By Aaron Earls
Support for gay or lesbian relationships is on the rise and indicative of a shift in American morality away from traditional Christian values.
A new survey from Gallup found the percentage who view same sex relations as morally acceptable climbed 23 points since 2001, reaching a clear majority of the U.S. at 63 percent.
The other issues that saw the largest jumps from 2001 were: having a baby outside of marriage, sex between an unmarried man and woman, divorce, medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos, and polygamy.
The only two issues to experience an overall decline in support in the last 15 years were the death penalty and medical testing on animals. This year, 60 percent see capital punishment as morally acceptable, its lowest percentage ever.
Twelve of the surveyed issues reached their highest levels of support in the survey’s history, including doctor assisted suicide, divorce, cloning humans, pornography, and sex between teenagers.
This year also saw the highest number of Americans find abortion as morally acceptable (45 percent). However, while other issues have seen steady increases of support, abortion has fluctuated between 45 and 36 percent since 2001.
Other findings of note:
- More Americans believe medical testing on animals is morally wrong (39 percent) than doctor assisted suicide (37).
- More view the death penalty (33 percent) as morally wrong than gambling (29) or divorce (20).
- More believe buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur is morally wrong (35 percent) than heterosexual sex outside of marriage (29).
The trends in what Americans find morally acceptable may be a direct result of the disappearance of nominal Christianity, evidenced by the recent Pew Research study.
According to Ed Stetzer, executive director of Lifeway Research, those who previously identified with Christianity merely culturally have left behind their heritage and now belong to the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated. In other words, “the nominals are becoming the nones.”
This shedding of a religious identity will embolden individuals to shed their religiously influenced morality and embrace views more inline with secular culture. At least in the short term, this will lead to a more polarized public.
“As faith loses favor in the broader culture, the middle ground collapses and forces people to either side,” says Stetzer. “The gap widens and the sides become entrenched.”
But Stetzer believes there is hope for the future. “Over time, the strident public debate is likely to give way to a new culture,” says Stetzer. “Christians will increasingly advocate for policies that help others, reflecting a Christian commitment that is already responsible for charities, schools, and hospitals around the world.”
As for now, many Christians are finding themselves increasingly at odds with the moral convictions of the average American.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.