A study of sexual attitudes in the 1.8-million-member United Church of Christ discloses that seven out of 10 believe the Bible is an "inaccurate" guide for contemporary sexual conduct.
But members of the church, which is in the liberal wing of American Protestantism, still lean toward traditional Christian beliefs in such matters as teenage sex, divorce and some aspects of homosexuality, according to the study released here yesterday.
The study was conducted by Dr. Yoshio Fukuyama of the University of Pennsylvania and is based on the views of delegates elected to the church's 11th General Senate, in session at the Washington Hilton. More than 70 per cent of the 703 delegates responded in writing to the 59-question survey.
Clergy agreed more readily (73 per cent) than lay delegates (59 per cent) that biblical assumptions about sexuality "have been proved inaccurate."
On homosexuality, 78 per cent of those surveyed favor laws guaranteeing civil rights for homosexuals, but delegates were almost equally divided on whether homosexual acts are "sinful." Over 46 per cent opposed ordaining "an avowed homosexual" to the ministry, 40 per cent would ordain and 13.1 per cent hadn't made up their minds.
The United Church has no national policy on this question, since ministers are ordaned at the discretion of local associations of the church.
Seven out of 10 church members said they share the experience President Carter reported last year when he confessed that "I've looked on a lot of persons with lust, I've committed adultery in my heart many times." However, only 51 per cent of the women respondents agreed with this statement, in contrast to 83 per cent of the men.
A strong majority of the respondent (87 per cent) agreed that unmarried teenagers should refrain from sexual intercourse, yet 57 per cent would permit teenagers to have access to contraceptive devices without parental permission.
There is overwhelming support (97 per cent) for sex education in the public schools: 80 per cent opt for inclusion of information on various methods of contraception: but 55 per cent would let parents who object to such classes have their children excused from them.