Monday, August 29, 2005

The decline of marriage in Scandinavia
And its connexions to contraception and attempted gay marriage. This blog isn’t anti-women in the work force in principle as this article seems to be at times but I recognise that it can be a trap, propaganda that gives companies more wage-slaves (disguised as ‘empowerment’ for women) and mires more people in debt such that they think they need two incomes.

This news seems to fuel the myth among foreigners (popularised, I understand, by porn) that these countries are unusually randy and libertine, that their people practise ‘free love’, which of course isn’t true. Having been in a room full of Swedes I can tell you about their incredible reserve, rather like Londoners without their humour (at least this was true of that lot). They’re outwardly very proper. The problems seem more insidious.

(As the smart and funny P.J. O’Rourke observed when he visited Sweden in the late 1990s the only naughty magazine at the newsagents’ was something published by Americans: ‘legendariske visionaren och chefredaktören Hugh M. Hefner’! Of course he was looking only for research’s sake.)
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.
That could be. The Germanic tribes that overthrew the western Roman Empire often were Arian, not Catholic, which explains some lingering problems among Western Christians in general and which may explain why most of northern Europe turned Protestant. (Although I’d feel at home in many old Scandinavian church buildings it seems that most now have the ‘form of religion but denying the power thereof’ (2 Timothy 3:5) — Nordic Broad Churchmanship.)
Religion is a key variable. A 2002 study by the Max Planck Institute, for example, concluded that countries with the lowest rates of family dissolution and out-of-wedlock births are "strongly dominated by the Catholic confession." [But] The same study found that in countries with high levels of family dissolution, religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, had little influence.

The Nordic countries are the leaders in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births. They are followed by a middle group that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, and Germany. Until recently, France was a member of this middle group, but France's rising out-of-wedlock birthrate has moved it into the Nordic category. North American rates of cohabitation and out-of-wedlock birth put the United States and Canada into this middle group. Most resistant to cohabitation, family dissolution, and out-of-wedlock births are the southern European countries of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece, and, until recently, Switzerland and Ireland. (Ireland's rising out-of-wedlock birthrate has just pushed it into the middle group.)
The old northern-Protestant-false/southern and eastern-Catholic-true divide in Europe either no longer exists or is blurred. (Right, John?) Italy now has Europe’s lowest birth rate, not one of the northern countries.
Norway's Lutheran state church has been riven by conflict in the decade since the approval of de facto gay marriage, with the ordination of registered partners the most divisive issue. The church's agonies have been intensively covered in the Norwegian media, which have taken every opportunity to paint the church as hidebound and divided. The nineties began with conservative churchmen [in] control. By the end of the decade, liberals had seized the reins.
I like confessional (conservative) Lutherans. Establishment, a holdover from Catholic Europe, ironically helped finish off the Scandinavian churches: the few people who still attended in the 1950s were conservative but the parliaments forced the attempted ordination of women on them for example. You can suss the success of those moves by looking at the statistics of church attendance in those lands: [sarcasm] the massive recent religious revival there known worldwide, just like this one [/sarcasm].

Search the blog for entries on the faithful Swedo-Catholic minority.

As for attempted gay marriage and the law, while it’s a sin against nature I am libertarian about it: just get the state out of the marriage business. It already licenses things that in the Catholic view (that is, in objective truth) aren’t marriages!

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