The meaning of marriage and its benefits

By Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Res Publica

There has been a good press for marriage lately. More people are marrying and more people are staying married. This is welcome news. I have recently been with a number of community groups that promote marriage in schools, colleges and generally in society. This has been an encouraging and hopeful experience for me.
The Church certainly did not invent marriage. The union of a man and a woman for mutual support and for the upbringing of children has been there from the beginning but it did emphasise the importance of consent, love between husband and wife and ‘one-flesh union’ which is based on the complementarity of male and female; social, psychological, biological and sexual.
It is such a public doctrine of marriage that needs to be restored in this country. Both divorce reform and other kinds of legislation have not just damaged but almost destroyed any public understanding of marriage. What is marriage in this country? For many years, centuries perhaps, the public doctrine of marriage was that of the Book of Common Prayer as it is set out in the preamble to the marriage service and one by one all of the aspects of marriage in the preamble have been placed under severe threat at the very least, if not more than that.

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