Reading over at First Things I encountered a very perceptive comment: Pete Buttigieg will not be the Democratic nominee. Though he will not win the presidency, he can claim one real achievement: solidifying a consensus among educated Americans that it is wrong to oppose a candidate because he is married to someone of the same sex. Even though it seems that the LBGTQ+ crowd hardly considers Buttigieg their candidate, he has already won a battle perhaps even bigger than to win the Presidency. He has put America on notice and Americans have responded positively to the idea of a same sex leader. If you think about it, this would have never been dreamed only a decade or two ago. In a remarkably short span of time, same sex couples have gone from the fringes to Iowa normality. Sure, there are those who will reject him and any gay candidate only because that candidate is gay but the silent majority of Americans have given tacit approval to the idea.
At the same time, those who would reject same sex marriage or an LBGTQ+ leader have also been branded as on the fringes of American society. Those who object are immediately branded as ideologues or ignorant folk who either live and breath hate or who just plain don't know any better. It is not just the extreme support for the LBGTQ+ agenda that believes this but perhaps a majority of Americans -- at least those who are part of the public square and the current political process. What is remarkable is that VP Mike Pence and his wife have not been accorded the same acceptance or tolerance. They have become the target of those who suggest that their brand of religious and social conservatism should automatically disqualify them from public office. Imagine that since it was not all that long ago their religion and politics might have been considered fairly mainstream.
There is definitely trouble ahead for church bodies like mine that have not jumped on the bandwagon of social change. It is certainly one of the reasons why President Trump has so much support from mainline Evangelicals and conservative Lutherans (and Roman Catholics). Even if we may be offended by his coarseness, his tweeting style of communication, and his personal morality, many have come to believe that he is our first line of defense in protecting not only our religious rights but our freedom of speech. Some may cringe that it has come down to this but that is the state of affairs in America today. A president who will defend our right to a theology and a voice in the public square temporarily is also in a position to place judges in office who can guarantee that our rights will not be infringed upon for a generation.
There are so many who cannot figure out why church going folks from conservative and evangelical communities support the President. It is not so hard to figure out. It may not be so much that they are supporting the man but insuring that the policies of religious freedom and free speech will not be constrained by those who are quick to brand such faith and witness hate speech not to be tolerated in the sanitized America that so many progressives envision. It remains to be seen how this election season will turn out but for those who see the acceptance and support for a gay man in a same sex marriage as normal, there are certainly bigger things at play than President Trump. Everybody knows that America is changing but if our new culture and society have no place for the traditional view of the marriage, the protection of life, and a traditional understanding of marriage, orthodox Christianity may have to become an underground religion.