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 those of 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).His research interviewed nearly 16,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60 earlier this year. He asked them if viewing pornography was okay; if it is a good idea for couples to live together outside of marriage; if it is okay for two people to have "no strings attached" sex; if a married couple should remain together (barring abuse) for the sake of their kids; if it's okay for a married person to have adultery; if it's okay for three or more people to live together as a romantic group; and if they support abortion rights.
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.
Here are the results:
I won't say much about the last two points, but I think (at least when it comes to the churchgoing straight Christians and the average person. I mean, 94.6% of Churchgoing Christians who oppose gay marriage might also believe that viewing pornography is bad; but an awful lot of them still do it! At least, the men do it...