MPs Jim Dobbin, David Burrows, Paul Rowen, and Andrew Selous, and Lord Hylton, Bishop of Winchester Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Manchester Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch and Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool hosted a parliamentary consultation on “The Future of the Marriage-based Family” (marriage and the health of parents and children), Lennard Beighton (marriage and the UK tax system), Alister Noble (marriage, sex and relationship education), Dennis Wrigley (overview of the current disturbing situation) and Edmund Adamus (marriage preparation, enrichment and restoration in the Westminster Roman Catholic diocese). A summary of the keynote paper presented by Dennis Wrigley, founder and leader of the Maranatha Community, follows. “The Future of the Marriage-based Family” Marriage is the most stable and secure framework in which the family can operate and within which children can grow up in loving and caring relationships. It is the building block of civilised society.
Marriage is a publicly recognised and sacred covenant relationship. It is a life-long commitment and responsibility. Any assault upon it is inevitably damaging to the whole fabric of society.
Note: Marriage levels are at their lowest level since 1862 and levels of divorce have never been higher. The number of divorces has nearly doubled since 1971. Nearly half of those currently getting married will be divorced and one in five people getting divorced has had a previous divorce.
It is beyond dispute that the direct consequence of broken marriages and dysfunctional families is social disorder and a huge drain on national resources.
The financial cost of family breakdown is estimated at £24 billion. The estimated cost of youth crime in Great Britain is £ 1 billion every year.
Mr. Justice Coleridge says, “What is certain that almost all of society’s social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of family life”. There is now an urgent need to promote and defend marriage and family in the United Kingdom.
The overwhelming majority of children and young people in trouble with the police come from dysfunctional families.
We are now seeing a deliberate and determined attack on the family in which marriage is being displaced and dismantled. What Hitler and Stalin failed to do, today’s secular humanists are achieving. “Partners” are replacing husbands and wives. “Partnerships” are frequently without any commitment and are inevitably subject to uncertainty and instability’.
The majority (60%) of marriages are life-long, but the average length of co-habitation is about two years.
The experiment of the past 40 years has been disastrous and the casualties of wrecked families are to be seen on all sides. The sour fruit of broken families is to be seen on our streets with roaming gangs, vandalism and violence, drug abuse and drinking. They include the children who never see their natural father and the vast number of young people who have been deprived of healthy family life.
Half of the children being born in the United Kingdom today are born outside marriage. A hundred thousand children run away from home every year. Over 800,000 children never see their natural father. Nearly 1.3 million children have parents with addiction problems. The number of 11-15 year olds taking drugs in England has doubled since 1998 and over 800,000 people used cocaine in 2006. Out of a UN survey of 21 rich nations in 2007 the UK was ranked bottom for the overall well being of children and young people, including material, emotional, family and educational well being.
Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss former President of the Family Division has stated that marriage has been degraded and little done practically to support married couples. She said, “There is now no financial incentive to marry or remain married and a financial incentive to cohabit and not to marry”.
There has been a national process of sexual corruption driven by an alliance of libertarianism and ruthless and often criminal commercial interests. The active promotion of promiscuity and pornography (now a major industry) has exerted a damaging influence upon marriage and family. This has led to a mammoth growth of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly amongst our children and young people. Society has been sexualised and we even have a national daily pornographic newspaper. Our culture is not marriage-friendly. Sexual relationships are often not deemed to have lasting significance. The sex act fundamentally involves responsibility, commitment and long-term love but has now been relegated to being a meaningless and trivial recreational activity.
Sexually transmitted infections total over 630,000 per year. The UK now has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe.
Current sex education totally fails to prepare children for marriage. It positively encourages sexually activity and the use of condoms. Some even regard “sexual health” initiatives as a form of child abuse. Contraceptive information is given to under-aged children without the knowledge or consent of their parents. Similarly abortions are being offered without the knowledge or consent of the parents or family doctors. Children are having children. Children are having abortions. Political correctness dictates that marriage is seen as merely one of a range of equally valid relationships.
Thousands of children are driven into the care system because of family breakdown. The majority of children in care come out of with no educational qualifications and 70% of the prostitutes in this country were in care. 75% of those leaving care have no educational qualification. We now have 1.25 million young people between 16 & 24 who are without education, employment or training -15% more than 9 years ago.
Co-habitation as a substitution for marriage does not work in terms of the well being of children whose education and health and safety is inferior to those of married couples.
Children whose parents are co-habiting are 20 times more likely to be abused than children living with their married natural parents. Children living with their mother and a co-habitee who is not the child’s father are 40 times more likely to be abused. Co-habiting women are 6 times more likely than married women to attend a clinic for a sexually transmitted disease.
What can we do? – Drive the marriage-based family to the top of the political agenda. Teach marriage in schools. Radically review current sex lessons. Combat the pornography industry. Introduce tax changes that will encourage rather than penalise marriage. Above all – give every possible help and encouragement to people for them to establish mature, responsible and loving relationships.