Religion

Marriage: a very Tory obituary

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The Canadian-American radical feminist and polemicist, Shulamith Firestone, had this to say about marriage: 

‘under Roman law [man] was invested with the rights of life and death over them all; famulus means domestic slave, and familia is the total number of slaves belonging to one man.’

This quote (while adapted from one of Fredrich Engels’ later works) is extracted from her most famous work, The Dialectic of Sex; the pompously titled tome of nonsense makes for as rough reading as her name does. 

Such a pernicious and aggrandising view of marriage as slavery misses the point about the institution. One would be forgiven if they made the increasingly easy mistake of attributing this line of thought to the modern Conservative Party. 

During the decades of its decline, the party has targeted the main pillars of conservative life. Now marriage is on the chopping block, with the latest divorce reform being backed by the House of Commons two weeks ago. 231 members favoured the Bill against a meek opposition of 16. 

“No-fault” divorce is the name most commonly attributed to this reform – a reform which practices as crudely as its name does. For in a state where no-fault divorces are allowed, divorce proceedings can begin immediately – seemingly on the whims of arbitrary proclamations about the “breakdown” of a marriage. 

This makes divorce easier to achieve, marking its place as a ubiquitous fact of modern life rather than something to be deterred. The modern Conservative Party and the likes of Shulamith Firestone are blind to this, and if they’re not, they’re actively encouraging the breakdown of Western society as we know it.

CS Lewis, in his work Mere Christianity, provides an antidote to the twin poisons of Firestone and the Tories. He speaks of marriage not as an act of slavery, but as a unifying institution steeped in Christian practice:

‘The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism.’

The “Christian idea” of marriage, to which the lay theologian referred, formed the cornerstone of marriage across Britain – at least for some time. It was fed on the idea that a man and a woman were to be equally unionised in an act of mutual consent. Obligations, such as the raising of a child, then form from this consent. 

Lewis asserted that marriage isn’t wholly formed on love, it’s formed by this dutiful contract. He presciently asserted that the over-romanticisation of marriage would lead to high divorce rates in the modern world, as it made partners put their self-interested love before this contract. This is precisely what we’re witnessing across society today – and the Conservative Party is actively encouraging it through their majority-led missteps. 

Introducing no-fault divorces will lead to higher rates of divorce and the accelerated breakdown of marriage in British society. The modern Tories, perfumed by the adulterous liberalism of the Prime Minister, have no place for the institution of marriage in their plans.

This fact is hard to digest without being so bleak, but if Britain continues to vote the Conservative Party into power, the future of marriage will be. One gets the feeling that the Tories have just written the final sentence in the obituary of marriage.

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