Yale University psychologists were able to measure people’s self-perceptions of their views on homosexuality and then empirically measure their actual levels of tolerance. There was a significant gap between the two. The resulting point should be obvious but seems not to be in our cultural discourse: What people say (such as, “I don’t discriminate”) is often quite different from what they actually do or think—and not always because they’re being deceptive but, rather, because they’re being delusional.
Prejudice is universal, but particular prejudices are learned in particular contexts. This is what too many anti-gay Christians seem not to realize—there is no religious reason why the Bible’s anti-gay passages should have come to dominate the hearts and minds of Christian conservatives more than its passages condemning divorce or environmental degradation. Christianity doesn’t require actually withholding services for same-sex weddings any more than it requires stoning adulterers. This fixation on blocking gay equality is nothing but a rationalization for feelings and beliefs that many people hold quite apart from religious traditions (another fascinating body of research has tied both conservatives and anti-gay sentimentto heightened disgust sensitivity). These attitudes are, in certain circles, culturally learned and socially reinforced—not mandated by the Bible.
There is no doubt that many Christians truly think that by refusing to cater to same-sex marriages, they are simply being faithful to their religious tradition. They’re wrong. But they’re wrong because they lack self-knowledge, not because they are expressing socially unpopular views.