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Mark Regnerus has presented new data about the beliefs of Christians who support same sex marriage. For the study, Regnerus gathered responses from four groups: Christians who opposed SSM, Christians who supported SSM, Christians identifying as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered), and non-Christian LGBT. He controlled the responses with data from the “general population.”

The respondents were asked their views on, among other issues, pornography and casual sexual relationships. Non-Christian LGBT was the most permissive group on both of these questions. What stands out about Regnerus’ data, however, is the gap between Christians who oppose SSM and Christians who support it. According to the survey, Christians who supported SSM were eight times more likely than non-affirming Christians to agree with the statement, “Viewing pornography is OK.” As for casual sex, these same Christians said they were morally OK with it at a rate that was seven times higher than that of Christians not supporting SSM.

Regnerus then offers this analysis:

To be sure, the sexual and relational standards of many Christians have already shifted. I’m not so naïve as to think that affirming same-sex marriage is the first significant change to take hold in their sexual and relational norms. More likely, the sexual morality of many churchgoing Christians shifted years ago, and the acceptance of same-sex marriage as licit Christian action follows significant change rather than prompts it.

One could nitpick this statement, perhaps by suggesting that cultural pressure to conform on the gay marriage issue specifically has contributed to this trend. But overall I think Regnerus makes an important point: Support of same sex marriage is a consistent pit stop on the journey towards sexual libertinism.

Remember Andrew Sullivan’s “conservative case for gay marriage”? Sullivan argued that conservatives should seek to extol marriage and family as pivotal social institutions that can grow via redefinition. Consistent conservatism, Sullivan said, is to graft in gays and lesbians into the structure and social health that these things bring. This data severely undermines his argument. It would appear that redefining marriage does not come about as culture enters a closer orbit with sexual health, but rather sexual nihilism.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center