Why are young people pro-life, but also favor marriage re-definition?

My friend John Burger asked that very question to marriage defender Ryan Anderson.

Here’s what he said:

ryan-andersonI think it’s largely that they haven’t had the argument made to them. Forty years ago, you wouldn’t have had as high numbers among the younger generation identifying as pro-life. Forty years ago, they were telling us that pro-lifers were on the wrong side of history, that all young people were in favor of abortion and that forty years from now, it would just be geriatrics and the Pope who would be the last pro-lifers on earth.

But the pro-life movement launched, and they started making arguments, they started hosting rallies, they started the organizations, they wrote the books and articles, they came up with the campaigns, they came up with the political institutions, the cultural institutions, the crisis pregnancy centers, the educational initiatives — a whole array of things in the areas of policy, law, culture, and education. And now, the younger generation is more pro-life than their parents.

All that took work, and it’s work that’s just beginning to take place in the marriage issue. We don’t have nearly as many pro-marriage think tanks, pro-marriage political organizations, pro-marriage educational institutes as we do for pro-life. It’s great that we have it on the pro-life side; we just need to replicate it on the marriage side. But it’s very hard if you’re a young person. Everything you see on TV, such as Fox’s Glee, or what’s happening at your public school or what your friends are saying — everything you’re hearing in the popular culture is that you’re a bigot if you believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and there’s very little that tells you the opposite. We have not done a good enough job in communicating, even to our own people inside of the Church, inside the cultural institutions that should be sympathetic to the argument for marriage.

Read the rest of this great interview over at Aleteia.



  • Sophie

    He is right. This is exactly what I have been saying for a few years now. I am a young Catholic. I am pro-life and Pro-marriage. Many other young Catholics that I face being a Political Science major at the Jesuit University I attend are not pro-marriage and do not understand the implications of same-sex unions. They question the Church’s stance because they read Liberal media outlets on Pope Francis while attempting to love and cherish the world around them, including homosexuals. What we need to teach our young people is how to love others without wavering on what is moral and right. On the topic of same sex unions, we as pro-marriage adults need to grow into a large movement similar to the pro-life movement. We need to guide our youth to truth.


    Hi Joshua ~
    A one, who is anti-abortion but willing to go along with gay marriage since civil unions are no longer an option, let me suggest the following.
    The American Bishops and their supporters on the issue have failed to convince a critical mass of the public or even US Catholics of their two main arguments.

    The first is that fighting gay marriage somehow “protects” or “defends” straight marriages. Will the gay marriage option somehow dissuade men and women from falling in love and marrying? Will gays marrying or marrying and divorcing lead to heterosexual marriages failing? To most of us, those scenarios just don’t seem realistic.

    The other argument is the “children need a mother and father.” Hardly anyone would disagree that fatherless children are a problem in America. The cause however seems to be irresponsible heterosexual men rather than the gays. With or without marriage, many lesbian couples will continue to have children by insemination. To the extent these kids will be a little more secure with their moms “legal” it seems wrong and even cruel to oppose it.

    Finally, regarding Cdl. Dolan’s statement that “we were out marketed,” he’s right. Compare the “face” of gay marriage – Edie Windsor-who reminds you of your nice hip spinster aunt in Manhattan who takes you to plays when you visit to there, to the current face of of the opposition – Phil Robertson- who looks like a really distressed street crazy in the metro station.

  • Kenny Kamel

    What I don’t understand is why an “arguement for marriage” even needs to be made when proponents of same-sex marriage seemingly refuse to justify their advocacy for SSM. SSM supporters have effectively framed the discussion so that those against SSM should explain their opposition with no explanations as to why SSM is necessary in the first place.

  • Patrick

    I find it patently ridiculous for Anderson to state that Christian young people have not been told that marriage is meant to be between only one man and one woman. He cannot believe that to be true if he has been living in the USA for the past 20 years.

    Notable, he’s calling for more “pro-marriage think tanks, pro-marriage political organizations, and pro-marriage educational institutes,” which dovetails nicely into the way Anderson pays his mortgage.

    Anderson is in the “business” of opposing gay marriage.

    • Joshua Mercer

      There are significantly more pro-life organizations and think tanks than there were in 1973. And there are now many more people who work full-time as activists on the pro-life side. Ryan and I would like that to be replicated on the pro-marriage side. You decided to consider that a self-interested money-making suggestion. But if you want to become a well-paid lobbyist, the pro-life movement will largely disappoint you. And as we mentioned, there are simply not enough full-time positions open to people if they wanted to work full-time as a marriage advocate. Issue-based advocacy (especially pro-life or pro-marriage) is not a lucrative enterprise. Lobbyists working in business-based issues (energy, telecom, health care) make considerable more money. They have donors (businessman) who have a self-interest in paying them to lobby Congress. Pro-lifers have to convince people to donate money not to save them from death, but to save children of strangers from death. On the marriage issue, gays have a self-interest in getting marriage redefinition passed, as they want to get married. (NOTE: I’m not trying to call them bad by saying self-interest; I’m just suggesting that it is easier to donate to a cause that directly affects yourself.) Pro-marriage activists are convinced that marriage redefinition is bad for society — they give their money to make sure that the next generation will be raised in a marriage culture. Business lobbyists have a natural cycle upon which their issues get discussed — between annual budgets and the need to regulate industries. On the abortion and marriage front, we have to put pressure on lawmakers to add our issues to the legislative agenda.

      • Patrick

        I’m not talking about relative wealth. I’m saying this is his BUSINESS. This is how he makes a living. It is factual that what he calls for would increase his job opportunities and net worth. Or do you think Bryan Fisher et al pay their mortgages from bake sales? Please.

        • Joshua Mercer

          Ryan Anderson has an incredible intellect. So, yes, I do believe he could make more money if he walked away from the marriage fight altogether. I am glad that he does not.

    • Brian

      I am willing to bet that a vast majority of paid pro-life and pro-marriage activists would love it if their jobs were unnecessary. As it stands, there is a need for people to lead these fights full-time.

  • Walt

    So are you or Ryan going to answer the question? The transcription above is nothing more than a prediction that future support for marriage will parallel the abortion issue.

    • Joshua Mercer

      Ryan and I posit that young people (who used to be the most pro-abortion age group but are now the most pro-life) had that transformation because the pro-life movement grew and focused on youth outreach. The more time and talent we put into the marriage movement, the more change we will see (in a positive direction) among the youth.

  • Sean Argir

    Tell me: What is wrong with same-sex marriage? Both people in a same-sex relationship love each other just like Jesus loved others. Why is it wrong for them to be in a relationship and to also marry?

    Same-sex couple marrying has no negative effect on opposite-sex couples marrying. The marriage of either kind does not impose hatred, pain, or other hurtful acts upon any other individuals.

    • Brian

      Marriage,as far as the State should be concerned, is not primarily about the couple. It is primarily about children.

      • Patrick

        Brian, that thought is inconsistent with our marriage laws and with the history of marriage in this country. You’re talking about PARENTING, which is different from marriage. That’s why we have a separate word for it.



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