~ 30 January 2004 ~

Marriage Swedish Chef Style

Stanley Kurtz’s article in the Weekly Standard frighteningly shows how the decline of marriage (and subsquent allowance of gay marriage) has virtually destroyed the concept of the family in Scandinavian countries:

SCANDINAVIA has long been a bellwether of family change. Scholars take the Swedish experience as a prototype for family developments that will, or could, spread throughout the world. So let’s have a look at the decline of Swedish marriage.

In Sweden, as elsewhere, the sixties brought contraception, abortion, and growing individualism. Sex was separated from procreation, reducing the need for “shotgun weddings.” These changes, along with the movement of women into the workforce, enabled and encouraged people to marry at later ages. With married couples putting off parenthood, early divorce had fewer consequences for children. That weakened the taboo against divorce. Since young couples were putting off children, the next step was to dispense with marriage and cohabit until children were desired. Americans have lived through this transformation. 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?

Two things prompted the Swedes to take this extra step–the welfare state and cultural attitudes. No Western economy has a higher percentage of public employees, public expenditures–or higher tax rates–than Sweden. The massive Swedish welfare state has largely displaced the family as provider. By guaranteeing jobs and income to every citizen (even children), the welfare state renders each individual independent. It’s easier to divorce your spouse when the state will support you instead.

The entire article is definitly worth the read. One of the scary things is that some in America are putting the pieces in play that would enable our culture to follow the lead of Europe. The decline of the family is no trite matter, as Kurtz has shown. What’s staggering is the number of influences that contribute to its decline. Kurtz identifies such culprits as the welfare state, divorce, gay marriage, and a weak clergy. Sounds familiar…

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