The campaign to abolish marriage on this tiny island of Malta is now close to succeeding. It is amazing how quickly it has happened and how a small, yet determined, group of extremists has found its way to smash a centuries-old institution in just a matter of a few years.
The latest blow – civil marriage for gay couples – is indeed cunning.
Politicians love to pretend they are giving when they are, in fact, taking away. It also suits them to portray the defenders of traditional marriage as intolerant bigots. This new plan of theirs achieves both these things at once.
The government had already dented the meaning and significance of marriage when it gave almost equal privileges to two people who choose to set up house together on far less stringent conditions than those demanded of married couples.
The current phenomenon of the increasing prevalence of cohabitation is a reflection of a culture that has lost its faith in permanence, in loyalty, no matter what challenges life brings. Today, more than ever before, the ultimate physical bond through sexual union has lost its full meaning. It does not imply total commitment any more. It has been trivialised and devalued.
Even without moralising, statistics bear this out.
Relationships in marriage, despite the availability of divorce, tend to last longer than those in cohabitation.
Yet, our Western culture presents us a distorted concept of freedom which is reflected now in every dimension of social life. Gone are the days where one took pride in giving loyal service to one’s calling for a lifetime.
Today, we live in a culture of disposables.
Even in human relationships, when faced with difficulties we consider it a great achievement that we can walk out of a relationship. The concept of making a vow, a covenant has been shattered.
I sometimes wonder what St Paul would think about our culture if he were shipwrecked on our shores today.
This life-long commitment of a man and a woman in marriage and open to life gave stability to society
Marriage has been gutted of its significance by a ruling class that has nothing but contempt for an institution that has been the bedrock of our people through the ages.
The final blow is now being dealt as the privileges of marriage are about to be bestowed on homosexual couples. Very conveniently, anyone who objects is branded as ‘homophobic’ when, in fact, the argument is about something else altogether.
In the past, marriage between a man and woman was granted privileges because it is crucial to a healthy society.
Married couples were given respectability, security, legal protection and tax breaks in return for making a binding public commitment to do something brave, difficult and immensely valuable for society.
This life-long commitment of a man and a woman in marriage and open to life gave stability to society and to their country and guaranteed its future.
In a way, marriage also provided independent sanctuaries where decisions could be made in a safe and secure environment without government interference.
This was best put by, of all people, D.H. Lawrence, author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, who said: “It is marriage which has given man the best of his freedom, given him his little kingdom of his own within the big kingdom of the State; given him his foothold of independence on which to stand and resist an unjust State.”
And he warned: “Break it and you will have to go back to the overwhelming dominance of the State, which existed before the Christian era.”
We live in an age of ever-increasing State interference in our lives. The law pokes its nose into our homes in ways undreamed of 40-50 years ago, and is taking a growing interest in what we say and think as well as what we do.
Global big business regards us as fodder, scorning our private needs and turning every day into a working day, something which even Stalin did not succeed in doing.
These forces see the married family as a stumbling block.
The State wants to take over the roles of husband and father, making more and more people dependant upon it.
Both business and the State want mothers out at work, encouraging them to leave children with carers, and if they don’t want them, the very soon available option of having an abortion (is it in the pipeline?)
With such giant allies, the Ultra Feminists are in sight of achieving what they think they have always wanted, a life without any ties or commitments – a country without marriage and without family life, fathers or husbands.
I wonder if they will like it when they get it.
Herbert Messina-Ferrante is a dental surgeon, educator and sports administrator.