(Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott)
A sharp rise in left-leaning Christian churches that affirm homosexuality has not yet produced an increase in Christians adopting the gay lifestyle, according to a recent poll.
The poll, released last week by Christian Research, found only .5 percent of the churchgoing population in the United Kingdom, or 1 in 200, is in a same-sex relationship. Christian Research, originally part of World Vision, is currently part of the Bible Society and describes itself as an "independent market research agency" on its website.
In the United States, 2.3 percent of the total population is either homosexual or bisexual, according to a survey issued recently by the Center for Disease Control. Matt C. Abbott, a Catholic commentator who studies homosexuality in the church, believes that .5 percent is about right in line with the percentage of American churchgoers that are in homosexual relationships.
"I'd say the one-to-200 ratio of homosexual relationships is roughly the same for American churchgoers," Abbott said to The Christian Post. "I have no solid evidence to back that up, but from my observation, it seems more or less accurate."
Dr. Robert Gagnon, associate professor of the New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theology Seminary and widely considered the orthodox expert on sexuality in Scripture, seconded Abbott by saying that "since churches in Britain and the U.S. include left-wing churches that affirm homosexual relationships, the figure sounds reasonable."
Gagnon believes the number could increase because of a rise in the number of the amount of affirming churches all over the world that are open to gays, lesbians and bisexuals. A website called GayChurch.Org makes it very easy for homosexuals all over the world to find a church near them that is open to their sexual orientation.
"The more churches affirming of homosexual unions, the more likely its people will get involved in such relationships because they will be encouraged to do so," Gagnon said.
He said there are a number of reasons why more people and churches are starting to affirm homosexuals and bisexuals.
Some churches, struggling to stay relevant, want to be seen as being on "the cutting edge of the Christian faith."
"You are viewed as a homophobic bigot, the equivalent of a racist. Who wants that?" Gagnon said. "You have a lot of cultural and even state opposition to persons who hold the historic Christian ethic on this position."
Gagnon argued that churches affirming the homosexual lifestyle are trying to maintain their position in the community.
"Some people are self-deceived in thinking that Scripture does not have a very clear and strong stance in Genesis to Revelation on this issue," Gagnon said. "They have been trolled by others who are supposed to be leaders in the church into thinking that this is acceptable and there is nothing in Scripture that rejects it or prohibit homosexual relationships."
Gagnon said that the church needs to do a better job of letting people know that it is alright to have homosexual urges and that homosexuals are encouraged to go to church. However, each homosexual still has a responsibility in the eye of Jesus to resist those urges.
Abbott concluded by saying that there are two types of homosexual Christians.
"There are Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, strive to live chaste lives, and do not identify themselves as gay; but there are also Christians who identify themselves as gay and engage in homosexual activism," Abbott said. "Christians who support the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage are, at best, terribly misguided."