For years now attitudes toward homosexuality have been shifting in society generally and among Christians in particular. According to statistics published by Pew Research in 2015, significant majorities of the following Christian groups now accept the morality of homosexuality: Catholic, mainline Protestant, and Orthodox. In addition, a slight majority of “historically Black Protestants” also accept the morality of homosexuality. Only among evangelicals (and Mormons and JWs) is this view still a minority, and even here the trend is toward acceptance: in the last eight years evangelicals have moved from 26% to 36% acceptance.
Speaking anecdotally, I know several Christian high school teachers, and they all report much higher rates of acceptance among their students.
Growing up, the grid we were given for the moral assessment of homosexuality came from Romans 1:
27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
As evidence for this lust we learned of shocking statistics regarding the promiscuity of homosexual males (see, for example, this list of statistics courtesy of Matt Slick). (Notably, there was little-to-no focus on lesbian behavior.)
Without wading into the morass of statistical debate (which is definitely contentious), it is worthwhile noting that the encounter with individual gay people and their stories has been enormously significant for changing the conversation. Arguably, Ellen DeGeneres’ decision to come out twenty years ago was a Rubicon moment. And there have been countless stories since then which have been added to the tidal wave. Place the stories of people against a list of promiscuity statistics and exegesis of particular biblical passages, and the Pew Forum illustrates which side is winning.
If you want a powerful visualization illustrating the nature and force of this shift in moral assessment, just consider the short animated film “In a Heartbeat.” Produced by two film students and just uploaded to YouTube (and Vimeo) yesterday, the film has already gone viral with over 2.5 million views. It tells a simple story of adolescent attraction, though it substitutes boy-meets-girl with boy-meets-boy.
Watching “In a Heartbeat” one does not see evidence of a male sinfully “abandoning natural relations with women” and becoming “inflamed with lust” for another male. And one sees no high rate of promiscuity. One only sees what seems to be the perfectly natural sexual and emotional attraction of one individual to another. Depending on your ethical assessment you may view that either as the sober truth or subversive manipulation. But however you evaluate it ethically or theologically, it certainly reflects the current drift of social opinion.