Conservative American Churches More Lenient Toward Homosexuality…Now What?
This is not good news. New statistics show a rise in the number of conservative Christians who believe “homosexuality should be accepted by society.”
Polling about 35,000 Americans, the Pew Research Center continued its long-standing Religious Landscape Study in 2014. The respondents were asked to pick one of two sentences they agreed with:
“Homosexuality should be accepted by society” or “Homosexuality should be discouraged by society”.
Surprisingly, the Presbyterian Church in America (an avowedly conservative denomination) had upwards of 49% of those polled agreeing that homosexuality should be accepted by society. The raw numbers are small and the margin of error (9.5%) is greater than the percentage change over a seven year period (8% ). This means the numbers could be skewed by almost ten percent. So maybe 39% agreed.
And that is any better? By the way, this poll was taken twice. They were polled in 2007 when 41% of those polled agreed. If the margin of error is the same, then maybe 31% agreed back then.
That is still bad.
The most conservative responses to the homosexual issue were from the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), Seventh-day Adventists and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Overall, one in three Evangelical Protestants affirmed that society should be more accepting of homosexuality (36%). And 28% favored allowing homosexual unions.
Now, some will quickly pooh-pooh the poll because the question is not specific enough. Well, given the rise in the number of Evangelicals accepting homosexual marriage, even a vague question answered wrongly is too much.
We must not give up. The fight against sin is always an ongoing struggle. And that might be one reason why there is more acceptance for the sin of homosexuality.
If the churches do not teach that everyday life is a struggle against sin, then how can these Christians take sin seriously? And if sin is not taken seriously, well, the results should be obvious.
But to take sin seriously requires teaching the Law. I do not mean only teaching the Law against sins in society, but against our own sins as well.
How many Christians believe that enough obedience will bring them to heaven? Too many according to the Barna numbers. Among “born again” respondents (a larger category than Evangelical), over half believed that good works earned them heaven.
In other instances, some preaching has so much Gospel that the use of the Law in the Christian life is watered down into mushy, liberal-like love-talk.
But there are other problems that can contribute to these poor poll numbers.
How many Christians support a good church?
For decades, there were social conservatives within the mainline churches. Their existence, their money and time were spent supporting dying churches, fighting a battle that finally lead to divisions in the PC(USA), for example.
But with the good churches typically smaller than the bad ones, what kind of influence can they have humanly speaking? They require money and resources and talent to get their message out to the moderates who may change their minds.
These latest poll numbers are not good news. But they are not the end of the world either. Rather, they ought to spur us on to fortitude, to prayer, and to support the cause of Christ.
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