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Anything Goes?

Gallup poll suggests Americans have fewer qualms about once-verboten sexual behaviors.

A new Gallup poll suggests that Americans have unprecedented tolerance for a variety of unbiblical sexual behaviors.

The annual Values and Beliefs survey shows a record 73 percent of Americans agree that divorce is morally acceptable, up from 59 percent when Gallup instituted the poll with specific moral questions in 2001.

In addition, 69 percent find nothing wrong regarding sexual relations between an unmarried man and woman. That is an upturn from 53 percent 16 years ago.

Likewise, 63 percent have no qualms about gays or lesbians engaging in sexual relations. That has risen from 40 percent when the pollster first posed the question in 2001.

Meanwhile, 62 percent agree that having a baby outside of marriage is morally acceptable, an increase from 45 percent in 2002.

Although far from a majority, a record 36 percent of Americans now call viewing pornography morally acceptable. That represents a slow but steady rise from the 30 percent who thought so when the question became part of the analysis in 2011.

And while still a distinct minority, a record 17 percent don’t find anything wrong with polygamy — compared to just 7 percent when first asked in 2003.

“The Gallup poll takes the temperature of our culture,” says Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood. “The Church needs to be the thermostat to the culture. If ever there was a time when we are called by the Lord to be salt and light, it is now.”

Overall, on 10 of 19 issues measured by the researcher, respondents showed the most permissive attitudes in the 16-year history of the poll.

The leftward tilt comes in the wake of more liberalized laws, such as the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The Values and Belief publication came out at the same time as another Gallup survey that indicates a record low percentage of Americans believe the Bible is the literal Word of God.

Less than one in four Americans — 24 percent — believes the Bible is “the actual Word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word,” according to Gallup. That is even lower than the 26 percent who now view the Scriptures as “a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man.” The split is most pronounced among young adults, with just 12 percent of those under 30 viewing the Bible as God’s Word, Gallup says.

The May survey marked the first time in Gallup’s four-decade tracking that biblical skepticism surpassed biblical literalism. When first posed in 1976, only 13 percent of those questioned considered the Bible a fable, while 38 percent affirmed it as the literal Word of God. Just like 40 years ago, around half of Americans continue to believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but that not all Scripture should be taken literally.

“A sin-stricken culture desperately needs the impact of Spirit-filled believers who hold forth the truth of God’s Word with one hand and the love of God with the other hand,” Wood says. “We must be bold in our affirmation of what the Bible says while being extraordinarily loving to all for whom Christ died.”

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.