GP Taylor: Marriage and family are the bedrock of Britain. Without them, we will destroy ourself

When Prince William and Kate Middleton are married in Westminster Abbey on Friday, the spectre of his parents  marriage, which ended in adultery, divorce and death, will hang over the occasion.   Picture:  Andrew Milligan/PA
When Prince William and Kate Middleton are married in Westminster Abbey on Friday, the spectre of his parents marriage, which ended in adultery, divorce and death, will hang over the occasion. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA
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I ONCE had a woman in my church who had been married for 60 years. She and her husband were interviewed for the local paper.

The rookie reporter asked her if she had ever considered divorcing her husband. She looked the young man in the eyes and thought for a while.

With great consideration, the woman said: “I have never thought of divorcing him but I have often thought of murdering him…”

In several days time, the whole country will grind to a halt as a young couple take part in a very public wedding.

Overshadowing the day – like a ghost from the past – will be the spectre of a similar day when a beautiful, smiling girl called Diana charmed the nation.

In front of billions of people and a few very needy celebrities, Prince William and Katherine Middleton will swear solemn vows, exchange a ring and pledge allegiance to each other before God.

It is something that millions of people have done throughout history, a spiritual and legal contract to start family life.

Yet, what these two people are doing goes against the modern trend of our society.

Marriage is no longer the norm as nine out of 10 couples now live together before – or instead of – tying the knot.

That is quite an alarming figure if you take into account that it was fewer than one in 30 before the Second World War.

As a society, we are constantly bombarded that a marriage between a man and a woman is not the only form of relationship.

Children from the age of eight are asked to consider a whole host of alternatives to one man one woman.

Anyone who speaks out against alternative relationships is branded a heretic, a homophobe or simply out of touch.

Finally, the Centre for Social Justice has dared to stick its head above the parapet and give the facts about the astonishing speed at which traditional family life has collapsed in Britain.

The shocking figures reveal that births outside marriage are at their highest level in two centuries and nearly half of children in this country can expect their parents to separate by the time the child is 16.

A generation ago, it was often considered shameful to have a child outside of wedlock, now it appears to have become the norm. In Britain today, 46 per cent of children are born to unmarried mothers.

Many people may ask what all the fuss is about, but the results of the findings by the CSJ are worrying.

The think-tank said that a child growing up in a one-parent family is 75 per cent more likely to fail at school, 70 per cent more likely to become a drug addict, 50 per cent more likely to have an alcohol problem and 35 per cent more likely to be unemployed as an adult.

To me that is proof that the lack of a father or mother in a family has serious consequences.

It seems absurd that in a time of advanced contraception the birth of so many children to lone parents is accidental.

Perhaps the Government would be wise to advertise that children are not there to give access to benefits and social housing. For many, it would seem that having a child or successive children without a partner is a means of getting state help.

Bed hopping men who appear to be able to inseminate a woman at 30 paces should be brought to account and made to pay for their progeny. Children should be the offspring of a relationship between two people – what has historically been called the family.

As a police officer and a priest, I know that there are bad families as well as good ones. I also believe that a “family” doesn’t have to fit the social norm of a man and a woman.

I firmly believe that gay people can and often do make good parents who bring up stable and responsible members of society. For me, the important thing is that a family is more than one person bringing up a child. It is time, that the media and politicians started taking the family more seriously and stopped thinking of ways to destroy it.

Recently, I have gone through three years of hell while my youngest daughter has been fighting a very serious disease. The consequences of that illness affected every member of the family in some way. But, neither my wife nor I had to go through it alone – we had each other.

When Kate and William make their vows and promises they will speak of being with each other through sickness and health, richer and poorer, good times and bad.

The essence of family and marriage is sticking with it and realising that it is not just about the good times. In every relationship, and in every family there will come a point when you want to give up.

Sadly, it is as if we are always bombarded by stories of celebrities ditching one partner at the slightest problem and finding another. Marriage is now as disposable as the nappies their children wear.

The spectre for William and Kate is that what was once billed as the greatest wedding of all time, that of Charles and Diana, ended in adultery and eventually death.

What people seem to forget is that marriage offers the safest place to have children. It offers stability and friendship.

Marriage is something to be worked at and not forgotten at the first opportunity. The family is the bedrock of British society; it is Big Society in miniature.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband should heed this fact. Without the family, the fabric of our English life will be destroyed.

GP Taylor, from Scarborough. is an ordained Anglican priest, writer and broadcaster.