(Christianity Today) How Evangelicals Have Shifted in Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Polls show a significant difference in results depending on how they ask about same-sex marriage, especially when it's framed as a "right" compared to when it's framed as supporting marriage between a man and a woman. The difference in wording can create about a 12 percentage point difference.

The federally-funded General Social Survey has asked about the public's views toward homosexual relationships for decades, revealing how attitudes have shifted over time. In 1988, the two-thirds of white Americans believed that "sexual relations between two adults of the same sex" was "always wrong," including 85 percent of born-again Christians. By 2010, both groups began to accept same-sex relationships. Born-again Christians still opposed homosexuality, but they answered the questions the same way non-believers answered in the 1980s. In 2010, two-thirds of evangelicals believed that homosexuality is "always wrong," compared to just 30 percent of others.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

13 Comments
Posted May 16, 2012 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Jackie Keenan wrote:

I have noticed that many evangelical Christians believe the false fixed and genetic stereotype of homosexuality.  It is even more strongly believed by men than by women, because homosexuality in women is different.  Men just don’t believe that women would choose to cross that boundary.  But I will quote the Washington Post about a young woman they interviewed, “She started going out with girls when she was 14, following a breakup with her boyfriend.  ‘At first I thought going out with a girl was nasty,’ she says. ‘Then I went to a club and did a big flip-flop. I’ve been off and on with girls and guys since then.’”

Fortunately, there is a true story, which Methodists are reading and the IRD is now reading and very interested in, since it takes people on a journey of discovery of the science and politics behind homosexuality as the author came to a saving faith in Christ.  Parents are giving it to their children, who have been brain washed by our society, and it takes place in the Anglican Church.  But Anglican leaders, except for Bishop Bena, have been too busy to read it and endorse it.  Bishop Bena said, “I read the book and was quite taken by it. Your very personal information, in the midst of good solid scriptural and scientific teaching, helped keep my interest. You are an excellent writer. I learned a lot.”  Maybe And the Spirit Led Me could help those who have been fooled by cutural claims.  At least the Methodists are paying attention, and, frankly, I have no idea how they found it.  There is a review pending in TLC, and Virtue is reading it and plans to review it, but it is timely now.  I have no idea when they will publish their reviews.  Oh, and if you have not figured it out, it is my story.

May 16, 10:31 am | [comment link]
2. Don R wrote:

Jackie, the scientific dimension of the issue is the subject of an interesting article in the January 2012 First Things.  I underscores how, while there certainly is ignorance on both sides of the question, science really does not support much of what has sadly become the conventional wisdom.

May 16, 12:22 pm | [comment link]
3. Jackie Keenan wrote:

Dear Don R.

I have published articles with the ACI also illustrating that science does not support the stereotype.  However, the book goes into much more depth about how politics holds truth captive.  Do you know what Division 44 is?  Also, Episcopal Church leaders were engaging in underhanded politics, but in the end it backfired.  Had they not tried to involve me, I would never have ended up talking to the primates, several of whom answered me.  But in the end, most people will not read a book about science and politics, but they will read a story.  As Bishop Bena noted, he was taken with the story.  He told me he would answer me in a week after finishing the book, but he replied the next day.

May 16, 12:52 pm | [comment link]
4. Stefano wrote:

NOW you got my attention!!!! If Dave Bena has read it and commends something it goes to the top of the list.

May 16, 8:10 pm | [comment link]
5. Don R wrote:

Jackie, that’s interesting.  I hadn’t heard of Division 44; it sounds like it’s the APA’s GLBT marketing department, managing the brand and making sure its message dominates any discourse.  I had read your posts over at the ACI, and your book looks interesting, too.  In my own discussions with people about this subject, it’s been interesting how resistant people are to the truth, especially people with homosexual family members.  One thing that was surprising to me is how non-homosexuals (e.g., a parent of a homosexual child) believe that, without a deterministic model of homosexual behavior, they themselves would be “at fault” for the situation.  It’s as if everyone involved knows at some deep level that something is wrong, but they’re looking for a way to avoid culpability.  And the Good News doesn’t really factor into any of it.

May 17, 9:54 am | [comment link]
6. Jackie Keenan wrote:

Don R, one of the reasons the book is more effective than an article is that it gives the opportunity to be clear that the information is not about hating homosexuals.  The book includes a conversation I had with someone I care a great deal about, who is a gay atheist.  Just before my articles were publsihed, I spoke to him, because I circulated my article at VTS and a gay student sent an email, which said that I thought he was an abomination.  I told him that I had not even hinted at such a thing.  So I wanted my gay friend to know how much I cared about him, if he happened to hear about my article.  The point is that people do not care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.  So politics and presumptions get in the way of discussion.  My friend and I had a really good discussion, which also appears in the book.

By the way, I leave early Saturday morning for a week of vacation.  If someone comments and I don’t answer, it is because I am gone.

May 17, 10:18 am | [comment link]
7. Don R wrote:

Jackie, I think you are right.  It’s possible to coerce bad things to happen in relatively short order, but I think the power of redemption often becomes clear to others through our relationships.  I’ll have to see whether I can read your book soon.  Have a good vacation.

May 17, 10:25 am | [comment link]
8. High_Church wrote:

This is not surprising.  As an academic in the field of American religion and politics, I’ve seen a growing number of indicators that evangelicals, especially younger ones, are ready and willing to embrace the culture on a number of former cultural issues such as abortion and homosexuality.  The reason is that contemporary evangelicalism is inundated with the doctrinal drift that mainline Protestantism experienced half a century ago.  The evangelicalism of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels (i.e. the two leading mega-church /seeker sensitive guys) is about personal happiness, dumbed down morality, and Jesus, not as Savior, but as a therapeutic life coach.  This flimsy Christianity light will not speak truth to culture.
Likewise, evangelicalism is inundated with a revivalistic theology , which minimizes human depravity and speaks of sin as primarily something we do (i.e. sins) rather than who we are in Adam (i.e. sinners by nature).  As Anglicans we hold the later view and so, even if a homosexual gene or proclivity is discovered (which I don’t think it will), we can still affirm our position and that reality, because we affirm that we are broken (i.e. we have a sinful nature) at our biological and spiritual core.  To many evangelicals, through watered down theology, have the Semi-Pelegian notion that sins are something we choose to commit or not commit, rather than who we are in Adam.  Perhaps if evangelicalism would stop preach on self-help therapy (i.e. how to have a good marriage, be fulfilled, etc…) or a Christian worldview (i.e. homosexuality and abortion are wrong) and preach the doctrines of the Christian faith, then congregants would know that homosexuality is a sin and why homosexuals and gossipers alike make the choices they do.

May 17, 2:33 pm | [comment link]
9. Jackie Keenan wrote:

Even if you preach a theologically sound explanation for saying that homosexuality is a sin, if you do not address the issues that people are concerned about, they will not hear you.  This is especially true of highly emotional disagreements.  When the medical associations and the newspapers and other media get together to assure people of a false understanding of homosexuality, ignoring that and preaching about our sinful nature is not likely to result in changed hearts.  It is always a good idea to address the false understandings that are polarizing the discussion.

May 17, 4:07 pm | [comment link]
10. Northwest Bob wrote:

Jackie,
What is the name of your book.  I searched Cokesbury and found nothing.
YIC,
NW Bob

May 17, 4:51 pm | [comment link]
11. Charles52 wrote:

As the Spirit Leads Us is available at Amazon. I downloaded the Kindle version for about $8.50. I think the print edition was a bit more.

May 17, 4:59 pm | [comment link]
12. Jackie Keenan wrote:

Hi,

I was outside cutting the tall wet grass with a hand mower that doesn’t work very well, or I would have answered sooner.  If you google Jacqueline jenkins keenan, And the Spirit Led Me: Walking with God through a Church disaster, you will get scads of options and sites that search for the best deal.

May 17, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
13. Northwest Bob wrote:

Thanks to both of you.
In the Faith,
NW Bob

May 17, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
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