Even Conservative Pollsters Find Growing Support for Gay Rights

When pollsters ask the “millennials” (the generation between the ages of 18 and 29) about societal changes like the acceptance of homosexuality in society, the results are clear—they support gay and lesbian rights by a huge margin.

A Pew Research poll published last February, for instance, revealed 63 percent of millennials said that homosexuality should be accepted by society. Only 35 percent of those over 65 thought this was a good idea. Conservative Christians, however, are often suspicious of polls done by non-partisan groups like Pew, so they have their own polling outfits to do their own research on these hot-button questions. What can conservatives do, then, when their own polling shows that, to the next generation, being gay is as normal as being blue-eyed or left-handed?

A new Lifeway Research poll found just what Pew found: that by a big margin, millennials are very accepting of gays and lesbians. On the question of marriage equality for gays and lesbians, 61 percent of millennials said they saw nothing wrong with it. Drilling down into the numbers reveals the same sort of divides among millennials as other groups. Men, blacks, and those living in the traditionally conservative South are less accepting of gays and lesbians; but even there, the numbers are encouraging.

Fifty-five percent of men said they strongly or somewhat agree that there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage, while 47 percent of blacks said the same thing, and a majority of southern millennials, 56 percent, agreed. In fact, out of all of the subcategories, it’s only in the black community where the majority of people were strongly, or somewhat, against marriage equality. Those in strongest support were millennial women (68 percent in favor) and Hispanics (66 percent in favor).

Broken out by religious belief, the numbers again echo mainstream polls. More religiously conservative millennials are dead set against same-sex marriage with 69 percent strongly or somewhat opposed to it. Those who are not religious or never attend church are in strong support—85 percent and 74 percent respectively.

Given these numbers, what are anti-gay Christians to do? Apparently, they must yell louder about how “sinful” homosexuality really is.

“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,” said Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “The church must voice a clear, biblical ethic of sexuality.”

But, when millennials see their gay and lesbian friends living their lives—lives that are moral, upright, productive, and joyful— it’s pretty hard to square that reality with what the conservative preachers teach about homosexuality. They don’t see their friends living it up in the bars or sleeping around with anything that moves or trying to seduce children. Instead, they see hardworking citizens, doing what they can to make the world a better place and fighting for the right to have their commitment to another human being recognized by the government that runs the country that they love.

Millennials are not stupid. They see the reality of gay and lesbian lives every day, and it does not reflect what the conservative anti-gay churches are teaching about “biblical” ethics of sexuality. When put side-by-side, as even Lifeway’s numbers show, millennials can clearly see who is living ethically and who is bearing false witness.