New Lifeway Research Survey Says ‘Pastoral Support of Same-Sex Marriage Stalls’

A new Lifeway Research study finds that the number of pastors who support same-sex marriage has not increased. Released on June 4th, the study found that three-fourths of U.S. Protestant pastors surveyed (75%) remain opposed to the union.

On the other hand, 21% of North American Protestant pastors say, “I see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married.” An additional four percent of those polled say they aren’t sure of their position.

The study also noted the results of previous polls and the percentage of pastoral support (15% in 2010, 24% in 2019 and 21% in 2023).

Younger pastors were more likely to express support than their older colleagues in Christian ministry (age 18 to 44, 27%; age 55 to 64, 22%). Conversely, 15% of pastors 65 and older say they see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

Female pastors support same-sex marriage more than their male counterparts. Nearly half of female pastors (42%) are likely to support the union compared to male pastors (16%).

The survey also recognized support for same-sex marriages along denominational lines. “Methodists (53%), Presbyterian/Reformed (36%) and Lutherans (34%) are more likely to be supportive of same-sex marriage than Restorationist Movement (8%), non-denominational (5%), Baptist (4%) or Pentecostal (1%) pastors.”

According to the survey, affirmation of same-sex marriage also depends on the amount of education one receives. Christian leaders with a master’s (30%) or doctoral degree (26%) are more likely to offer their support compared to their colleagues without a college degree (9%) or with a bachelor’s degree (7%).

“Debates continue within denominations at national and judicatory levels on the morality of same-sex marriage, yet the overall number of Protestant pastors who support same-sex marriage is not growing,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said. “The previous growth was seen most clearly among mainline pastors, and that level did not rise in our latest survey.”

These are the results of a phone survey of 1,004 pastors conducted in August of 2023. The confidence rate is 95%, plus or minus 3.2%. Read the full report

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