But this set of legal challenges does not translate into social apocalypse. By many (though not nearly all) indicators, American culture is getting better. Divorce rates and abortion rates have declined in recent decades. Rates of violent crime and homicide are down dramatically from historical highs. Many religious conservatives mistake alarming legal trends for across-the-board cultural decay.
This new circumstance does, however, require a dose of realism. While we do not assume that every religious conservative holds to the traditional view of marriage, most (by the polling) do. But reversing the Supreme Court decision on marriage — which is rooted in long-term cultural changes that emerged in the context of heterosexual relationships — is not a realistic political goal. This means that religious conservatives must learn to operate in a same-sex marriage world.
At a practical level, traditionally minded people will need to take up social projects alongside people who support gay marriage (a group, by the way, that includes more than 40 percent of white evangelical millennials). In some cases, they will need to work cooperatively alongside people in gay marriages. This is not moral compromise; it is the normal practice of democracy. Beyond issues of sexuality, there is a broad agenda for which the building of coalitions is essential: the global fight against HIV/AIDS and sexual trafficking, the reform of foster care and the criminal justice system, the building of safe, healthy, child-friendly communities.