One-third of practicing Christians say morality is relative, shocking poll shows

by Michael Foust, Guest Reviewer |

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) – A majority of Americans, including three-quarters of Millennials and nearly a third of practicing Christians, say that morality is based solely on their personal feelings, according to a new Barna survey that shows moral relativism has a firm grasp on many adults.

In the poll of 1,237 people, 57 percent agreed that "whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know," while 74 percent of Millennials affirmed the statement and 31 percent of practicing Christians did so.

Similarly, 65 percent of U.S. adults agreed that "every culture must determine what is acceptable morality for its people," while 70 percent of Millennials and 47 percent of practicing Christians backed the statement.

At the same time, 59 percent of adults said they believed that "the Bible provides us with absolute moral truths which are the same for all people in all situations, without exception" – meaning that some people affirmed not only moral relativism but also biblical absolutes. A total of 56 percent of Millennials agreed with the statement, while 83 percent of practicing Christians did so.

The survey also found:

  • 40 percent of practicing Christians agreed that "any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is acceptable." Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults affirmed the statement.
  • 76 percent of practicing Christians believed that "people should not criticize someone else's life choices." Eight-nine percent of all adults backed the statement.

The data was released May 25 by Barna and also is included in the book, "Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You're Irrelevant and Extreme."

"There is a tremendous amount of individualism in today's society, and that's reflected in the church, too," David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, wrote.

"Millions of Christians have grafted New Age dogma onto their spiritual person. When we peel back the layers, we find that many Christians are using the way of Jesus to pursue the way of self," Barna explained. "While we wring our hands about secularism spreading through culture, a majority of churchgoing Christians have embraced corrupt, me-centered theology.

The findings represent, Barna wrote, "an opportunity for leaders and mentors who are prepared to coach people — especially young people — toward deeper wisdom and greater discernment."