On 21st February a news item caught my attention - “The number of adults choosing to marry is at its lowest level since records began, ….” The item went on to reveal that the marriage rate for 2005 was the lowest since 1862. Fewer and fewer couples are choosing to get married. Some statisticians believe that during the next 15 years the number of people choosing to live together rather than get married will rise from two million to four million. People are afraid of commitment. What are the expectations of people? I wonder if just like people no longer expect a job for life, they have similar thoughts about marriage. With so many marriage breakdowns, 167,000 divorces in 2004, are people thinking what is the point of getting married if it will only end in divorce? Successive governments have maintained that they believe in the family, but often their well intentioned but poorly thought through policies have undermined family life rather than supported it. In 2005 a former High Court judge, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss warned that Marriage was being "downgraded" by government policies.

If the family is the bedrock of society then governments need to invest in the family. During the search for a solution to teenager gun crime, one factor that I have noticed is that there are many community groups which have had and are having success in engaging with children and youth. The problem identified so often by these groups is a lack of financial support from local and central government which places their work in jeopardy.

Last Tuesday, 27th February, during a news conference Tony Blair was questioned about ‘problem families’ his response and the subsequent responses of some of his political opponents show that there is no simple ‘one cure fits all’ solution.

Cheryl Turner, the head of policy for Relate has recently been quoted as saying “our 24/7 lifestyle is a very individualistic way of living – we look after ourselves and we are not as good at community as we used to be”. If this is so then the challenges that our politicians face are quite daunting. Perhaps we should be doing more to help them. When the apostle Paul wrote to the young church leader Timothy he said that praying for our political leaders should be part of our worship – “I urge then first of all that requests prayers intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone for kings and those in authority that we may live peaceful and quite lives in all godliness and holiness” (I Timothy 2:1) The family was God’s idea in the first place so praying that our politicians might make decisions that support family life has to be the best way we can help them.
God Bless You,
Major David