The Messy Middle

This is promising. Researchers at Baylor working with survey results from 2010 found that 24% of evangelicals are supportive of gay civil unions – kinda. Here’s the presser from Baylor:

Tolerance toward gays and lesbians is growing within the evangelical community — long a stronghold against homosexuality — with many expressing ambivalence, according to a Baylor University study.

The emerging voice of the so-called “Messy Middle” — evangelicals who oppose homosexuality on moral grounds but support equal rights such as civil unions for gays — has strong implications for the gay marriage debate, say Baylor researchers, who presented their paper Monday at the American Sociological Association’s 108th annual meeting in New York City.

“As a moral issue, we predict that the opposition to gay civil rights will not have the same staying power as the abortion debate,” said study co-author Brandon Martinez, a sociology researcher in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

If I’m reading this right, then what we’re seeing is a case of exhaustion. It’s not a full conversion towards toleration for LGBT rights. It’s also not the strategic retreat that we see in the case of Joseph Bottum.

Instead, these are people in the pews who have just grown tired of the debate. They’re probably getting tired of looking like bigots, and they’re tired of seeing the media celebrate the first gay marriage in each new state that offers marriage equality. They want to move on to other things.

So they’ll accept civil unions, and possibly marriage equality, just to end the argument. It’s not an ideal victory, but it’s probably the best we can expect in this generation.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    It only makes sense. Much of what is now legal is still considered “sinful” – pre-marital sex, divorce, adultery. This attempt to keep Gays from marrying was only ever going to go the same way, and the more sensible among the evangelicals are just getting to the point of accepting that.

  • Wanda Brooks Smith

    when i was a believer, support for same sex unions came from compassion for the people, not a biblical viewpoint on their lifestyle.

    • evodevo

      In other words, if it was someone they knew – a relative or friend – it was OK, because they saw them as “good people” ? That seems to be the religious right way, they’re agin’ it until it hits close to home, and then they undergo a sudden “conversion” to the opposite point of view. Sounds like a lack of empathy to me.

      • Wanda Brooks Smith

        no, that is not what i meant. And i was speaking for myself, and no one else. I have always believed that if people love each other then they should be allowed to be bonded,

        i only know a couple of homosexual people, and only barely. Never have. I think most of my knowledge/compassion has come from hearing the stories of people (on television, radio or internet), and they’re people, just like i am, with the same hopes, fears, loves, etc. NO difference.

        it is entirely empathy, so i don’t know where you came up with your scenario from my original comment. Except for the fact that i was a believer at the time.

  • Ctuluhu

    The next generation will consider gay marriage normal and see the fact it was illegal in the same light as we see laws against mixed-race marriage.


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