The Story: The percentage of Americans who believe homosexuality is a sin has decreased significantly in a year, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.
The Background: In a survey conducted by Lifeway Research in September 2011, 44 percent affirmed that homosexual behavior is a sin while 45 percent responded that it was not. The response taken in November 2012, however, revealed a statically significant shift. Now only 37 percent believe it is a sin while 43 percent believe it is not. According to Lifeway, 17 percent in the November 2012 survey said, “I don’t know;” an increase of 4 percent over the September 2011 survey.
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, notes that halfway between the two polls President Barack Obama changed his position concerning gay marriage. “The president’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values—-there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year timeframe—-though this was hardly a normal year on this issue,” Stetzer said.
Why It Matters: For a sitting President of the United States to express his “evolution” on the subject has likely, as Stetzer suggests, had an influence on public opinion. But I suspect the President Obama’s shift was itself a response to society’s increasing acceptance of homosexual behavior. Since at least World War II Americans have expressed a libertarian streak when it comes to sexual matters (e.g., what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. . . ). But as sexual issues such as homosexuality move from the private sphere to the public square, tolerance has given way to acceptance.
Even orthodox Christians are beginning to adopt a revisionist reading of Scripture that, as Louis Markos says, would allow them to “un-sin” homosexual practices. As Markos recently wrote for First Things:
Today, many families and churches have allowed their commendable love for the sinner to morph into an acceptance and even a love for the sin itself. Those in the former group lack a full understanding of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness, seen so powerfully in his insistence on eating in the homes of prostitutes and tax collectors. Those in the latter group lack a full understanding of the true nature of sin. When we engage in sin we are not just breaking a societal code or offending refined sensibilities; we are living and acting in rebellion against our Creator and his desire for our lives. And when we do that, we inevitably hurt ourselves and pervert our nature.
“We live in a fallen world, and the fact of that matter is that we are all afflicted by some form of physical, mental, or spiritual brokenness,” Markos adds. “We do ourselves and our loved ones no favors if we define ourselves or allow others to define us by that brokenness.”