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Friday, July 29, 2016

Salvation Army Officers Attitudes towards Same Sex Relationships – Survey Results


Back in May I had a conversation online with several of my co-religionists, fellow members of The Salvation Army. In that conversation it was suggested that as many as 10% of Salvation Army officers would be supportive of same sex marriage. Some friends were shocked, and even outraged, that that high of a number was bandied about. For my part, I suggested that if we are in line with other Evangelical Protestant denominations, that the percentage is likely higher, around 36%. 

However, no one I spoke to could recall an official survey of Salvation Army officers on the issue. And my curiosity was piqued. So put together a very brief survey that I hoped would help provide something like a realistic description of the number of Salvation Army officers who are supportive of same sex relationships.

Below are the statistical results of my survey, as well as the comments I received within the survey itself, on my blog where it posted, and on Facebook where it was shared.

I received 187 responses. The only question in the survey that could not be skipped / left blank was #6

As it turns out, the percentage of Salvation Army Officers (at least of those who took this survey) is a fair bit higher than that 10% that was bandied about in our conversation. This isn’t to say that this survey is a full and complete picture. I realize that it is limited and in some ways flawed. But I think that it does point us toward the fact that there is a greater support for LGBTQI relationship within the Salvation Army than is generally recognized.

I should also say that some of the comments I received were a little bit hurtful. Read them below.

A couple of important qualifiers:

This was not an official survey; it was not sponsored by any territory or division. It is personal research only.

For the purposes of this survey I only solicited responses from active / retired Salvation Army officers and cadets. This is not because I'm uninterested in the opinions of our many fine soldiers, adherents, former officers, clients, and etc. It was only to keep this initial fact-finding survey simple, clear, and easily defined. This also why I limited the survey to one substantive question. I considered adding more questions about the reasons why people side for or against but, again, I wanted to keep this initial survey as simple and uncluttered as possible.

The survey was anonymous. Names were not requested and those that were supplied will not be shared.


Question 1 – What Is Your Age?

18 – 20                  0.54%                    1
21 - 29                   9.68%                    18
30 – 39                  23.12%                  43
40 – 49                  24.73%                  46
50 – 59                  25.27%                  47
60+                         16.67                     31


Question 2 – Are You Male or Female?

Male                      58.92%                  109
Female                 50.54%                  75
Other                    0.54%                    1



Question 3 – In What Territory Do You Currently Serve / Reside?

United States Central – 44
Australia – 40
United States Southern – 17
United States East – 16
United States West – 16
UK - 13
Canada / Bermuda 10
New Zealand / Fiji - 8
Norway – 2
Germany – 2
South Africa – 1
France / Belgium – 1
Italy / Greece – 1
Sweden – 1
Finland / Estonia – 1


Question 4 – What Is Your Rank?

Cadet                    3.85%                    7
Lieutenant            17.58%                  32
Envoy / Sgt.         1.10%                    2
Aux. Capt.            0.55%                    1
Captain                 31.87%                  58
Major                    43.96%                  80
Col. / Lt. Col.        1.10%                    2
Commissioner       0%                         0
General                  0%                         0


Question 5 – Do You Believe Same Sex Intercourse within the Bounds of a Monogamous and Loving Marital Relationship To Be Sinful?

Yes                         53.47%                  100
No                          42.25%                  79
I Don’t Know         4.28%                    8             


Survey Comments (All comments are cut and past exactly as I received them.)

I personally have no issue with monogamous homosexuality, and struggle with the seeming biblical condemnation of this practice.

Certainly think we must be accepting and gracious and loving to those struggling with this issue

No matter how many times you try to say you have a new interpretation of scripture t doesn't change what scripture says. Very clear one man one women.

God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. Monogamous unmarried heterosexual relationships are just as sinful.

I believe that the Bible answers this question. No holds barred.

Just one question? I was ready for a marathon of question answering.

The Army needs to move into the 21st century. I feel a sense of frustration and shame when I am with my gay friends, many of whom are clergy and chaplains.

I was brought up to believe that is is a sin, however the more I read and look into this myself the more I am convinced that within marriage it is not a sin

This survey is flawed since it is from an officer of a liberal / progressive officer is sending it out on his blog. A blog that is followed by the minority of officers of the same persuasion. Hence a small minority, already bent towards this idea, and doing all they can to make it seem like many others support it. Why not post it on traditional, conservative, evangelical Salvationists sites...like Primitive Salvationists and see what the results would be

You need to leave the Army.

I do not believe that same sex intercourse can not exist within the context of a marital relationship, since I don't believe that same sex marriages have God's blessing. So, if they aren't actually married, than any sexual activity is sinful

I think the last question should exclude the word "marital" since acceptance of that status within homosexusl relationships is what you're trying to survey.

I would assume if someone is 'married' they would be having sex.

Read your Bible, God is against it! What does what we think matter.

There has to be a way of expressing one's sexuality and of developing intimacy without crossing that line. Jesus and several of His close friends were single and celibate and lived rich and fulfilling lives.

There is no question about this. The 10% needs to get in line with the scriptures.

Do we no longer reverence a holy God? Isn't His Word, the Bible, clear on such matters? OR are we shaping scripture to our will rather than being transformed by It to God's will?
Bit of a loaded survey, you would get a better insight of peoples view if you included things around relationship, marriage and the like

While I believe there is a biblical structure to marriage, we hurt our christian message when we spot out our hateful speech. America is a country based on freedom. We need to allow for those outside our viewpoint. Just because I may not agree with gay marriage doesnt mean I dont believe they dont deserve rights. Dont we all ha inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our job as Christians is to love and share Christ's love.

Thank you!

I would welcome a biblical debate to enrich the conversation

I have told my gay son that as long as he loves Jesus with all his heart mind and soul, then God will be his judge, not us.

Interesting wording of the last question, almost like there is an agenda. Only God can sanction marriage and He did, between Adam and Eve. No where in Scripture is a same sex marriage ever endorsed. Not one mention of a loving same sex marriage, not a hint. There are however plenty of references prohibiting same sex relationships, even to the point of calling them an abomination and declaring that those who practice them will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Jeff, why are you so bent on trying to send people to hell? Why would you do anything but lovingly warn them about what Scripture says? Is it a family member? A friend? Or even a personal struggle? Total depravity means we're all born broken in some way, including our sexuality but this is exactly why we need to be reborn. God heals, Jesus saves, and the Holy Spirit empowers and convicts. Please, please, please, stop playing with people's eternity.

For me the issue is faithfulness, whatever your sexuality

I am still working my way through all of this. One of the hardest things about trying to figure it all out is to watch people who have an opinion being hateful to others who have a differing opinion. This is not a safe topic to discuss and I think many people just avoid it all together.

The attempts to push this in the Army is apostasy within the ranks by people who need to get saved.

I have an aunt who is in a same sex civil union. And friends who are single officers who are gay.

All same sex relationships are sinful and go against God's word.

Marriage is for one man and one woman. All same sex intercrorse is a sin. All sexual relationships outside marriage is sinful. The bible is very clear about both.

I believe in marriage equality for all.

The bible is clear on this...read leviticus,,,god does not sway on this and nor should we...if we do then we are saying gods word is flawed

I believe strongly in God's pattern and design for marriage and human sexuality. I also take our first doctrine seriously and hold to the "Scriptures of the Old and New Testament" as "the divine rule of Christian faith and practice." This belief is in the context of 'grace and truth' as demonstrated by Jesus.

I would like the Salvation Army to carry out same sex marriage in my Territory (it is legal in civil society). We cannot support same sex relationships and then refuse to bless them.

1Tim 1:10

Marriage is between a man and woman only.

Scripture is clear and unwavering on this matter. The "new,ma curate" interpretations are both incorrect and misleading. To approve marriage equality in relation to same sexual activity would be an abomination.

I believe Marriage is the Union of one man and one woman. But I do not see their sin any different from unmarried hetero sex

You're freaking awesome and I'm glad you put this together. 

#IAmTheTenPercent

It is about time for change to happen!

I also believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry, also that they should be able be part of the church in leadership and officership.


Blog Comments

Apparently Soldier is not a rank or position whose opinion you respect. Should an Officer come to our Corps and preach same sex marriage they would be frog marched off the pulpit, out the front door, with a swift kick to the seat of their pants as a farewell.

Amen! Any officer that preaches a false gospel will be cast out in our corps.

NEVER

I suppose there is no way to verify whether those that fill out this poll are actually officers. At best the evidence it pulls will be conceptual, and at worst completely false information.

The survey is timely and needed but I believe the substantive question focuses too much on the physical behaviour than the bigger issue of acceptance and inclusion. There is as much diversity in the LGBT community about sexual practices as there is in hetero-normative relationships. The issue for many LGBT is not about what they do in the bedroom, but how they live their lives and are accepted by society and the church. I know a number of Christian gay men who choose not engage in penetrative sex. This includes a number of salvationists and officers who identify as gay who are no longer part of our fellowship because they have been told they are welcome.
This is what you do with your time?


Facebook Comments

The survey is merely an invitation to entertain the idea of compromise with evil. That is probably why our leaders have not considered it.

Thanks, I'm really interested to see the response.


My Bible is very clear on the issue of sex. The only sexual orientation God approves is that between a MARRIED MAN AND WOMAN! Sorry if this offends anyone. Thank goodness I have never been asked to perform a wedding for a same sex couple, but on the basis of my own understanding, I would have to refuse.



NOTE - this post has be edited since it was first posted. One line of data in question 3 was omitted and has been corrected. -TJC.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I'm glad that some people are open to discussion about this very important subject (it is not an issue).

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  2. Interesting! Seems to me TSA has a long way to go in developing the understanding and love they preach. Jesus said something like this; "Come to me all" so that just means 'some'? Or perhaps that means the 'in folk' who are socially accepted.

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  3. It is one thing to not believe in same-sex marriage and relationships, but I am quite disturbed by the Officer who responded that you should leave the Army! Is it not part of our belief system that we are a church for EVERYONE?

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  4. I'm intrigued that there are so many comments condemning same sex intercourse. Does that mean the object to male homosexuality but see female homosexuality as acceptable? Just the thoughts of a fellow traveler.

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  5. Sadly, a lot of fear expressed here as anger and hatred. It is so hard to let go of what we were told was a definite construct. I know that some still hold the idea that a gay man is equal to a child abuser and therefore we should not let "them" be near our children. It is baffling that Christians/Salvationists have so much to say about sex and sexuality when they are generally topics that have been given very little discussion, just black and white rules. I believe that there will come a day when, like other atrocities such as our Biblical arguments to support colonialism of first nations and slavery of black people, we will come to realized that our fears, intolerance, lack of understanding and superiority of correctness were not in keeping with God's grace.... but I dread to think how many "crosses will be burned" on the lawns of our LGBTQ brothers sisters and others along the way. When you cannot conduct a simple survey without hatred being spewed and you being the recipient of personal attacks, it tells me something very disturbing about those who are not willing to continue to grow in grace and knowledge but rather feel they have already arrived - and are "praying publicly" to prove it.

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  6. Fascinating reading. I can see stages of my own journey reflected in many of the comments.

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  7. As a gay man who has been in a loving relationship with my partner for over 30 years and who has attended the Army all my life, I am saddened and hurt by some of the vitriol I read here by some Salvation Army Officers. Most Sundays I struggle getting to the meeting, asking myself 'Why do I keep going somewhere that doesn't accept me?' Many of my Christian friends encourage me to go to another place of worship that will fully welcome me. But it's hard to change when the Army's always been home. The only way forward for me is to keep looking past man and focusing on Jesus who I have no doubt has made me unashamedly as I am and loves me beyond measure. To those of you who who are working to make the Salvation Army more inclusive, Thank you and may God richly bless you.

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  8. I found the questions interesting but the comments from most were as narrow minded as the SA as a whole. I am a former and now within a different denomination. I believe that Yes marriage is between a man and a woman but as a commitment between the two. If a same sexed couple have the same commitment to each other then I would respect that. We are not to judge, that is for God. We shoukd love all as equals.
    What is marriage anyway? The signed bit of paper, or the promises between two people.

    ReplyDelete

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