If one thing is clear from the findings of the most recent Gallup poll of Moral Acceptability, it’s that the general American population is becoming much more accepting of issues historically thought to be morally unacceptable.
According to the most recent Gallup poll, moral acceptance of divorce by Americans has increased by 12% since 2001.
There is also a rise on the acceptance of sex between an unmarried man and woman (an increase of 15% since 2001), and even a 1% increase in the acceptance of married men and women having an affair.
Having a baby outside of marriage has also become accepted by the majority of Americans, rising from 45% to 61% over the last 14 years.
When the survey was first conducted in 2001, divorce was rated the fourth most accepted issue of all 16 issues included in the poll. It ranked behind medical testing on animals (first), the death penalty and gambling (tied for second), and buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur (third).
In the current poll, the top four most acceptable moral issues are:
- Divorce (71% accepted – previously 59% accepted)
- Sex between an unmarried man and woman (68% accepted – previously 53% accepted)
- Gambling (67% accepted – previously 63% accepted)
- Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos (64% accepted – previously 52% accepted)
The issues with the highest increase in acceptance in the last fourteen years are:
- Gay or lesbian relations (40% to 63% – up 23%)
- Having a baby outside of marriage (45% to 61% – up 16%)
- Sex between an unmarried man and woman (53% to 68% – up 15%)
- Divorce (59% to 71% – up 12%)
If nothing else, the wider acceptance of divorce might reduce the shame experienced by some couples, allowing them to deal with their issues without worrying about moral disapproval from their fellow Americans.