Marriage: A Peek Into the Crystal Ball
- Sunday, June 01, 2008
Marriage under the best of circumstances is a mystery. Oh, let's be honest. Some days it seems like an outright miracle.
If you want to peer into the crystal ball to see what family life will be like in the event we radically redefine marriage, look to Scandinavia. The equivalent of same-sex marriage has been legal for more than a decade and the verdict is in - same-sex marriage has eroded the already rusty link in the chain between marriage and family.
Marriage is passe in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Marriage is so out of fashion that among those who do marry, some choose to keep it private to avoid embarrassment. Even more surprising, few homosexuals are taking advantage of same-sex unions. The heterosexual and homosexual marriage pool has shriveled so much that marriage and divorce statistics are difficult to interpret.
Author Stanley Kurtz, who has been parsing the data coming from Scandinavia, says this much is crystal clear- any form of family is acceptable.
Marriage is no longer seen as a precursor to parenthood. When heterosexual marriage is no longer seen as the norm, and marriage and parenthood are no longer seen as going hand-in-hand, married parenthood becomes an oddity. Disassociating heterosexual marriage from parenting is like splitting up the salt and pepper, but that's exactly what has happened.
In Scandinavia, marriage has ceased being a big event in most young men and women's lives. Many Nordic beauties have bid farewell to chunky issues of Bride's magazine, engagement rings and bridal showers. Marriage once signaled the hallmark of maturity in the journey of life. Today the mark of maturity in Scandinavia is having a baby.
Couples become an item, birth a child and often live together for a year or so. Ultimately, however, couples can manage financially as individuals, so they tend to split and move to the next partner. And the next. It appears similar to that awful going-steady-and-breaking-up cycle of junior high, only with sex, and without end.
Who bears the brunt of all these adults sailing in and out of relationships and are unable to cast anchor? Hint- they tend to be short, have soft cheeks, big eyes and like to sleep with teddy bears.
The majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of first-born children in Denmark have unmarried parents. An immense welfare state and state-run day care, funded by the enormous, albeit compulsory, generosity of taxpayers, attempt to fill the void of moms and dads, or moms and moms, and dads and dads, who opt not to tie the knot.
Our own nation's link between marriage and family has been waning for several decades. It makes little sense to radically redefine marriage now and deal a death blow to an institution already gasping for breath. A drastic and bizarre redefinition of marriage would definitely come at the expense of the kids. One small step for man, one giant tumble for the children of tomorrow.
You do not tinker with a social, legal and religious institution which has stood as a foundation to nations and cultures for thousands of years without risking serious repercussions. Here's an interesting fact you don't hear mentioned much: No culture in history which has been tolerant of homosexuality ever sanctioned same-sex marriage.
Evan Gerstmann, author of Same Sex Marriage and the Constitution, and the man many tout as the leading legal scholar promoting same sex marriage, has conceded society would probably have to get used to the idea of threesomes and foursomes. Not to tolerate such new and odd configurations of "marriage" could be seen as "discrimination." Gerstmann suggests we might have to learn to live with polygamy and consensual incest.
As a nation, we must make a decision as to what constitutes a marriage. Will we affirm the God-ordained union of one man and one woman, or will we opt for the sexual groupings that happen to be in vogue at the start of the 21st Century?
Whichever path we choose we will all - married or unmarried, heterosexual or homosexual - live out the consequences, as will our children, our grandchildren and their children.
In the words of sociologist Margaret Mead, "As the family goes, so goes the nation."
Columnist and speaker Lori Borgman is the author of Pass the Faith, Please. Comments may be sent to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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