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The decline in birth rates means the decline of Western civilisation


THROUGHOUT the West and beyond we are witnessing a steep decline in marriage and birth rates. Greece’s birth rate fell by 30 per cent from 2011 to 2021 to under 84,000 per year, slipping below the death rate. Prime Minister Mitsotakis said that in effect the country recorded just one birth per two deaths in 2022. Greece is now facing the possibility of becoming the first contemporary country to experience ‘population collapse’, a sudden and irreversible decline in population.

The depopulation crisis facing the West is not confined geographically but touches those nations heavily influenced by the West. We are all familiar with Japan’s population crisis but it expands beyond rapidly ageing Japan. South Korea, the Western-influenced industrial powerhouse of the Far East, is on track to produce between four and seven great-grandchildren for every 100 Koreans alive today. This equates to a 93-96 per cent reduction in population over the course of a century. No plague or war has ever achieved as much.

The most common reason given for population decline is the debt crisis: people cannot afford children. However, a temporary economic disturbance cannot explain the long-term trend. There are a number of other reasons but the underlying one is that increasingly marriage and family formation is discincentivised in our society and culture.

We are used to the term ‘Go woke, go broke’; perhaps we should replace it with ‘Go woke, go vanish’. Our governments see us primarily as units of production and have no discernible interest in helping straight married couples produce children, while our media promote an increasingly divergent array of relationships and forms of co-habitation.

The decline in marriage and fertility rates in the West should concern us all, and not just because fewer indigenous people having babies means that more non-native people have to be imported to service our economies. The decline in marriage rates is of concern because generally speaking what we term Western civilisation emerged from a culture built on what we now term ‘traditional marriage’, though not so long ago it was simply ‘marriage’. One man and one woman making a lifelong commitment to each other to the exclusion of all others was our standard foundational social model for centuries. It was not perfect in every instance, but generally it worked and produced stability and continuity within society with values being passed from generation to generation.

This did not come about by accident. Joe Henrich, the Harvard anthropologist who authored the WEIRD thesis, argues that beginning in the 4th century a series of Church edicts on marriage changed society and our culture for the better. These edicts outlawed marriage amongst close kin and undermined the foundations of kin-based tribal society. This created the more analytical, individualistic thinking prevalent in Western societies and which was able to create much of what we value today. When we consider the effect of Christian thinking on social and intellectual formation in the West and compare it with the lack of development elsewhere, you don’t have to be a Christian to see that this is important. The results speak for themselves.

If we lose that model of human interaction and mutual support because we have lost the Christianity underpinning it, we inevitably lose our civilisation: and we are losing that model. Without a shared Christian belief binding us together, we quickly revert to pre-Christian social mores and patterns of behaviour. Without the restraint of Christian sexual norms we will descend into chaos, a chaos which is emerging around us now in the shape of increasing sexual confusion and stridently tribal politics. The amoral libertinism and callous disenchantment of our contemporary hyper-sexualised culture represent more loss than gain.

The sexual revolution has created a relationship dystopia in which partners are seen as primarily sexual objects who have a short-term utility; when that utility is over they can be discarded for a younger, wealthier or more powerful model. Children are increasingly seen as by-products of sex who, if unwanted, we have a right to dispose of at our convenience. There are even British parliamentarians who advocate abortion until birth.

If losing marriage is disastrous to society, losing binary sex is something from which we will be unable to recover. Only now is there the beginning of a fightback against the mad thesis that gender has nothing to do with biology which has been wholeheartedly adopted by a cowardly establishment. This is about more than the obliteration of gender roles and the insanity of incarcerating male rapists in women’s prisons: sexual fluidity throws us into a maelstrom of uncertainty about the foundations of life. Resistance to transgenderism is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

We see one of transgenderism’s tragic results in the increasing number of young teenagers suffering from mental health issues. This is not a matter of them being snowflakes who ‘need to toughen up’. They have been lied to by the older generation into believing they can change their sex if they ‘feel’ like it. Their confusion and desperate searching for identity is understandable when they live in a society where the state broadcaster assures nine-year-olds that there are hundreds of genders. When they are confused about who they are, and their teachers collude with them in changing gender and keeping it secret from their parents, who is the youngster to believe and trust?

Decivilisation flourishes in historical moments when communities struggle to find meaning in life. If you are a social conservative and think our culture worth preserving, Christianity is worth fighting for. Richard Dawkins may enjoy Christmas carols and visiting cathedrals, but Christianity has greater importance than a nostalgic aesthetic. If society loses the formative influence of Christianity, it loses everything.

If you are a Christian and care for your children and grandchildren as our culture crumbles around us, it is vital that you personally take the Christian disciplines seriously. We will need their strengthening to resist the pressures coming on us, and we can pass on only that which we truly hold. In the inevitable tension ahead we must always give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we must totally refuse to give to Caesar what is rightfully God’s.

This article appeared in A Grain of Sand and is republished by kind permission.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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