The headlines have been blaring the news: “Majorities Say Same-Sex Marriage is inevitable.” People who opposed same-sex marriage are “on the wrong side of history,” they claim. I’ve heard claims of “inevitability” before; history is laced with them. But I can think of no other more profound rebuttal to the “inevitable” way of thinking than what we are seeing in today’s Russia.
Those of you who grew up and lived through the “Cold War” era and carried around a deep-seated fear of Communist Russia and the devastation that they could and were raining down upon the world, may have a bit of a difficult time believing what I’m about to explain. I certainly have.
Several years ago, we at United Families International began noticing in our UN work a marked shift of focus and involvement of the UN delegates from Russia. Formerly, the mostly quiet Russian delegates would speak out on economic and some foreign-policy related issues, but rarely on social issues.
Boy, has that changed! The Russians have become some of our most articulate, consistent and passionate allies on issues related to protecting religion, traditional values, marriage and family and the unborn. The last few years, their delegation has been crucial to the success of the pro-family/pro-life effort at the UN. The anti-family forces have recognized the change too and now regularly target the Russian Delegation with their rhetoric and their wrath. So why this remarkable, and for some of us unbelievable, change?
Let me state from the onset that the country of Russia continues to have many serious geo-political, economic and social problems. But when one considers the question of swings of history and the “inevitability” of time’s relentless march towards leftist public policies and anti-family ideology, Russia must surely give all who espouse conservative and traditional values a measure of profound hope.
For 70 years the Soviet Union attempted to stamp out religion and replace it with universal atheism. The communist regime ridiculed religion, confiscated religious assets and property, harassed religious individuals, and promoted “science” and atheism in schools. Religion was tolerated as long as it was kept private or in designated areas, but any public display was strictly forbidden. The Soviet Union during those decades was arguably the least religious population on the planet.
Yet today, Russia has emerged as Europe’s most God-believing nation with 82 percent of those polled responding that they were religious believers. Although the definition of a “religious believer” can be debated, the trend line continues toward more religiosity – not less. Earlier this year, Russian president, Vladimir Putin stated the Orthodox Church should be given more say over marriage and family life, education, social development and strengthening the patriotic spirit of the armed forces. We see the resurgence of a traditional religious perspective manifesting itself in both domestic and international Russian politics and policies – including at the UN.
Russia’s history of abortion has been a tragic one, beginning in 1921, when Russia became the first country in the world to allow abortion in all circumstances (abortion was criminalized during the period from 1936-1955 after which it was legalized again). In 1991, the Russian abortion rate peaked at 275 abortions performed for every 100 live births! This astronomically high abortion rate has declined dramatically. For example, in the year 2012 for every 100 live births there were 43 abortions performed. Though this rate is clearly too high, the trend line is highly encouraging.
There are many things that contribute to the rapid and continuing decline of abortion in Russia, but certainly at the top of the list are concerns over a falling birthrate and plunging population numbers. As Russian leaders began to understand the magnitude and the implications of their country’s population implosion, policies were put in place to encourage families to have more children and even to compensate them.
In 2011 abortion laws were changed that allow abortion up to 12 weeks with exceptions made up to 22 weeks for rape or the life of the mother. There continues to be a significant and successful pro-life effort in the country seeking to protect the unborn from the moment of conception.
Marriage and family
Same-sex marriage is not allowed in Russia and public opinion regarding homosexual behavior tends to be negative. Earlier this year, law makers proposed a bill that would out law all “homosexual propaganda.” Some ten regions of Russia currently have laws banning “propaganda of homosexualism among minors.” Recently it was announced that Russia would ban same-sex foreign couples from adopting children citing the strong belief that children need a married mother and father.
The early days of the Communist revolution saw an intense effort to replace the family with government and marriage with alternate relationships. But it wasn’t many years before they modified that part of the plan finding out that children need their parents. In spite of continual efforts to insert “community” in place of the traditional family, the Communist’s efforts to supplant the family were largely unsuccessful. Many observers of the era have concluded that it was family relationships that were the glue that kept the Russian society and culture in place over those decades. It was the family that was the bulwark against oppression and government over-reach. Support for traditional marriage and family continues strong in today’s Russia.
Traditional Values and Morals
The Russian Federation believes in traditional morals and values, so much in fact, that last year they introduced a UN Resolution in support of traditional values to the UN Human Rights Council. This unique resolution met the proverbial “buzz saw” as anti-family forces disliked its emphasis on religion and saw it as an attempt to thwart their radical agenda of worldwide abortion on demand, sexual and gay rights, and other anti-family ideologies. The battle to reach consensus and approval for this resolution continues with the tenacious Russian delegation leading it forward.
History is on the side of the natural family
What has occurred in Russia over the last 90 years is a perfect case in point that the destruction of the family and the tenets of liberalism and secularism, in all their facets, cannot stand the test of time. The Russians have tried it; they know it doesn’t work. Russia now knows the importance of the family and traditional values/morals and they are changing laws and public policies to reflect that crucial understanding.
Now we are not naïve as to the numerous problems that exist in Russia and recognize that there are many who still question the country’s political motives, but none can refute that there has been a remarkable renaissance of religious, pro-life and pro-family values.
We also want to make you aware of the location of the World Congress of Families 2014 (WCF). It will be held in Moscow, Russia, and we encourage you to plan to attend. We are told that some of the WCF meetings will be held inside the Kremlin. Even as I write that sentence I am amazed – a conference on the importance of religion, marriage, family, and the lives of the unborn to have events held in the Kremlin! Again, who would have thought…
I end with these quotes from leaders of the Russian pro-family effort:
“I grew up when Christianity was not welcome. Now I live in absolutely a different country. I’m inviting you to our country with the support of our government.” – Konstantin Malofeev
“There is a huge spiritual revival in Russia. Now is the time to have a new pro-family union. We need support from the international community–it is important to show that there are people in the West fighting for traditional families.” – Alexy Komov
As for the future of same-sex marriage in the U.S., we strongly encourage you to read Ryan Anderson’s article “Inevitability is a Choice We Can Reject.” Nothing is “inevitable” when educated people act on the truth they know.