The Story: According to a new Gallup survey, a record number of Americans now consider behaviors that the Bible condemns to be “morally acceptable.”
The Background: Since the early 2000s, Gallup has tracked Americans’s views on the moral acceptability of various issues and behaviors. The overall trend clearly points toward a higher level of acceptance of a number of behaviors that the Bible clearly condemns. In fact, Gallup notes, the moral acceptability ratings for eight of the 19 issues measured since the early 2000s are at record highs.
The first number in each category list the number who consider the behavior to be “morally acceptable,” while the second number is the percentage that consider it to be “morally wrong.” The third number is the percent change from 2001 to 2017. An asterisk indicates and issue that is at a record high level of acceptance.
• Sex between an unmarried man and woman* — 69 / 28 (16 percent)
• Gay or lesbian relations* — 63 / 33 (23 percent)
• Having a baby outside of marriage* — 62 / 33 (17 percent since 2002)
• Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos — 61 / 33 (9 percent since 2002)
• Doctor assisted suicide* — 57 / 37 (8 percent)
• Abortion — 43 / 49 (1 percent)
• Pornography* — 36 / 61 (6 percent)
• Sex between teenagers — 36 / 59 (4 percent since 2013)
• Suicide — 18 / 76 (6 percent)
• Polygamy* — 17 / 80 (9 percent)
• Married men and women having an affair — 9 / 88 (2 percent)
As Gallup notes: “Of the 19 issues included in this year's poll, 13 show meaningful change in a liberal direction over time, regardless of whether they are currently at their high point in Gallup's trend. No issues show meaningful change toward more traditionally conservative positions compared with when Gallup first measured them.”
Why it Matters: Currently, a majority of Americans now believe that fornication between adults, homosexual behavior, having a child outside of marriage, and doctor-assisted killing to be “morally acceptable.” If the current trends continue, in 10 years (2027) more than one in four Americans will also consider polygamy and suicide to be morally acceptable.
Despite the increase in people who don’t identify with religion, a large majority of Americans—roughly seven in ten—continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. What this means is that a large percentage of people who consider themselves to be Christians consider behaviors that the Bible clearly states are sinful and immoral to be “morally acceptable.”
There are many reasons that Christians are rejecting biblical moral norms. Some are merely ignorant about what the Bible teaches, while others are clearly in rebellion and willing to pervert or reject God’s Word. In almost all cases, the root issue is an unwillingness of Bible-believing Christians to simply state, “You can’t be obedient to Christ and consider behavior he abhors and condemns to be ‘morally acceptable.’”
Perhaps it’s because we fear being called “legalists” for standing up for what the Bible teaches. Maybe we believe that people will flee our churches if we require them to adhere to the Bible’s moral commands. Or maybe we are ourselves are too biblically illiterate to provide counterarguments.
For whatever reason, we are failing to be faithful to Christ and his call to proclaim the gospel when we allow Scripture to be perverted and rejected by those who claim to be our fellow believers. Given the choice, many people would certainly prefer to be able to endorse fornication, polygamy, and suicide, and so on, and still be able to consider themselves “good Christian folk.” But that isn’t an option, and we shouldn’t pretend that the moral requirements of Scripture are optional for Christians. We can’t earn our salvation by adhering to God’s moral commands; salvation comes only from the blood of Christ. But we bring down his wrath upon our ourselves when we call evil good and good evil, and when we put darkness for light and light for darkness (Is. 5:20).