Sir Edward’s Last Stand for Civil Marriage. What next?

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The UK is once again streamlining its divorce procedure, abolishing the need to cite a reason for divorce so as to enable couples to move on faster and avoid unnecessary costs.

At each battle in the UK’s long retreat from Christian marriage, Catholic MP Sir Edward Leigh takes the last stand.

“The result of this Bill will be more pain, more suffering, children seeing less, usually, of their fathers and more women propelled into poverty,” he told the House of Commons on Monday.

Sir Edward’s denouncement fell on deaf ears. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2019-2021 passed the Commons’ second reading with 231 votes to 16.

‘No Fault Divorce’ is a misleading moniker. The Bill does not redetermine how children and assets should be handled following a divorce. Speeding up the settlement effectively heaps more and more accountability on to the less flighty party, hastening the couple’s enforced remarriage to the mechanisms of state which conduct the flow of alimony, custody of children and so forth.

“There are many religious people – and non religious people – who would like to be given a reason that they are being divorced,” protested Sir Edward. “It is obvious that if you make something easier it will happen more often.”

And he is absolutely right.

But at what point may traditionalists be excused from upholding a notion of civil marriage altogether? The Bill, of course, applies to marriages which are wholly invalid in Catholic theology and comes at a time when personal identities are often compromised by ideological identities. How refreshing and motivating it should be, then, to consider that we are more than ever personally accountable for a relationship which now receives virtually no outside support.

As civil marriage is debased to little more than a prenuptial agreement to benefit the less committed party, perhaps our next move should be to lobby the institutions of faith to disavow the civil register altogether.

A firm separation of civil and sacramental marriage might also serve as welcome distraction from the red herrings such as gay marriage which, I suspect, are welcome decoys from more demographically significant problems of fornication which threaten sacramental marriage. 

As ever, good marriages require good spouses – not heavy handed laws.