A majority of Americans believe it would be fair for God to 'show his wrath against sin,' survey finds

Posted October 5

A newly released LifeWay Research survey that shows Americans' complicated and "fuzzy" views on theology and the Bible also found that the majority of the country believes it would be fair for God to "show his wrath against sin."

While 57 percent agreed with this sentiment, the majority of Americans — 74 percent — rejected God punishing people for smaller sins.

Overall, 65 percent of Americans said that every person sins a little, but that people are essentially good in nature, LifeWay Research reported.

But the study also dove deeper into a variety of moral, social and cultural issues, questioning respondents about their views on sex outside of marriage, abortion, gender and homosexuality.

The survey found that 49 percent see extramarital sex as sinful, with 44 percent rejecting the notion that the act is morally wrong. Similarly, 49 percent said abortion is a sin, while 40 percent said it isn't.

The survey also asked questions about homosexuality and transgender issues, finding that 44 percent believe the "Bible's condemnation of homosexual behavior" applies today, while 42 percent said it doesn't. As for gender identity, 51 percent said it is not "a matter of choice," while 38 percent said it is.

As with views about the Bible, heaven, hell and God, evangelical Americans differed greatly from the American public overall. Ninety-one percent of evangelicals believe sex outside of marriage is sinful compared to only 40 percent of non-evangelicals.

This same dynamic also unfolds on the abortion front, with 87 percent of evangelicals believing it is sinful compared to 41 percent of non-evangelicals.

These results come amid changing cultural tides in America — an evolving dynamic that polling firms continue to watch in the wake of gay marriage legalization and increased debate over transgender rights.

Gallup has also assessed Americans' views on moral issues of late, finding in May 2016 that just 18 percent of the country felt that the overall state of moral values was either "excellent" or "good," with 43 percent selecting "poor."

Like the LifeWay poll, Gallup asked about extramarital sex, finding that 67 percent found it morally acceptable, while 30 percent said it was morally wrong. It's interesting to note that people were more willing to call extramarital sex moral in the Gallup study — and were more likely to call it sinful in the LifeWay survey.

Gallup also found that 60 percent of respondents called homosexuality morally acceptable, while 37 percent said it is not. In the LifeWay question — which was quite different — 42 percent of Americans said the Bible's ban on homosexual acts no longer applies, as previously stated; 44 percent disagreed.

Interestingly, the abortion proportions found in the two surveys align. In the Gallup poll, 43 percent called it morally acceptable, with 47 percent rejecting such a notion, compared to the LifeWay poll which found that 49 percent said abortion is sinful compared to 40 percent who disagreed.

As was previously reported, moral issues are being given prime attention amid the ongoing debate over religious liberty and civil rights, with the Pew Research Center finding intense polarization when it comes to issues such as the debate over allowing wedding businesses to opt out of such ceremonies.

While 48 percent of respondents in a new Pew Research Center survey agree with allowing such refusals, 49 percent disagree. Read more here.

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