Love is winning
Evangelicals shouldn't give up on turning the tide against marriage equality
, according to the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. But they do need to recognize how much ground they've lost, and why, in assessing where to go next. "I don't think we can say, let's just stop the conversation about what marriage ought to be and focus simply on the question of religious liberty," Russell Moore told Jon Ward, "because I think the religious liberty argument itself entails an articulation of why we believe these things are significant and important in terms of the public good."
When the prevailing cultural narrative is that people who believe that marriage is a man-woman union are the equivalent of white supremacists or segregationists, then—that's not true, first of all. Second of all, we can't simply say, 'Well, let's just assume that we are and let's protect our religious liberty.' I think we have to work to protect our religious liberty while at the same time we are articulating why this is a reasonable view to have.
Moore appears to be starting from a mostly realistic assessment of the current political landscape, understanding that anti-equality evangelicals "ignor[ed] the cultural efforts that same-sex marriage proponents were giving their energy to, and ignor[ed] some of the legal undercurrents" and now face a drastic erosion of their position. He recognizes that getting back to widespread opposition to marriage equality would not be a matter of electing a Republican president or passing a law, that it would take a serious long-term fight. Which ... yeah, you think? But the place where his assessment of the current landscape seems most off is perhaps the most crucial to his project of shifting the culture back against marriage equality: young evangelicals.
... there are some in the secular media, again, who don't know many evangelicals who assume all of your young people are embracing same-sex marriage. That's really not even the case. It's not even true, once one looks at actual conservative evangelicals who actually go to church. If anything, I find that they're even more committed to a robustly Christian sexual ethic because they've spent their entire lives articulating a Christian vision of reality over and against the world views of their peers.
That may be true of many young evangelicals, but polling shows it's a shrinking number
, relative to older generations:
White evangelical Protestant millennials are more than twice as likely to favor same-sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%).
Granted that's a much, much lower level of support than other young people express, but it represents a major generational shift among evangelicals. And you're not going to launch and win a culture war if your young people are moving away from you.