As the election approaches, what are the issues that should most concern us? The economy is clearly vital, as is Education and the NHS. Equally clearly, internal security, immigration, defence issues and tackling extremism have got to be high on the agenda. But notwithstanding the interminable debates and knocking on doors, the earnest assurances of tax breaks and kissing of babies, there still seems a very large elephant in the room that the political parties en masse are trying hard to ignore.
This issue I’m talking about is the Family, which for the last few years has appeared in terminal decline, as evidenced by the fact that according to the ONS, 42% of marriages today end in divorce, around 50% of children are born out of wedlock, and 1.8 million children are brought up by single parents. And despite the assurances David Cameron gave about the institution being strengthened by its extension to same sex couples, it would appear the reverse is true, and redefinition is simply hastening the decline.
Now you may think this doesn’t matter, and that it’s just life in modern Britain … Get over it! But there you would be wrong. All this matters very much – as Stalin discovered only too well in post revolution Russia, when it appeared Soviet society was about to implode, following attempts to destroy what they saw as the patriarchal model of Family underpinning Capitalism. The truth, though some may disagree, is that the traditional family – made up of a mother, father and children – indisputably remains the basic building block of society. Destroy family, and in one fell swoop you destroy the foundation on which the smooth running, safety, and well-being of the whole depends. You remove the stability from peoples’ lives that gives them emotional security and a sense of belonging; of place and of purpose. At the same time, by extension, you foster a climate of violence and sexual abuse, where the weak are sacrificed to the desires of the strong.
Whatever people try and argue to the contrary, men and women remain social beings, designed to live in relationship. We like to live in groups, gaining our values and character from wider identification with our ‘tribe’, but we are not pack animals, like a pride of lions or a herd of deer. There is not one dominant male surrounded by a harem, with rival males kept in a position of inferiority. No, for men and women our greatest happiness is to live within the group in an exclusive and committed, lifelong relationship with one other. And though politically we have redefined marriage to include same-sex unions, that does not and cannot alter the fact that the optimum union is between a man and a woman. Because whatever we try and maintain ideologically to fit with current fashion, biologically and emotionally as a species we are hard-wired to live in relationship with one other person of the opposite sex and to have and raise a family. It remains true that if you ask school children what they want in life, almost without exception and regardless of sex, they will say that they want to fall in love, get married and have children.
It’s true that some individuals may feel overwhelming and compelling attraction towards people of the same sex, – and may indeed feel great love for one particular individual – but that cannot alter the fact that biologically and medically, without intervention, such couples can never have children of their own, and cannot therefore form a ‘natural’ family in the way, as it says right at the beginning of the Bible, God intends.
Like it or not, we are all part of the human family, and need to support and help one another, wherever we find ourselves on the journey. But prioritizing our sexual ‘wants’ over everything else, and redefining the institution of marriage to accommodate that, inevitably devalues and destabilizes the primary institution of family. And that matters because people do not flourish without the framework and structure that meets and satisfies their basic needs. As a society, in order to uphold the health, stability and wellbeing of the many – especially children – we need fearlessly to acknowledge that fact.
So three basic questions we should surely be asking our parliamentary candidates are: