A survey claiming a decrease in Americans’ comfort level with homosexual acts and individuals has met skepticism from two Christians who study sexuality and culture. But if the survey accurately reflects public sentiment, they say, it could indicate the Bible’s lingering influence on society.
The pro-homosexual advocacy group GLAAD released data Jan. 25 indicating Americans’ comfort level with a variety of situations involving lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals – including learning a family member is homosexual and having a child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher.
For the first time since GLAAD began releasing such data in 2014, levels of reported comfort decreased, according to a GLAAD news release.
“Theologically, I believe there are good reasons for people to feel a level of discomfort in certain situations because the comfort desired by the GLAAD survey entails full acceptance,” said Evan Lenow, associate professor of ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“God created us in his image and he created us male and female,” Lenow told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “In Genesis 1-2, we see that God had a very specific design for the sexual relationship – between one man and one woman in a marriage designed to endure for a lifetime. Therefore, our theological convictions should lead us to a certain level of discomfort when the LGBTQ agenda is being pushed upon us.”
Among the survey’s findings:
- 26 percent of Americans say they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable “having LGBT members at my place of worship,” up from 24 percent in 2014.
- 32 percent say they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable “learning a family member is LGBT,” up from 30 percent in 2014.
- 36 percent say they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable “seeing a same-sex couple holding hands,” up from 31 percent in 2014.
- 30 percent say they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable having their “child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher,” down from 31 percent in 2014 but up from 29 percent in 2016.
Still, GLAAD’s survey of 2,160 adults found 79 percent of non-LGBT Americans say they “support equal rights for the LGBT community.” Only 14 percent of the non-LGBT population is considered “resisters” of the pro-homosexual and pro-transgender agenda by GLAAD’s measure.
GLAAD CEO Sarah Ellis called the decrease in reported comfort levels with homosexuality “a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year.” She mentioned specifically President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people entering the U.S. military and “confirmation of a Supreme Court justice [Neil Gorsuch] opposed to marriage equality.”
Lenow noted that asking people their “comfort” level seems an “imperfect measure of people’s feelings.” But if there truly is shrinking acceptance of homosexual behavior, it could be a reaction against acceptance of same-sex marriage being “forced on those who have conscientious objections” – like bakers and florists – or against stories of gender-transitioning children “being used to promote transgenderism.”
Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former national strategist for gender issues, said he is “not sure” the poll is “showing as significant a difference” in American attitudes as GLAAD claims. He added that “given the statistical variation of polls, I don’t think either side can draw accurate conclusions as to the long-term significance.”
Still, “it is possible that the results could signify that the onrush of gay activism is beginning to reach the sea wall of Bible believing Christians,” said Stith, founder of Family and Gender Issues Ministries in Trophy Club, Texas.
“For those of us who are fully committed to [s]cripture, acceptance of what God calls sin simply can’t happen. That is a bridge we cannot cross,” Stith told BP in written comments.
“It is my hope that the church will continue to take seriously its responsibility to train our members how to stand with both compassion and biblical fidelity,” Stith said. “The church is filled with people who at one time were filled with anger toward the things the church stood for but through the loving faithfulness of believers they came to be a part of that great army of the redeemed.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)