Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis continued his progression towards recognizing the equality of God's children. After opposing same-sex marriage in 2008 — but believing in equal-rights protection — he now supports it, along with other Christian public figures such as former pastor Rob Bell and influential Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose son came out of the closet recently.
"I want a deeper commitment to marriage that is more and more inclusive, and that's where I think the country is going," Wallis told Christianity Today's blog.
He seems to be right about that point. The Pew Research Center recently released its poll on same-sex marriage. The numbers show that no other issue has incurred such a change over the last decade, and for every generation. Even the Silent Generation (1928-1945) has almost doubled its support for same-sex marriage, as it is the case for white evangelical Protestants, a group know for its social conservatism.
However, most of the rise in favor of same-sex marriage comes from the millennials (born after 1980). They approve of same-sex marriage at 70%. Even those identifying themselves as evangelical Christians support the issue much more than their parents, which Pew calls a generation gap. This gap, however, is slowly closing. Many people who have changed their minds on same-sex marriage have done so because they have gay people in their surroundings, because they've grown older and discovered the world, or even using religious reasons such as "only God should be judging."
However, despite this apparent change, a reconciliation between evangelicals supporting same-sex marriage and those who don't is unlikely in the near future because their division is more than moral; it is also ideological. Many opponents to same-sex marriage are also on the right side of the spectrum with respect to economics and other social issues. Gary North, deemed as a supporter of teaching religion in public schools, mocks Wallis' ideas as part of the "social gospel." This could match other Christians' observations; some see Wallis as a socialist, a traitor, and as a man not true to the "real" Gospel of Christ. Finally, many have taken issue with Wallis' (and other "progressive" pastors') position in favour of gun control, when they blasted the NRA for being religiously repugnant and preaching a dangerous theology in favor of gun ownership in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting.
Jim Wallis' support of same-sex marriage is yet another proof of the ever-changing opinions in the U.S. about the subject. Since 2003, Americans, even from the most conservative states and religious creeds, have steadily increased their support for the issue. Slowly but surely, gays rights are becoming what African American rights were 60 years ago: accepted by more and more people.