Some critics of Christianity will point out that there are tens of thousands of Christian denominations in the world today. While some of these are simply products of geography and culture with little to no difference in fundamental beliefs, there are also many that contradict each other on various important points of doctrine. From the outside, this looks like a problem. If the Christian god is real, how could it allow for so much confusion? This line of questioning has some weight, but it can be explained away rather easily and isn’t really a knockdown argument against the validity of Christianity. In fact, it occurred to me recently that the diversity of Christianity is a major reason for its success and likely will make it damn near impossible for us to every truly be rid of it.
Christianity is massive. One of the reasons for this is that Christianity appeals to an incredibly wide variety of people. You can approach it and enter into it with almost any strongly held beliefs and still find a place somewhere under the Christian umbrella.
Are you a staunch pacifist? Do you abhor violence of any kind, even in self-defense? Do you think that war is never justified and that capital punishment is barbaric? Christianity has a place for you.
Do you believe that war is frequently justified, or even sometimes mandated and given divine approval? Do you think that torturing enemies is acceptable, that the state is obligated to execute certain criminals? Do you revel in the deaths of enemies and want to see even more bombs dropped on their homelands? You can find a place in Christianity, too.
Do you believe that there is only One True God, that only your small denomination has the proper understanding of who or what God is, and that anyone who believes otherwise should be treated as a second-class citizen and is destined for eternal punishment? You can be a Christian.
Do you believe that God is loving and forgiving and that people can come to know God outside of a specific religious path? Do you think that everyone will eventually come to know God, no matter what religion they belong to, and that no one will ever be eternally separated or punished? You can be a Christian, too.
Do you think that all people are equal in the eyes of God, that all races and genders are equal and should be afforded the same rights? Christian.
Do you think that men are inherently superior to women, that God selects certain races or nationalities to be his “chosen people,” and that people from other, “inferior” races can be owned as slaves? Christian as well.
Of course, anyone who calls themselves a Christian can read all of the above, pick out some views and say “yes, those are Christian” and point to others and say “those aren’t Christian at all!” But someone who agrees with the exact opposite points can do exactly the same. That’s the entire point. And you both could point to passages in scriptures that help support your views, or cite various theologians who agree with you, or talk about how the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you espouse your views is the Holy Spirit telling you that your views are the correct ones.
Look back throughout history and you can see examples of this. You can point to the Spanish Inquisition or the African slave trade and show support from Christians at the time. But contemporary Christianity as a whole condemns these things. They look back and see those supporters as representing a lunatic fringe of Christianity, or not representing Christianity at all, even if their views were the most popular at the time.
This brings me to my point: Christianity will never truly lose a culture war.
Think of all the battlefronts in the culture wars of today. Abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, wars in the Middle East, displays of religion in the public square. All of these issues have Christians on both sides, some more strongly than others. The result of this is that, in the end, Christianity cannot lose.
My side of the same-sex marriage battle is winning. Equality is coming to more and more states, and it seems inevitable that it will be nation-wide relatively soon. Public support for it increases every year. And we know that, to a large extent, the people who are trying to prevent this from happening are Christians. That’s not to say that we’re fighting Christians exclusively or to deny that that are still Christians on our side. But the majority of the opposition in this case are Christians using Christian language and reasoning to halt our progress. Because of this, some people on my side frame this as a battle against Christianity. When we win, they say, Christianity loses.
But that’s not the case. Again, we have Christians on our side as well. When we win, Christianity will also win. It cannot lose this fight, no matter the outcome. And fifty years or so after same-sex marriage comes to all fifty states, once all the dust has settled, we’re going to hear about how Christianity always supported same-sex marriage and how it wouldn’t have come to pass without their support and guidance. We’re going to look back on how just a small, crazy fringe element of Christianity opposed the change, but "true" Christianity won out.
No matter how many times it's had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards progress, Christianity always manages to reverse itself and then take credit for that same progress. This is doubly frustrating since Christianity's popularity and longevity are given as "proof" for its validity, and it's seen as being necessary for moral advancement since it always manages to appear to have been on the right side of history.
This would all be funny if it weren't so damned depressing.