Sociologist Dr. Mark Regnerus is no stranger to the media spotlight.
He has published two books (2007 and 2011) about the sexual behavior of teenagers and young adults, and he is widely published in a variety of publications. In 2011, his Slate article about the low cost of sex was the ninth most downloaded article of the year.
In 2012 the spotlight got brighter. Dr. Regnerus published research on the well-being of children in same sex marriages, which came under much scrutiny. He has since written a follow up piece an made the data available to scholars.
In August of 2014, he published more research, tracking the sexual morality of Christians in a same sex marriage future. He assessed, “…a set of sexual and relational attitudes of Christians who support—and Christians who oppose—same-sex marriage.”
His findings might surprise you.
“Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable. And it’s reasonable to expect continued change in more permissive directions.”
His study does not focus on what views Christian “ought” to hold, but instead, he tried “to discover what perspectives churchgoing Christians who disagree over same-sex marriage actually express,” wrote Dr. Regnerus.
“To do this, I rely on the Relationships in America survey, a data collection project I oversaw that interviewed 15,738 Americans, ages 18-60, in early 2014. It’s a population-based sample, meaning that its results are nationally representative. The survey asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with these seven statements:
1. Viewing pornographic material is OK.
2. It is a good idea for couples considering marriage to live together in order to decide whether or not they get along well enough to be married to one another.
3. It is OK for two people to get together for sex and not necessarily expect anything further.
4. If a couple has children, they should stay married unless there is physical or emotional abuse.
5. It is sometimes permissible for a married person to have sex with someone other than his/her spouse.
6. It is OK for three or more consenting adults to live together in a sexual/romantic relationship.
7. I support abortion rights.
There is more to sexual and relationship morality than just these seven items, to be sure, but they do offer us a glimpse into how people perceive various practices and relationships.”
The results were definitely interesting.
Dr. Regnerus’s findings and further information about this research, are available at The Witherspoon Institute Public Discourse.
Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, research associate at its Population Research Center, and a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture.