Gallup has released a new poll that shows a record-high 70% of Americans now support the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. The recent increase from last year’s 67% approval number is primarily attributable to a change in attitude among Republicans, who gave the issue majority support for the first time, according to the pollster.
Gallup polling on the issue goes back to 1996, when only 27% of respondents indicated support for the legalization of same-sex marriage. The upward trend since then has been remarkable.
Gallup’s results are very similar to those reported last fall by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), which also revealed that 70% of Americans support the legalization of same-sex marriage.
However, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, so asking Americans if same-sex marriage should be “recognized by law, with all the same rights as traditional marriage,” after the fact, may not be asking the right question.
Is the 10% gain in the polling since Obergefell due to changes in attitudes about marriage, or about acquiescence to, or recognition of, a decision of the Supreme Court? Neither Gallup nor PRRI explored that issue.
And where are religious Americans on the issue of same-sex marriage? Gallup’s most recent report does not show a breakdown according to religious faith, but, according to the PRRI poll, only one group, white evangelical Protestants, still opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage by a majority – 63% to 34%.
But both of those polls focus on legalization and “rights,” both secular perspectives. What about the biblical definition and concept of marriage? Are Christians applying biblical orthodoxy in the public square when it comes to one of the most important theological issues contained in Scripture?
The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, run by experienced pollster Dr. George Barna, delved into that question during last year’s presidential election cycle, and the results were markedly different than Gallup’s. Barna reported that of those surveyed who hold a biblical worldview, 95% support the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and surprisingly, even 34% of those who don’t hold a biblical worldview also agreed with the Bible’s definition of marriage.
When he surveyed voters after the 2020 presidential election, Barna found that 69% of those who voted Republican believe that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s only acceptable plan for humanity, as did 42% of those who voted for the Democrat candidate.
Those numbers are remarkably more supportive of marriage between one man and one woman than the “recognize in law” question and responses reported by Gallup and PRRI would suggest. The difference could be attributable to the same phenomenon we have seen in the abortion realm – people who are personally opposed but publicly supportive – because no one wants to be seen as denying someone their “right” to do something.
Americans are sensitive about “rights,” and justifiably so, given our nation’s history. But as with abortion, which not only denies preborn babies their “right” to life but increasingly encourages the government to force taxpayers to fund their deaths, same-sex marriage (and its first cousin, gender identity and expression) has resulted in the loss of rights as well – to Christians in the marketplace, doctors and insurance providers in the healthcare arena, and parents and their children in the education realm. And the list is just beginning.
As with abortion, it behooves Christians not to surrender the moral high ground on marriage, and we should carry our biblical worldview on marriage with us into the public square. Standing for righteousness has across-the-board benefits for all Americans.
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