Tag Archives: Marriage

Why Democrat policies discourage men from marrying, part 2

This article is the second of a three-part series on how Democrat policies discourage marriage and child-rearing. Part 1 is here and Part 3 is here.

How same-sex marriage separates marriage from procreation and child-rearing

This time we’ll look at an article from the Weekly Standard by Stanley Kurtz. He looks at the death of marriage in Scandinavia and concludes that the policy of same-sex marriage encourages people to separate the concept of marriage from the need to provide a stable environment in which to raise children. This results in fewer people getting married.

Let’s take a look at his conclusion, first.

A majority of children in Sweden and Norway are born out of wedlock. Sixty percent of first-born children in Denmark have unmarried parents. Not coincidentally, these countries have had something close to full gay marriage for a decade or more. Same-sex marriage has locked in and reinforced an existing Scandinavian trend toward the separation of marriage and parenthood.

…More precisely, it has further undermined the institution. The separation of marriage from parenthood was increasing; gay marriage has widened the separation. Out-of-wedlock birthrates were rising; gay marriage has added to the factors pushing those rates higher. Instead of encouraging a society-wide return to marriage, Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.

Basically, same-sex marriage, and especially no-fault divorce, undermines the purpose of marriage. Marriage is for children. But when you ask same-sex marriage proponents why it should be legal, they say: because getting married is what people do when they love each other. So, the purpose of marriage for them is the happiness for adults, not bringing up children.

But if Democrats make marriage policy in order to make adults happy, then when adults aren’t happy, they can break those marriages up. The vision of providing an environment for children who are biologically linked to the parents has been lost. Children will not get a stable environment if people do not put happiness second, and commitment to a serious relationship first!

Kurtz continues:

The family dissolution rate is different from the divorce rate. Because so many Scandinavians now rear children outside of marriage, divorce rates are unreliable measures of family weakness. Instead, we need to know the rate at which parents (married or not) split up. Precise statistics on family dissolution are unfortunately rare. Yet the studies that have been done show that throughout Scandinavia (and the West) cohabiting couples with children break up at two to three times the rate of married parents. So rising rates of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock birth stand as proxy for rising rates of family dissolution.

By that measure, Scandinavian family dissolution has only been worsening. Between 1990 and 2000, Norway’s out-of-wedlock birthrate rose from 39 to 50 percent, while Sweden’s rose from 47 to 55 percent. In Denmark out-of-wedlock births stayed level during the nineties (beginning at 46 percent and ending at 45 percent). But the leveling off seems to be a function of a slight increase in fertility among older couples, who marry only after multiple births (if they don’t break up first). That shift masks the 25 percent increase during the nineties in cohabitation and unmarried parenthood among Danish couples (many of them young). About 60 percent of first born children in Denmark now have unmarried parents. The rise of fragile families based on cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing means that during the nineties, the total rate of family dissolution in Scandinavia significantly increased.

…And now that married parenthood has become a minority phenomenon, it has lost the critical mass required to have socially normative force. As Danish sociologists Wehner, Kambskard, and Abrahamson describe it, in the wake of the changes of the nineties, “Marriage is no longer a precondition for settling a family–neither legally nor normatively. . . . What defines and makes the foundation of the Danish family can be said to have moved from marriage to parenthood.”

What is the effect of this weakening of marriage on the children?

In 2000, Danish sociologist Mai Heide Ottosen published a study, “Samboskab, Aegteskab og Foraeldrebrud” (“Cohabitation, Marriage and Parental Breakup”), which confirmed the increased risk of family dissolution to children of unmarried parents, and gently chided Scandinavian social scientists for ignoring the “quiet revolution” of out-of-wedlock parenting.

Despite the reluctance of Scandinavian social scientists to study the consequences of family dissolution for children, we do have an excellent study that followed the life experiences of all children born in Stockholm in 1953. (Not coincidentally, the research was conducted by a British scholar, Duncan W.G. Timms.) That study found that regardless of income or social status, parental breakup had negative effects on children’s mental health. Boys living with single, separated, or divorced mothers had particularly high rates of impairment in adolescence. An important 2003 study by Gunilla Ringbäck Weitoft, et al. found that children of single parents in Sweden have more than double the rates of mortality, severe morbidity, and injury of children in two parent households. This held true after controlling for a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic circumstances.

Now the question is, is same-sex marriage really viewed as a weapon against traditional marriage by left-wing radicals?

Well, it certainly is in Europe:

Kari Moxnes, a feminist sociologist specializing in divorce, is one of the most prominent of Norway’s newly emerging group of public social scientists. As a scholar who sees both marriage and at-home motherhood as inherently oppressive to women, Moxnes is a proponent of nonmarital cohabitation and parenthood. In 1993, as the Norwegian legislature was debating gay marriage, Moxnes published an article, “Det tomme ekteskap” (“Empty Marriage”), in the influential liberal paper Dagbladet. She argued that Norwegian gay marriage was a sign of marriage’s growing emptiness, not its strength. Although Moxnes spoke in favor of gay marriage, she treated its creation as a (welcome) death knell for marriage itself. Moxnes identified homosexuals–with their experience in forging relationships unencumbered by children–as social pioneers in the separation of marriage from parenthood. In recognizing homosexual relationships, Moxnes said, society was ratifying the division of marriage from parenthood that had spurred the rise of out-of-wedlock births to begin with.

A frequent public presence, Moxnes enjoyed her big moment in 1999, when she was embroiled in a dispute with Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, minister of children and family affairs in Norway’s Christian Democrat government. Moxnes had criticized Christian marriage classes for teaching children the importance of wedding vows. This brought a sharp public rebuke from Haugland. Responding to Haugland’s criticisms, Moxnes invoked homosexual families as proof that “relationships” were now more important than institutional marriage.

…Months before Moxnes clashed with Haugland, social historian Kari Melby had a very public quarrel with a leader of the Christian Democratic party over the conduct of Norway’s energy minister, Marit Arnstad. Arnstad had gotten pregnant in office and had declined to name the father. Melby defended Arnstad, and publicly challenged the claim that children do best with both a mother and a father. In making her case, Melby praised gay parenting, along with voluntary single motherhood, as equally worthy alternatives to the traditional family. So instead of noting that an expectant mother might want to follow the example of marriage that even gays were now setting, Melby invoked homosexual families as proof that a child can do as well with one parent as two.

At the center of the Democrat defense of same-sex marriage and single motherhood is the idea that children do not deserve the stability of a two parent family, with parents who are strongly linked to the children genetically. Democrats believe that children are playthings for adults, like pets, and therefore the happiness of adults is of primary concern.

But traditional marriage isn’t about adults having their needs met. Traditional marriage is explicitly for the the purpose of creating a next generation of people. And people who marry for this purpose, especially people who go through pre-marital counseling, know that children are little monsters, and they expect to be sacrificing their happiness for the children.

Men engage in risky, demanding, self-sacrifical behaviors, like joining the army or marrying, because of the social respect they get for doing something hard that not everyone can do. Making a firm commitment is a hard thing to do, and raising children is a hard thing to do. That’s why we invented marriage and we attach so much social respect to this institution.

But if we divorce marriage from commitment, stability and sacrifice for the sake of the children, then men will not get involved in this higher calling. If “marriage” is just two or more people living together and children are an accident, then why should men bother sacrificing their childish irresponsibility and selfishness when this sacrifice means nothing special to society?

Kurtz concludes:

If America is to avoid being forced into a similar choice, we’ll have to resist the separation of marriage from parenthood.

…AMERICANS take it for granted that, despite its recent troubles, marriage will always exist. This is a mistake. Marriage is disappearing in Scandinavia, and the forces undermining it there are active throughout the West. Perhaps the most disturbing sign for the future is the collapse of the Scandinavian tendency to marry after the second child. At the start of the nineties, 60 percent of unmarried Norwegian parents who lived together had only one child. By 2001, 56 percent of unmarried, cohabiting parents in Norway had two or more children. This suggests that someday, Scandinavian parents might simply stop getting married altogether, no matter how many children they have.

This series will be continued tomorrow with another scholar and another data point.

UPDATE: Another good essay on traditional marriage is here, courtesy of Hot Air.

Why Democrat policies discourage men from marrying, part 1

This article is the first of a three-part series on how Democrat policies discourage marriage and child-rearing. Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

How women’s voting grew government and destroyed the need for fathers

Let’s start with a research paper written by economists John Lott, then at Yale University, and Lawrence Kenny, then at University of Florida. The peer-reviewed paper was published by in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Political Economy. The abstract summarizes the argument I am about to make in their abstract to the paper.

This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross‐sectional time‐series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did.

Now let’s look at this article by John Lott from Fox News, available here.

For decades, polls have shown that women as a group vote differently than men. Without the women’s vote, Republicans would have swept every presidential race but one between 1968 and 2004.

The gender gap exists on various issues. The major one is the issue of smaller government and lower taxes, which is a much higher priority for men than for women. This is seen in divergent attitudes held by men and women on many separate issues.

Women were much more opposed to the 1996 federal welfare reforms, which mandated time limits for receiving welfare and imposed some work requirements on welfare recipients. Women are also more supportive of Medicare, Social Security and educational expenditures.

Studies show that women are generally more risk-averse than men. This could be why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life.

Women’s average incomes are also slightly lower and less likely to vary over time, which gives single women an incentive to prefer more progressive income taxes. Once women get married, however, they bear a greater share of taxes through their husbands’ relatively higher incomes — so their support for high taxes understandably declines.

Marriage also provides an economic explanation for why men and women prefer different policies.

Because women generally shoulder most of the child-rearing responsibilities, married men are more likely to acquire marketable skills that help them earn money outside the household. If a man gets divorced, he still retains these skills. But if a woman gets divorced, she is unable to recoup her investment in running the household.

Hence, single women who believe they may marry in the future, as well as married women who most fear divorce, look to the government as a form of protection against this risk from a possible divorce: a more progressive tax system and other government transfers of wealth from rich to poor. The more certain a woman is that she doesn’t risk divorce, the more likely she is to oppose government transfers.

And I have to quote his interesting conclusion:

During the early 1970s, just as women’s share of the voting population was leveling off, something else was changing: The American family began to break down, with rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births.

Over the course of women’s lives, their political views on average vary more than those of men. Young single women start out being much more liberal than their male counterparts and are about 50 percent more likely to vote Democratic. As previously noted, these women also support a higher, more progressive income tax as well as more educational and welfare spending.

But for married women this gap is only one-third as large. And married women with children become more conservative still. Women with children who are divorced, however, are suddenly about 75 percent more likely to vote for Democrats than single men. So as divorce rates have increased, due in large part to changing divorce laws, voters have become more liberal.

The article also explains what statistics were used to arrive at these conclusions.

Based on this research, I argue that as government grows, it takes over all of the traditional responsibilities of the mothers and fathers, because socialists don’t trust parents to raise their own children. Government provides and controls day care, policing, counseling, schooling, finances, etc. As the sphere of government increases, there is less money for families to spend, and less influence for parents.

And as men see that there is nothing for them to do, they begin to withdraw from responsible behaviors like marriage and child-rearing. Men need to be needed, valued and respected for doing tasks that only they can do. Men rise to challenges if they are in control. Men don’t like to share authority with anyone, especially a meddling feminist-marxist state! More government means fewer manly men.

Let’s take a quick peek ahead to tomorrow’s topic to see why the welfare state is hostile to marriage and family.Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard, talks about feminism, contraception, abortion and the welfare state.

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 taxes necessary to support the welfare state have had an enormous impact on the family. With taxes so high, women must work. This reduces the time available for child rearing, thus encouraging the expansion of a day-care system that takes a large part in raising nearly all Swedish children over age one. Here is at least a partial realization of Simone de Beauvoir’s dream of an enforced androgyny that pushes women from the home by turning children over to the state.

…There are also cultural-ideological causes of Swedish family decline. Even more than in the United States, radical feminist and socialist ideas pervade the universities and the media. Many Scandinavian social scientists see marriage as a barrier to full equality between the sexes, and would not be sorry to see marriage replaced by unmarried cohabitation. A related cultural-ideological agent of marital decline is secularism. Sweden is probably the most secular country in the world. Secular social scientists (most of them quite radical) have largely replaced clerics as arbiters of public morality. Swedes themselves link the decline of marriage to secularism. And many studies confirm that, throughout the West, religiosity is associated with institutionally strong marriage, while heightened secularism is correlated with a weakening of marriage. Scholars have long suggested that the relatively thin Christianization of the Nordic countries explains a lot about why the decline of marriage in Scandinavia is a decade ahead of the rest of the West.

Democrats are anti-family, and pro-big-government. The reason why there is a huge weakening of marriage and skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock births is because Democrats have replaced the need to marry competent, responsible men with an anonymous welfare check from the state, thus depriving children of fathers. Women don’t need men to rise to the occasion when they know that a welfare check, social programs and a divorce settlement is there to back them up.

This series will be continued tomorrow with another scholar and another data point.

How socialism undermines family, community and the dignity of labor

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the link, Binks!

I saw this amazing post over on the Pugnacious Irishman, and I would highly recommend you take a look at it. Rich comments on an essay by Charles Murray on whether the United States should start implementing European-style social policies.

Here is Rich’s summary of the Murray article:

In the annual Irving Kristol Lecture given at the American Enterprise Institute Dinner, he argues that while such Europe-style policies might produce an economic benefit or two, they are ill conceived because they suck the meaning out of life.  They do this by enfeebling the institutions necessary for robust meaning in life: family, community, vocation, and faith.  Lastly, he argues that in the next few decades, science will provide ample evidence that such policies are ill conceived.

But how does European democratic socialism destroy human flourishing?

Murray writes:

To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don’t get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché “nothing worth having comes easily”). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.

There aren’t many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements…. Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation, and faith.

…It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life–the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one’s personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships–coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness–occurs within those four institutions.

Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that’s what’s wrong with the European model. It doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.

And then comes Murray’s central thesis. Big government socialism, by taking responsibility away from individuals in the areas of importance and meaning, actually causes more problems than it solves. Murray calls this government involvement in these areas “taking the trouble out” of life.

Murray continues:

The problem is this: Every time the government takes some of the trouble out of performing the functions of family, community, vocation, and faith, it also strips those institutions of some of their vitality–it drains some of the life from them.

It’s inevitable. Families are not vital because the day-to-day tasks of raising children and being a good spouse are so much fun, but because the family has responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the family does them. Communities are not vital because it’s so much fun to respond to our neighbors’ needs, but because the community has the responsibility for doing important things that won’t get done unless the community does them. Once that imperative has been met–family and community really do have the action–then an elaborate web of social norms, expectations, rewards, and punishments evolves over time that supports families and communities in performing their functions.

When the government says it will take some of the trouble out of doing the things that families and communities evolved to do, it inevitably takes some of the action away from families and communities, and the web frays, and eventually disintegrates.

…We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones.

This next point is something I first read about in George Gilder’s book “Men and Marriage”. When the government steps in and takes away the responsibilities of a man, especially husband and father responsibilities, it destroys the male will to be a responsible contributor to society. If the welfare state awards money to women to raise children without the father, what honor is there in being a good man?

Earlier, I said that the sources of deep satisfactions are the same for janitors as for CEOs, and I also said that people needed to do important things with their lives. When the government takes the trouble out of being a spouse and parent, it doesn’t affect the sources of deep satisfaction for the CEO. Rather, it makes life difficult for the janitor. A man who is holding down a menial job and thereby supporting a wife and children is doing something authentically important with his life. He should take deep satisfaction from that, and be praised by his community for doing so. Think of all the phrases we used to have for it: “He is a man who pulls his own weight.” “He’s a good provider.”

If that same man lives under a system that says that the children of the woman he sleeps with will be taken care of whether or not he contributes, then that status goes away. I am not describing some theoretical outcome.

I am describing American neighborhoods where, once, working at a menial job to provide for his family made a man proud and gave him status in his community, and where now it doesn’t. I could give a half dozen other examples. Taking the trouble out of the stuff of life strips people–already has stripped people–of major ways in which human beings look back on their lives and say, “I made a difference.”

Murray’s article and Rich’s commentary continue, but for me this was the important point. When government distributes wealth, it gets involved in the decision-making of the most important areas of life: marriage, education, parenting, taxes, etc. Speaking as a man, when you take away choice and responsibility from me, you cannot expect me to engage in work or family or community in the same way I would if I were in charge.

By the way, I explained why European socialism leads to the decline of religion in a previous post.

Are same-sex marriage advocates tolerant of traditional-marriage advocates?

Hot Air reports that the the organizers of the recent Miss America pageant tried to get Miss California to renounce her beliefs about marriage and apologize to same-sex marriage activists like Perez Hilton. The organizers didn’t want her to be herself. They wanted to change her beliefs to be like theirs. The organizers didn’t want a rainbow of diverse opinions, they wanted uniform, lock-step, monochrome compliance!

The Western Experience linked to a video debate from CNN between Jewish scholar Dennis Prager and Perez Hilton.

Sometimes, same-sex activists like Perez Hilton move beyond disagreement to name-calling, and to harassment, and to threats of violence, and to vandalism, and to actual violence, as even the New York Times acknowledges. It seems to me that this coercion intrudes on the freedom of other people to express disagreement with same-sex marriage activists over same-sex marriage.

I wanted to draw your attention to a 10-point analysis of the whole Perez Hilton episode by Christian philosopher Douglas Geivett, so that we could really see who is being intolerant of who.

Here are my favorites:

3. Carrie Prejean was not “inclusive” enough in her answer, say her critics. But if she had answered that she approved of gay marriage, she would have excluded many Americans who also disapprove, including all those from her own state who passed Proposition 8 with their vote in November.

4. Gay rights advocates are bound to take offense even if Carrie Prejean meant no offense. Gay rights advocates are duty-bound by their cause to take offense. It is a strategic requirement in their effort to persuade others of gay rights. “Being offended” is an acquired taste. It comes natural when you’ve trained for it.

5. A beauty pageant is a popularity contest. Because of her answer, Carrie Prejean is unpopular with certain people. Which people? Gay rights activists. Who are gay rights activists? This is an important question. Some gays are not gay rights activists. Many gay rights activists are not gay. Gay rights activists are engaged in a strategy to marginalize anyone who believes that there is no “right” to gay marriage. You may believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. But do you have a right to believe this? Do you have a right to say so? Doesn’t matter. Gay rights activists will do anything in their power to ensure that if you believe it you will be made a pariah.

7. Former Miss USA, now director of the Miss California USA pageant, Shanna Moekler has also made it publicly known that she’s disappointed in Carrie Prejean. As state pageant director who sought sponsors for Prejean’s participation in the pageant, Moekler was embarrassed and indignant, and said that Prejean had betrayed her sponsors. Apparently, Prejean should have betrayed herself and her own values, instead. This is very revealing about Moekler’s own moral compass. We should like to know who the sponsors are and which ones are so offended. In view of serious economic reversals in this country, it’s become imperative that Americans know more about the moral compass of corporate leaders. So tell us, Ms. Moekler, which sponsors are embittered by Prejean’s integrity?

Isn’t the activist left worried about inciting hatred, violence, depression and increased suicide rates against those who are different from them? Shouldn’t we celebrate diversity (of opinion) and not coerce those who disagree?

I recently wrote about legal sanctions being faced by those who stand up to the agenda of same-sex marriage activists.

Guest post: Some thoughts on marriage, part 2

This is part two of a two-part series of guest posts written by my friend Andrew. My friend Andrew has thought a lot of the issue of marriage and he and his wife have really done an amazing job. I thought we could all benefit by absorbing his tips and experiences.


Some Thoughts on Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Continuing on from my Part 1 post, here are a couple more things that I have learned about marriage that I don’t think I really understood before (at least not to the same extent) I was married:

Men and women are different…and that’s okay!

In general, men are logical and physical, and women are emotional and relational. Taken to the extreme, men can be cold and uncaring, and women can be led purely by their emotions and inappropriately compromising. By coming together in marriage men and women can really work together and learn from each other. In marriage, expect each other to be different, and expect to learn a lot from your spouse.

If I’m very frustrated, my normal reaction as a male is to kick something. Something like a steel door or a brick wall. If my wife is frustrated or overwhelmed, her normal reaction as a female is to cry. As a man, I only cry when something is really wrong…like my both my arms and legs were accidentally amputated. As a woman, my wife would only consider hitting something if the situation was really desperate. God made men and women special, equal, complementary…and very different.

Now that my wife and I have children, I have discovered just how much the difference between the sexes is innate, and not learned. Last week my wife took some food over to a friend of hers who had undergone an operation and was out of commission. She brought our two young sons with her, who played with her friend’s three young daughters. My wife later told me what she had overheard: Girl to her sisters and to my son: “Let’s play princesses. We can dress up in our princess dresses. You [to my son] can pretend to be a prince!”. My son’s reply: “I don’t want to be a prince, I want to be a tiger-shark!”

Two different people = different expectations.

Though it is obvious enough, it helps to realize and acknowledge that in marriage the husband and wife are two different people. Two different sexes. Two different backgrounds and upbringings. Therefore you should expect to have different ideas of what the different aspects of your marriage will be like. One spouse might expect to have three children because they came from a three child family, the other doesn’t want children. One spouse expects to celebrate Christmas Day with their family, the other expects to alternate. And so on.

This brings us back to two things that I have come to realize: One should enter into marriage with an open mind and realize that there are many ways to do things, and often it doesn’t really matter as long as husband and wife can agree on which way works for them. The other thing is premarital counseling – it will help you both to identify your expectations as well as areas that might lead to conflict in your marriage. By the way, it’s never too late to go for premarital counseling, even if you’ve been married for several years. And on that note, a word of caution: if you are having difficulties in your marriage please don’t harden your heart – seek help before it’s too late. Contrary to popular understanding, divorce makes things more difficult, not easier. Many church pastors are professionally trained to provide marriage counseling.

UPDATE: I spotted this related post on the importance of marriage on Hot Air.