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Look at Norway—Debunking the “Conservative” Case for Gay Marriage

The debate over same-sex marriage has been considerably muddled by the so-called “conservative” argument in its favor. While Bible-believing Christians and others are staring down a cultural and academic elite who are hoping to be rid of marriage altogether, some people have begun to argue that gay marriage will actually strengthen the institution; the rampant promiscuity of the homosexual subculture, they say, will be replaced by an expectation of fidelity and monogamy. It really is an ingenious strategy, since many Christians are simply baffled when they hear gay activists picking up their line about the “sanctity of marriage.” Nevertheless, it is easy to discredit this “conservative” argument and show it to be a utopian fantasy. Just look at Norway.

America often lags a few years behind Europe in its cultural upheavals, which affords her the happy advantage of being able to wait and see what happens there before diving headlong into a dangerous social experiment. In the case of same-sex marriage, the Scandinavian countries have been providing such a case-study for more than a decade. Denmark struck first, legalizing de facto gay marriage in 1989; Sweden did the same in 1994. In both those countries, the public favored same-sex unions. Norway was different. Though the public was against it, gay marriage was imposed by a political elite in 1993. The results were catastrophic. Far from strengthening the institution of marriage, same-sex unions actually provided ammunition to those who were seeking to abolish it entirely.

First, despite the promises of gay activists, same-sex unions did not strengthen Norway’s families. In fact, they may have even contributed to an already-existing problem. Even before the political elite imposed gay marriage in 1993, Norway’s largely secular culture had left the family in a dire condition. In 1990, fully 39% of Norwegian children were born out of wedlock; the percentages were even higher in Denmark and Sweden.1 Seven years after the imposition of same-sex marriage, out-of-wedlock birth rates in Norway had gone above 50%, cohabiting parents had become at least as common as married ones, and family dissolution rates continued to skyrocket. If anything, Norway’s problems got worse. Clearly this is not what “conservative” gay-marriage advocates advertized.

What is more, the argument that same-sex unions would strengthen the marriage institution turned out to be utterly insincere. Once gay marriage had been imposed, feminists and secularists began using gay “families” as evidence that traditional marriage was obsolete and unnecessary in the first place. In 1999, for example, Norway’s energy minister got pregnant while in office, but she refused to name the father and insisted on raising the child herself. Social historian Kari Melby vehemently defended her against the public outcry, pointing to homosexual “families” as proof that a child does not in fact need both a mother and father to thrive. That same year, Kari Moxnes—a feminist sociologist with an unapologetic agenda to sabotage marriage—invoked gay “families” to reprimand the Christian Church for teaching the importance of traditional marriage and to demand instead the full acceptance of all “relationships.”2 Apparently the enemies of marriage in Norway understood gleefully what many people in America do not yet grasp: Same-sex unions will prove to be a frighteningly effective weapon in the hands of those hoping to destroy marriage altogether.

The great strategy of gay-marriage activists is to seduce the nation into believing—for just long enough—that same-sex marriage will actually be beneficial, all the while shouting down the Church and portraying her as reactionary and obstructionist. On its surface, their “conservative” argument may sound fairly reasonable. But pastors can use Norway’s sad example to show that however some people may fool themselves, same-sex marriage will not strengthen the institution of marriage; on the contrary, as Scandinavia has so plainly shown, it will undermine it and speed its collapse.


46% and 47%, respectively. For comparison, the total out-of-wedlock birthrate in the United States in the mid-1990s was 30%. Among Blacks, the number was 64%; among whites, 18%. See on this George A. Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen, “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Births in the United States.” Brookings Institution Website, Fall 1996,


All information taken from Stanley Kurtz, “The End of Marriage in Scandinavia,” The Weekly Standard, February 2, 2004, 26-33.