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Why more Americans (and Christians) now support same-sex 'marriage'

Getty Images/YinYang
Getty Images/YinYang

According to recent Gallup polls, 71% of Americans think same-sex “marriage” should be legal, and 64% believe gay or lesbian relationships are morally acceptable. These numbers are double from a generation ago. Among those who attend church weekly, 41% support same-sex “marriage,” while 67% of those who attend church less frequently do. 

How is it that so many, including so many in the Church, now embrace a view of marriage that was unthinkable just a few decades ago? 

Long before the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex unions as “marriages,” the meaning of marriage was already fraying. This was due to a host of cultural factors, but perhaps none more important than birth control. The invention and widespread acceptance of “the pill” in the 20th century finally severed what was long understood to be a package deal: marriage, sex, and children. The only way for sex to be morally severed from marriage was for it to be detached from the good and natural consequence of new life. As a result, extramarital sex was destigmatized and, even more, sexual pleasure and romance replaced commitment and children as the defining features of marriage.  

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Hollywood helped, too. The definitive sitcoms of the 1980s focused on the family. In the 90’s, shows like Sex and the City and Friends portrayed an idealized, hyper-sexual, hyper-romantic, commitment-free world. Movies and shows initiated viewers into what Dr. Thaddeus Williams has called the “cult of self,” where “following your heart” is the highest goal in life. In a culture drunk on these ideals, the silly and observably false slogan of the gay rights movement, “love is love,” made perfect sense. 

Digital technologies added significant fuel to the fire. “New media,” the combination of the internet, social media, and smartphones, accelerated shifting views about marriage and sex. As author Samuel James noted, the online world put users at the center of the universe and gave them “limitless freedom to make fantasy become reality.” This power reinforced and incentivized libertarian views about sex and marriage by placing pleasure and romance not at the center of marriage, but at the center of the self.  

In these cultural waters, the legalization of same-sex marriage was inevitable. The 2015 landmark decision reflected what many already believed. Marriage is primarily about romance, pleasure, and self-fulfillment. Children are optional. If marriage isn’t fundamentally connected to procreation, why limit it to two people of the opposite sex? And, in the inevitable next stage in which we currently live, why limit it to just two people? 

Law is also a teacher. When something is legal, it becomes more socially acceptable. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell not only reflected cultural beliefs, but it also spread them. This explains the increasing acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” both within the Church and without. Though a majority of those who attend church faithfully still hold to the Christian view of marriage between one man and one woman, it is a shrinking majority.  

This is due to the same upstream factors. Many U.S. Christians haven’t thoughtfully considered the inherent connection between sex and marriage and children. Most use digital technology as much and in the same way as the rest of the culture. We all live in the post-Obergefell era in which a bad decision is teaching us wrong ideas.  

This is not the first time the Church has been plagued by bad views of marriage. Early Christians struggled to understand and live out the meaning of marriage amid the rank immorality of Roman culture. Paul addressed these concerns in his epistles, urging believers to reject wrong ideas and instead fix their eyes on Christ. He appealed, like Jesus did, to a view of marriage based on God’s created design. The marital relationship is built into the fabric of the world. It cannot be replaced or redefined. In fact, it is a sacred mystery that points ultimately to Christ and the Church. For the life of the world and the Church, Christians must continue to regard it as such. 

To counter the lies about love, marriage, and sex so prevalent in our culture, check out The Identity Project is the most comprehensive library of on-demand videos and resources addressing issues of identity, humanness, and sexuality, all from a Judeo-Christian worldview. For a special discount this month, go to and enter BREAKPOINT at checkout.  

Originally published at BreakPoint. 

John Stonestreet serves as president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He’s a sought-after author and speaker on areas of faith and culture, theology, worldview, education and apologetics.  

Jared Hayden (M.A., Religion) is a Breakpoint contributor at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where he studied Reformed theology, ethics, and theology of the body. A former researcher at the Heritage Foundation, he has focused his work on social policy and cultural analysis with a special interest in the intersection of gender and tech. His writing has appeared in National ReviewThe Federalist, and The American Conservative. More of Jared's personal research and writing can be found on his Substack Perishable Goods.

When he's not writing, Jared enjoys rock climbing, designing books, hosting dinners, and spending time with his niece and nephews.

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