Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mental WILLness

Of course outside influences not under our control contribute to mental illness:  trauma, cruelty of others, profound loss, chemical imbalance, heredity.  However, many suffer from mental illness due to their own choices.    Mental illness doesn’t come out of nowhere, and none of us can escape it.  Bad behaviour reaps natural, and sometimes lasting, consequences.  Followers of Christ are also living with mental illness due to their own unwise choices - either in the past or as habitual sin - just as followers of Christ reap the consequences of their unhealthy choices that lead to physical illness. Those who have chosen to reject Jesus do assuredly live with mental illness, which is at the core a spiritual illness.  Hurt people hurt people and we are all hurting.  All facets of our being are intricately interwoven:  the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  Personality disorders are birthed from harmful behaviours;  demonic activity is often present.  The will is exceedingly significant, and unfortunately, many do not choose to live as victorious overcomers in this world.  As we help carry each other’s burdens, our mental illness becomes less isolating and easier to bear.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

John Pavlovitz Saved Me from Public Humiliation Over Stating the Truth of Black Lives Matter

There is a man named John Pavlovitz, a pastor in fact, who lives in Wake Forest, NC, who called me hateful, ignorant and a liar tonight on his twitter account.  He's been exceedingly rude to me in the past as well.  Not becoming behaviour for a church leader, is it?  The Bible has explicit requirements for church leaders, and it's clear to me that John Pavlovitz does not meet them.  He instructed me to "do better" after I simply informed him of an alarming guiding principle on the Black Lives Matter website that reads:  "We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…"  Anyone can view the BLM guiding principles proudly displayed on their website, so why would I make it up?  He is the student pastor at North Raleigh Community Church.  Not an exemplary man to guide teens along the narrow way to eternal life in Jesus, is he?  He finds it funny that he chose to block me after I called him out on his rudeness and for telling lies about me.  Interesting since on his website he declares this, "I welcome you to say what you believe needs to be said in response, knowing that ultimately the truth is somewhere in the middle."  Of what is he afraid?  Why does he not want to learn the truth about BLM???  Why does he not want others to learn the truth?  Of course, he doesn't want anyone to know what he typed to me, for it would clearly display his un-Christ-likeness.   Immediately after, I saw what he posted about me, from my other twitter account.  I ask you - how is it hateful or ignorant or a lie when all I did was inform him of their own words on the Black Lives Matter website???  Is it not wise for one and all to know precisely what BLM is all about?  I had never viewed their website before I heard Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man relay the very words I typed above.  Listening to his illuminating radio program one afternoon as I was driving towards my home in Raleigh, I almost drove off the road due to the evil of those words sending a chill down my spine!  Many claim that it's feminists who are causing the foundation of our society to fracture - the traditional family.  BLM are obviously in cahoots with feminists!  See what John posted below about me.  And one more thing - thanks for being merciful enough to save me from publicly humiliating myself further, John!  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Excerpts on a Husband's Duty from David Platt's book Counter Culture

Some excerpts from David Platt's excellent book Counter Culture:

"This mystery of marriage is profound, and it refers to Christ and the church"  (Ephesians 5:32).  The Bible teaches that God created marriage not as an end but as a means to an end.  God created the marriage relationship to point to a greater reality.  From the moment marriage was instituted, God aimed to give the world an illustration of the Gospel.  Just as a photograph represents a person or an event at a particular point in history, marriage was designed by God to reflect a person and an event at the most pivotal point in history.  Marriage, according to Ephesians 5, pictures Christ and the church.  In  the picture of marriage, God intends to portray Christ's love for the church and the church's love for Christ on the canvas of human culture.  God designs husbands to be a reflection of Christ's love for the church in the way they relate to their wives.  Christ loves, leads, serves, protects, and provides for us, and we gladly submit to him in the context of close relationship with Him.  God established marriage at the beginning of creation to be one of the primary means by which he illustrates the Gospel before a watching world.  The first sin occurred not as a reaction to a generic temptation but as a response to a gender-specific test.  The serpent's design in deceiving the couple in Genesis 3 was a deliberate subversion of God's design in creating the couple.  In Genesis 2, before God has even created the woman, God tells the man not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God thus entrusts the man with the responsibility of carrying out the divine command.  Yet in Genesis 3, the serpent approaches not the man but the woman.  He converses with her while the man does nothing.  Instead of taking responsibility for protecting himself and his wife from temptation, the man sits silently by - like a wimp.  Then, when God confronts him in his sin, the man has the audacity to blame his wife.  You can almost imagine the adversary laughing as he thinks, Now I've created confusion that will forever muddle their marriages - a confusion that will also ruthlessly misrepresent the Gospel.  For husbands will waffle back and forth between abdicating their responsibility to love and abusing their authority to lead.  Wives, in response, will distrust such love and defy such leadership.  In the process they'll completely undercut how Christ's gracious sacrifice on the cross compels glad submission in the church.  Headship is NOT an opportunity for us to control our wives; it is a responsibility to die for them.  This means, husbands, that you and I don't love our wives based upon what we get from them.  That's how the world defines love in marriage.  Husbands, love your wives not because of who they are, but because of who Christ is.  He loves them deeply, and our responsibility is to reflect his love.  We do live to serve them and to see them grow in Christlikeness.  We are accountable for loving our wives in such a way that they grow in loveliness.  Just as Christ takes responsibility for the spiritual health of His church, we have responsibility for the spiritual health of both our wives and our marriages.  The Bible is not saying a wife is not guilty for sin in her own life.  Yet the Bible is saying a husband is responsible for the spiritual care of his wife.  When she struggles with sin, or when they struggle in marriage, he is ultimately responsible.  For this reason, God calls a man to "nourish" and "cherish" his wife, "just as Christ does the church" (Ephesians 5:29).  The language of Scripture here is evocative.  A husband is to treasure, encourage, build up, and comfort his wife.  He is to take the initiative in tending to his wife, not waiting for her to approach him and say, "There are some problems in our marriage that we need to talk about," but going to her and saying, "How can I love you and lead our marriage better?"  Husbands, realize what is at stake here:  you and I are representing Christ to a watching world in the way we love our wives.  If we are harsh with our wives, we will show the world that Christ is cruel with his people.  If we ignore our wives, we will show the world that Christ wants nothing to do with his people.  God's Word is subtly yet clearly pointing out that God has created women with a unique need to be loved.  In all of this, the world witnesses the first spineless abdication of a man's responsibility to love, serve, protect, and care for his wife.  Stories of such spineless abdication are all too common among professing Christian men and their marriages today - husbands who have refused to take responsibility for loving, serving, protecting, and providing for their wives in every way possible.  That same job often prevents him from providing for her spiritual, emotional, and relational needs.  He manages to maintain his physical presence in the house while creating emotional distance from his wife.  He never asks how she feels, and he doesn't know what's going on in her heart.  He may think he's a man because of his achievements at work and accomplishments in life, but in reality he's acting like a wimp who has abdicated his most important responsibility on earth:  the spiritual leadership of his wife.  This is the story among many men who have decided to marry, not to mention other men who have ignored marriage altogether.  Men in their twenties and thirties who dwell in perpetual adolescence that revolves solely and selfishly around them and what they want to do.  Such warped pictures of singleness are yet more evidence of the tendency among men to abdicate the responsibility God has given them to love a wife in a way that displays Christ's love for the church.  One of the effects of sin in Genesis 3 is the tendency for a man to rule his wife in a forceful and oppressive way that denigrates woman's equal dignity with him.  It is as if a man says, "Okay, I'm not going to be a wimp; instead, I'm going to dominate my marriage."  This is one of the primary reasons why submission and headship are such unpopular and uncomfortable terms for us today - because we've seen the dangerous ways these ideas have been exploited.  We think of men who selfishly use their wives to get what they want when they want it no matter how their wives feel or how their wives are affected.  This, of course, is NOT how Christ loves the church and is nowhere close to what the Bible means by submission and headship.  Yet this is exactly what many men are communicating to the world about submission and headship.  Part of why God made us male and female is to pursue marriage over and above the comforts of this world and our careers in this world.  I have yet to meet a wife who didn't want to follow a husband who was sacrificially loving and serving her. Marriage exists even more for God than it does for us.  God has ultimately designed marriage not to satisfy our needs but to display His glory in the Gospel.  When we realize this, we recognize that if we want to declare the Gospel, we must defend marriage.  The only true marriage in God's eyes remains the exclusive, permanent union of a man and a woman.  As spiritual darkness engulfs the Biblical picture of marriage in our culture, spiritual light will stand out even more starkly in the portrait of a husband who lays down his life for his wife and a wife who joyfully follows her husband's loving leadership.  We have much reason to be confident in the resilience of marriage as God has defined it.  After all, it has been around since the beginning of time.  Moreover, marriage will be around at the end of time.  Marriage is a term that transcends culture, representing timeless truth about who God is and how God loves.  The call and challenge for us is to live according to such truth in the time and culture in which he has placed us.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Response to Elizabeth Esther

It's about American Christian culture as a WHOLE and OUR really messed up relationship with sexuality.  How wrong you are, E. E.  This is about our ENTIRE society and it's out-of-bounds relationship with free love.  Sexual freedom with no boundaries is the bottom line for liberals, the foundation of all they are.  Pornography, adultery, abortion, the hook-up culture, the constant striving for the destruction of innate modesty with which females are born, sex-trafficking, homosexual behaviour, HIV/AIDS, prostitution and divorce are evidence.  

This is about an American Christian culture that made insane promises like: "If you just wait until you're married to have sex, everything will be wonderful."  -  No, E. E., you are so off the mark, it's preposterous.  Actually this is about the Body of Christ teaching the precepts set forth in God's holy written Word.  It's about teaching the Truth which is Jesus.  If you wait until marriage to have sex, all facets of your being will be healthier!  Out of His great love for us, God has established a plan that is best for one and all.  He knows how broken one becomes when not following His plan for sexuality!  We live in a fallen world, populated by people whose hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  God's best IS for us to wait to have sex until united in the sacred bond of marriage, but neither His written Word nor His Word made flesh EVER promise that if you do wait, all will be wonderful. Utopia, in marriage or elsewhere, is NOT possible on our privileged planet, for it is NOT supposed to be.  Otherwise, there would be NO need for Jesus!  What is so egregious to you and your "tribe" about remaining chaste until marriage?  It's easy to grasp what is not wise about living in sexual freedom:  STDs, unplanned pregnancies, broken hearts, shattered dreams, abortions, mental illness, infertility, HIV/AIDS. 

This is about an American Christian culture that turned purity into profit; using a 21-year old kid named Josh Harris to promote the fantasy that if you just "kiss dating goodbye," you'll end up with a faithful, godly, loving spouse for the rest of your life.  Most folks enter marriage with the intention of staying married until death parts them.  Given the opportunity to stray from that righteous determination can cause any one of us to fall, and we must be aware - but for the grace of God there go I!  No, E. E., purity as taught in the Bible has not been turned into financial gain.  Exemplary Joshua Harris did NOT promote any such fantasy!  Realistically, it has profited many by helping them make responsible, healthy, wise, loving, unselfish choices about their sexuality or by helping them find healing and redemption in Jesus.  All marriages are composed of many trials, challenges, sufferings, pain, heartaches and selfishness - guaranteed due to our humanness!  But with Jesus at the core, they are also comprised of forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, healing and restoration.

This is about an ENTIRE culture of American Christianity that has wreaked havoc in the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of millions.  Do you truly stand behind this statement?  The havoc could not have been caused by the inhibition-free-for-all sexual permissiveness of our society at large?  All Christians are mere humans, E. E.  All fallible creatures.  All selfish.  All prone to rebellion against Jesus.  All prone to hurt one another.  There is only one answer to all the wrongs, hurts, slights, wounds, pain, suffering we cause each other - the Gospel of the Good News!  It affords the freedom, strength, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, joy, peace, comfort, guidance - everything we need to live victoriously in, for and through Jesus.  His followers, when denying ourselves, taking up our cross and daily following Him, choosing His will and His way over our own, do not willingly wreak havoc in the lives of others.  That is not love.

This is about an ENTIRE culture that has traded an authentic relationship with God for the trappings of "good Christian living."  How wrong you are, E. E., as we commit to living in obedience to Him, right living flows abundantly.  Only as we live with our allegiance surrendered to Him can we be holy as He is holy.  He knows of what we are capable when we follow His precepts set forth for our good, when we live with His Holy Spirit in us, to guide us.  That's why He sets the bar so high!  The Bible is our treasure map to Jesus!  Abiding in the love of God cannot be separated from walking in obedience to God. ~Tony Perkins on John 15:10

This is about an entire culture of Christianity that became so obsessed with 'looking like a good Christian' that it created an impossible standard of "purity" and made it completely unsafe to be a real, broken human being.  If you will, ponder these wise words from exemplary Eric Ludy of Ellerslie in Windsor, CO.  The GOSPEL has been reduced to a message merely about forgiveness while the idea of regeneration and transformation seems almost totally forgotten. GRACE has become simply a gigantic hug from God and is no longer the muscle of God brought to earth to aid the weakness of men and to give them strength. FAITH has morphed into this bizarre idea of "honest doubt" and has lost its essence of rock-solid unwavering confidence in the ability of God to perform that which He promises. HOLINESS has transformed into moralistic tyranny for the soul and something to be avoided at all costs. RIGHTEOUSNESS has been redefined to mean an unreachable standard of perfection. PURITY has become nothing more than a legalistic attempt to stay away from things and thoughts that God knows we won't be able to abstain from anyway. LOVE has become unconditional acceptance and tolerance of sin. ~from the BRAVEHEARTED GOSPEL

This is about a Christian culture that sets people up for failure.  What sets people up for failure is just what Eric Ludy said here:  
"When the Word of God in text is diminished, it leads to a diminishment of the Word of God made flesh." 

This isn't just about Josh Duggar, it's about our really sick, twisted relationship with sex, shame, self-loathing and perfectionism.  And the unearthly standards of perfection determined by the evil pornography industry could have nothing to do with your above statement, eh E. E.?  What is twisted, E. E., is how God's written Word and Word made flesh have been robbed of their glorious power by so-called progressives such as yourself.  You should be ashamed.  But people don't believe in shame or guilt.  Therein lies a huge part of the problem!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Christmas 2007

Jesus – The Reason for Every Season
by Ginny Bain Allen

I pray for you all a Mighty Christmas this year!
Cling to Jesus each moment for He's ever near.

What's up with folks proclaiming, "Happy Holidays?"
Inquiring minds query, "Which happy holy days?

What's the point of the holiday tree, season, vacation?
It's all about lifting Him up, it's His celebration.

Becoming flesh to dwell among His lambs lonely and lost,
In a stable born, displaying humbleness at great cost.

To a carpenter born, a carpenter He would become,
With each nail that He drove, did He reminisce of His home?

Taking our sins upon Himself – a prophecy fulfilled,
That I should such a life destroy, yet live by Him I killed!

Arms opened wide for us, love alone would have held Him there,
Needing no nails, scars of obedience He'll always wear.

Wise, humble men seek Him as their Good Shepherd,
Daily time spent with Him in reading His Word.

Being still before Him, peacefully listening, seeking,
Allowing His Spirit to help us bide in His keeping.

In adoration we bow as our hearts are stirred.
Devoted to pure living in thought, deed and word.

Empow'ring us to live with Him through His grace
We now must stand firm to the end of this race.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hannah Graham and Jesse Matthew in Charlottesville, VA, My Hometown.

No, Hannah Graham's disappearance was definitely NOT her fault.  That lies squarely on the depraved shoulders of an evil psychopath named Jesse Matthew.  However, many are not speaking realistically concerning how Hannah's comportment that night definitely played a significant part in her disappearance.  I do not mean she wanted to be raped.  I do not mean she was asking for it.  I do not mean she got what she deserved.  Far from it!  Face it folks.  Due to living in this depraved world, and not in utopia, one's behaviour is significant.  Consider the old adage - Actions speak louder than words.  My female body is not a detriment to me for it was beautifully created by God.  Hannah's beautiful, young, athletic body was not a detriment to her.  Had Hannah not been out alone late, in the dark, inebriated, dressed seductively, she would still be alive.  She would not have been targeted by Jesse Matthew for she would not have been on the downtown mall!  That's the truth.  Yes, females are targets of sexual predators no matter what.  Of course, such barbaric behaviour by males is NEVER excusable!  However, behaving safely, wisely, and healthily can serve to dramatically reduce the probability that a female will be abducted by a wicked predator, who cares nothing for her beautiful, unique, priceless life.  Many shout loudly that males are responsible for keeping their baser instincts in check.  Unequivocally so!  However, there are many males in this world who do NOT care a whit about reining themselves in.  Due to living in our narcissistic culture, we ALL know that to be unequivocally so!  We do not live in heaven!  We live in a world corrupted by sin, and if we don't wisely protect ourselves and our children, we live foolishly, dangerously, irresponsibly, unlovingly.  I will reiterate - the morally corrupt males who willfully choose to perpetrate violent crimes against females are alone responsible for their egregious acts, even in our culture that is responsible for breeding such psychopaths.  However, as females with 50% less brute strength, we must live wisely, safely and healthily as best we can to curtail much of the criminal activity directed at us. 

What resulted in Hannah Graham’s devastating disappearance was like the perfect gathering storm. How the seemingly insignificant parts to her story, while standing alone, all added together, in the end produced a fatal result. A fatal ending that reminds me of the disaster that occurred on Mount Everest in 1996, detailed in the book INTO THIN AIR. All the components that alone would have simply been an inconvenience, when strung together, caused the deaths of a number of expert mountain climbers.

The only real answer to all of our woes is Jesus!  We all pay the price when He is rejected.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tracking Christian Sexual Morality in a Same-Sex Marriage Future by Mark Regnerus

Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable. And it’s reasonable to expect continued change in more permissive directions.
As mainline Protestant denominations increasingly accept the ordination of gay clergy and publicly affirm same-sex unions, the sociologist in me wishes to understand what this development means for people in those denominations. I’m not talking about subtle linguistic shifts. While the difference between speaking of marriage as a “civil contract between a woman and a man” and as “a unique commitment between two people” is obvious to those who pay attention to church documents, the impact of such changes on congregants’ attitudes and internalized paradigms—their hearts, I suppose—is seldom considered.
What is the sexual and relational morality of Christians who accept the moral legitimacy of same-sex marriages? Some questions naturally arise. Does adultery mean the same thing for both same-sex and opposite-sex unions? Does it make sense to speak of premarital sex in such a context? Historically, the fear of pregnancy was enough to scare many love-struck Christians into taking things slow, but same-sex pregnancies are an accomplishment, not an accident, and most Christians use contraception now anyway.
Integrating homosexual relationships into Christian moral systems is not simple, and has ramifications for how heterosexual relationships are understood, too. What exactly do pro-same-sex-marriage Christians think about sex and relationships in general?
I’m not asking what perspectives on sexual behavior people ought to hold. Instead, I’m trying to discover what perspectives churchgoing Christians who disagree over same-sex marriage actually express.
To be sure, the sexual and relational standards of many Christians have already shifted. I’m not so na├»ve as to think that affirming same-sex marriage is the first significant change to take hold in their sexual and relational norms. More likely, the sexual morality of many churchgoing Christians shifted years ago, and the acceptance of same-sex marriage as licit Christian action follows significant change rather than prompts it. An ideal test would have been to have successfully interviewed congregants in “shifting” denominations (like the Presbyterian Church USA and the Episcopalians) over time, mapping what happens to their personal attitudes and opinions as social change occurred around them. So far as I’m aware, no one has done that. Indeed, it would have been difficult to do, involving the successful anticipation of future changes that were far from certain at the time.
What I do here is far more circumscribed. I assess a set of sexual and relational attitudes of Christians who support—and Christians who oppose—same-sex marriage.
Primarily, this exercise concerns the attitudes of all churchgoing Christians who express support for same-sex marriage. And since the LGBT population remains a small minority (and even smaller in organized religious communities), it’s reasonable to conclude that the sexual morality that “welcoming” congregations or individual Christians profess will have largely been fashioned—and maintained—by sympathetic heterosexuals. These are and will remain the majority (and hence, the norm) in all congregations, save for the Metropolitan Community Church and perhaps scattered congregations of the United Church of Christ.
The Relationships in America Survey
To do this, I rely on the Relationships in America survey, a data collection project I oversaw that interviewed 15,738 Americans, ages 18-60, in early 2014. It’s a population-based sample, meaning that its results are nationally representative. The survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with these seven statements:
1. Viewing pornographic material is OK.
2. It is a good idea for couples considering marriage to live together in order to decide whether or not they get along well enough to be married to one another.
3. It is OK for two people to get together for sex and not necessarily expect anything further.
4. If a couple has children, they should stay married unless there is physical or emotional abuse.
5. It is sometimes permissible for a married person to have sex with someone other than his/her spouse.
6. It is OK for three or more consenting adults to live together in a sexual/romantic relationship.
7. I support abortion rights.
There is more to sexual and relationship morality than just these seven items, to be sure, but they do offer us a glimpse into how people perceive various practices and relationships. In order to ensure this is not just an exercise in documenting the attitudes of Christians “in name only,” I’ve restricted the analysis to churchgoing Christians—here defined as those who report they attend religious services at least three times a month and who self-identified with some sort of Christian affiliation. And I’ve restricted the analysis to those who report a position either for or against same-sex marriage. (I’ve excluded the one-in-four who reported they are undecided.)
For comparison purposes, however, I report the population average for each measure here, to use as a gauge of where the country is as a whole, as well as the attitudes professed by self-identified gays and lesbians who also report affiliation with a Christian tradition, and gays and lesbians that do not report a Christian affiliation. Because there is no attendance proviso attached to these two groups, the minority of gay and lesbian Christians that are regular churchgoers may also appear in one of the first two columns.
Regnerus GraphSo what do the numbers say? The table above displays the share of each group who either “agree” or “strongly agree” with the seven statements listed above. At a glance, there is a pretty obvious fissure between Christians who do and do not oppose same-sex marriage. More than seven times as many of the latter think pornography is OK. Three times as many back cohabiting as a good idea, six times as many are OK with no-strings-attached sex, five times as many think adultery could be permissible, thirteen times as many have no issue with polyamorous relationships, and six times as many support abortion rights. The closest the two come together is over the wisdom of a married couple staying together at all costs (except in cases of abuse).
Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage look very much like the country as a whole—the population average (visible in the third column). That answers my original question. What would a pro-SSM Christian sexual morality look like? The national average—the norm—that’s what.
While the divisions here are notable, we should maintain some perspective. No more than four in ten Christians who support same-sex marriage agreed with any of the statements above (except the question about children and divorce). The same cannot be said for American Christians who self-identify as gay or lesbian, as the fourth column demonstrates. And that group is clearly distinct from those gay and lesbian Americans who do not affiliate with a Christian tradition (e.g., nonreligious, Jews, spiritual-but-not-religious, Buddhists, etc.).
I’m not suggesting any “slippery slope” sort of argument here, implying that a shift in one attitude will prompt lock-step adjustments in others. In reality, our moral systems concerning sex and sexuality tend rather to resemble personalized “tool kits” reflecting distinctive visions of the purpose of sex and significant relationships (and their proper timing), the meaning of things like marriage and gender roles, and basic ideas about rights, goods, and privacy. Americans construct them in quite distinct combinations, often cafeteria-style. Instead, the results might be better interpreted as a simple story of social learning from quite different reference groups—those sets of people we use as a standard of comparison for ourselves, regardless of whether we identify as a member of that group. Indeed, attitude shifts in this domain are probably far more about reference groups than about any sort of individual “evolution” or rational construction of personal values. And it’s because of reference groups that both sets of Christians tend to perceive themselves as rather embattled, which is an inherently social sensation.
Christians Feel Embattled—Regardless of Their Views on Marriage
Churchgoers who oppose same-sex marriage sense that they are out of step with the rest of the nation about sex and relationships. (The numbers above reinforce that.) And Christians who favor legalizing same-sex marriage often remain embattled with those who oppose it, and yet sense that their own views on sexuality still lag behind those gay and lesbian Christians from whom they’ve have become convinced of the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. That, too, is true. Gay and lesbian Christians, in turn, have much in common with gay and lesbian non-Christians—their social circles often overlap. The sexual norms of the former are not as permissive as the latter, but are still well above the national average in permissiveness. The latter likely constitutes a reference group for gay and lesbian Christians (together with heterosexual Christians with whom they are in fellowship).
Given the rather massive divide in attitudes about sexual and romantic relationships evidenced in the table above, reference group theory—if employed here—would suggest that the current division between these groups of churchgoing Christians will remain far into the future. Even if a share of American Christians who presently oppose same-sex marriage track in more liberal directions—and it would be shrewd to presume that this will occur—those Christians who already support same-sex marriage are themselves still tracking in that same direction. And, from the looks of it, they have plenty of territory to cover yet.
Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, research associate at its Population Research Center, and a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.