September 17, 2007

"The fertility crisis in the West is a moral problem"

This to this piece me is fascinating, because: 1.It's an example of how "things of the spirit" are more real than the tangibles produced by technology and economics.
2.Looks like the old-timers knew something—in this case, that it's us men who need to be corralled into marriage.
3.Plenty of conservatives speak similarly, but who has un-compromised moral authority here? Only B-16 and the Church. Not Protestants, that's for sure (try bringing a family with 6 kids to various churches and you will find out, as this guy did!). And how can a "secular conservative" speak with moral authority about the contraceptive culture? Not possible.
4.I think the "Culture of Death" is much more than just a matter of abortion and euthanasia. It's everywhere, it's nihilism.
5.I started to put this in my "Sunday Thoughts" category, then took it out, then put it back in. There's no dividing line...

Angela Shanahan: Sex Revolution Robbed us of Fertility:
OVER 13 years as a columnist for The Australian and other publications I have received many letters. But I have never received one like this. It was written in response to a column I wrote a few weeks ago on sexual imagery in advertising.

But coincidentally it arrived just after the Pope's remarks this month about the seemingly obvious link between selfishness and our inability to produce children.

The thirty something writer cut through the demographic babble about the fertility crisis and heartbreakingly encapsulated something that is staring us in the face. Despite the media's discomfort, the fertility crisis in the West is a moral problem and, of course, only moral leaders such as Pope Benedict XVI have the guts and authority to enunciate it.

The truth about declining fertility is not all that complicated. It is the inevitable result of a so-called sexual revolution that broke the nexus between sex and having children, and has skewed our relationships, particularly marriage, forever. What the media coyly refer to as private morality -- also known as sexual morality -- is having all too public social consequences. On average, women in Europe will now only bear 1.5 children each, and in some places it is down to 1.2. The enlightened West can't produce enough children to fuel its economy or maintain its culture.

In western Europe nothing will change this short of some great and terrible upheaval, such as another war. No amount of economic fiddling with family tax rates, no amount of child care or incentives for women to work, not even the threat of cultural extinction as a result of mass migration from Africa and the Middle East, will change it....

...And in sociologist-speak, culture is code for things such as religion and our sexual mores, including our marriage patterns, or what the aridly secular West will timidly go as far as calling our values. So what are these values that are a prerequisite for stable societies that can at least reproduce themselves? The most important factor in fertility is marriage. Late marriage and failure to marry is the biggest single factor affecting fertility in the West....

....It is a terrible catch22. But as my correspondent also rightly bemoans, so far almost all the discussion about fertility and marriage has been about women, as if their desires and motivations were the only factor.

However, studies done in the late 1990s in Scandinavia, where almost 60per cent of births are ex-nuptial, discovered a much stronger connection between the attitude of the man in a cohabiting relationship, as to whether a formal marriage eventuated, than the attitude of the woman....

....Cohabiting men were found to be far more hesitant than women to formalise the relationship. Furthermore, this pattern holds true even in relationships that have already produced children.

Among the childless, men seem to fear that marriage will push them into more of a provider role. They harbour strong doubts about the ultimate value of a relationship -- whether it will be lifelong -- and are less likely than women to yield to normative pressure from parents. What exactly was the word the Pope used: selfish?....
[Thanks to Orrin]

* Update: I'm not a moralist by nature, but I would emphasize that morality has brutally practical consequences that should be of concern even to secularists who scoff or libertarians who imagine that the market will sort all. If you doubt it just think of the astonishing courage and selflessness of our soldiers serving in bleak corners of the globe, and then try to imagine those co-habiting secular Swedes mentioned above producing men and women like ours! Of course they are not willing to fight for their freedom and their land.

9/11 was a wake up call for me, but not in the way I first thought. The need to fight Islamo-fascist terror groups, and the strategy to employ is in fact so blindingly obvious that I feel embarassed to keep harping on it. A thousand times more significant is the question of how the West came to be so paralyzed that a ridiculous rabble of bomb-throwers were not slapped down decades ago. and it's not a separate issue from "private morality."

"Random Thoughts Sundays"250

Posted by John Weidner at September 17, 2007 7:08 AM
Weblog by John Weidner