Marriage Crisis and Birth Dearth in Europe

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Apr 13, 2007 2:45 PM

Here's Townhall's roving reporter Lindsay Boyd with her last post from Grove City College's Center for Vision and Values conference.  (Read her previous posts here, here, and here): 

Before I dive into the pressing issue of Maggie Gallagher's talk on "The Marriage Crisis and Birth Dearth in Europe", let me paint a surprising picture for you of what occurred while I was working away during the lunch intermission. While other conference attendees were listening to what I'm sure was an excellent lunch speech on Wilberforce, I remained in the empty auditorium to catch up on some work for Townhall. Suddenly, students started filling the seats. I began to realize that a class was scheduled and I was, whether I liked it or not, apparently attending. Fun, I thought- I hope it's one of those controversial classes that our Townhall partner groups protest against. Maybe like "Peaceful Verses of the Quran", or "Feminism and the Evils of a Patriarchal Society"... [# More #]

Just as I prepared myself for a potentially hair-raising discussion (and secretly hoped that it wasn't a science class!), the professor asked the students to bow their heads in prayer. I was shocked! I had to stop my typing to keep from disrupting...and sat in disbelief as the students joined in a unanimous "Amen" to conclude. Then I remembered where I was- at Grove City College, one of the bright spots in the American college and university system. This would never have happened on a typical college campus, in a typical college class. But I'm not on a typical college campus, or in a typical college class. And these students most certainly aren't receiving a typical college education. So forgive me for this slight deviation from the topic at hand, but as a product of the modern college system, I can't help but appreciate what I just witnessed.

Now onto the topic of marriage...and in fact, it was probably fitting that I began my entry with the story above. For, as Mrs. Gallagher espoused, there is a global marriage crisis at hand and the religious crisis simultaneously occurring is a large factor in the dissolution of family stability. Why should we care if marriages are failing? Because it has a tremendously negative effect on the stability of a society at large and the happiness of its citizens.

In 1960, when Mrs. Gallagher was born, 95% of children born were born into wedlock. Moreover, 85% of those marriages at the time lasted until "death do us part". However, in just over 40 years' time, close to 40% of children born today are born out of wedlock and over 50% of marriages today end in divorce. Why?

There are a number of reasons, but top among them (according to Mrs. Gallagher) is the absence of pride in the sanctity of marriage. She compared it to the pride that Marines feel in their brotherhood and the traditions that come before them. They see themselves as an "elite" class of soldiers. Mrs. Gallagher believes that married couples should see themselves as an "elite" class of lovers. You must have a respect for the richness of marriage and the feeling of accomplishing something important. In addition, she believes that society is no longer cultivating these important approaches to marriage and in turn, encouraging laziness by popularizing marriage at older ages and the ease of non-marital relationships.

Gallagher believes that if we stress the fact that not only marriages, but pre-marital relationships as well, are difficult and will continue to be difficult, more couples will accept this fact and work on the relationships during times of stress instead of walking away. Thus, not only will more people elect to stay married and cultivate stronger relationships, but more people will elect to get married in general and continue to strengthen their current partnerships- instead of ending them when things get hard.

Makes me think of that famous line from "A League of Their Own". Good ole' Jimmy Dugan- "It's supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great."

That's all from Grove City! What a way to go out!