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Majority of Protestant pastors oppose gay marriage

Despite increasing cultural support for gay marriage, a large majority of Protestant pastors still support the biblical belief that it is reserved for a man and woman, a new Lifeway Research study found.

“Debates continue within denominations at national and judicatory levels on the morality of same-sex marriage, yet the overall number of Protestant pastors who support same-sex marriage is not growing,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “The previous growth was seen most clearly among mainline pastors, and that level did not rise in our latest survey.”

According to the survey:

  • Three-fourths of Protestant pastors oppose same-sex marriage, with 69 percent expressing strong opposition.
  • Twenty-one percent said they “see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married,” a percentage that remains statistically unchanged. Twenty-four percent expressed no moral qualms with same-sex weddings in 2019.
  • Pastors in the Northeast (27%), where same-sex marriage was first legalized in the U.S., and the Midwest (25%), are more likely than those in the South (18%) to have unbiblical views on marriage.

  • An additional 4 percent of pastors said they are unsure where they stand.
  • Just 7 percent of self-identified evangelical pastors in this cohort expressed they see no moral issue with people of the same gender marrying. The proportion has remained below 10 percent since 2010.
  • Any initial growth in overall pastoral support seemingly was driven by mainline pastors, who increased from 32 percent backing gay marriage in 2010 to 46 percent today. It should be noted this proportion was 47 percent in 2019 showing, again, a stagnation among the group where growth had been most pronounced.
  • Although 53 percent of Methodists support same-sex marriage, lesser proportions of Presbyterian/Reformed (36 percent) and Lutherans (34 percent) agree. Just 5 percent of non-denominational Christians, 4 percent of Baptists and 1 percent of Pentecostal pastors offer the same support
  • Female pastors far more likely (42 percent) than males (16 percent) to support gay nuptials. And although 27 percent of pastors between ages 18 and 44 back gay marriage, just 15 percent of those 65 and older agree (as do 22 percent of those aged 55 to 64).

Younger pastors are more likely to be supportive than the oldest pastors. Protestant pastors 18 to 44 (27%) and 55 to 64 (22%) are more likely than pastors 65 and older (15%) to see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

“The moral and doctrinal beliefs of individuals do not tend to move very often or very far, so we wouldn’t expect pastors’ positions to change much,” said McConnell. “However, the differences we see by age make it noteworthy that the higher numbers of young pastors seeing nothing wrong with same-sex marriage is not yet having much of an impact on overall numbers.”


–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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