Reshaping the Marriage Debate

Applying Insights from Brain Science and Narrative Theory to Sharpen Marriage Advocacy

This primer is for anyone involved in pro-marriage advocacy: nonprofits, pastors, churches, and academics.

This is your problem: you’ve been framed.

Only seniors and aging baby boomers strongly support preserving the historic meaning of marriage. In 20 years, they will be gone. Younger Americans—particularly “Millennials” under age 35—have shifted decidedly in favor of abolishing marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. This generation will shape America to 2050 and beyond.

For this generation, the arguments of marriage revisionists have not been countered. Better arguments from natural law, while necessary and helpful, are unlikely to turn the tide of opinion because many people are not convinced rationally in the first place: television, songs, friends, and their own experiences shape their understanding of love and marriage. In short, we are shaped by unconscious influences, social and personal narratives, and emotion.

This paper explores findings from a growing body of research from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and narrative theory to inform how to take a more sophisticated approach to communicating in the marriage debate. It offers new opportunities for understanding, developing, and using persuasion informed by cognitive science and narrative theory to advance traditional marriage and counter marriage revisionism.

The point of this primer is simple: communication is key to reframing the debate, and key to a healthy marriage culture.

Download the Full Primer (PDF)

Marriage Counter-Messaging: An Action Plan

This action plan for marriage advocates and professional communicators applies findings from You’ve Been Framed: A New Primer for the Marriage Debate. Talking points and tactics presented here will sharpen your ability to strategically communicate pro-marriage arguments. This plan highlights new opportunities for persuasion informed by cognitive science and narrative theory to counter marriage revisionism.

Download the Action Plan (PDF)