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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Young adults more accepting of ‘gay marriage,’ poll suggests

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Six in 10 American “Millennials” — those born between 1980 and 1991 — see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married. But men, African Americans and Southerners are least comfortable among their peers with “same-sex marriage,” and for the most part Christian Millennials oppose it.

These are the findings from a LifeWay Research study for an upcoming book by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and son Jess Rainer titled “The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation.” The book is based on a wide-ranging August 2009 survey of 1,200 Millennials in the United States.

Millennials are divided in their response to the question, “How much would you agree or disagree with the statement: I see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married.” Forty percent agree strongly; 21 percent agree somewhat; 15 percent disagree somewhat; and 24 percent disagree strongly.

Key differences exist by location, gender, race and religion. For example, nearly half of Millennials in the Northeast and the West strongly agree there is nothing wrong with “same-sex marriage” compared with fewer than one in three Southerners.

Women are far more accepting of “same-sex marriage” than men. Sixty-eight percent of female Millennials agree there is nothing wrong with “same-sex marriage” (49 percent strongly), while 55 percent of males feel the same way (32 percent strongly).

African American Millennials are more strongly opposed to “marriage” between members of the same gender than Hispanics and Asians, according to the study. Fifty-three percent of African Americans disagree with the statement (32 percent strongly), while 33 percent of Hispanics and 36 percent of Asians disagree (19 percent strongly).

Opinions on the issue are sharply divided by religion. Two-thirds of Millennials with no religious preference agree strongly there is nothing wrong with “same-sex marriage” while only one in seven of those who say they trust Christ as Savior agree strongly. Further, 46 percent of those who say they trust Christ as Savior strongly disagree and in fact find fault with “marriage” between members of the same gender.

“Discovering a significant difference in the attitudes on same-sex marriage between born-again Christians and the rest of culture,” Thom Rainer said, “was not necessarily surprising.”

It will be a critical issue for churches — soon to be led by Millennials — to establish their biblical positions on the issue of same-sex relationships.”

In a 2008 study among a sample of American adults of all ages, LifeWay Research found 48 percent of adults said “yes” when asked, “Do you believe homosexual behavior is a sin?” At that time, only one in six of those who claimed to be born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christians indicated they did not believe homosexual behavior is a sin.

The 2008 study also indicated that 32 percent of adult Americans — nearly 1 in 3 — said their decision to visit or join a church would be negatively affected if that congregation taught homosexual behavior is sinful. Among those who never attend any place of worship, 49 percent said this teaching would negatively affect their decision to visit or join a church.

“If it is to find relevance with Millennials, the church must be willing to deal directly with the issue of same-sex attraction and relationships,” Rainer said. “The church must voice a clear, biblical ethic of sexuality.”

‘GAY MARRIAGE IN THE U.K.? — The United Kingdom does not recognize “gay marriage,” but one of the two major parties in the current governing coalition wants to see that change. The Liberal Democrats passed a motion Sept. 21 at their annual conference calling on the nation’s marriage laws to be changed to include same-sex couples. The Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party formed a governing coalition in May after the Conservatives and leader David Cameron won a plurality of seats in Parliament. It was an odd coalition from the beginning: The Conservative Party, as its name suggests, typically has been more traditional on such issues as marriage. It remains to be seen whether the push for “gay marriage” will go any further in the country.

The country already recognizes civil partnerships, which grant same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage.

‘GAY MARRIAGE’ GROUP RAISES WALL STREET MONEY — The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that successfully sued in a lower federal court to overturn California Prop 8, raised $1.2 million during a Sept. 22 New York City fundraiser that had several Wall Street executives in attendance, The New York Times reported. Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who recently announced he is homosexual, helped organized the event.

High-profile attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies are heading the AFER legal team in the case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The ruling is being appealed.
Compiled by Rob Phillips, a Nashville-based writer, and Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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