- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Resistance and opposition to same-sex marriage has been crumbling among Americans — save for one specific segment of society that’s proving the last wall to even wider acceptance: Evangelicals.

This is not entirely unexpected. But it is uncomfortable. It puts those of most serious faith in a heated spotlight that can be used by the left to showcase the evangelical Christian crowd as discriminatory, as hate-filled, as antithetical to the core values of America.

Standing strong on this point is not only going to prove lonely.

It’s also going to prove a real test of faith — and conversely, a real opportunity to serve Jesus.

Look at what’s been going on with the acceptance rate for same-sex unions in the United States, post-Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case that put the kibosh on states’ rights and voters’ wills to decide which way to weigh on the marriage matter. A new survey from Pew Research Center now shows “for the first time, as many Republicans favor as oppose gay marriage,” statistically speaking.

Back in 2013, Republicans, by 61 percent to 33 percent, opposed gay marriage. Now? Now, it’s statistically equal: 48 percent oppose, 47 percent are OK with it.

This is significant. It’s the Republican Party, after all, that’s supposed to be the home of the traditional family, tried-and-true principles’ folks. The Democrats, by contrast, are where the special rights go for representation — at least, the special rights from the cultural camps.

But two years after Obergefell, and the country’s shift has proven most dramatic.

In 2010, roughly 48 percent of America opposed gay marriage, compared to 42 percent supporting.

In March 2016, the yay-nay totals shifted, with 55 percent favoring and 37 percent opposing.

And now? The margin of acceptance for gay marriage has grown even wider.

“By a margin of nearly two-to-one (62 percent to 32 percent), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed,” Pew found.

Break it down by demographic and the numbers give more insights.

For instance: “For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally,” with 56 percent OK with the practice and 39 percent opposed, the survey said.

And this: “Blacks have long been less supportive of same-sex marriage when compared with whites, but the share of African Americans who favor same-sex marriage has risen 12 percentage points since 2015, from 39 percent to 51 percent.”

Huge jump, yes? And tied directly to the Supreme Court ruling, Obergefell.

But it’s the caving and concessions on the religious front that shows as most startling.

“Wide majorities of Catholics (67 percent), white mainline Protestants (68 percent) and — in particular — the religiously unaffiliated (85 percent) support legal marriage for same-sex couples,” Pew found.

Biblically speaking, one would think when Genesis defines marriage as the act of a man leaving his mother and father to “cleave unto his wife,” and Romans recounts how “even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,” and Timothy speaks of “the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality,” and Leviticus bluntly states that “thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination” — that the heavenly directives would be clear.

But apparently, even in religious circles, there are loopholes to be found.

Only a small base of Christian believers have been standing strong against same-sex unions, based on religious beliefs.

“Overall, white evangelical Protestants continue to stand out for their opposition to same-sex marriage: 35 percent of white evangelical Protestants favor same-sex marriage, compared with a 59 percent majority who are opposed,” the survey said.

But the younger the age of the evangelical, the greater the chance for supporting gay marriage. And the more time that passes, the more of this segment of society — the white evangelical Protestants — seem to soften in their stances.

Just 10 years ago, only 14 percent of white evangelicals supported gay marriage — a number that’s more than doubled today.

The takeaway? There are several. First, courts are not God and America’s legal system is not the final word — to Christians, at least. So Obergefell isn’t and won’t be the be-all and end-all of the gay marriage matter the left would like believed.

Second, standing strong on Christian principle apparently means different things to different believers, a fact that will certainly increase the pressure on those who choose to believe the more traditional, fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible and Scripture.

And third? Third — for those who do stand firm in their faith, as it’s wound by the narrow path, not through the broad gate, expect the persecution to turn hot. With the ranks of even the religious community now being split on the gay marriage point, the road for those staying true will become even rockier. Expect, and prepare for, labels like hate groups to be slung at those churches and congregations that hold out, to the end, on the regard for gay marriage as counter to God’s will. It’s simply the cross the evangelical Christian of modern day times must bear.

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