New Research on Society’s Attitudes Toward Homosexuality

Ed Stetzer summarizes recently released research on how America views homosexuality. As many consider homosexual conduct sinful as do not. It’s a tie. And the younger you are, the more likely you are to condone gay sex.

And here’s the headline finding: About 1 out 3 would be less likely to consider attending a church that considers homosexuality a sin. 32%!

Does this mean that we should stop preaching that gay sex is sinful? Of course, not. What does it mean?

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to New Research on Society’s Attitudes Toward Homosexuality

  1. Alan says:

    Does this mean that we should stop preaching that gay sex is sinful? Of course, not.

    My view on this is pretty traditional (no suprise I'm sure!) The same kind of biblical reasoning that leads me to hierarchical / complementarian view of women also leads me to conclude that homosexuality was, is, and always will be sin.

    It seems to me that your approach to scripture on the question of women would also lead you to a different conclusion on homosexuality. How do you justify concluding from Gal 3:28 that women can do anything men can do in the church, but also hold that a woman cannot marry a woman?

    Since I limit Gal 3:28 to the context (salvation and eternal inheritance), I don't have that problem. For me, just as that passage does not reverse the instructions for wives to be subject to their husbands, it does not affect the instructions to abstain from homosexuality (Rom 1 for example).

    Today, the greater social pressure is to offer women the same roles as men. It may not be many years until our culture applies the same pressure to treat people in homosexual relationships the same as those in heterosexual marriages. (Some segments of our culture already apply that pressure). How effectively will you resist that pressure? I'd like to hear a clear explanation for how you can hold your position on the role of women but not yield to the social pressure on homosexuality.

  2. KS says:

    I regret that I have been guilty of prejudice and discrimination in many areas of my life. I realize that these thoughts are evil and sinful, but I am trying, with the help of the Spirit, to be more compassionate and more merciful to all people, even those whose sins seem so much worse at first glance than the sins of most people in my home congregation. In my experience some of the Christians who are particularly outspoken in rejecting homosexual Christians are often people who are known for their arrogance, boasting and malice. In fact, their arrogance and boasting and malice appear to be a lifestyle. And sometimes, this lifestyle affects others and I worry that they will influence a group of people to become prejudiced.

    Being a part of a church that reaches out to all people with mercy and love rather than condemnation is what most of us desire, I think. And because we continue to be shown mercy by our Father, I hope we will choose to extend mercy to homosexuals. I realize that homosexuality is a sin, but I believe God loves them and so I want try to love homosexuals as He does. I want to love them just as I try to love other sinners, even those listed in Romans 1: those who envy, those who murder [and those who hate], those who cause strife, deceitful people and those with malice toward others. I want to show love and mercy to those who gossip, to those who slander me and others, to the people who hate God, to the insolent—the rude and disrespectful, to the arrogant people and to those who boast about themselves and to the ones who disobey their parents.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear KS,

    I've been waiting for someone to say that. Not just here but anywhere. My therapist says that people who hate gay people and taunt them, beat them up, and whatever else, are the people who are insecure in their own sexuality. Although those in the church (global church) may not go to that extreme (however I am reminded of the "reverend" Fred Phelps), I think the same thing applies to those who protest too loudly about homosexuality, accepting gay people in their worship service, etc. Not that any of you do that, because I don't know. If you're a preacher and want to preach about sin, give equal time to all sins, don't make one sin greater than another. Don't reject the gay couple at your door unless you want to reject everyone who's a sinner. You'll have an empty sanctuary.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear Jay,
    Interesting question. It means a lot of things. One thing I hope it means is that society is becoming more accepting of people who are different than themselves. Hopefully, it means fewer hate crimes against gay people, fewer people getting killed for simply existing as they were born, fewer parents disowning their children, fewer children who are perceived to be "different" being taunted and bullied in school. I hope it means fewer Matthew Shepard's.

    What I hope you who read this blog, especially preachers/church leaders, might take from this study is continue to preach about the grace and peace found in Jesus Christ. That his blood and his love and his grace are available to all and that homosexuals are not excluded from that or from your church. I hope if you are preaching about sin and want to preach on homosexuality that you do it in a loving and kind way that will not completely "turn off" the gay person sitting in your church. The gay person in your audience most likely is a kid you've watched grow up in your church, or your best friend's son, or the elder's daughter or EVEN YOUR OWN CHILD. There are many of us. You don't know because we have to hide it and be secretive because of our fear. Remember, we didn't choose to be this way anymore than you chose to be heterosexual.

    I also hope if you preach about homosexuality that you will give equal time to extra-marital affairs/adultery, lust, liars, hatred, intolerance, gossip and the other sins KS mentioned in Romans. And I hope if you're focusing on a message of hell, fire and damnation that you consider preaching (from the pulpit or in your daily life) more on the message of grace that is Jesus Christ.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have a question concerning Alan's statement. My view is pretty liberal, which is no surprise either. I think the whole thing with women's role in the church in those times is totally cultural and I personally have no problem with listening to a woman from the pulpit, etc. But I also think the homosexuality issue could be seen in the same way and many people do see it that way. How do you know the homosexuality referenced in the new testament didn't pertain to the cultural sexual practices of that time? Just as the role of women were different then, the sexual culture was much different also. It seems to have been a much more liberal and open culture concerning sexual practices and perhaps having sex, gay or straight, in the streets and the temples is what was being taught against. Not only that, there is no single word in the ancient Greek or Latin with the same meaning as the modern concept of homosexuality (learned that on Google).

    As you mentioned in one of your posts, there's the scripture that gives the qualifications for being considered a widow. We certainly leave that one alone. Is it because the role of a widow was culturally different than it is now? Is it because we decided it doesn't matter? How do we decide what in the Bible is literal and what was cultural, what to accept and what to ignore? Who is right? Does it matter? Will we go to hell if we're wrong about something? We accepted Christ, were baptized into him, lived for Him, tried to be a good person, etc, and then we get to the end and die and go to hell because we played a piano in the church? Because we loved the wrong person, worshiped on the wrong day, took communion on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, had a woman as a leader? I don't think so. And you guys that are church leaders wonder why the church is declining instead of growing? The young generation of today leaves the church they were raised in and you don't know why? I know why.

    As a closing statement, I would like to state that I hope I have not offended anyone. This is a blog, these are my thoughts.

  6. Jay Guin says:

    Alan and Anon,

    The classic work on the question of slaves, women, and homosexuals is by William J. Webb and called Slaves, Women and Homosexuals. It's an extraordinary, rich book that cannot be adequately summarized here.

    The gist of his thesis is to look at the direction of the redemptive arrow — in which direction do the scriptures point? But that's WAY too simple. Read the book. It's a very important work.

    My own conclusions are the same as his, but I get there by a different path. My view is simply that the dominant hermeneutic of scripture is the gospel — faith, love, and hope, supplemented by certain other elemental principles — particularly the relationship of husbands and wives in Gen 2. It's laid out at http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/h

    I get this by reading how Paul reasons in his letters. Hence, Gen 2 is permanent — until the Eschaton. Thus, wives are made for their husbands, and husbands and wives are to be united in a way not permitted to anyone else.

    Paul, Peter, and Jesus all refer back to these passages in making their cases on marriage, fornication, sex, divorce, etc. Hence, these principles are not cultural.

    Moreover, Paul argues against prevailing culture in Rom 1 by pointing out how the cultural approval of homosexual conduct demonstrates Godlessness — because homosexuality violates the created nature of things. This argument refutes any notion that the condemnation of homosexual sex is cultural.

    I've answered Alan's argument before. In Gal 3:28 Paul is pointing the church toward a post-Eschaton reality — when God's will will be done on earth as in heaven. In that reality, there will be no marriage and hence no "male and female." Thus, as men and women are equally justified by God and equally glorified by God, there is no basis for judging by externalities, such as gender.

    But this does not justify homosexuality because the Eschaton has not yet arrived and sex remains a part of our created natures. The Jews taught that God commanded marriage, because of Gen 1 and 2. Paul and Jesus taught that the Kingdom is more important than even marriage — and some will and should surrender their sexuality in God's service.

    But for those without the gift, marriage is God's answer. And married women must, therefore, be suitable complements for their husbands and may not bring them shame in whatever way men might be shamed in the prevailing culture.

    There are, of course, other ways in which it is impossible to achieve the Eschaton too early. The sun and moon and sea aren't about to disappear before the parousia. We therefore have no reason to try to accelerate that process! Nor can most of us do without sex until Jesus comes. Some have tried and their movements died with them! (The Christadelphian movement was one, as I recall.)

    But to the extent the nature of things permits, we are certainly to work to bring about the doing of God's will on earth as it is in heaven — to expand the Kingdom and bring the world closer to the Eschaton — or as Wright likes to express it, to bring heaven and earth closer together.

    I've previously argued that sex within a marriage is sacramental — a preview of heaven. When heaven comes to earth and God fills the earth with his presence, we'll have something far better than sex. And I know men for whom serving God is already better than sex — who give up marriage to be in God's service. They are to be envied as they evidently experience something better than what many of us will experience before the End.

    Hence, it starts to make better sense why Paul speaks of marriage more as an expedient than a command, in contrast to uniform Jewish interpretation of the OT. It's not that he was a prude. Rather, he just saw serving Jesus as a higher calling because it's a calling that will survive the End. His radical re-thinking of marriage is driven by profound theological concerns, which happen to match the need for missionaries who could teach fearlessly. (I wonder what the world would be like if we had more men and women doing mission work without concern for spouses and children?)

    Forgive me for thinking out loud and rambling on. As I've said before, the Eschaton theory and all is new to me and I'm still trying it on. I'm hoping for help in deciding whether it fits.

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