Sunday, March 15, 2009

Michael Gove: the decline of marriage is bad for us all

Cranmer has been made aware of this story (though he cannot recall which communicant sent this, and he shall be delighted to express public gratitude and hyperlinks if he or she would care to disclose). There is so much emphasis on the Conservative Party’s planned revolution in schools that one easily forgets that Michael Gove is also the Shadow Secretary of State for children and families. And while it is rumoured (again) that the Party is being run by a ‘clique of four’, modelled in the fashion of Tony Blair’s sofa style of governance, the reality is somewhat different, for Michael Gove, at least, is given free reign to innovate and articulate, and he is consistently showing himself to be a formidable intellect and forger of policy in the uncompromising and influential fashion of Sir Keith Joseph.

Marriage is fast becoming a policy exclusion area. As Labour’s Tom Harris MP has found (to which Cranmer shall probably turn his attention tomorrow), the moment one articulates an orthodox view of this most natural of institutions, one is pilloried for excluding gays, abusing one-parent families, condemning the co-habiting or being a throw-back to a bygone era.

Yet Michael Gove has spelt out his ‘progressive' view of marriage:

‘Why should adults be corralled into an institution invented by a church in which a majority no longer believe? Why should the personal have to become public? Why should the million different shapes that love can take be forced into the Victorian corset of mouldy vows and mildewed sentiments? Since most couples live together before they marry, and therefore few these days believe that bridal white reflects virginal purity, why go through a charade just to please parents, when the cash could pay for a new kitchen instead?

‘Given the strength, and gathering force, of this trend, who would dare stand against it? Who would want to be a Holy Willie, twitching and frothing at what young people get up to these days, seeking to apply the morality of a judgmental and prejudiced past in these, more liberal and tolerant, times?

‘But if no one points out the consequences of the marginalisation of marriage, then some of the most vulnerable in our society will be voiceless. For the drift away from marital commitment is part of a broader flight from responsibility which is weakening our society and hitting the poorest, hardest. Marriage is a constraint, it is a restriction on freedom, a corset or corral in which passions which would otherwise run free are subject to disciplines, and personal satisfaction is subordinated to social expectations. But the reason marriage imposes those constraints is to ensure that selfish adults, especially pleasure-seeking males, are placed within a structure which forces them to live up to their responsibilities towards the next generation. A society which expects men to stay married to the mother of their children is a society which places a premium on providing young boys with male role models who embody the virtues of responsibility, restraint and consideration for others.

‘Children become mature when they grasp the principle of deferred gratification, the idea that greater prizes accrue to those who are prepared to work, wait and share than to those who wish to eat, shoot and leave. When adults behave like children, seeking instant gratification of their desires, abandoning relationships which no longer serve their purposes in pursuit of new, more intense, pleasure they leave children in their wake who have been deprived of the most valuable of inheritances – stability and security in which to grow to maturity.

‘These nouns may be abstract, but the problems created by the collapse of commitment are not. When I visit primary schools I am struck by how often headteachers point to the increasing numbers of children who, aged five, are incapable of sitting still and listening, who have not learnt how to communicate even basic thoughts and grow frustrated, even violent, when their needs aren't met. The heads I talk to bracket the growth in the numbers of children arriving at school with these disadvantages with the decline in the number of households where both the birth parents still live together. In a sober, entirely pragmatic way they point out that the absence of responsible male role models has a direct effect on the behaviour of the children.

‘One of the most striking failures of Government over the last 10 years has been the inability of ministers to promote social mobility and make our society more equal. Improving education is crucial to helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their potential. But making schools better isn't enough, as any teacher will tell you. The early years matter hugely, and children deserve the care of both the adults who brought them into this world...

‘If we're all reviewing our economic perspectives in the wake of the credit crunch, shouldn't we also extend that same process to our most intimate concerns? Shouldn't we see personal relations less through the prism of celebrating freedom and maximising pleasure and more as a means of growing through sharing? Support for marriage should actually be a cause behind which progressives rally. We may promise to wed for richer, for poorer, but we all live in an impoverished society if more and more people choose to put me before we.’

At the Conservative Party conference, Maria Miller MP, shadow minister for the family and one of Michael Gove's team, announced a new policy:

‘Most young couples now get married in a civil ceremony. Unlike a church wedding, there is no tradition of pre-marriage preparation for couples marrying at a registry office. We want that to change. We want local registrars to start signposting couples to pre-marital education as a matter of routine. The Local Government Association who co-ordinate the role of wedding registrars, agree and I am pleased to say that they (are) putting forward this policy so that every young couple getting married will be made aware of the benefits they would get from relationship support at this critical point in their life. In the US, couples who have this type of pre-marriage education are a third less likely to divorce. We want this type of support for couples to be routine in Britain too.’

This is now a wholly necessary intervention and an urgent necessity, the strengthening of which must become a manifesto commitment. Educating betrothed couples and future parents is the only solution to the increasing dysfunctionalism which is proving so detrimental to society: the key to educating children is to educate their parents about commitment, constraint, discipline, sacrifice and love – the core essence of the marriage relationship.


Anonymous mckenzie said...

I can only agree with your description of the symptoms, but Your Grace has much more faith than I do in the treatment. Prove me wrong please, but I see the future as a dark, horrible and selfish place that only the very worse and radical kind of treatment will cure.

When you hear the news reader on the BBC announce that knife crime is on the way down, you lose all sense of hope.

15 March 2009 at 13:40  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the institution of marriage as a man who has been married for 23 years. It requires a great deal of commitment, sacrifice and compromise (just ask my wife):-). I feel that it has been grossly neglected by recent governments. The libertarian anything goes attitude, bears a great deal of the blame for the sorry state society is in now.

Marriage needs to be strongly supported by future governments and to hell with the lefty gay, lesbian and single parent mob. Divorce also needs to be looked at as it is far to easy to just give up when the going gets tough.

15 March 2009 at 13:58  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Ah right! So this is more to do with de-bunking the 'gang of four' rumours circulating in the media this morning. The Observer says that "Michael Gove, the shadow education secretary, has one foot in the innermost circle."

Too Boring to get into. But if I was them, I would have a closed circuit for now also.

15 March 2009 at 14:00  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Conservatism is dead. Long live the Tony Party...

15 March 2009 at 14:15  
Anonymous Maturecheese said...

I should have added that I don't expect Blue Labour to actually do anything positive about marriage when they come to power. As for the "gang of four" in the Blairite style of governing, is anyone surprised if it turns out to be true?

15 March 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Since most couples live together before they marry, and therefore few these days believe that bridal white reflects virginal purity, why go through a charade just to please parents, when the cash could pay for a new kitchen instead?

I was surprised to find the cheapest part of the whole procedure was in fact the Church Service and related fees....the most costly was alcohol at the reception.

The State has obviously found marriage very appealing or it would not have created civil ceremonies to ape religious ones; nor have bowed to the EU use of employment legislation to impose civil partnerships and make them akin to marriage with rules on consanguinity and prohibited degrees of relation......

It is so frantically funny that civil partnerships are nothing innovative, simply more of the same whereas one would have thought The State might have developed alternatives such as commercial contracts in place of marriage, or limited liability structures, or pooling arrangements.

It seems funny that civil partnerships preclude brothers forming legal partnerships - there is no logical reason why not, it could be modelled on LLP or even Ltd structures......but since the EU used the Single Market rules to create "equality in employment law" to force through civil partnerships in the EU, it seems strange it has been restricted to persons related only by the legal partnership

15 March 2009 at 16:29  
Blogger PaulineG said...

I hear that official records and forms no longer record marital status. So soon there will be no data available to assess the influence of marriage on social outcomes. Let's hope sorting that out is high on Michael Gove's 'to do' list.

15 March 2009 at 19:31  
Blogger Hugh Oxford said...

That's an incredible fact Pauline G, and an example of the insidious way this repulsive government has attacked the fabric of society. It's these nasty little details that give away their bigger agenda - as you say, how do you measure the effects of something you no longer measure?

Of course, you don't need much more than functioning senses to know the difference between outcomes for married and unmarried people and their children, regardless of class and income, but to literally write marriage out of the research just so you can't be proved wrong.

It is now dawning on me what these people have been all about. Recovery from New Labour, if at all possible, will be a long and difficult process.

15 March 2009 at 23:00  
Anonymous not a machine said...

agree your grace , i liked especially your paragraph on children only mature when they learn defered gratification.... excellent effect and economy.

you articulate nay near blow out of the water somthing that had a brief flurrish in the 20s and then became modern necessity in the 60s up to today.

i would describe my self as some one who has lived a very wordly life , before i turned away , but your article has made me wonder why i chose the "free" path that i was told represented love as more to do with sex .

as a teen one didnt equate a bikin babe draped over a mustang , as being anything more than harmless fun , or to show your self that you had "arrived" with extra babe interest to boot .

what was the point in marriage when you could have such highs of ego. i suppose it is instant gratifiaction but , the economic argument seemed harmless enough.

this onslaught on the desires and senses to sell products , ranges from fabric conditioners , to a getting a first class seat and young air hostess to attend you.

if your not getting it , your not as good as the next person.

it seems to me as though marriage is some sort of ecnomic blockage ,, what better than to have single people , living in there own home buying the same products to manicure the same space as a couple would.

marriage has been portrayed as dull , tense, regrettable and subject to iressistable envies . to make the point name one TV play where a marriage has been a stable sucess , hardly much drama in such a program ???

to top it all we were then primed that there was oh so much more freedom , in single pick and choose , the marriage belief for the dullard .

the assault on marriage has had a large corporate profit motive , singledom is a form of ecnomic expansion.

the oxo family was dutifull , the nescafe singles flat dinner date more luxurious , of course with out the product ideals , all ads would be the same family.

advertisng is powerful and pretty much guilt free , marriage requires many things as it is a shared experience.

it has been a mistake to undo our public communions and commitments , and call it freedom .

perhaps we will stop laughing at marriage being an unworkable comedy in error , i doubt buiness will want to sell less cars or for that matter less fabric conditioners .

the church has become weak and complacent , as these subtleties have drawn church goers to agnosticism or lite christianity , whilst haveing a compatable worldly life .

perhaps the church will re draw its robes , remove its hobbles and promote an inviting framework for a full life , heaven knows were all skint enough , to go on any more self indulgant ego excesses decades .!!!

15 March 2009 at 23:31  
Blogger Theresa said...

Dear God,

The politicians are getting younger. Was that picture from 'Bring-your-wean-to-work' day at the Shadow Cabinet, your Grace?

16 March 2009 at 00:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marriage seems a profitable institute for women - what is in it for men?

16 March 2009 at 00:29  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi anonymous,

opinions vary on what's in marriage for men; there is the old chestnut that 'sex is the price women pay for marriage and marriage is the price that men pay for sex'. Alternatively, when men get older and marry it's usually assumed that it's either 'nurse or purse' that they want. Gold digging comes in many forms.
Then there are some who actually fall in love and stay in love. I think those whom this happens to are the most blessed of all of us.

16 March 2009 at 01:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16 March 2009 at 03:54  
Anonymous len said...

Marriage and the family unit is the Glue that holds society together and provides a safe environment for bringing up children.It takes commitment and a lot of give and take.
A lot of people for different reasons don`t want this,because of selfishness, or following a different agenda.
There is intense pressure on this family unit from Blairs government and from the prince of the power of the air.

16 March 2009 at 07:31  
Anonymous len said...

anon 03.54
When the Holy Spirit and christians leave this planet there will be an explosion of evil on this earth you cannot have dreamed of in your worst nightmares .Men will drop dead from sheer terror,and wish for death that will not come.
Find Christ before the door closes!.

16 March 2009 at 07:36  
Blogger Microcosm said...

Its the states interferance in marraige thats destriyed its sanctity and importance, turning it into the liberal tolerant debased system we have today.

When will the State learn to butt out, marraige only needs to be in the eyes of God, through whatever religion you belong.

Not a contract with the State.

16 March 2009 at 17:23  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

I ought to remind Anon that married men do tend to live longer - as do Church goers!

Not quite your Grace's point but an encouragement to virtue nevertheless.

16 March 2009 at 17:27  
Anonymous You aint seen nothing yet said...

The EU Legalises Paedophilia

Presumably this has come about to legalise the thighing of infants.

16 March 2009 at 21:55  
Anonymous Rockefeller said...

You're all crazy, we sponsored Feminism, as a means to destroy the Family ( to destroy society you must first destroy the family...Kenin )

Second, to bring women into the Workforce so we can tax them.

Thirdly, to seperate children from their Parents for as long as possible so they can be indoctrinated as subservient workers, we want workers, not thinkers.

Feminism to destroy the family

17 March 2009 at 23:31  
Anonymous Rockefeller said...

FucLing Leyboard !!!

17 March 2009 at 23:33  
Blogger Arthur said...

Marriage should be a disciplined affair (no pun intended), and there is no getting around the fact that our families define our culture (how horrible is that for the US right now!). Since Americans don't want to have any any constraints, or rules, or apparently a country to be responsible to, then nothing will create any interest in having stable families until we have an undeniable full blown societal collapse. We are a country of refugees from the 60s, legacies of a 'new order' created by a bunch of drunk, and high adolescents who were opportunistically helped by feminists and race advocates. But, they did get one thing right: let's not jump into traditional roles too soon in life, lest they become yokes of oppression and unhappiness. If our politically correct culture would allow our schools/teachers to teach the 'social responsibility' of being first and foremost responsible to yourself until such time as you find out who you are and what you really need, then we would be able to have our extended adolescence and form stable families because we'd be delaying marriage until men and women were actually 'ready' for it. But, then again, common sense solutions that involve education, hard work, and a sense of working together will never be accepted by feminists, many of whom are not prepared to accept anything less than their ever evolving nanny state, which wastes billions on programs that are designed to fail and spawn endlessly self-perpetuating money making schemes for those who live to tell the rest of how to live.

22 March 2009 at 15:09  

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