Up until quite recently, societies benefited greatly by certain institutions which in fact predated the state. Marriage and family are two institutions which have been around for a very long time, and have offered social glue and moral stability to almost every human society.
Most great minds throughout history recognised the fundamental importance of marriage and family, and their vital role in preserving society. Consider a few ancient voices. Aristotle put it this way: “Man is by nature more inclined to live as a couple than to associate politically, since the family is something that precedes and is more necessary than the State”.
Homer said this, “There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye-to-eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends”. And 2000 years ago the Roman statesman and orator Cicero said: “Marriage is the first bond of society.”
Much more recent thinkers have reiterated such high praise for marriage and family. Edmund Burke once remarked, “The Christian religion, by confining marriage to pairs, and rendering the relation indissoluble, has by these two things done more toward the peace, happiness, settlement, and civilization of the world, than any other part in this whole scheme of divine wisdom.”
John Locke said that marriage is humankind’s “first Society”. D. H. Lawrence argued that Christian marriage is the “greatest” contribution of Christianity to civilization.
And J D Unwin of Cambridge University, marriage is seen as the crucial element in the development and maintenance of healthy societies: “The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs. Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy. . . . Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.”
Yet the wisdom of the ages and the accumulated traditions of millennia are all being dashed on the rocks of modern political correctness and social engineering. The idea that marriage is important and that family structure matters is now seen as intolerant and judgemental.
Most Western societies are embarking on a path to national suicide as they jettison marriage and family in wholesale fashion. Consider just one example: Britain. With the passage in April of its Sexual Orientation Regulations, it has effectively declared war on these two institutions, and the implications are yet to be fully felt.
Journalist Joanna Bogle, writing in the July/August issue of Crisis seeks to lay out some of the ramifications of this nefarious legislation. She begins, “There’s a problem at the moment in Britain with our sense of national identity. The problem is a compound of many things, of course: an all-pervasive culture of pop music and TV soaps, muddle about the way history is (or isn’t) taught in schools, a substantial and growing Islamic presence, confusion about our role in the world, an obsession with denouncing the (real and imagined) mistakes and evils of our past. But probably the single most important component is the one that most debates and discussions on the subject overlook: the collapse of marriage and family structures. And new laws that took effect in April this year are going to have a marked impact on all of this.”
She offers a bit of background information: “New textbooks on ‘citizenship’ for use in our schools – very much a project of the moment – emphasize sexual options as a fundamental part of ‘Britishness.’ We are meant to assume that having various sexual leanings – heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual – is all part of the culture of ‘choice’ that is our birthright. The idea that a nation is built on families, and that the passing on of family names, along with traditions and history, culture and folklore, is central to the concept of nationhood would be regarded as anathema. I say ‘would be’ because, as far as I know, no one has actually dared to announce it even as a suggestion. Sexual relationships are, in the current parlance, ‘all about choices,’ and it seems now to be regarded as quite wrong to suggest otherwise.”
Consider the new legislation: “Under the new Sexual Orientation Regulations just passed by Parliament, anyone who challenges this notion of ‘choices’ and appears in any way whatsoever to criticize the homosexual lifestyle will be criminalized. And I do mean criminalized: There are to be fines and possibly even custodial sentences for anyone who fails to deliver ‘goods and services’ to people who are actively homosexual – ‘goods and services’ in this instance including, for example, children who must be offered to homosexual couples for adoption from now on. ‘Britishness,’ you see, is all about freedom to choose – not freedom for the child, of course, or for the natural mother giving up her baby for adoption, who might have wanted to specify a male/female married couple. No, ‘freedom’ today is defined by political correctness.”
The coercive nature of such laws are apparent: “Under the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which were passed with minimal parliamentary debate (despite a valiant attempt in the House of Lords to tackle them properly), it is going to be difficult for me to talk about marriage in schools anymore, or even be of much use as a visiting Catholic journalist. The new regulations expressly ban my doing anything that might make pupils of homosexual inclinations uncomfortable.”
“So what am I to do? I’m probably not going to be asked to speak about marriage or relationships much anymore. I have benefited from some – though not many – schools’ attempts to present ‘both sides’ of the debate on relationships, which does offer a little more than the usual school-nurse-with-contraceptives deal. But it now seems likely that this will slowly dry up or cease altogether.”
After looking at the wider ramifications of such legislation, such as how it will affect religious schools and institutions, she concludes: “In teaching children about ‘Britishness,’ I suppose schools will emphasize freedom, rights, the idea that ours is a country where we can make choices and live by them. I am not at all sure that this is an adequate summary of what being British is all about, but even if it were, it is not the case. The most profoundly important decisions are, and always have been, about things that matter not only to us but to others, and therefore include community responsibilities and obligations that sometimes (and correctly) involve the law of the land.”
“But that law no longer affirms marriage between a man and a woman as the fundamental and irreplaceable basis for our society, and hence for our nation. There can be no ‘Britishness’ now that this has occurred, and none will return until it is corrected. Only then will we be able to face our very considerable social problems – our sense of isolation from our own history, our loss of community and neighborly spirit, the recent and rapidly growing presence of Islam in what was once a Christian nation, and more – and regain some sort of confidence in our future.”
Such is the state of affairs in much of the West. Individual choice has trumped all other considerations, including the social good and the well-being of children. The West in many ways developed out of the Judeo-Christian worldview which has always stressed the importance of others, and of keeping self in check. But we have reversed all that today: self is number one, and to hell with others. Such attitudes are antithetical to social cohesion and stability, and the important question to now ask is, how long can the West survive under such conditions?