The New York Times ran an article last week on something that most of us already knew: Young Americans are Leaning Left.
The recent poll points out that out of adults aged 17 to 29:
44% believe that gay couples should be allowed to legally marry,
and 24% believe that gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions.
Add it all up, 68% of young Americans not only think that homosexuality is okay, but they want to see a civil sanctioning of LGBT relationships.
As the mainline church looks toward reaching out to young adults, we will be wise to keep these stats in mind, because I can almost guarantee that the 32% of young Americans who don’t support gay marriage or civil unions are already going to an evangelical church somewhere else.
Although, we can’t make assumptions about young evangelicals either. According to this Post article, one in three young evangelicals favors same-sex marriage.
We need to make space for the opinions of young adults in our churches, because when our denominations keep exclusive stances against same gender relationships, we keep young adults out of our churches. They don’t want to be involved in institutions, movements, and spiritual gatherings that seem inhospitable and homophobic.
When we hold to exclusive views in our churches, we’re keeping a new generation behind the velvet ropes.
Now, of course, I’m not saying that we should bow and bend to the whims of culture, and take a public opinion poll every time we’re disagreeing in the church. No. Of course not. We need to reflect on important issues and think about them theologically, historically, and Scripturally.
And, in this case, we have. There’s a great deal of scholarship on lesbian and gay relationships. Most recently, Stacy Johnson wrote A Time to Embrace: Same Gender Relationships in Religion, Law and Politics. With Stacy’s usual clarity and scholarly heft, he carefully outlines the church’s reponse to these important issues.
It’s time to remove those things that keep us from reaching a new generation. We can no longer keep anyone roped off.