Everyone knows the story of the Arab and his camel, how he allowed the camel on a cold night to put his nose into the tent in order to keep warm. By morning, the tent was full of camel, and the Arab was outside in the cold.
This is a parable for the development of many Christian organizations. For reasons too large for this blog to explore, the Christian version of this parable always casts the orthodox in the role of the Arab, the heterodox and heretics in the role of camels. The parable is unfolding in our day with those who are reappraising classical, orthodox, and Biblical notions of sex, these playing the roles of camels to Arabs who are the custodians of the tents (denominations, mission boards, and seminaries).
Case in point: Carolyn Custis James and her increasing occupation of the tents named “evangelical Christianity” generally and the “Presbyterian Church in America” specifically. In the latter case, a few lonesome voices have repeatedly called for PCA institutions to repent of providing her venues to spread her egalitarian agenda in an ostensibly traditionalist denomination. So far, no cigar. Or, rather, it’s been more and more of the James’ nose in the PCA tent.
It would sound ludicrous to speculate on how long it will take the PCA to shed its complentarian policies. A generation? Less? Things move fairly fast these days. There are those exceptional cases of the Missouri Synod Lutherans and the Southern Baptists who pulled back from the brink of worldliness. But, in the past century of the evolution of Christianity in America, they are the glaring exceptions, not the rule.
At any rate, for those who like to watch these things develop, keep your eye on the PCA as the conservatives within it continue down a trail trodden by the mainline denominations from which the PCA separated only a generation ago. And, keep your ear tuned to those intrepid Bayly Brothers, whose voices crying in the Presbyterian wilderness may one day finally be heeded. Or not.