to help poor people, literally every dollar that Christians give to overseas missions would have to be used to take care of the poor, elderly, injured, disabled, and ill in our own communities.

  • J Stewart

    I believe one of the major issues facing this generation, my generation, is the desire and the “need” to do something “great”…everybody wants to change the world. One of the great questions asked in the church is “what is God’s will for MY life” which really means, what does he want me to do. Doesn’t he want me to be radical? Won’t he give me the desires of MY heart? It’s like you mentioned in step 3…we worship ourselves.

  • Jeff S

    “For example, if every Christian in America who claimed to be pro-life would simply refuse to vote for any candidate—regardless of party—who supports abortion, the abortion laws would change within two election cycles.”

    . . . and any politician who is pro-life has license to do anything ungodly he wishes with voter approval. Such is the problem of voting on only one issue. I spent years making abortion my “will not yeild” issue and it got me nothing but supporting a lot of other stances that I believe are not Godly or good for this country.

    It’s not this simple.

    And in reference to the rest of the article, sometimes there are ideas that actually ought to change. It would be wrong to devise and employ a system that resists change without a solid foundation of when to employ it. And “look to scripture” is not a good enough answer because so many people disagree on what scripture would say on many of these topics. So often it seems the church resists on the basis of rehtoric and “the good old days” (which had a plenty of opression and ungodliness supported by law) instead of a true goal to be salt and light.

    Change the hearts of people and the laws will follow- this is the real power of the church. If we aren’t seeing transformed lives, then the church is failing at more than just polotics. And if the laws don’t change, then the church will stand that much more in contrast to the world- our strength has never been in power, but in Christ and the real tranformation of lives.

    • Joe Carter

      ***It’s not this simple.***

      Actually, I think it can be that simple. Let’s take a look at a past example: racism. A certain level of racism used to be tolerated by politicians. But if a candidate were openly racist what are their chances of getting elected? Close to zero, I’d say.

      It is true that not voting for a pro-choice candidate would give pro-lifers a certain amount of leeway. But only for a short time. If pro-choice politicians realized that they would never get a Christian to vote for them if they did not change their view, they’d switch positions faster than the 40+ U.S. Senators who suddenly saw the light this past year and now support gay marriage.

      ***Change the hearts of people and the laws will follow- this is the real power of the church. ***

      Most of the time, this is true. But the law is a teacher. Christians who worked to change the laws on segregation and slavery were doing work that later changed the hearts of men.

      • Jeff S

        This only works if you believe the importance on abortion superceeds all other concerns by a wide margin. And not only that, but that the goal is actually achievable. Because if if outlawing abortion isn’t achievable and we ONLY vote for those who say the are pro-life, then we’ve handed them EVERY OTHER ISSUE to do with what they will.

        I am convinced that most people who are pro-choice in the political realm do so to check off a box to win votes, not because they view the matter of innocent life as important.

        And the church is largely no different: we will go to the mat for protecting the life of the unborn, but when there are innocent children at stake who are born and alive under everyone’s definition (for example, those sexually molested in SGM churches who were NOT defendend by the church and continue to be ignored by the Christian community at large), it makes it clear that pro-life is a stance taken for the sake of something other than the protection of innocent life. When the church doesn’t protect these lives, the credibility of pro-life position is really shot.

        I’ll vote pro-life if I can, but my vote will no longer be purchased on this issue alone. Now give me a candidate who I know genuinely cares for the welfare of the innocent and oppressed, then we’ll talk.

        • Jeff S

          I meant to say “those who are pro-life”, though the original statement may be true as well . . .

      • Christian Vagabond

        The odds of getting elected for racist beliefs has declined because of the same process you bemoan. It’s incorrect to simply say that a certain amount of racism was tolerated by politicians. Racism was tolerated and encouraged by the public.George Wallace wasn’t popular because he had a lot of friends in the government; he was popular because his segregationist views were widely embraced by the electorate.

        And like it or nit, Jeff is right. Single-issue voters and partian voters render themselves irrelevant in most elections because they have only one party to choose from ,and that party therefore has no reason to actually listen to them You’re not going to vote for a pro-choice candidate to punish a pro-life candidate wh o has done nothing to further your goals, so the pro-life candidate has no reason to listen to you. The voters with power will always be the centrists who could go either way.

  • Sam

    I am sorry Joe, but I agree with Jeff here.

    “Change the hearts of people and the laws will follow- this is the real power of the church.”

    As for your example: “Christians who worked to change the laws on segregation and slavery were doing work that later changed the hearts of men.”

    I know lots of people who aren’t racist who don’t love Christ.

    The aim should be:
    Accept Christ -> Change Beliefs -> See Political change maybe

    I don’t think the aim is:
    See Political change maybe -> Change Beliefs -> Accept Christ

    I just don’t see any biblical example of the intention of seeing political change. I wish we could stop the evil that others do by enforcing law, but end of the day even if we do enforce law, they are still doing the right things while denying God.

    • Joe Carter

      ***I wish we could stop the evil that others do by enforcing law, but end of the day even if we do enforce law, they are still doing the right things while denying God.***

      I didn’t say so directly in this post, but one of my major themes is that I’m not really concerned with changing the political views of non-Christians. That is indeed much lower down the list of concerns that reaching them with the Gospel.

      But we live in a republic where we elect representative to make laws on our behalf. Those laws should reflect the values and beliefs of the people who choose the representatives. For Christians, this means that we should attempt to elect people (they don’t have to be believers necessarily) who represent what we value. If Christians would just do *that* we’d live in a much better society.

      I am firmly against the idea (and I don’t think you are proposing it) that once Christians are saved they can engage in political life in a way that is indistinguishable from a non-believer. I would say the formula should be:

      Accept Christ -> Change Beliefs -> See Political change definitely

      If accepting Christ changes your beliefs then it should affect all your beliefs. We can’t just baptize whatever other political views we previously held. We have to think how we engage in public life in light of the revelation of God’s word.

      • Jeff S

        “But we live in a republic where we elect representative to make laws on our behalf. Those laws should reflect the values and beliefs of the people who choose the representatives. For Christians, this means that we should attempt to elect people (they don’t have to be believers necessarily) who represent what we value.”

        I agree, but what gets sticky is what values we believe ought to be politically mandated. I mean, we all agree that everyone should trust Christ, but we’d never mandate that by law. But everyone agrees that murder should be against the law. So where do we draw the line at what types of behavior we want to control with our values (because that’s what laws do- control people’s behavior)? Good Christians disagree on where this line is, but it’s a question that must be answered before trying to mobalize a political agenda. The answer can’t simply be “because it’s biblical and it’s right”, because there are lots of things that are biblical and right we won’t mandate (like faith in Christ).

        I would say abortion falls under the catagory of something we mandate as being illegal because it is about defending the defenseless (which is not an argument you can as easily make about gay marriage), but to make this argument we actually do have to be interested in defending the defensless, not just getting a “win” for our side. Thus, I think a comprehensive political stance that stands to protect the defensless and opressed of all classes would be a lot more likely than singleing out the unborn. Unfortunately, it seems that doing political justice for classes other than the unborn and defending the unborn fall to opposing political viewpoints.

      • Lori

        “I am firmly against the idea (and I don’t think you are proposing it) that once Christians are saved they can engage in political life in a way that is indistinguishable from a non-believer.”

        Well, the Mennonites would agree with that, but not in the way you mean it.

        You seem to think that Christians should engage in our secular political system in some sort of monolithic way, presumably, from the examples you use, by voting for the most far-right Republican candidate.

        I could not disagree more strongly. I do think that the kind of rejection of secular politics that many Anabaptists have engaged in is a valid option for Christians, and I’d even go as far as to say that it might indeed be the most authentically Christian option.

        However, for Christians who can and do engage in politics, there is no monolithic way to do so. The Bible does not provide a list of rules about how to run a secular government, or even how to run a Christian government. Translating principles into political actions isn’t a straightforward process. You can have Christians who share the same set of principles and morals voting Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Socialist, because of differences in how they think those Christian principles can best be put into practice in a pluralistic secular society. And, that’s okay. If somebody can’t accept that, and instead thinks that anybody who doesn’t vote a particular way (in this case, for the most socially conservative Republican) isn’t really a really real Christian, then they are both in error and putting a huge stumbling block in front of others coming to Christ.

        • Jeff S

          Lori, fantastic comment! I agree with everything you said here.

        • John Carpenter

          Christians should vote in a way that promotes the defense of innocent life (thus against abortion) and against the legitimization of sexual perversion (therefore against homosexual rights).

          The Bible does have some rules about what any government should do, mainly protect the innocent. Abortion is the most egregious violation of justice and therefore the main priority. It makes differences in opinion on tax policy, welfare, defense spending, etc., pale in comparison.

          • Jeff S

            And if we vote for someone who doesn’t manage to make any progress on making abortion illegal but manages to harm the country a lot, what have we accomplished?

  • Michael Snow

    Not only the pace of ‘tech’ change described but the substance of it promotes the cancer of individualism described above. Adoption of electricity and telephones required a massive infrastructure in every community. The Rural Electric Association and the telephone lines installed and maintained by farmers required a community effort. (And the phone line was a “party line” which means that you shared it with several others.) The internet had a fast start by using the existing infrastructure.

    To change our society will require more than individualistic voting. But we have an existing infrastructure called the Church.
    Sadly, the foundations are eroded in ways we do not acknowledge. We have abandoned the basics for programs.

    Here is one small illustration. Over a decade ago the head of a denomination spoke in our church. He took out a ten dollar bill from his wallet and offered it to any child or student who could recite the Ten Commandments in any order or form. When he put the bill away, he noted that he had never been able to give it away in any church that he had visited.

    Over a half century ago it could be said that, at one time, ‘The Ten Commandments “became an integral part of our culture by appearing in verse form in one of McGuffey’s famous Readers.”’

    And another example of abandoning basics was given above: “Be sure to say it is about “love”—in our culture, eros excuses everything.”

    When is the last time you heard the pastor/teacher of a church explain the difference between that “love” and God’s?

  • John Carpenter

    Hi Joe,

    First, I really like both your convictions and the style in which you present them. You are great blessing to the church in America.

    Second, as for the assertion: “if every Christian in America who claimed to be pro-life would simply refuse to vote for any candidate—regardless of party—who supports abortion, the abortion laws would change within two election cycles” — That’s true only if you assume that the numbers of professed Christians are close to the numbers of genuine Christians; that is, that most of those who profess to be Christians really are. But I don’t think that is the case. I believe that about a century of revivalism, “promiscuous church admissions” (the words of a 19th century critic), the near disappearance of church discipline, wide-spread antinomianism (much of it encouraged by dispensationalism), the idolatry of numbers (that defines who we listen to as evangelicals), etc., have left us with an enormous number of unregenerate church members and even apparently rising numbers of those who earnestly profess to be Christians and yet don’t bother with church.

    Frankly, I believe the numbers of real Christians is quite small and that a politician can do quite well without needing their support.

    • JohnM

      Okay, I see I’m not the only one who thinks it’s just as likely that Christians are simply a minority as it is that Christians are not voting pro-life.

  • Pingback: What I Read Online – 05/04/2013 (a.m.) | Emeth Aletheia()

  • Pingback: You Can Change the World in Just Five Easy Steps! | The Wittenberg Door()

  • Big Ben

    Dear Joe,

    i really hope your grandchildren will be the ones who moves the Overton Window God’s way. But i’m not sure if this will happen for that generation.

    the way i see it, the way the Overton Window moves is way more subtle than that and before the church knew it, it had been blindsided.

    No committed christian ever sets out to live a life contrary to God’s standards, but it had always been the subtle undetectable shifts that had made all the difference. with every shift, there had been that hotbed that had allowed certain mindsets to take root and grow.

    For example, when you say that “For far too many Millennials, there are few core beliefs they won’t change to avoid being called a bigot. The disapproval of their Creator is unfortunate; enduring the disfavor of their peers is unimaginable.” Why, in the first place, had Millenials become so ‘soft’, so prone to making peer disapproval seem like a death sentence for them?

    When mums were pressured to go out to work and leave the nurture of the kids to TV and MTV, was there any holding out by christians? it would be unthinkable to be a stay home mum!

    When tons of money were being made in the typical christian middle-income family, and that became a means of self-fulfilment, was there any holding out? seems so radical doesn’t it? to reject all that materialism has to offer…to withhold a life of excess from our children.

    When child-rearing methods were changing, and it became more apparent that developing a habit of submission to authority in our children went out of fashion, and spanking was frowned upon, was anybody holding out?

    in this day and age, what i seem to be advocating seems so unthinkable, doesn’t it?

    So, when the church continues not to live on the fringe of the radical, but dwells snugly in the mainstream of the popular when it comes to the family, (making sure that the values of the next generation are shaped by godly parental influence and not MTV or internet, or Lady Gaga)what makes you think that the next two generations will be any different? we didn’t simply wake up to find that the landscape has changed. It was actually a slow process of erosion, not unlike Barna’s frog in slow-boiling kettle. Shift the Overton Window? Sure, we must. But there is a price to be paid? Are we willing to do so?

  • Michael

    Excellent! Please write another article on the five steps needed to close the Overton window! Knowledge is the first step to action.

  • Joe M.

    Thanks for the article, brother.

    I’ve been reevaluating my beliefs on political engagement the last couple of years. I grew up in the “Fox News Republican” household. I am a recovering fundamentalist who went through a brief Rob Bell stage and a less brief Ron Paul stage. I’m a military vet of eight years and I’m only 26.

    All that to say I’m more and more convinced that I will be held partially accountable for the actions of my political leaders.

    I say that as an American citizen. I don’t speak for people in other cultures or those unable to vote. When engaging others, I tell them upfront what my motivations are: I care primarily about freeing up the church to do her job. When the church does her job well (giving her life away, seeking the welfare of her city, multiplying, petitioning the Lord boldly, etc) communities change for the better.

    I don’t believe in legislating morality, yet I refuse to help others tear down Christian ideology in the US. I vote accordingly. I will be held accountable. What I fail at, Jesus will cover.

    My post is mainly meant as an encouragement. Young, bold, active, sane Christian influence is out there.

  • Lori

    Let’s remember that, on many other issues, the shift has been in the other direction.

    When it comes to criminal justice, we’d have a hard push toward the right. In the 1970s, mainstream criminologists were talking seriously about prison abolition; in the ensuing 40 years, somebody espousing that view would be seen as so radical as to perhaps be considered insane. Sentences and incarceration rates we see as too lenient today we would have considered draconian in half a century ago.

    And, certainly views on taxation have changed. Our economic discourse has moved so far to the right that Reagan-era tax rates now seem outrageously high to us.

    So, it’s certainly not like society has only been moving in one direction. And, I’m not sure why I should consider a candidate’s views on homosexuality or abortion more central than, say, their views on criminal justice or foreign invasions.

    Your campaign to convince us all that voting Republican will save the world is expected, but unconvincing.

  • Pingback: How to Change a Society in 5 Easy Steps | The Revival Times()

  • the Old Adam

    One heart at a time.

    And even then, “there is no rest, no peace, and no victory in this life (lasting). It just isn’t going to happen.

  • Phil

    Use of the word “perverts” to mean “homosexuals” is wrong.

    • Joe Carter

      ***Use of the word “perverts” to mean “homosexuals” is wrong.***

      I did not use the term perverts to refer to homosexuals. Perverts can be either homosexual or heterosexual.

  • JohnCalifornia

    On the issue of marriage equality, I (and most others under the age of 65, at this point) see it as allowing my gay fellow-citizens entering into a stable, committed, legally-recognized relationship, which can only stabilize society. Somehow you see it as corrosive and anti-Christian (I think you mean ‘anti-fundamentalist’). This enormous disconnect between ideology and reality is a reason conservative religion is becoming less appealing to clear-thinking people in the US.

    • John Carpenter

      To imagine that marriage can be redefined to include relationships between those of the same sex (and are therefore unnatural and perverse) is anything but “clear thinking”. To imagine that people who have a proven history of not forming faithful, long-term relationships, will suddenly start doing so simply because of a legal category is extended to them, isn’t at all “clear thinking.” To suggest that relationships including sexual behavior that anatomy and biology tell us is unnatural should be made legally equivalent to natural relationships, isn’t at all “clear thinking.”

      • zilch

        As Yogi Berra supposedlly said, it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. But I will go out on a limb and make a prediction: Christian opposition to gay marriage will eventually go the way of Christian opposition to interracial marriage, and Christian oppostion to abolition of slavery. Sorry, guys, the world is changing.

        • JohnM

          The problem with that prediction is that scripture, tradition, reason, and experience all stand against homosexuality period, never mind the issue of marriage. Oh, “churches” might change their minds on the issue, but it is not possible for anything properly called to Christianity to do so.

  • David Juniper

    Lucian Freud said the aim of his art was to, “Astonish, disturb, seduce, convince”.

  • James Krieg

    This trend happens not only in civil society, but in the society we call ‘the church’. This same process can be observed in the shift of churches away from the Gospel and the Bible, where we allow the influence of the world to conform us instead of the Word to reform us. In civil society it’s called progress, in the church it’s apostasy.

  • Jeff S

    But this “trend” isn’t necessarily bad, unless you assume that every change is for the worse. And that would assume that the way it was before was perfect.

    For example, you can look at this process to describe how contemporary instruments were brought into worship. Is this an example of apostasy?

    There is nothing wrong with the process- it’s when we shift away from the Gospel that there is a real problem. We should be careful no to fear change- The world DOES change and so does the church. What we should do is make sure that we are making the changes that shine a light on the Gospel, not hide it.

  • Bill

    There’s a lot of good, thoughtful stuff in this article.

    But I’m still waiting for someone from the TGC to write an article about homosexuality that doesn’t come across as snarky. Share this with a group of intelligent young adults and guess what they’ll criticize first? Not the stance of homosexuality, but the article’s tone.

    We’re better than this.

    • John Carpenter

      It’s difficult to be respectful to arguments that are so completely absurd, as is are all arguments trying to legitimize homosexuality. Mr. Carter certainly does a better job than I could.

    • DanGman

      I encourage you to check out this article on “monogamish” relationships within homosexuality. I thought it was very interesting and telling about how even allowing the definition of marriage to be redefined to allow for same-sex marriage will likely make very little impact on how homosexual relationships function, and how it will (and already has) affected the view of marriage as a whole.

  • Pingback: Check out 5 resources | WisdomForLife()

  • Pingback: Around the web June 2013 » Habits for a Happy Home()

  • Pingback: I’m A Christian & I Live in the Real World: Thinking Through Ethics – Homosexuality | Emeth Aletheia()

  • TommyH

    “Taking action is perhaps the wrong word, though, since what is most often necessary is deliberate inaction. For example, if every Christian in America who claimed to be pro-life would simply refuse to vote for any candidate—regardless of party—who supports abortion, the abortion laws would change within two election cycles.”

    If this premise were true, what happened with the elections of 1980, 1994, 2000, and 2002 when supposed conservative government candidates took control of the reins of power, ushered into office by the voting power of the Christian right? I’d say we were Neo-conned.

    Let us recall for a moment one of the allegories in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the ring of power. For an explanation of the ring I provide a quote:

    “Symbolic of fallen human nature, the ring of power corrupts everything it touches. The evil Sauron, inspired by Lucifer, seeks to possess the ring so that he can subdue all of Middle Earth with it. Mankind seeks the ring believing that if “good people” possess it they will use its power for good, but alas these “good people” are unable on their own to rise above their base fallen nature, and thus the ring of power corrupts them as well. “Good people” end up becoming monsters. Only by casting the ring of power into the fire, which is a Biblical metaphor for purifying/refining, can Middle Earth be saved.

    Such is also the case with government.

    During the George W. Bush years Republicans gained total control of the federal government for the first time in half a century. While this was obviously advantageous to total Democrat control, it was still fraught with peril because the temptation was to believe that “big government” becomes “compassionate conservativism” and thus becomes our friend when “our guys” are in control of it. Instead of dismantling the statist monstrosity threatening liberty we just tried to manage it better.

    In other words, we put the corrupt ring of power on our finger believing we’d do good with it, rather than casting it into the fire for the sake of real freedom.” -Steve Deace

    If we only elect the good guys to power, and fail to elect the bad guys, we can certainly reverse this five step process in one or two election cycles, right? One underlying premise in this whole discussion is that it is both right and good to use power to set both foreign and domestic policy, policy which will govern the private affairs of everyone. This is like the argument of Boromir “Let us use this ring…Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!” Thankfully Aragorn answers, “You cannot wield it. None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master.” This very power to make policy is now turned against us. We want government to define and protect our view of marriage, but now it defines it contrary to our will and threatens us in numerous ways if we don’t go along with it. Every advantage we seek through the political means will become our bane. Would there even be a movement to redefine marriage if social conservatives had not first sought special interest benefits for traditional marriage? What business does government even have in defining, promoting, discouraging, or being involved in marriage?

    A second premise of this whole discussion is that good people can even be elected to high office. On rare occasion, perhaps. But most often only Machiavellian sociopaths can attain political power. We put our trust and hope in them to our destruction. Parties rise and fall in power but nothing changes except that government accumulates ever more power unto itself and lords it over us–this should tell us much.

    If we ever fight and gain control of the ring of political power again, it should be dismantled. No easy task, ask Frodo. In the meantime we should do our best to make political power irrelevant wherever possible and fight for the cause of liberty.

  • Pingback: Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition on American Christians | After Darkness, Light()