Marriage is the building block of the family; family is the building block of society. And society is by definition at odds with the modern political state, which rightly sees family as its competitor.
The very nature of the modern state demands the transfer of the maximum amount of power from the periphery to the centre – this irrespective of the state’s political system. Each family, however, is its own unit of local power, and the potential for conflict is vast.
That’s why the modern, as opposed to traditional, state would ideally like to abolish marriage and family altogether: it doesn’t suffer challenges to its power lightly. Today’s political state in the West may still not be strong enough to bring about such a final solution, but it certainly tries to do all it can to cause systematic erosion.
This explains the steadily accelerating avalanche of laws that compromise the institution of marriage. One can discern this animus behind laws legalising civil partnerships, both homo- and heterosexual, though – and it’s good to know we still have something to look forward to – not yet interspecies.
Removing all stigma from homosexuality and then actively promoting it is another trick the state uses liberally (I’m using the word ‘liberal’ advisedly). Legalising homomarriage follows ineluctably, which makes a mockery of marriage as a sacramental union between a man and a woman.
Snapping the last remaining links, however tenuous, between marriage and sex is another widespread stratagem, and the state enforces this separation through the educational system it controls and the all-pervasive pornography it encourages.
My yesterday’s subject, endorsing and promoting sex change as a manifestation of free consumer choice, also rebounds on marriage, if in a less direct fashion.
Social benefits for single mothers is another trick, with the provider state squeezing its bulk into the slot previously occupied by the provider father, making him redundant and reducing the incentive for marriage.
Loosening the link between marriage and childbirth as a corollary to that is a parallel development, and it works wonders too. About half of all children are born out of wedlock, with the state typically assuming the paternal responsibility.
Easy divorce on demand is another battering ram of modernity smashing marriage to smithereens, and the easier the divorce, the greater the force with which the battering ram is swung.
That’s why traditional states used to make divorce either impossible or, more usually, at least rather difficult. Couples had to come up with valid reasons for divorce, and it had to be consensual. In the absence of consensus, with one spouse resisting divorce, the dissolution of marriage was harder still, although ultimately not impossible.
Essentially, while the last vestiges of the traditional state and society survived, an understanding existed that marriage was a good thing and hence divorce wasn’t. As tradition faded away, so did the obstacles in the way of divorce.
Such is the context of the new law announced yesterday by the justice secretary. In three months divorce will become so easy that marriage will lose any aspect of commitment – just as it has already lost any aspect of lifelong commitment.
The general intent is to make divorce quick and painless. It’s not that divorce is exceptionally hard already, what with half of all marriages ending in it. Yet the remaining marriages soldier on, and the state clearly finds this situation intolerable.
According to the new law, divorce will no longer be contestable: if one spouse wants it, there’s nothing the other spouse will be able to do – the marriage will be dissolved within six months.
Nor is a valid reason for divorce any longer required: neither party has to be at fault or claim that the other party is. All it will take is a simple statement that the marriage has broken down, and where do I sign, thank you very much.
Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”
This one sentence contains everything one needs to know about the place marriage occupies in modernity, at least in its British manifestation (actually, no country I know personally is dramatically different).
A minister claiming that the government “will always uphold the institution of marriage” is tantamount to a mass murderer claiming that he will always uphold the sanctity of life. And the second half of Mr Gauke’s sentence can be simplified to mean that it’s not right that we should have any obstacles in the way of divorce.
But the key word there is “outdated”. How, when and why were the laws putting dampeners on divorce made outdated? Or, for that matter, by whom?
Oh well, I think I’ve already answered those questions. All I can add is that, for the likes of Mr Gauke, any law that maintains some connection with traditional society is outdated by definition.
Then again, he’s a member of our Conservative government. It’s that adjective that has actually become outdated – worse still, it has become a barefaced lie.