10. Gender identity is a matter of choice.
Thirty-eight percent of Americans in the survey said that gender identity is a matter of choice, while 51 percent disagreed. Only 32 percent of evangelicals said gender identity is a choice, while 40 percent of non-evangelicals said so.
Scripture does not speak specifically to the sense that a person was born in the wrong body (gender dysphoria), but it does emphasize two basic ideas on sexuality: humans were made male and female, and sexuality is a good gift of God. While people who struggle with gender dysphoria should be treated with love and respect, Christians cannot believe that their birth sex is a mistake.
The idea of original sin—that people are born into a fallen world with sinful desires, diseases and other weaknesses—explains where gender dysphoria comes from, and the idea of God’s ultimate redemption of humanity promises an answer that does not require “gender-affirming” surgery. (Indeed, such surgery mutilates the human body as God designed it, and there are real victims of transgenderism.) Christians should sympathize with those struggling with dysphoria, and offer them the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ that motivates our faith.
11. Homosexual behavior is no longer a sin.
Forty-two percent of Americans in the survey said that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior does not apply today, while 44 percent disagreed.
Small-o orthodox Christianity holds that homosexual practice is a sin, because sex is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. Romans 1 makes clear that homosexual acts are sinful—a penalty for separation from God and a sin with its own consequences. (An aside, this passage does not call for the execution of homosexuals, as The New York Times ignorantly reported.)
That emphatically does not mean that people with same-sex attraction cannot be saved or are more sinful than others. Christians all acknowledge their sinfulness and accept forgiveness only through the death and resurrection of Jesus. No Christian should pretend to be “holier-than-thou,” but no Christian can support homosexual behavior either. It is a hard thing for Christians with same-sex attraction to be abstinent, but they are held to the same standard as unmarried straight people.
12. The prosperity gospel.
Thirty-seven percent of American evangelicals agreed that God will always reward true faith with material blessings. Sixty-three percent of Americans in general disagreed with this notion, and only 23 percent of non-evangelicals agreed with this “prosperity gospel.”
Perhaps ironically, poorer Americans, those with incomes under $25,000, were more likely (28 percent) to agree with the prosperity gospel than wealthier Americans. Only 20 percent of those making $100,000 or more bought this notion.
The prosperity gospel flies in the face of orthodox Christianity and the plain text of the Bible. While the New Testament promises heaven for those who believe in Jesus, it does not promise riches in this life. Rather, Saint Paul, the author of most of the letters in the New Testament, himself faced penury, prison and even death for the gospel he preached. The apostles all faced gruesome deaths, with the one exception of Saint John, and thousands of martyrs laid the foundation for the church.
This does not mean that every believer is called to give his or her life to preach the gospel, but it should emphatically disprove the message of preachers like Joel Osteen, who proclaim that faith can bring riches.
Americans with more education are less likely to believe this prosperity gospel (18 percent of those with graduate degrees said they believed it, while 33 percent of those with high school degrees or less did so).