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In Defense of Marriage - Part V

August 4, 2008
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All right, you say, so cohabitation is a poor substitute for marriage and may even undermine those marriages preceded by cohabitation. But how does allowing persons of the same sex to marry harm the institution of marriage? As advocates of same-sex marriage (SSM) are quick to point out, “the sky hasn’t fallen” since SSM became legal in Massachusetts in 2004, apparently convinced that four short years is adequate to produce the predictable and deleterious public consequence of redefining marriage. Remember, however, that Unwin’s research demonstrated that the effects of such modification would occur over generations and not be immediate. Nonetheless, there is some empirical evidence already emerging that indicates the acceptance SSM will, in fact, harm the institution of marriage and, subsequently, society.

Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, reported in April of 2004 before the House Judiciary Committee that there is ample evidence available in Scandinavia demonstrating the effect of devolving marriage to include couples of the same sex. Dr. Kurtz holds a PhD in social anthropology from Harvard University and is regarded as both an excellent scholar and expert in this area. Commenting on the situation in Sweden, Kurtz writes:

The Swedes have simply drawn the final conclusion: If we’ve come so far without marriage, why marry at all? Our love is what matters, not a piece of paper. Why should children change that? (Stanley Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia: The ‘conservative case’ for same-sex marriage collapses,” The Weekly Standard, 2 February 2004.)

Indeed, in Sweden the out-of-wedlock birthrate is 55 percent, Norway is 50 percent, Iceland is approaching 70 percent, and in Denmark 60 percent of firstborn children are born out of wedlock. So what? you ask. So cohabitation has replaced marriage, big deal; men and women are still having children, only without the formality of a marriage certificate. What’s the problem? According to Dr. Kurtz, studies in these countries demonstrate that these unmarried families break up at a rate two to three times that of married couples. This has only exacerbated the welfare state that is unparalleled in Scandinavia. Kurtz points out that “no western nation has a higher percentage of public employees, public expenditures, or higher tax rates than Sweden.”

And what does this have to do with SSM? All of the Scandinavian countries mentioned embraced de facto same-sex marriage, beginning with Denmark in 1989. The out-of-wedlock birth rates mentioned experienced their most dramatic increases in the decade following the acceptance of SSM in these countries. The separation of marriage from procreation and parenting was already increasing, as it is here; SSM only widened the separation. “In Scandinavia, gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood is acceptable” (Kurtz, “The End of Marriage”). 

Dr. Kurtz offers further insight into the connection between cohabitation, rising out-of-wedlock birthrates, and same-sex marriage:

British demographer Kathleen Kiernan . . . divides the continent into three zones. The Nordic countries are the leaders in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births. They are followed by a middle group that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, and Germany . . . North American rates of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock birth put the United States and Canada into this middle group. Most resistant to cohabitation, family dissolution, and out-of-wedlock births are the southern European countries of Portugal, Italy, and Greece . . . These three groupings closely track the movement for gay marriage. In the late eighties and early nineties, gay marriage came to the Nordic countries, where the out-of-wedlock birthrate was already high. Ten years later, out-of-wedlock birthrates have risen significantly in the middle group of nations. Not coincidentally, nearly every country in that middle group has recently either legalized some form of gay marriage, or is seriously considering doing so. Only in the group with low out-of-wedlock birthrates has the gay marriage movement achieved relatively little success.

Kurtz concludes by saying, “This suggests that gay marriage is both an effect and a cause of the increasing separation between marriage and parenthood. As rising out-of-wedlock birthrates disassociate heterosexual marriage from parenting, gay marriage becomes conceivable” In essence, SSM is simply the extreme and final step in a culture’s descent from absolute monogamy.   

Again, if marriage is only about a relationship between two people, and is not intrinsically connected to procreation and parenthood, why shouldn’t same-sex couples be allowed to marry? As Kurtz points out, “it quite naturally follows that once marriage is redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, that change cannot help but lock in and reinforce the very cultural separation between marriage, procreation and parenthood that makes gay marriage conceivable to begin with.” The die will be cast and the effects inevitable.

Furthermore, gay marriage has not strengthened the institution of marriage by promoting fidelity and commitment among gays in Scandinavia, as some suggest it will do here. In fact, take-up rates on gay marriage are exceedingly small. Yale law professor William Eskridge (an advocate for gay marriage) acknowledged this when “he reported in 2000 that only 2372 couples had registered after nine years of the Danish law going into effect, 674 after four years in Norway, and only 749 couples after four years in Sweden” (Kurtz, “The End of Marriage”). Here again, Kurtz is helpful in illuminating our understanding:

Danish social theorist Henning Bech and Norwegian sociologist Rune Halvorsen offer excellent accounts of the gay marriage debates in Denmark and Norway. Bech, who is perhaps Scandinavia’s most prominent gay thinker, dismisses as an implausible claim the idea that gay marriage promotes monogamy. He treats this claim as something that only served a tactical purpose during the difficult political debate.
    According to Halvorsen, many of Norway’s gays imposed self-censorship during the marriage debate, in order to hide their opposition to marriage itself. The goal of the gay marriage movements in Norway and Denmark, say Halvorsen and Bech, was not marriage but social approval for homosexuality. Halvorsen goes on to suggest that the low numbers of registered gay couples may be understood as a collective protest against the expectations (presumably, monogamy) embodied in marriage.

While the sky may not have fallen, effects that have historically taken generations to produce have already begun to manifest within just twenty years of the acceptance of SSM in Scandinavia, the first nations to risk their future on this perilous social experiment.

© 2008 by S. Michael Craven

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Response from : Anton Bucher  

August 4, 2008 9:49 AM


I was just wondering what the difference is between today's society, where divorce is "ok", and back when the church was ruling all of society, and divorce led to damnation?

To clarify: I am against SSM. I do not want in any way to move toward leaglizing homosexual marriage, or even change the definition of marriage. Marriage is for a man and woman, and sex should only occur within those boundries.

But our society has moved away from Shame. There is no more shame for doing the wrong thing. It's okay to be divorced, it's okay to be gay, it's okay to have sex with multiple partners. There was a time when the church REALLY reinforced the sin aspect of these things by threating eternal damnation if you sinned against God and the Church.

Now, not so much. Of course, theology has moved past the absolute power of pope and priests, but there is still, in today's society, no recognition of the consequences of sin. And I believe that THERE is where even more of our battle needs to take place.

I need to stop sinning, because of the consequences to my family as a result of the sin - if I look at pornography, my wife cannot live up to that, and I treat her differently, and I start to think that there is something "better" out there. There other aspect to that is the sinning affects my relationship with God, and I am that much more removed from Him, and then that ALSO affects the relationship with my wife.

I don't look at porn, (at least, I struggle mightily against it), so that I do not affect my relationships with my Lord and my wife. The break-down of marriage is so much farther along the continuum - how do we get back to the part where it's not "ok" to get a divorce, or to look at porn, or to be outrageously gay?

Side note: I cannot argue how a person becomes gay. Wether they are gay or not is irrelevant to me, or the Lord, I would imagine. Celibacy is what is called for. Just as the single man, even Paul the apostle, was not married, and therefore had no sex, (which did not mean he had no sexual desires, the same rules could apply to the gay person. Celibacy is what is called for - single, gay or straight, means no sexual activity. God holds us accountable for our actions - our thoughts are our struggles. It's when the thoughts lead to sin when we damage our relationship to God.

Thanks for the amazing series. I look forward to the next one!


Response from : TomC1  

August 4, 2008 1:13 PM

Scandinavia is envied the world-over for topping every socioeconomic indicator across the board: from generosity, equality, and health to everyday living. What Michael fails to mention is that Scandinavia also posts Europe's highest fertitlity rates and lowest abortion rates. There's no need for much speculation here. A generous welfare state coupled with free-market forces and a committment to social equality has facitiliated a work-life balance which enables Scandinavian women to be career-oriented mothers; This is absolutely no correlation whatsoever with the region's pro-gay legislation. If anything, it demonstrates once again that you can tell much about a society's level of development by its treatment of homosexuals. And from a new phenomenon, homosexuality is as old as man; a harmless biological coincidence that has eternally constituted a small yet fixed percentage of men (sexuality appears to be more fluid in women). It seems that Scandinavians (along with other developed nation) understand this and consequently, see nothing to fear unlike their superstitious counterparts in more backwards parts of the US. Michael Craven is obviously no expert on either human sexuality nor social development. He demonstrates why religion is so needlessly harfmul if politicized (how many needless teen suicides could have been avoided if the religious were scientific-minded). If anythinig, Scandinivia, which always appears to be some 20 years ahead of the rest of the world, is in inspirational model to copy, not scorn.

Response from : S. Michael Craven  

August 6, 2008 2:52 PM

Dear Tom,
Scandinavia, “envied the world over?” Granted in many areas of social and economic measurement, Scandinavia ranks very high, however this is due to an overly generous welfare state along with some creative accounting. For example, the exceedingly high rate of government employees lowers the unemployment figures, inflates wages, and exaggerates the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Hans-Werner Sinn, the Director of the IFO Institute for Economic Research in Munich confirmed this when he reported in 2007 that “On average the share of state employment in the workforce across Scandinavia is 32.7%, compared to only 18.5% on average in the non-Scandinavian countries of the EU-15. In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, the government’s share of the workforce is only 12.2%. [The largest economy in the world—the U.S.—government employees represent less than 7% of the total workforce.] So the high share of government employment contributes to the region’s low unemployment rate.

Moreover, it also contributes greatly to the high per-capita GDP figures, for the simple reason that the value-added created by these government jobs is part of GDP, even if it could never have been produced in the market economy.” In short, the Scandinavian “success” is propped up by the welfare state, which is simply unsustainable over the long term.

Marian Tupy, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute in Washington, points out that expensive social welfare systems sooner or later run out of money. He notes that in the past 15 years, northern European countries have had an average economic growth rate of just 1.5 percent per year, compared to three percent in the United States. He writes, “Sweden and Norway and Finland and Denmark are still very rich countries. That’s not at issue here. The issue is what will happen to these countries and to the welfare state they have 10, 20, 30, 40 years down the line. And if you look at their economic performances [in the past 15 years], then you have to conclude that it should be very difficult for them to maintain the current rates of taxation and redistribution and financing of the welfare state while at the same time remain rich.” Tupy concludes, “We can already see that. For example, the Timbro Institute in Sweden came up with a ranking of all countries of the European Union vis-à-vis the 50 states of the American union [i.e., the United States]. And it is very interesting that all the Scandinavian countries come at the bottom of the league. In fact, Denmark is poorer than Kentucky.”

It is true that the Scandinavian countries do post the highest fertility rates in Europe however, that isn’t saying much since Europe presently suffers the lowest fertility rates in the world. Sweden for example posted a fertility rate of 1.64 in 2005, which is far below the necessary replacement level of 2.1 to maintain population levels. Norway is 1.85 and Denmark is a paltry 1.75. (The only uptick in the Scandinavian birth rates is due to its growing Muslim population).

Additionally many younger natives are leaving Scandinavia for better opportunities and relief from exorbitant taxes. For example, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is based in Paris, projects that Denmark’s growth rate will fall to an annual rate of slightly more than 1 percent for the five years beginning in 2009, reflecting a dwindling supply of a vital input for any economy: labor. Emigration from all Scandinavian countries is growing and since they are eligible to work within any country in the European Union, where tax rates are lower, many are opting to do so.

With declining populations, increased family breakdown (studies in the Scandinavian countries demonstrate that non-married, child-bearing households break up at a rate two to three times those of their married counterparts, which only increases the burden upon the state); the Scandinavian society is simply unsustainable. Declining population also means an aging population and countries are struggling with the high cost of maintaining support programs. It’s simple really; there are more taking from the system than there are paying into the system. Its declining populations will only demand more from the state, which will have fewer citizens to tax and their growing Muslim populations will only compound an already overwhelming burden, as they are already doing.

For example, in Norway almost half of all children with a non-Western background claim social security benefits. This is ten times the rate of the native population. In 2001, persons born outside of Sweden on average received seven times more in social security assistance than Swedish-born nationals. The figures for Denmark are close to those of Sweden. According to The Brussels Journal, “There are claims that immigration costs Sweden 40 to 50 billion Swedish kroner every year, perhaps even several hundred billions, and has greatly contributed to bringing the Swedish welfare state to the brink of bankruptcy.” The fact is, according to the same article, “statistics indicate that Scandinavians will become a minority in their own countries within a couple of generations, if the current trends continue.”

The bottom line, the Scandinavian countries are in trouble and they know it. Again, this all correlates to the disassociation of procreation from sex, which facilitates the separation of sex from marriage, which in turn separates marriage from parenthood, which, in their case, made gay marriage conceivable. Once this separation is achieved, marriage becomes unnecessary and the societal expectations formerly sought from the family are now expected from the state. Of course, when these responsibilities fall to the state somebody has to pay and pay they do. Tax rates in Denmark are 63 percent and Sweden has been as high as ninety percent! No thanks. The Scandinavians have, in effect, eliminated the family from its vital social role, replacing it with the state, and as such the society becomes unsustainable with each subsequent and shrinking generation.

I would add that the Muslim factor only accelerates the process in Scandinavia by introducing values and beliefs that have proven counterproductive to social well-being, economic growth, and innovation.

Finally, I’m not sure how many times I can say it; homosexuality has throughout history appeared suddenly, and almost exclusively, in those cultures which are in the process of modifying their sexual ethic from chaste to promiscuous and in every instance this change was a major factor in their decline. There are no exceptions to this fact. I’m not sure how this falls into “superstition.”

It seems the only ones who envy the Scandinavian system are those seeking a free ride; those seeking opportunity and freedom still envy America!


Response from : harsh  

August 8, 2008 3:53 PM

Thank you very much for the great information.


511 pants

Response from : Susan Mulford  

August 9, 2008 9:53 PM

Excellent article. I just created a website ( that encourages Christians to witness to the lost. Under the blue train car there is a page called: "Truth to Say to Homosexuals" to help Christians know how to witness to them and to also help those who are struggling with homosexual feelings to get set free. I encourage anyone who may need this info to go there.

Response from : linda  

August 11, 2008 6:57 PM

Sounds like Scandinavia has the same problems as USA and probably every European country in general. The last two paragraphs ring true except for one minor detail: those seeking a free ride also come to America. While I am sure there are those who seek actual opportunity in the way of education and physical work, and there are those who will always seek a freedom with the belief it is always in some other place, but nevertheless, USA has become a country of welfare and social security benefits seekers much to the detriment of the the true working classes. It is happening all over the world, a global event, like most events in history. They are all intertwined and connected.

Response from : dollar  

September 29, 2008 1:16 AM

man made remarriage legal even thought God said it was living in adultry. now man says same sex marriage is legal even thought God says it is evil. both life styles are evil and God will judge adulters/adulteress and homosexuals, legally married in mans ways not God's. unless they repent and turn from, get out of their evil lifestyles.

Response from : David  

January 8, 2012 12:35 AM

The gay adgenda of twisting scripture has destryed my family and my marriage. My wife of 3 children and 16 years of marriage fell in love with a lesbian woman and now believes that what she is doing is in line with scripture. The Gay / lesbian community has saturated the internet with their bibical agenda and it is destroying our family structure.


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