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The fractured nature of Christianity in America points soberly to the need for Christian unity. Still more difficult to bear is the demise of Christian groups that lose sight of the integrity of the gospel and the tradition that authored it. “ Christianity Lite ,” as Mary Eberstadt coins it in an essay for the February issue of First Things , has been around for longer than we imagine, and forces have been “picking apart the tapestry of Christian sexual morality,” among other things, since days long before the 60’s sexual revolution. Worse, the road to demise is often paved with decent intentions: “Exactly as had happened with divorce, the Anglican okaying of contraception was born largely of compassion for human frailty and dedicated to the ideas that such cases would be mere exceptions to the theological rule.” Inevitably, “as had happened with divorce, the effort to hold the line at such carefully drawn borders soon proved futile.”

It seems that, once Christians cease to see the Church as Chesterton did—that is, a messenger who refuses to tamper with her message—every matter of faith and morals is up for grabs. With Christianity Lite churches abandoning central Christian teachings in order to align with modernist sexual liberation, Eberstadt concludes that, lest dissent and confusion become the norm, we must recognize “the path that the churches of Christianity Lite have followed: down, down, down.”

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