Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 24 January |
Saint of the Day: St. Francis de Sales
home iconNews
line break icon

The Culture Wars – Have We Lost?

Dan-Zelazo CC

Mary Rice Hasson - published on 10/13/14

The New York Times thinks so.

A recent New York Times editorial declares that the tide has turned against cultural conservatives. As public opinion trends leftward on social issues, they claim, voters are rejecting “radical” positions against abortion and same-sex "marriage." Social issues, the editors chortle, are now “potent” tools for Democrats. By hammering away at Republicans’ views on reproductive rights, Democrat candidates hope “to incite the anger of women” (especially single women) and turn out the vote. Even though the "war on women" rhetoric sounds a bit stale, the tactics work well enough. Some Republican strategists even want to concede that Democrats “did win the culture war.”

In light of the Supreme Court’s October 6th refusal to review five federal appellete court decisions that overturned state bans on same-sex marriage, we might be tempted to think that the "Times" is right. By upholding these decisions, same-sex "marriage" will be effectively legal (it cannot be barred) in all 30 states under the jurisdiction of those Courts of Appeal. Once the rulings take effect, the dominoes will fall in 30 states and, in a majority of U.S. states, same-sex couples will be permitted to "marry."

Momentum has shifted leftward on many issues and that seems to be the sole aim of many social liberals: getting people to agree with their moral vision. And America’s young people are low-hanging fruit. Unburdened by a knowledge of history, lacking the skills to analyze and reason, they can be won over with slogans appealing to freedom, tolerance and change. They join in rejecting what the "Times" editors describe as the “growing obsolescence” of conservative moral positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. “For a younger generation of voters,” according to the "Times," “the old right-wing nostrums about the ‘sanctity of life’ and the ‘sanctity of marriage’ have lost their power, revealed as intrusions on human freedom.” 

Not quite. The editors got a few things wrong.

First, even if it were true that “victory” in the culture wars can be measured by graphs of public opinion, that picture is decidedly mixed and more dynamic than the "New York Times" lets on. Liberals may have tipped the balance on some measures, but they’ve by no means “won.”

Marriage is struggling (no surprise), challenged by hook-ups, cohabitation and divorce. A September 2014 Pew study reports that 55% of adults over 50 say marriage and children should be societal priorities, but two-thirds of younger adults (18-29) disagree. While the majority of adults over 50 say it’s “very important” for couples to marry if they plan to stay together, only one-third of younger adults agree.

Although “everybody knows” the U.S. divorce rate is 50% – it’s actually not. It varies according to religious observance (27% lower for regular church-goers), race, and education. Among ever-married adults, 28% of Catholics have experienced divorce, compared to Protestants (39%) and those with no religious affiliation (42%).

Overall, 72% of adults are still married to a first spouse. (Those who divorce and remarry are more likely to divorce a second or third time, driving the overall rate higher.)

Cohabitation is steadily increasing. The CDC (2013) reports that 48% of women cohabited with a partner; 40% of those relationships eventually became marriages, 27% broke up, and 32% continued cohabiting. Cohabiters who do marry still face challenges. The habit of "yours and mine" rather than "ours" can be deeply ingrained, and easy divorce reduces the incentive to persevere through difficulties.

On moral issues, Americans’ views reflect a mix of conservative and liberal leanings. According to

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Tags:
MarriagePracticing Mercy
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
3
Philip Kosloski
What are the corporal works of mercy?
4
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
5
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
6
CONSOLE
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
7
EMOTIONAL
Bret Thoman, OFS
Need healing? An exorcist recommends this 12-word prayer
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.