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The meaning of marriage

By Sharon James
December 2013 | Review by Andrew Rowell
  • Publisher: Family Education Trust
  • ISBN: 978-0-906229-23-1
  • Pages: 24
  • Price: 2.50
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Book Review

The battle for marriage is by no means over. It is a battle over the nature of what we are as human beings and over whether or not there are laws which are higher than those which national and international bodies can enact. In May Dr Sharon James gave a lecture on this subject which has been published in booklet form by the Family Education Trust. This booklet provides an essential introduction to the war over the nature of human sexuality and relationships.

Dr James’ booklet is divided into three sections. The first section argues that marriage is a natural institution. It predates our nation and originated long before Christianity. For its entire history it has been a gendered institution – the complementary union of one man with one woman for life.

The second section examines the new view of marriage. Radical feminists have taught that the traditional view of marriage was at the root of ‘man-rule’. Sociologists have argued that marriage, instead of being a natural institution, is merely a social construct which can be manipulated at will. This new view of marriage means that obligations attached to marriage are loosened and the necessity for a gender basis for marriage is challenged. Radical feminists teach that men and women are completely interchangeable so in this view a gay or lesbian couple can provide parenting just as effectively as a mother and father.

This new view of marriage is now being enshrined in law. This has followed stepwise in a process of the dismantling of the traditional view of marriage and the family.

The first step was the separation of sex from marriage with abortion and contraception. The second step was the removal of the norm of marital permanence with the ‘no fault’ divorce laws. The third step was the increasing acceptability of cohabitation and the removal of any incentive for marriage in the tax system. The last step is the denial that biological parenthood is significant in marriage. A lesbian couple are to be regarded as the true parents of a child born to either woman while they are in their relationship.

The final section of the booklet looks at the outworking of the new view of marriage. As Dr James concludes:

‘Loosing of marital rules and restrictions was supposed to liberate women from the so-called oppression of traditional marriage. Now it is mainly the well-off who marry, and either party can end the marriage at will. Most of those on the lowest income levels are left to navigate relationships without even the now less than permanent protection of marriage. Marriage has all too often been replaced by chaotic serial relationships, in which many women and children are suffering more violence than ever before. Four million children will go to bed tonight in a home without one of their natural parents. That is what the jigsaw of “de-institutionalised” marriage looks like.’

We will all need to continue to pray that we will be both faithful and wise in our response to those who are morally adrift.

Andrew Rowell


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