Things are coming down.

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Jailminister, Nov 6, 2003.

  1. Jailminister

    Jailminister
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    Barna Survey Says Americans' Morals Decaying; Evangelicals Ruin the Curve

    By Fred Jackson and Jenni Parker
    November 5, 2003

    (AgapePress) - A new poll from Christian researcher George Barna shows the majority of Americans have come to regard many kinds of sinful behavior as acceptable. The exception to that trend continues to be evangelical Christians.

    The poll conducted by Barna Research Group found that 60% of Americans consider gambling, cohabitation, and sexual fantasizing "morally acceptable." Nearly half of those surveyed feel it is morally acceptable for a person to have an abortion or to have sex with someone other than his or her own spouse. And about a third say they have no moral problem with pornography, profanity, homosexual activity, or drunkenness.

    But this latest Barna poll indicates that evangelical Christians are the least likely group to condone such behaviors. Faith groups included in the study were adherents of non-Christian faiths, atheists and agnostics, Catholics, and several categories of Protestant Christians.

    While atheists and agnostics found nine of the ten behaviors morally legitimate, and half of people of other faiths had no problem with at least seven of them, out of the 10 behaviors evaluated, fewer than 10% of the evangelicals surveyed considered any of the activities legitimate.

    According to Barna, "Less than one out of every ten evangelical Christians maintained that adultery, gay sex, pornography, profanity, drunkenness, and abortion are morally acceptable. In contrast, every one out of those ten behaviors was deemed 'morally acceptable' by more than one out of ten people from each of the other six faith groups studied."

    Evangelicals Exceptional Even Among Christians
    Barna notes that people who self-identified as Christian but not evangelical had a higher level of acceptance of the immoral behaviors. The researcher defines an evangelical as someone who says he or she has been "born again" and that their salvation is by grace alone, not by works. Other defined conditions include belief in a literal Satan and belief that the Bible is the Word of God.

    The research group's survey also looked at Christians who neither described themselves as born-again nor believe they will go to heaven based on confessing their sin and accepting Christ. This group was shown to be somewhat less likely than people aligned with other faiths to consider the polled behaviors morally legitimate. However, the results indicate that members of this "notional Christian" group are more likely to find the polled sinful activities acceptable than evangelicals are.

    According to Barna's findings, "On average, born-again Christians who are not evangelical were more than three times as likely as evangelicals to describe any given behavior tested as morally acceptable."

    Generation and Gender Gaps
    The Barna poll on acceptance of certain behaviors also uncovered evidence of a generational "morality gap." According to the findings, "In nearly every case there was a pattern of Mosaics (the oldest members of the youngest generation, currently 18 or 19 years old) and Busters (those 20 to 38 years of age) being most likely to deem the behavior morally acceptable." Baby Boomers, aged 39-57, were less likely to condone each behavior, and Elders (the two oldest generations combined) were least likely to embrace these sinful actions as acceptable.

    Another noteworthy difference was the finding that men were more likely than women to deem nine of the ten behaviors morally acceptable. The exception was homosexual relations, which women were slightly more likely to condone. But the largest gaps were related to drunkenness and pornography, with men twice as likely as women to deem pornography as morally acceptable.

    © 2003 AgapePress all rights reserved
     
  2. Helen

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    This, perhaps, explains some of the differences even among the Baptists participating on this board, eh?
     
  3. Johnv

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    There's an inhierent bias in the article. Note the line, "the majority of Americans have come to regard many kinds of sinful behavior as acceptable". Were the article truly objective, it would have read, "the majority of Americans have come to regard many kinds of behavior previously considered sinful as acceptable". Note right away that one of the examples listed is gambling. The gambling issue is not a clearcut sin, although all would agree that abuse of gambling is a sin.

    Additionally, the title falsely referrs to moral "decaying", implying that the survey indicates a decline. But the article says "a survey conducted", but does not refer to comparing that survey to previous surveys. Hence, the "decline" inference is misleading.

    On the flip side, it should be commended that the article uses the phrase "homosexual activity" instead of the more broad term "homosexuality", since the latter does not necessarily imply sexual contact (which is what the Bible specifically adddresses). The findings themselves appear to be reported with reasonable accuracy. I was rather surprised to find that Christian more likely to condone homosexual relations than Christian men (though the opposite was true of the remaining issues).
     
  4. Helen

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    I think your post points out some of the big differences between us, John. "Previously considered sinful" is a reference to man's opinion. "Sinful" is a reference to God's declarations.
     
  5. just-want-peace

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    A whole series of sermons in this quote!!
    'Nuff said!
     
  6. Johnv

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    I would agree with you if they had not mentioned gambling. That is not a cut and dry sin in the Bible, although abuse of it clearly is.
     
  7. john6:63

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    Every good and perfect gift my family and I receive comes from the hands of our Father. That includes the money I make, and I’m not going to squander it at some casino.

    How would you as a father feel, if you gave your son a gift for his birthday and visited him the next day and you saw it in the trash?
     
  8. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Do any of you here have stocks and shares? Do you own houses?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  9. Matthew 16:24

    Matthew 16:24
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    Yes, I do Matt, but is it fair to compare the two? I mean, stocks are considered investments and a house builds equity.

    Are stocks considered gambling or is gambling considered investing?
     
  10. john6:63

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    I would consider ‘investing’ my money in an IRA, Mutual Funds or a house a little different from ‘investing’ it at a casino. And if you’re referring to ‘playing the stock market,’ then I might as well go to a casino. My odds would be better at the roulette table. But any wise investor will fare a lot better than your average Joe gambler, squandering the clothes off his kids back.
     
  11. Matt Black

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    I was just making the point that investing in property or the stock market can be a form of gambling, as your capital can go down as well as up (houses don't necessarily gain in equity - -if the real estate market crashes, you end up in the negative equity trap). Think of it this way: there is an entire spectrum or continuum of risk in terms of what you do with your capital, from the guy who sticks his cash under his mattress at one end to the guy who blows it all on a horse in the Kentucky Derby (if KY has such a race) at the other. That was my slightly pedantic point; my supplementary question I suppose is when does it become gambling?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  12. Helen

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    The gambling/stock question is a false one. In gambling you are taking 'chances'; with stocks, you are buying into a company. With a home you are buying into ownership of it and taking responsibility for it as well.

    Do not confuse risks with gambling. Even breathing can be a risk down in L.A.! But gambling is the bet that you can get something for almost nothing. In any kind of ownership, whether it be stocks or houses or an individual business or whatever, you are investing money and receiving ownership and, in many cases, responsibility as well.

    There's a world of difference.

    This is not to deny that there are those who 'play' the stock market without any thought of ownership. That is an attitude thing, however, and not the actual reality behind part ownership, however small, in a company.

    Going back to the original article, however, there is a major difference between sin as God declares it and man's feelings and opinions on the matter. Taking stewardship of what He has given each of us at different times in our lives is not something that is amenable to gambling, whether it be state-sponsored gambling or casino gambling or whatever. All belongs to Him. We are accountable for what we do with that which He has loaned us.

    And when you think of it as a loan, doesn't that put gambling a little more into its proper perspective?

    Sins insult and denigrate our relationship with God Himself. Thus, they are not matters of human opinion, but rather matters of obedience and respect and, yes, love, for God.
     
  13. Matt Black

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    Yes and no. Don't get me wrong - I am against betting if that's what you want to call it. But I did want to make the point that any investment has an element of gambling; in investment you are also taking 'chances', whether they be the performance of the stock market, the housing market, changes in interest rates etc. I think the key difference is in one's attitude - are you responsible, do you treat all your money (and not just the bits you quasi- or actually speculate with) as yours or God's?


    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  14. Caretaker

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    Quote:

    According to Barna, "Less than one out of every ten evangelical Christians maintained that adultery, gay sex, pornography, profanity, drunkenness, and abortion are morally acceptable. In contrast, every one out of those ten behaviors was deemed 'morally acceptable' by more than one out of ten people from each of the other six faith groups studied."


    The disperity between those who place their faith in the Word of God and the God of the Word, and those who do not will continue to increase, "for iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold"


    A servant of Christ,
    Drew
     
  15. Helen

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    Matt, the REASON to buy a house is to have a place to live, regardless of future market value. At least it is that way for most of us. If the value goes up, great. If it doesn't, or goes down, at least we still have a place to live.

    Again, there is a world of difference between that and gambling.

    Risks are taken every time we make any move in life -- driving a car or walking down the street, opening a can of tuna or drinking a glass of milk. Sitting in a chair can be a risk -- the chair might break. Risks are a part of life, and they teach us to trust God.

    Gambling has nothing to do with trusting God. In fact, it is preferring chance over God. It is an insult to God.
     
  16. Paul of Eugene

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    On the other hand, we have less slavery than two hundred years ago and we have less wife beating and less beating of children . . .
     
  17. Matt Black

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    Not necessarily. A lot of people over here have second or third homes as investment vehicles, which they rent out. The reason for this is that our pensions have plummeted in value over the last few years, largely because of low interest rates and a falling stock market. I'm a case in point - I've had to look to other methods of capital growth to fund my retirement, such as stocks and real estate; when I married earlier this year, we decided to keep my wife's apartment as an investment property and rent it out. Obviously we are hoping (gambling?)it will increase in value; it may not. We are also hoping that interest rates won't rise so high that the mortgage will become significantly higher than the rental income; they may, and that's another gamble, arguably. This brings me to another point about real estate; if interest rates go up (and they went up here by 0.25% yesterday), not only does that tend to cause a fall in property prices, but it can also frequently mean that people become unable to afford their increased mortgage payments and end up being repossessed. I know- when I was a baby lawyer a dozen years ago, I was doing about ten repossession cases a day in the middle of the last housing market crash. So you don't always "still have a place to live".

    So there is a significant element of 'chance' with whatever you do with your money. The real question is whether it is a wise, informed, gamble (OK and necessary) or purely speculative with an element of addiction (wrong). Are we being prudent and dependable stewards of God's resources?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  18. Johnv

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    If my son worked for his money, budgeted, tithed, and saved, and at the same time managed to put aside a portion of his money for vacation, and decided to vacation in Las Vegas, and spend $50 of his vacation budget to play blackjack, then no sin has been committed.

    But I don't think we should hijack this thread to discuss the gambling issue. The point I wished to make is that it's an interpretative issue with which Baptists have discussed in perpetuity.
     

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