The ramifications of liberalising divorce law, plus growing state regulation of family life were the focus of this year’s Family Education Trust conference.
Colin Hart (Christian Institute director and Coalition for Marriage chairman) averred that the development of overly sentimental or Marxist-feminist views of marriage have undermined its meaning.
Referring to governmental plans to legislate for no-fault divorce, Mr Hart warned that, if marriage is reduced to a relationship defined by subjective feelings and which can be terminated at any time by either party, then it will lose its protecting structure.
Mr Hart acknowledged that it is difficult to change government policy and challenge the legal establishment. He also said that we should still persevere in personally promoting marriage as ‘the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others’.
Dr Stuart Waiton, lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Abertay, spoke of a new form of authoritarianism in society – the rise of an ‘expert class’ which is undermining the role of parents.
Dr Waiton argued that government policies on early intervention in the lives of children and their families are based on flawed science. He referred to the ‘named person’ scheme in Scotland and proposals to criminalise smacking as examples of how ‘experts’ have become undue arbiters of children’s ‘rights’.
He concluded on a more optimistic note, citing signs of a reaction to the era of the expert which would potentially create space to reassert the autonomy of the family. Video recordings of both addresses will be available in due course on YouTube.