- (Photo: Reuters / Jason Reed)
Conservatives say a recent survey revealing the younger generations' differing values is the result of media influences and negative experiences. Those values may change, they say, as young adults learn, age and form families of their own.
A national survey, released Thursday, verified that most adults, including half of all Millennials, believe that abortion is morally wrong. The survey, however, found that Millennials do not equate pro-life values to that of traditional marriage.
Rather, the Public Religion Research Institute survey reported that young adults ages 19-29 are more likely to favor same-sex marriage at higher rates than they are to support abortion as moral.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute, reflected on the findings stating, "Young adults are very media driven."
Morse, an advocate for traditional marriage among youth adults, said the media primarily portray married heterosexual couples as sex-deprived and unhappy while glorifying marriage between homosexuals. The result, she said, is that young adults are basing their values on misinformation.
Additionally, reality shows like MTV's “16 and Pregnant” have a positive impact on support for the legality of abortion, the survey found.
Dawn McBane, manager of youth ministry Rising Voice, said experience also plays a part in the findings.
"For the marriage issue, many young adults have grown up in divorced homes and they've seen firsthand the devastating effects of not having a mom and a dad," she concluded.
As a result, 53 percent of respondents overall said that "same-sex marriage is not that important of an issue."
Comparatively, McBane said, "With abortion, this is one of the reasons why we've seen significant gains among the younger generation. Their strong pro-life views are, in large part, because they've seen the devastating impact of abortion."
Similarly, the study found that seeing an ultrasound image of a fetus has a negative impact on support for the legality of abortion.
McBane agreed with Morse that Millennials need to have conversations about traditional values in order to make informed choices when forming their values systems.
"We're increasingly living in a post-Christian era which means it's even more important to develop our thinking as young adults," she told The Christian Post via email.
Rising Voices is an online magazine that speaks to issues such as marriage, dating and pre-born life with traditional advice mixed with statistics and links to helpful websites.
"As Millennials, we need to have the conversation about these issues," McBane explained. "And for Christian Millennials, we need to make sure our views are firmly grounded in a Christian worldview."
The PRRI survey showed that Millennials favor gay marriage at 57 percent compared to 42 percent of adults ages 30-49. Adults ages 50-64 are even less likely to favor same-sex marriage (32 percent). Only 41 percent of Millennials believe that sex between same-gender adults is immoral. By contrast, half of all respondents believe that having an abortion is morally wrong.
The survey also found fewer Millennials (50 percent) view abortion as morally wrong compared to 54 percent of adults aged 30-49. Sixty percent of young Americans believe abortion should remain legal. Those in their 30s and 40s preferr legalized abortion by 58 percent.
McBane anticipates that some Millennials' views on these issues may become more conservative as they grow older.
"We know that previous generations have found that religion becomes more important as they get older and begin raising a family," she explained.