Half of Christians say sex between consenting adults who are in a committed dating relationship is sometimes or always acceptable, and over half — with the exception of evangelical Protestants — say casual sex is OK, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
Some 62% of Catholics, 56% of Protestants in the historically black tradition, 54% of mainline Protestants, and 36% of evangelical Protestants say casual sex between consenting adults is sometimes or always acceptable, according to the survey.
Among those who are religiously unaffiliated, as many as 84% say casual sex is sometimes or always acceptable, Pew adds. And the percentage increases to 94% among atheists and 95% among agnostics.
Pew clarifies that the survey “did not ask respondents if they themselves would engage in any of these practices. Instead, the questions asked if they found the practices acceptable ‘regardless of whether you would do it yourself.’”
The study notes that the gap between Christians and the unaffiliated is not very big when it comes to sex between unmarried adults who are in a committed relationship.
Fifty-seven percent of Christians say it’s sometimes or always acceptable. “That includes 67% of mainline Protestants, 64% of Catholics, 57% of Protestants in the historically black tradition, and 46% of evangelical Protestants.”
In comparison, nearly 80% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable.
However, Americans, in general, do not tend to accept a range of other sex and dating practices, for example, having sex on a first date, exchanging sexually explicit photographs with other consenting adults, and having an open relationship.
Evangelical Protestants are significantly less likely than most other Christian groups in this analysis to find these practices acceptable, Pew notes. Just over a third of Christians say it’s sometimes or always acceptable.
Church attendance has a bearing on people’s views on what they find acceptable, the survey adds. “For example, a little less than half (46%) of U.S. adults who attend services at least once a month say sex between unmarried adults in a committed relationship is sometimes or always acceptable, compared with three-quarters (74%) of those who go less often. And about one-third (35%) of those who go to religious services at least monthly say casual sex is sometimes or always acceptable, compared with three-quarters (75%) of those who attend less frequently,” the study points out.
In a column for The Christian Post this week, CP’s Executive Editor Dr. Richard D. Land addressed the embrace of sexual lifestyles condemned in Holy Scripture, focusing on biblical responses to its incidence.
“We should never let another Christian’s moral or theological failures shake our own personal Christian faith,” he said, adding that we should forgive regardless of whether they repent or not or they request it or not.
“When the person confesses their sins and repents, then they should be welcomed back into the fellowship,” Land, former president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, cautioning, that “restoration to fellowship with the Body of Christ does not mean automatic elevation to the previous or a new position of leadership.”