Reading the Bible will change your perspective

A new study released by Baylor’s Association of Religious Data Archives reveals the fascinating truth that, “Yes! Reading your Bible will change your perspective.” Aaron Franzen, the author of the press release, explained that, “frequently reading the Bible changed the attitudes of all Christians no matter their political background.”

According to the study:

  • Almost half of the survey respondents who read their Bible less than once a year supported gay “marriage,” while only 6 percent of those who dug into the Word several times a week or more believed gay couples should be able to obtain a marriage license.
  • As Christians read the Bible more frequently, they were 27 percent more likely to believe it is important to consume less to be a good person and 22 percent less likely to think science and religion are incompatible.
  • Bible readers also were more likely to be against abortion, expanding the government’s authority to fight terrorism, harsher punishment of criminals and the death penalty.
  • The agreement on these issues from people in all political camps is not widespread because daily or weekly Bible reading is not as common as many would think, Franzen said.

So, according to this study, those Christians who read the Bible regularly (and I would be cautious to describe those who have access to the Scriptures and do not read them as regenerate believers), oppose gay marriage and abortion. Those who read the Bible less were statistically more likely to support those issues.

Which brings me to a question I’ve asked for some time:

Can you really feed on the Word of God daily and not be a “values voter?”

According to this study, that doesn’t seem to be a likely option.

NEWS BRIEFS: Bible reading changes views of conservatives & liberals, study says – News with a Christian Perspective

11 Comments

  1. So the survey confirms that fundamentalists tend to vote along GOP party lines…surprise. I have a similar question: “Can you really feed on the Word of God daily and not discern the difference between Judeo-Christian ethics and American party politics?” This inability to separate political motives from religious dogma is crippling the church from the inside out.

    1. “So the survey confirms that fundamentalists tend to vote along GOP party lines…surprise.”

      It would certainly seem to confirm that Christians who take their Bible seriously find great difficulty separating their religious convictions from their voting habits. I would argue that if one can easily separate their convictions from their politics, they don’t have very strong convictions to begin with.

      “I have a similar question: ‘Can you really feed on the Word of God daily and not discern the difference between Judeo-Christian ethics and American party politics?'”

      I certainly hope the difference can be (and is) discerned. Your comments, however, seems to imply that Christians shouldn’t have political convictions at all. Don’t they have the same right to political convictions as non-believers? And shouldn’t a Christian’s political convictions be uniquely colored by their faith? And if a particular party appeals to Judeo-Christian ethics and values (and the other political party stands diametrically opposed to those same ethics and values), shouldn’t a Christian have the right – or more strongly stated, the responsibility – to vote with the party who shares their values?

      “This inability to separate political motives from religious dogma is crippling the church from the inside out.”

      I would agree with you that this is a great danger, but would counter that churches failing to preach the gospel of Christ and the full counsel of Scriptures tend to create quasi-socially-acceptable “Christians” who live (and in this context, I would add, vote) completely removed from the faith that they claim to have embraced.

  2. I very much agree with your assertions that Christians have “the same right to political convictions as non-believers” and the right “to vote with the party who shares their values.” But I would like to respectfully say that perhaps you’re not looking at it from the right angle.

    Politics is arguably the most visible way the evangelical church interacts with the secular world. It is NOT a platform for us to try and make the world conform to our beliefs*. Take the issue of gay marriage, for example. It’s two separate issues, marriage by the church and government-recognized unions. I fully support the right of the church to internally ban it and not perform same-sex ceremonies. However, I am completely, 100% against the church trying to legally impose this ban on non-believers. If you can show me where Christ unquestionably endorses forcing non-believers to live by our standards, please do. The entire message of Jesus is “you have a choice, choose me”, not “all unbelievers should be forced to obey me.” No one is arguing we should force unbelievers to, for example, tithe, or turn the other cheek, or pray regularly. So what makes LGBT issues so special? These are our internal standards that Christ has called us to. We’re called to proselytize, never to force.

    So that’s what I mean when I say that a Bible-believing Christian should be able to discern between politics and Christian standards. It’s also why I go out of my way to support same-sex marriage advocates and referendums. I may not agree with their choices personally, but I fully support their political right for equality for two reasons:
    1) I believe Jesus would, and
    2) As I mentioned in my first comment, the inability to see that this is a political issue and not an ethical one is destroying the church, especially the “come as you are” image of Christ that we should be exemplifying. I don’t want any part of it. Even if it means that most of my brothers and sisters in Christ will think that I “don’t have very strong convictions to begin with” or that I only “claim to have embraced” my faith. I’m content in my knowledge that this is what Christ would do, that I have a Biblical basis for my actions that daily reading of the Word only serves to confirm, and that my witness to the world is rooted in the love of Christ and not the hatred or intolerance of those who aren’t like us.

    So all of this is mainly a gentle rebuke to say that there are a lot of Christians who read the Bible daily that don’t vote similar to you, and believe our stance on certain issues is right just as strongly as you do. And this is the time to come together for the good of the church, and not be split through divisive rhetoric for the good of your political party.

    *A very good example of this principle is the ongoing riots in the Muslim world over the anti-Islam propaganda video. I think we can all agree that the video was in poor taste and should not have been made. I think we can equally agree that it was within the director’s first amendment rights to create it. Yet the reaction from extreme Islamic fundamentalists has been to riot and murder to enforce their belief that anyone who insults their prophet should die. It’s the same principle here: the fundamentalist reaction to gay issues hasn’t been to acknowledge their right to live as they choose while trying to exemplify the love of Christ to them, but to try and politically enforce our beliefs on a population that doesn’t share them. Please note that I’m not equating the recent murders to the treatment of the LGBT community by Christians, but it is the same principles that underlie both sets of actions. “You don’t believe what I do? Well, take this!” is never a good course of action, especially for a group of people that purports to commune daily with the Creator of the universe.

    1. To state that an American Christian’s vote against gay-marriage is similar in principle to Islamic radicals taking innocent American lives is disgusting, sir. There is no similarity. Drawing a comparison in order to make a point, and then attempting to distance yourself from it parenthetically does not remove the offense.

      Furthermore, your insinuation fails to acknowledge that the actions of Islamic radicals in the name of their slandered prophet is judged to be immoral and illegal, even in Libya and Egypt. This can hardly be compared to a Christian voting according to his beliefs at a polling place. To riot and murder is against the legal mandates of the government. To vote is to fulfill one’s duty as a citizen.

      I would like to respectfully say that perhaps you’re not looking at it from the right angle.

      On the point in discussion, yours is a failure to see any third option between accommodating cultural sin and mandating cultural holiness. Certainly a Christian has the responsibility to speak prophetically to the issue at hand. You would have a Christian check their convictions regarding marriage at the door of the voting booth. Aren’t you imposing your conviction that the definition of marriage is up for debate upon anyone who says otherwise? If this is the case, our question is not if a standard is placed upon a nation. Our question is, in fact, Whose?

      The state imposes a standard upon a people. Without such a standard, anarchy would reign. In a dictatorship, a ruler would determine the standard. In a democracy, such as the US, this standard is the populace majority. And if a majority of Americans hold the value that marriage is between one man and one woman (which every single vote ever taken on the issue has affirmed by a 2/3s margin), then the state is mandated to accommodate the will of the people – even if there is a substantial number within that majority who are, in fact, Christian.

    2. Barry, You write, “all of this is mainly a gentle rebuke to say that there are a lot of Christians who read the Bible daily that don’t vote similar to you, and believe our stance on certain issues is right just as strongly as you do. And this is the time to come together for the good of the church, and not be split through divisive rhetoric for the good of your political party.” The problem with this is that the Bible is very clear in what it teaches about some issues, including homosexuality. When the Bible is clear about a subject, we are clearly bound by it. You and David (and I) see Scripture differently. Being a Christian is not simply a matter of pronouncement or tradition. It isn’t even about giving intellectual ascent to a set of beliefs. It is about being fully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ which in turn links you to a 2000 year old tradition and demands intellectual ascent to a set of beliefs that God Himself holds. God disapproves of homosexual behavior and always has. That’s clear from Scripture. If a person reads Scripture and doesn’t see that or doesn’t accept that as authoritative and normative, then that person cannot say that he is a Christian, so no, there are not Christians out there who read Scripture in the way that the Lord intended it to be read and do NOT adopt His precepts, judgments, and positions. Whether or not a political party does or does not adopt a political position on moral issues that is consitent with Scripture is of secondary importance at best. The most important issue is what the the Lord says and that is communicated to us through His Word. To the extent that Christians can advance a Biblical ethic and worldview in the public square, he should.

      1. The most important issue is what the the Lord says and that is communicated to us through His Word. To the extent that Christians can advance a Biblical ethic and worldview in the public square, he should.

        Yes and amen.

  3. It’s obvious you’ve either blocked me or your site is having comment issues; I’m assuming the former. Fair enough, it’s your website, I won’t bother you anymore. Which is disappointing, because in all your outrage you conveniently didn’t address the main substance of my comment in your reply and I’m actually interested to hear your opinion on why you think forcing unbelievers to hold to the Biblical moral code is justified by Scripture, or where Christ told us to forcefully impose our beliefs on others.

    I can’t respond to GLD directly that his comment “If a person reads Scripture and doesn’t see that or doesn’t accept that as authoritative and normative, then that person cannot say that he is a Christian, so no, there are not Christians out there who read Scripture in the way that the Lord intended it to be read and do NOT adopt His precepts, judgments, and positions” is dead wrong. I completely accept God’s precepts, judgments, and positions as written in Scripture and strive to achieve them daily. But it is wrong, wrong, wrong for me to force these precepts, judgments, and positions on unbelievers. Again, show me – specifically – where Christ advocates this. You can’t, because His message is the polar opposite of yours. I’m not arguing that homosexuality isn’t wrong, I’m arguing that it’s not your place to force another human being who doesn’t agree with you to live according to Biblical morals. Again, this isn’t a religious issue, it’s a political one. Let’s not be obtuse about the distinction.

    I’ll definitely agree with your “populace majority” argument, as long as you realize that it’s a selective argument. For instance, only 41% of Americans identify themselves as pro-choice, and only 20% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (from http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx). So if you use the “will of the people” to outlaw gay marriage, you have to use it to allow abortion too; you can’t have it both ways…except that there are numerous polls (many of them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States) that show a majority of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal. So “populace majority”, sure, go for it.

    I’m sorry my comparison offended you, it wasn’t my intention. But, melodrama aside, oppression in the name of God has no place in a Christian’s actions. We didn’t learn our lesson from the Crusades, or slavery, or the African-American civil rights movement, because we’re repeating that same mistake today. Maybe now you can see how dangerous, utterly unbiblical and un-Christlike your political actions are to the church, well-intentioned or not. This issue is very real, and is not going away, and will define whether the church moves forward as a community or loses all relevance completely. I’m praying for the former. Don’t worry, I won’t ever visit your website or try to start a discussion with you again…and nor will any non-believers searching for the truth. It’s not a witness to be proud of, man.

    1. Issue 1: Political – You’re wrong. All governments legislate morality. The benefit of a democracy is that the moral standard represents the majority of the voters. So, yes, if a majority of the voters hold a particular value, it is entirely proper for them to mandate that upon the nation. I can appreciate your refusal to press your convictions on someone who doesn’t share your faith or worldview. However, should voters continue to go to the ballots and defend the institution of marriage as one man and one woman, it will not be the church that requires unbelievers to hold a moral code. It won’t even be Christians. It will be a democratic republic functioning as it was intended to function. (And as for the pro-life / pro-choice issue, the issue’s not even remotely gray. There is no justification for murder. Call it religious conviction. Call it whatever you like. But when its over, something that was alive was made to be dead. That’s murder.)

      Issue 2: Spiritual – You’re wrong. I cannot understand how, if you believe homosexuality to be wrong (which you assert) and antithetical to the will of God, you would work so diligently to defend anyone’s right to incur the wrath of God. They’re heaping the wrath of God upon their heads and you’re helping make sure they have a good shovel and a nice glass of ice water.

      Issue 3: The Role of Religion in Politics – Governments in the past have tried to legislate Christianity, to their shame. Governments presently legislate Islam, to their shame. Governments that have legislated atheism have given us such marvelous examples as the Khmer Rouge and the Soviet Union. Again, this only exemplifies the opportunity we have to live in the nation we live in and the blessing it is to have a voice in politics. We should never mandate faith, but as Christians in a democratic nation, we have the responsibility to speak up when our convictions are pricked.

      Ultimately, Barry, the frustration of this comment stream is that while you and I are writing on the same topic, we’re writing past one another. At the end of the day, I think you’re wrong. I think you’re part of the problem. And you think I’m wrong, and that I’m part of the problem.

    2. Barry, are you an anarchist? If the government would refuse to recognize gay marriage (which is NOT the same thing as outlawing homosexuality), on what grounds does the government pass laws outlawing murder? Or rape? If the government can’t force morality onto people, then it can’t say to someone who happens to enjoy murder and whose sexual preference is forcible rape that those behavior are injurious to society and will not be tolerated. Homosexual marriage is injurious to society and should not be tolerated. It isn’t marriage at all. It simply removes the gender requirement for marriage which has always been one partner must be male and one partner must be female. Once we remove the gender requirement, why not alter other requirements and allow pedophelia and polygamy? Why should we force our morality on those who want more than one wife or those who are born with a sexaul desire for children? The fact is that removing the gender requirement for marriage is bad for society regardless of whether it is wrong ethically. It not only redefines marriage, but parenthood also. It no longer makes marriage an institution that links children to parents because if two men adopt or otherwise acquire a child, the presumption is that the biological mother has no parental right OR that child has three legal parents. Either option is a dramatic and absolutely catastrophic shift from the way in which God has not only commanded families to function and the way that God designed humanity when He created us male and female and made it absolutely necessary that one of each be involved in the creation of children.

      Further, what difference does it make if you can or cannot find specific principles in the red letters of the Gospels. Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word and when you attempt to make an argument from silence based on what is contained only in the words of Christ, you entirely miscomprehend the nature of Scripture. I don’t use a “red letter edition” of the Bible because I prefer all the words of Jesus to be in one color–black. Even if the Scripture does not use specific terminology there are still principles that we can extrapolate. This is what makes Scripture “living and active.” It was written in an historical context, but despite that, it is relevant to ALL historical contexts. The Bible never gives an example of a person being judged for running over a person in his car, BUT it does clearly teach that murder is wrong. I MUST extrapolate from the general principle to the specific circumstance. Moses would never have conceived of someone committing murder with an automobile when he recorded the Ten Commandments, but none the less, such an act would be immoral.

Add your voice to the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.