Curt Flewelling, FISM News
Support for same-sex marriage in the United States has reached an all-time high of 71%, according to the Gallup organization’s annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted between May 2 -22.
When Gallup first conducted a poll on same-sex marriage in 1996, 27% of the public were in support of the practice. In roughly a quarter of a century, this number has nearly tripled.
What is the reason for this steady increase in the last 26 years? The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling that struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage certainly accelerated this trend. However, the main reason Americans continue to be more accepting of same-sex marriage could very well be the precipitous decline in church membership, and subsequently attendance, during the same period.
Interestingly, as approval numbers for same-sex marriage were rising, the number of Americans who said they were members of a church declined sharply from 70% to 50% from 1999 to 2019. This hypothesis could be substantiated by polls finding that the last demographic holdout against support of gay marriage are Americans that report that they attend church weekly. This group weighs in with 40% in favor and 58% in opposition to same-sex unions.
This theory is fairly logical as one might assume that individuals that attend church regularly are serious about their faith. As scripture clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and woman, it follows that a healthy percentage of parishioners would be against same-sex marriage.
Of note, however, is the fact that the poll merely uses the term “churchgoer” when polling this demographic. It would be interesting to find out if there was a diverse cross-section of denominations represented. Although church membership and attendance are down in the United States, there is certainly no shortage of religious denominations with differing views on the issue. For example, Catholics, Southern Baptists, Orthodox Jews, and Muslims do not endorse same-sex marriage, while Unitarian Universalists and many Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and United Church of Christ members are supportive of the practice.
While weekly church attendance, in general, indicates a more traditional view on marriage, the type of church one attends can greatly affect one’s opinion on this issue, with more conservative denominations holding true to the definition of marriage as outlined for us in scripture. Genesis 2:24 states, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Matthew 19:4-5 states, “Haven’t you read”, he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?”