Record low in marriages
The proportion of men and women getting married is below any level found since records began nearly 150 years ago, according to the Office of National Statistics. The number of weddings held in 2006 was the smallest since 1895, when the population was little more than half its present level.
The numbers of weddings for 2006 tells a dramatic story. There were 236,980 marriages – the fewest since 228,204 recorded in 1895. In 1895, there were around 30 million people in England and Wales compared with more than 54 million now. The general decline of marriage has been under way since 1972 when there were 426,000 weddings. At a personal level, one in four single women under retirement age is thought to be living unmarried with a partner.
There are also fewer religious weddings, as two-thirds of all ceremonies in 2006 were civil unions. Religious marriages numbered fewer than 80,000. Of the 157,490 civil weddings, 95,300 were held in such places as stately homes, hotels, or even football ground hospitality suites.
Such statistics echo the increasing departure of the nation from the Bible’s teaching. Genesis 2 makes clear that monogamous, faithful marriage between a man and a woman is God’s gracious provision for humankind. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24).