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February 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A newly released survey reveals that the overwhelming source of Protestant support for same-sex “marriage” comes from mainline denomination clergymen, while very little originates with evangelical pastors.

The results of the study by LifeWay Research paint a picture of increasing acceptance of same-sex “marriages” with nearly 50% of the mainline pastors – Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian/Reformed, and Christian/Church of Christ – now approving. Support from evangelical pastors has remained flat at 8% over the last ten years.  

Pastors within the Episcopal Church, where same-sex “marriage” is nearly universally accepted, were apparently not included in the survey.  


Rejection of same-sex ‘marriage’ outweighs support, three-to-one 

Overall, rejection of the notion of same-sex “marriage” remains fairly high: Only 24% of Protestant pastors “see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married,” while 72% disagree with that statement and 67% strongly disagree with it.  


“The movement we see among pastors’ views of same-sex marriage has less to do with their denominational tradition than their view of the Bible,” suggested Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, in a published statement.  

“An evangelical distinctive is the ultimate authority the Bible has over one’s beliefs despite changing cultural perspectives,” explained McConnell, so “it is not surprising then that evangelical pastors across different denominations continue to view same-sex marriage as wrong through this lens.”

“More than four years after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, most Protestant pastors still see a moral problem with it,” said McConnell. “More pastors are protective of marriage itself, but legal civil unions also are seen as wrong by most pastors.”

Yet the question of same-sex “marriage” remains largely a hypothetical one. As recently as 2016, another LifeWay Research survey found that just 11% of Protestant pastors said they had been asked to perform a same-sex “wedding” ceremony

“The stability in the views of evangelical pastors means either there has been no growth in acceptance of same-sex marriage among them or the pastors that no longer have moral reservations about it no longer identify as evangelical,” said McConnell.

Acceptance by the numbers

Presbyterian or Reformed (49%), Methodist (47%), Lutheran (35%) and Christian/Church of Christ pastors (20%) are more likely to see nothing wrong with same-sex “marriage” than Baptist (3%) or Pentecostal pastors (1%).

Other findings published by LifeWay Research: 

  • White pastors (27%) are more likely to “agree” than African-American pastors (15%) and pastors of other ethnicities (6%)
  • Pastors age 18-44 (27%) and 55-64 (28%) are more likely to “agree” than pastors age 45-54 (17%)
  • Female pastors are more likely to “agree” than male pastors (59% vs. 18%)
  • Pastors with a master’s degree (32%) or a doctoral degree (27%) are more likely to “agree” than those with no college degree (6%) or a Bachelor’s degree (9%)
  • Mainline pastors are more likely to “agree” than Evangelical pastors (47% vs. 8%)
  • Pastors in the Northeast are the most likely to “agree” (39%)
  • Lutherans (35%), Methodists (47%) Presbyterian/Reformed (49%), andChristian/Church of Christ (20%) are more likely to “agree” than Baptists (3%) and Pentecostals (1%)
  • Pastors of churches with attendance of 0-49 (33%) are more likely to “agree” than those with attendance of 100-249 (21%) and 250+ (14%)

Controversy and division in Protestant churches

Same-sex “marriage” and homosexuality remain a source of controversy and division throughout much of Protestant Christianity.

After a year of contention, the United Methodist Church (UMC) announced last month that it has elected to deal with ongoing divisions over homosexuality by formally splitting, with the creation of a new denomination for Methodists who hold to a Biblical understanding of sex and marriage.

The plan, which still needs to be approved by the conference in May, was devised by a 16-person committee of bishops and other officials who deemed separation the “best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding.”

Last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan made Rev. Bonnie A. Perry its first openly lesbian bishop. Perry is “married” to a woman.  

The Christian Post (CP) reported that Perry’s selection provoked no opposition due to her lived homosexuality.  

“We have experienced an overwhelming outpouring of joy, grace and excitement since her election and consecration,” said Anna Stania, director of Communications for the diocese.

“Perry’s election is one more item among many that push theological conservatives out of the church,” Jeff Walton, Anglican program director with the theologically conservative Institute on Religion & Democracy, told CP.  

In early 2018, the largest conference of Mennonite congregations in the U.S. officially split from the Mennonite community over concerns that the wider church was beginning to affirm LGBT lifestyles.

The Lancaster Mennonite Conference (LMC) voted to leave the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) in 2015, and the decision became effective January 1, 2018. 

The LMC, comprised of 179 congregations in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, left over the definition of marriage and the sinfulness of homosexuality, according to a report from Religion News Service.


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