ONS data on 'unmarried Britain'

Body: 

Responding to the latest data on marriage released by the Office of National Statistics (which can be found at: http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/9145), Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, said that it was helpful not to rush to “alarmist” conclusions about the latest ONS data. "Rather, it's important to invest in supporting relationships, to recognise extended and informal families as well as nuclear ones, and to positively re-visit the nature and meaning of marriage in the light of social and religious changes."

“The vast majority of people – whether religious or otherwise – recognise that stable, faithful, loving, just and lasting relationships are crucial for the health of society and the nurturing of children,” he said. “We need to build on that and offer practical support and example. Official agencies, community organisations, charities, faith groups, schools and families all have a role to play.

“The key issue is to look at how people and families can be helped to respond to the intense pressures they are under in modern life – from economic insecurity, 'contract culture' and consumerism right through to false expectations about romance and desire disconnected from the tough work of commitment.

“It is important not to be seduced by simple headlines about marriage and family. These days more people are committing in relationships because they want to, not because they are coerced. Equality between the sexes is rightly encouraged. Abusive relationships are being challenged. Civil partnerships are being entered into. We need to look at what is healthy as well as harmful in the changes we see taking place,” said Barrow.

In 2006 Ekklesia called for a radical reconsideration of the meaning of marriage, both on the part of the state and general society, and in faith communities. The ONS-reported growth of civil ceremonies and the decline in religious ones, as well as the social challenges to the inherited family structures, reinforces this need, it says.

-----

See: Ekklesia, ‘What Future for Marriage?’ - http://tinyurl.com/dydqee

Office of National Statistics on marriage in the UK, 1951-2007 - http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=322