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Is it too late to save marriage?

The census showed a disturbing trend away from the institution

By on Thursday, 13 December 2012

Gay Marriage Amendment

Since I wrote my blog on Monday, about the Coalition’s proposed legislation to redefine marriage, the subject has still been dominating the newspaper headlines. The Guardian today has, “Ukip plans to derail PM over gay marriage”, while the Telegraph has, “Britain has fallen out of love with marriage.” This latter headline conveys a deeper and more critical aspect of this debate: the general decline in marriage. The 2011 Census reveals that the number of married people has now fallen to 20.4 million, nearly 200,000 less than a decade ago. At the last Census married people composed just over half the population. Now they comprise 45%. The Telegraph comments that “this is the first time since the census was founded in 1801 that married couples have been in the minority.”

According to Sir Paul Coleridge, a High Court judge who has co-founded the Marriage Foundation campaign group to promote marriage, this must be regarded as “a worrying development and is all part of the picture which a few weeks ago revealed 50% of children aged 15 were not living with their birth parents.” I would use the word “frightening” of this development rather than “worrying”. Marriage as an institution has always provided the essential stability necessary to raise children, which is the hardest and most responsible task anyone can undertake. When marriages break up, and co-habitation increases – as the 2011 Census shows – it is always children who suffer most from the consequences.

I was talking to a friend the other day. In her early 70s, a history graduate and a lifelong Tory voter, she says she will not be voting for the Tories at the next General Election. Her reason: David Cameron’s determination to change the official definition of marriage. How many Conservative voters up and down the country plan to do the same? The Guardian thinks many will be drawn to Ukip, which is no longer regarded as extremist and which doesn’t care if the Tory modernisers regard it as the new “nasty Party”. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, has told the Guardian that he believes David Cameron’s proposal “has the potential to rip apart the traditional rural Tory vote. While Ukip wholly respects the rights of gay people to have civil partnerships, we feel the prime minister’s proposals will present an affront to millions of people in this country for whom this will be the final straw.”He added, “The division between city and rural is absolutely huge.”

By “division” Farage means that between the metropolitan middle classes and the Tory rank and file in the country generally. This latter group feels entirely ignored and overruled by the Coalition on this matter. Just as the Rochdale housewife Gillian Duffy was rudely dismissed by Gordon Brown as “a bigot” during the last General Election, when she raised her reasonable concerns about the scale of immigration in this country during recent years, ordinary Tory voters like my friend feel they are being similarly dismissed as “bigots” by the Party grandees over the same-sex marriage question.

In a feature article in the Telegraph this week Iain Martin asks the question of Cameron, “Does he not care who he’s losing?” It appears not. Martin suggests that Cameron and his advisers have concluded that “parties who look like the past are defeated and those that are in touch with some nebulous notion of the future tend to win.” They forget that conservatism is not about being a Colonel Blimp writing “Disgusted from Tonbridge Wells” in the letters columns of newspapers. That is merely an amusing caricature. Classic Conservatism grasps that what has been recognised as valuable, enduring and enriching over many generations needs to be “conserved” for the common good of succeeding generations. The defence of marriage should be seen in this light and not as an attack on people of same-sex orientation or as a reproach to co-habiting couples.

My friend whose allegiance to the Tory Party is now at an end talked to me about her own parents’ relationship. It seems her mother suffered from a severe mental illness throughout the marriage, later diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. “How did your father cope?” I asked her. “Well, he loved her and he was stoical. She needed looking after. To walk away from the difficulties would have been unthinkable.” Her comment illustrates the gulf between a previous generation’s idea of marriage and today. No longer seen as a lifelong commitment, no longer necessarily including children, no longer prepared to shoulder unforeseen burdens, it is regarded by many people as a (possibly transient) romantic partnership. No wonder its meaning and definition are under attack. Is it already too late, not only to save marriage as it has always been understood, but to encourage it so that the next Census will show a reversal of the current trend?

  • Karl

    I, have kept our vows. My wife has violated them for more than twenty years. The Catholic Church keeps trying to justify her adultery and remarriage through annulments. This time with
    Total Simulation, they are likely to have their way. It is an open cancerous joke!

    Either these annulments and the corrupted pastoral practices backed by our Pope, end, or the Church deserves what it will get.

    Benedict, change or resign. Please listen to the voice in the wilderness over here in the colonies.

  • Karl

    But, Lazarus, the tribunals have made their own canon law a joke with such a widely
    abused canon like 1095 and, probably soon if not already, canon 1102, if that is the Total Simulation, canon.

    These tribunals need to be shut down, the old cases(more than a million of them) reworked by competent people, not our present canon lawyers and priests, who mostly are not competent, and a better system, with much more input and control by past successful annulment respondents, implemented. 

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Fair enough, Karl. It may well be the case that in the way tribunals work in parts of the world, they do not in fact do a good job in assessing the facts about whether a given marriage exists or not. But the point I was making was one of principle: it is a very different matter to seek the truth about whether in fact a marriage exists, whether (in very limited circumstances) it may be set aside to preserve a higher supernatural end, or (as in the case of secular society) to imagine that a marriage can just be broken up willy-nilly. These are three different things and shouldn’t be confused.

  • Mtturner

    Wonderful. I applaud the spirit. Somewhere in your comment lies the possible answer
    to this situation.
    I for one have made it known to my MP ( soon to be ex ) also to our PM, and to as many folk who I hope will listen.
    I will not accept same sex marriage as legitimate regardless of our PMs efforts to hurriedly push this bill through outside the nations focus., and regardless of any subsequent legislation that may be passed. The bill is iniquitous. A wholly repugnant attack at the very heart of the church, it must be fought against with every sinnue we can muster. ( inside the law )

    Michael Turner

  • Mtturner

    I have to say that since joining this debating arena a couple of days ago I am a little dissapointed with the low level of contributors to the site. There has been a serious attack on our church, the severity of which will not be known for some time yet. but its very credibility is without doubt under assault. Where are the people who should be fighting this issue. This should be one of the most lively sites on the net just now. We need to fight this nonsense. Come on.

    MT

  • mollysdad

    How about this for a sinew?

    Inasmuch as Her Majesty swore to uphold the Law of God and the true profession of the Gospel, Christ’s faithful shall assemble to draw up Articles of Impeachment of the Prime Minister in relation to the High Crime and Misdemeanour of heresy and sedition (if he is baptised), alternatively blasphemy and sedition (if he is not): in that he professes that a man can marry a man, and a woman can marry a woman, contrary to the natural law and to a truth which must be definitively believed concerning faith or morals.

  • GratefulCatholic

    Karl, 3 passages that give me comfort: Jeremiah 6: 15-16, Philipians 3: 8, Romans 8: 38-39. There is nothing new under the sun; these foul deeds by men that vex us now have all been done afore. God always preserves a faithful remnant – hold to the teachings of the Early Fathers and Doctors of our Roman Catholic Church and you will be alright.
    God Bless you. GC
       

  • rentonrain

    Marriage can neither be saved nor destroyed by humans as it was created by God.

  • whytheworldisending

    All atheists are idolators, for they worship something other than God, though they claim to worship nothing. They elevate worthless things to the status of gods, and in that way, their values and hence their lives are corrupted. The Bible states, this in a nutshell: “For the worship of idols with no name is the beginning, cause and end of every evil” [Wisdom 14:27] The ultimate corrupton is the sacrifice of human lives for material gain, and this is what happens today in Britain where over 200,000 babies are sacrificed for sex and money. At least the Incas and the Carthaginians were upfront about the evil they did and why – any idol worshipped as a God becomes a demon which will turn and destroy. That’s the real absurdity – that people foolishly build their lives around things that destroy them. Consumerism is the culture in which idolatry thrives. Ultimately it will destroy the planet.

  • whytheworldisending

    All atheists – whatever they call themselves - are idolators, for they worship something other than God, though they claim to worship nothing. They elevate worthless things to the status of gods, and in that way, their values and hence their lives are corrupted. The Bible states, this in a nutshell: “For the worship of idols with no name is the beginning, cause and end of every evil” [Wisdom 14:27] The ultimate corrupton is the sacrifice of human lives for material gain, and this is what happens today in Britain where over 200,000 babies are sacrificed for sex and money. At least the Incas and the Carthaginians were upfront about the evil they did and why – any idol worshipped as a God becomes a demon which will turn and destroy. That’s the real absurdity – that people foolishly build their lives around things that destroy them. Consumerism is the culture in which idolatry thrives. Ultimately it will destroy the planet.

  • Apostolic

    If I lived in Edward Leigh’s constituency, or those of a few other Tory MPs who reflect conventional moral values, I might have continued to vote Conservative. Unfortunately, I live in Cameron’s constituency, so will never vote Conservative again while this destructive and arrogant man is MP. He is doing untold damage to British society. I know it will be a wasted vote but I’ll certainly vote ABC (Anyone But Cameron) next time around. He is a thorough disgrace to the traditions of Burke, Disraeli and Salisbury, but just look at the company – Rebecca Brooks & Co – that he has been keeping.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    I so agree with you.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    Anything ‘supernatural’ is far above your age range!

  • Rizzo The Bear

    If Civil Partnerships are strictly for same-sex couples i.e. NOT open to heterosexuals, then why on earth doesn’t the Government LEAVE THE HOLY INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN ALONE?!?!?!

    ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ etc. etc. my behind!

  • Rizzo The Bear

    Excellent, as always.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    What a load of cods, as always.

  • Rizzo The Bear

    As if THAT carries any weight!

  • KARL

    The clear example of the Catholic Church through its failure to excommunicate,
    immediately, those who unjustly divorce is to yield tacit support to willy nilly
    divorce. This is further encouraged when nullities cannot be sought unless a
    divorce is obtained. Telling Catholics to do, actually REQUIRING them to do what
    scripture says God hates and THEN justifying it with easy annulments.

    The Catholic Church is a major part of the problem of easy divorces but Benedict
    would rather go to a traditional latin mass where classical music is played than
    listen to those of us whose marriages are being destroyed and whose pleas he and
    his fellow bishops and clergy are IGNORING!

    I am not confused at all about this. I just have reached moral certainty that the
    Catholic Church must radically change to defend marriage or become a remnant.

  • Sweetjae

    NewMeena, what evil things that arise from Christians are you talking about? Our principles and tenets are based on the Golden Rule, loving the most marginalized and the poorest which people like you don’t even want to see nor smell. The catholic church is the largest charitable institution of the world, second to none!

    The evils that you think arise from our Faith has nothing to do with it rather they are deliberate and willful acts of men who are not being faithful to that Faith.

    We don’t promote the termination of life of anyone (whether babies in the womb or elderly) like what the secularists and atheists have been endorsing. Big difference.

  • Sweetjae

    Well what do you think, that something can cause itself to exist from nothing?

  • Stephen Smythe-Jones

    Catholics must be prepared to be the oppressed, despised minority….again. Hmm…..were Catholics at any time not the despised minority since Henry the Tyrant decided to make himself Pope in England? Well…another matter. Fact remains, if the Church is going to remain true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the deposit of faith, which of course includes matrimony solely between one man and one woman, among other important moral and theological points, it must be prepared to head back to the trenches to “fight the good fight,” For that is where most of Britain is preparing to send the Church. So be it.