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:
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 “In Scandinavia, gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood is acceptable” (Kurtz, “The End of Marriage”).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:
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:
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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S. Michael Craven is the founder and President of the Center for Christ & Culture. Michael is the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity, published by Navpress and scheduled for release January 2009. Michael's ministry is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, the teaching ministry of S. Michael Craven, visit: www.battlefortruth.org
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.
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