Once gay marriage enters the picture, "That change cannot help but lock in and reinforce the very cultural separation between marriage and parenthood that makes gay marriage conceivable to begin with."

Kurtz is careful to argue that gay marriage did not emerge in a vacuum nor did it begin the breakdown of family life in Scandinavia. Nevertheless, his research is a significant counter to the arguments made by homosexual activists such as William Ekridge, Jr. and Andrew Sullivan.

Once marriage is redefined to include same-sex relationships, an already weakened institution is virtually dissolved into meaninglessness. When marriage is reduced to one lifestyle option among others, it can also be redefined to mean anything a society might consider legitimate at any moment.

For nearly a half-century, the nations of Western Europe and North America have been engaged in a massive process of social experimentation. These societies have embraced an official secularism and have accepted a worldview that amount to some form of moral relativism. Once the most basic institutions of society are delegitimated and reduced to mere options, a force as strong as human sexuality breaks out from cultural confines and leads to a radical acceleration of social change.

This is precisely what is being experienced even now in the United States, with Massachusetts moving at lightening speed towards homosexual marriage and other states poised to take similar action. Homosexual activists are counting on this momentum to be virtually unstoppable. Of course, their push for homosexual marriage opens the flood gates for other experiments in human sexuality and other demands for normalization.

Or as Kurtz warns, unless something unexpected changes the picture, the Nordic present is America's future. The same process of secularization is evident in America--though delayed by as much as a decade from Scandinavia.

"Americans take it for granted that, despite its recent troubles, marriage will always exist. This is a mistake," Kurtz asserts. The forces that lead to the dissolution of marriage in Scandinavia are active in all Western cultures.

Americans who wonder what the acceptance of same-sex marriage would mean for society do not have to turn or resort to speculation--they can just look to Scandinavia. We will protect and defend heterosexual marriage as our social norm, or we will see marriage disappear all together.

See a summary of Stanley Kurtz's research at www.weeklystandard.com.

Albert Mohler is an author, speaker and President of the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com's Weblog page.