Christian groups unbending in support of traditional marriage despite Campolo's change of heart

www.TonyCampolo.orgEvangelical leader Tony Campolo has revealed that he changed his position on gay marriage because of his wife Peggy.

Although prominent evangelical leader Tony Campolo, leader of Red Letter Christians, has announced his support to gay marriage, various Christian groups still maintain that they support traditional marriage.

The stand taken by Campolo and his supporters may have created the impression that the Christian church, and the evangelical church in particular, is undergoing a dramatic shift on homosexuality.

This was even apparently supported by surveys conducted by the Southern Baptist–affiliated Lifeway Research. The survey showed that in 2012, 82 percent of Americans who consider themselves to be "born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christians" believed "homosexual behavior was a sin."

That number dropped to 66 percent in a similar survey conducted this year.

However, Lifeway Research chief Ed Stetzer said comparing the results of the two surveys may not show the real picture, pointing out the difference between "self-identified" evangelicals and "active" evangelicals.

"There has definitely been a shift in culture, and that shift is also evident in evangelicals," he said. "Yet our research—and that of many others—show that [while] self-identified evangelicals are shifting some, active evangelicals—those who go to church—generally are not."

Moreover, a recent Pew Research Center study found that only 27 percent of white evangelicals favour same-sex marriage. That number drops dramatically when church attendance is considered, according to the study. Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants is slightly higher (33 percent), but that support actually has dropped in recent years, it pointed out.

Maintaining that Campolo and his supporters have not made a significant dent in the mindset of Christians worldwide, particularly those in Asia and Africa, Christianity Today came out with a top story titled "Breaking News: 2 Billion Christians Believe in Traditional Marriage: And so do we."

The Christian news outlet tackled the support given by its former editor, David Neff, to Campolo's statement.

Posting on Facebook, Neff said: "God bless Tony Campolo. He is acting in good faith and is, I think, on the right track."

However, Christianity Today said "it's not at all certain that the rapid cultural shift in America on gay marriage will be mirrored in the Christian church."

It said North American and European Christians who believe in gay marriage are a small minority and churches that support a "more liberal sexual ethic continue to wither."

"Meanwhile, poll Christians in Africa, Asia, and practically anywhere in the world, and you'll hear a resounding 'no' to gay marriage. Scan the history of the church for 2,000 years and you'll have a hard time turning up any Christian who would support same-sex marriage. The church has been and remains overwhelmingly united. It's undergoing stress, certainly. But the evidence doesn't support a narrative of division and collapse on this point," Christianity Today said.

Meanwhile, in a statement posted on his blog on Monday, Campolo said it took him "countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil" before he made the decision to support "the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church."

He revealed that he changed his position on gay marriage because of his wife Peggy. "Through Peggy, I have come to know so many gay Christian couples whose relationships work in much the same way as our own. Our friendships with these couples have helped me understand how important it is for the exclusion and disapproval of their unions by the Christian community to end. We in the Church should actively support such families," he said.

He said as a Christian, his responsibility is not to condemn or reject gays but love and embrace them and try to draw them into the church.

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