mouthed about marriage
here's a very nasty little advertisment for Miele products that suggests that their washing machines last longer than the average marriage. Nothing could illustrate more clearly the reasons why marriages don't last than this example of the cheap way in which they are regarded.
I hope that it sells no washing machines — I certainly have struck Miele off my list — but, what is just as worrying, is the general lack of reaction to such a claim. Once, the protests would have been general. Now they're confined to a bit of muttering among a few of us.
It is a serious indictment of all who ought to be upholding the standards of Christian marriage that we are allowing the views of the articulate minority that takes these things so lightly, to dominate the national debate.
This week I received an invitation from a local council to a civic service. It was addressed to the Rt Hon John Gummer and it asked whether I would like to bring my "partner". They knew perfectly well I had a wife but they would prefer to offend her than to offend those living in some unorthodox relationship.
Even "spouse or partner" would be better and, as politely as I could, I drew that to their attention. For them it was a thoughtless slip, for others, it is a conscious policy. They want to remove the special status of marriage and insist instead that all relationships are equally valid and worthy of respect.
Yet this is wholly against the interests of a healthy society. The bedrock of marriage is not only a religious concept, it has been always a secular concern. When Beveridge designed the welfare state, it was on his perception that marriage was an institution that could be relied upon and which could be used as a means of delivery of help even to the poorest.
He may well have understood that marriage, as a universal institution, was comparatively new. It was the Victorians who had ensured that it became the norm even among those least fortunate. They delivered the change by harnessing all the social pressures of Church and State, media and public example.
y newspaper and maga zine, advertisement and tract, the importance, solemnity, and indissolubility of marriage was proclaimed. Hypocritical it may have been, unfair to women it certainly was, and uncharitable it could be, but it did provide a continuing basis for British society.
It is not a basis that we now have. A majority of those who come into my surgery asking for help with social security are living in unmarried relationships. The national figures show that the number of single mothers has rocketed and they make up the largest section of poorest quintile among the population.
The whole social security system is now skewed to the support of those who are seeking to raise children without the support of marriage. Many of these have never been married at all and yet see no reason why the rest of society should not be compelled to provide them with an income.
Government is increasingly powerless in the face of the electoral facts, as this Government found when it sought to celebrate marriage.
There were just too many MPs and too many of its own Ministers who were themselves living in irregular relationships. Which brings me back to us — Catholics who care about what is happening to future generations.
At least we should be determined to celebrate marriage and drive Miele, if not to repent, to withdraw.